As I get started on these projects, they seem to take on a life of their own and as I finish one phase for one of them, I start on another! That’s a good thing as it keeps me busy.
Today’s it’s a ‘dual stove’ concept for the ruck consisting of the Pocket Rocket 2 propane and the TOAKS wood gasifier stove along with the wind screen purchased to see if it has any utility.
Bottom Line up front: Both stoves have a place in my survival ruck because they’re so light that together they’re lighter than many, many stainless steel stoves available (a few of which I’ve carried and used); and both are reasonable in their price point. I paid less for both stoves than what a couple of the popular stainless steel models cost, and they were, ‘on sale’! If/when the time came that I couldn’t find fuel for the PR2, it’d be great barter material or could be simply jettisoned leaving me with the TOAKS. Win-Win.
Now, to be clear: there’s nothing wrong with stainless steel stoves, either; I used them for some years and was very satisfied with them until I started seeing the super light weight titanium stoves available. I was looking for a new stove when JC Dodge posted this piece on backpacking stoves, and came within a hair’s breadth of buying it, but I shied away from it because of the weight (double edged sword – last forever, but takes up weight allowance that could be used by other items). And, personally I like having both capabilities of natural propane fuel as well for when I can’t find dry fuel or my ruck fuel (small supply that it is) can’t do what I want it to do. Two canisters of the propane for the PR2 will keep for some time in the ruck, because you don’t need a lot to get your food hot or your water boiling. More on that below.
Now, are they the only answer or a perfect solution? Absolutely not. I’ll use these until I find something better.
Each also has their limitations. The first, the Pocket Rocket 2, has its support arms stretch so far out that a USGI stainless steel canteen cup has to be carefully balanced on it. One bump and over it’ll go! That can be easily remedied with a piece of galvanized screen to set on the support arms that the pot/canteen cup can rest on, or a second one added all for the cost of a couple ounces. The TOAKS gasifier support arms, while titanium, are so light that you have to play with it for a few seconds to get it set up. They seem to lock in when they get hot, so initial set up is all you need concern yourself with. On my stove, I have 4 support arms, not just the two pictured above. Seems to work well in that I can still feed twigs from the top if I have a mind to do that, but it gives me piece of mind in that I can put a heavy container of whatever on it without too much worry.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2: This thing is a very hot stove! Conditions: Sunny, 5 – 10 mph breeze, about 40 degrees F. Boils water in about 3.25 minutes on high. Full canteen cup with lid. Superb Capability. You can see how the canteen barely balances on the support arms. Also, the sun was bright enough that you couldn’t actually see the flame from the gas jets. Nice little fast heating stove!
TOAKS Titanium Gasifier: Overall, excellent stove – it’s light, burns how it’s supposed to with little smoke post starting (I used drier lint and a ferro rod to get it burning), but it does have one drawback: You must have dry fuel if you need to boil water, and you must have a good supply of it! It actually does use the gas/smoke from the wood used that makes the fire hotter. You also have to ensure that the fuel is small enough so that when fed into the stove, it doesn’t extend above the row of air holes just below the feed window, otherwise, it becomes inefficient and smokes a LOT until the fuel burns down a bit.
I took a supply of small branches and twigs from my yard that were a tad damp to the touch; they burned, but never really hot, and because of that, even with a lid, the water in the canteen cup never boiled. It got very hot, but didn’t reach a rolling boil like the PR2 water did.
Once I added dry fuel, the water boiled in 2 minutes as the water was already hot. So, please note on these kinds of stoves, you need dry fuel.
Having the two capabilities (PR2 for when I need something heated fast or when all available fuel is wet and the TOAKS for when I have dry fuel and don’t need heating to be done super fast) gives me a lot more range for staying comfortable in the bush.
What has been your stove preference?