Gear reviews

Why do we like Alcohol stoves

Alcohol stoves speak to hikers, preppers, and other people because they are simple, fun to use, and can be made yourself with minimal tools. In this article I dive into all the plusses, and why they remain such a popular option.

Alcohol stoves come in a bunch of different sizes and types, everyone has their own favorite design and uses for them. They can be broken down into a few different types which are:

  • Pressurized (penny) can stoves
  • Open flame alcohol stoves
  • Wicking alcohol stoves

My personal favorite types are the wicking variety, with the homemade Fancy Feast stove at the top of that list. For more than a decade I have been using alcohol stoves in all shapes and sizes and posted articles and videos on the subject on my website. Feel free to look around in this Category for all my articles on the subject. Let’s get into all the upsides (and of course some downsides) of using Alcohol stoves.


DIY projects

Hikers can be quite gear-obsessed, and some hikers think they need the latest and greatest at all times. And anybody who has last season’s gear or does it differently from them has it wrong. When researching the beginning and start of hiking you can be put off by the immense cost of the sport. Some people need to be reminded however that you don’t need all the fancy gear at all times, and can always start with more affordable options to later upgrade if you feel the need.

Alcohol stoves can be a learning experience, a fun project, and a way to cut costs for your first few outings. You will learn to eyeball the fuel consumption more and more, and get a better understanding of how to go about cooking your daily meals.


For everyone who loves tinkering with things to get the best possible result, alcohol stoves can be a great option. You can also however do an OK job in half an hour and still come out with an amazing performer, that is incredibly simple to use and bulletproof. Since there are no moving parts in most alcohol stoves. And if something breaks, they are easily repaired or made again.

If you are anything like me, then on some grocery trips you will check out the canned food and drink section if any new types of cans are out. And try and fit them together right there in the aisle. Alcohol stoves can be great fun that way.

Sound and noise

One of the biggest advantages in my opinion of alcohol stoves is that they are quiet like a mouse. Gas canister stoves or petrol stoves make a racket that can be heard a long distance away. When stealth camping or just watching the evening sun go down, that racket can be quite intrusive.

The loudest thing on an alcohol stove is you clinging and clanging the pot around or stirring with your spork.


Fuel is in almost every part of the world easy to get if you know where to look. I have done a separate article on the subject so that you can find fuel. Check out the article for Best Fuel for alcohol stoves to learn more.


Fuel is also very cheap compared to other options, and can be safely stored in any plastic bottle. I tend to use a recycled soda bottle for mine. Since they can be thrown around and abused without leaking, and can be replaced in a pinch.


Most alcohol stoves are also very lightweight and can be transported easily within your cook kit. My latest Fancy Feast stove clocks in at 18 grams. Pair that with a small 0,25 liter fuel bottle and you have a lightweight stove option that will last you easily three days with three meals a day.

When you are out for longer without an option of resupply, then it must be said that gas canister stoves still win out in most cases.

Boil times

Boil times vary greatly in any situation, climate, and weather, which is true for all kinds of stoves. Alcohol stoves need a windscreen to get the quickest boil times and will take anywhere from 4 minutes to 10 minutes to get your 400 ml of water to a boil. Whereas my Pocket Rocket 2 by MSR will get there in about 2 and a half minutes.

When you are in a hurry and want food and sleep this can be more than you are willing to wait for, but in most cases, those few more minutes will not be noticed in my experience.


Not for everybody

Alcohol stoves will always be popular with a certain type of hiker, they are also outside of hiking popular with sailors and preppers to cook their meals. And can be a great option for anybody who is looking for an alternative to their current stove system. It does require a bit more finicking around with some stoves that put people off of them. But with a DIY Fancy Feast stove, you can cut a lot of that out. Steps that discourage people from relying on them are for example preheating, with a Fancy Feast stove it is light and immediately put your pot on.

Give them a try and don’t hike the Appalachian trail with them without doing that first. Pick a nice weekend hike or camping trip, and see how they work out for you.

I'm Frank, the main guy and owner of this website. Loves hiking, gear and bushcraft. And can get quite nerdy about them. In the woods several times a week preparing for my next hike. Always searching for another hill, which is quite difficult in the Netherlands. That's why I search around several countries. More about me on the about page.

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