Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vargo Triad XE Stove - Review

Not a bad little alcohol burner stove...if you are aware of its limitations.  In general, I'd classify this burner as a commercial penny-can stove with an integrated potstand.  I was not in the market for a new stove when I found this item; but, when I saw it on sale at REI for less than $25 and I had a little extra cash in my pocket, I decided that I should try it out.

The Triad XE is small and very light - weighing in at only 1.5 oz of titanium...that is only slightly heavier than a penny-can stove when you include a potstand.  Add in a homemade aluminum windscreen and your total weight is still only 2.5 oz.  This all titanium stove is comprised of two pieces - the combined potstand and burner/solid fuel tablet stand; and the alcohol burner itself.  As such, this stove can be used with alcohol, or just use the sand with a fuel tab (i.e., Esbit fuel).  I have only used the burner with alcohol, so that is what I'll comment on.

I really like the design of the stand, which is a titanium dish, with fold out standing legs and potstand legs.  I've found the stand to be stable, providing some insulation from the cold ground when in use, and securely holding pots of various sizes.  The alcohol burner itself is very much like a penny-can stove.  The burner is comprised of a bottom dish that holds up to 1.5 oz of alcohol, and a slide-over lid with burner holes.  I have found that when trying to add more than 1 oz of fuel, I end up with a bunch on my fingers and on the side of the burner when putting the lid back on.  With the burner in place on the stand, it must be primed with a little alcohol on and around the burner, which once lit will heat up the burner to vaporize and light the alcohol fuel.

The titanium heats up quickly, and the stove primes pretty easily when the temperature is above freezing.  This burner does require a windscreen to burn efficiently and to help reflect heat back to your pot.  I have found that you can boil up to 2 cups of water in around 7 minutes, and will see burn times of about 10-12 minutes (Vargo claims up to 25 minutes, but I find that hard to believe based on experience).  So, don't expect to cook pasta or rice over this stove, or even reliably boil water for purification (5+ minutes).  But, if you are just looking to boil water for hot drinks or to rehydrate meals, then this is a nice, light, compact choice.

This is not my go-to stove; but I sometimes like to carry it as a backup (particularly with an Esbit tablet, in case I run out of alcohol).  It's small and light, so not bad as a non-essential carry.  I'll have to post another write-up once I actually use it with solid fuel.  

If you were to plan to use this burner for alcohol only, then I would probably consider Vargo's alcohol only version - the Triad (non-XE), which is a one piece design with the stand and potholder legs attached directly to the burner (just like a penny-can stove with legs).  The non-XE Triad has a center well for filling and lighting the alcohol, and also acts as a primer dish.  Vargo quality is always top-notch.

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