Meths stoves are one of the simplest ways to boil water or heat a meal. No working parts to worry about, compact and lightweight, and they work with a wide range of liquid fuels. There is a reason this style of stove has been used globally for many years. With the modern advancements of gas stoves offering a dependable, safe and versatile option, the good old meths stove has taken a back seat of late. We were really intrigued to see if this style of stove still works for us today or if our fond memories were a bit misplaced.
Most of us were first introduced to a meths stove as young kids fashioning one from the base of a coke can. The Gram Counter Gear version is far more sophisticated and is made entirely from titanium, even the pot supports. At 44 grams and fitting neatly into a solo cooking pot this is a very compact set up. It is also a wise idea to include some sort of wind protection. This doesn’t need to be over the top and can simply be a piece of old foil that can fold up neatly into your pot. Add to this a fuel bottle and the combined weight does rise a wee bit, but we were still happy it fit the brief for a true lightweight set up.
One of the main advantages of using a meths stove is the variety of fuels available. Given that we would be using this in Scotland and not South America, we are fortunate enough that we don’t have to give much thought about when or how we would source our fuel. We opted for a bio-ethanol alternative due to it being much safer to use and more environmentally friendly, whilst also eliminating the odour and blackening of pots.
The Spirit Volcano couldn’t be simpler to use. The internal graduations allow for accurate fuel measurement, with the lower line being sufficient for a normal cup of water for a hot drink, whilst the top fill mark will just about boil a full pot of water in calm weather conditions. To use, simply place the pot supports onto the stove and ignite. Wait for the flames to clear from impurities and turn blue, then place your pot on the heat. The Spirit Volcano has two sets of holes at different levels to produce a stable flame whilst also making it very easy to light. To allow further efficiently it is best to pay some attention to the temperature of the water you wish to boil. The water from a running stream in Scotland will most likely be just few degrees above 0. Bringing the temperature up just a few degrees will save on fuel and time. A good trick is to store water into a bottle and then place it in a warm place among your pack.
We mainly used the Spirit Volcano on lower level treks and found an average boil time for a hot drink could be achieved in around 5 ½ minutes with a full pot taking between 8-10 minutes. This is around a standard time for a meths stove of this size although, when compared to a modern gas alternative it is certainly longer than we are now accustomed to.
There are also the issues which cannot be avoided whilst using this style of stove. The biggest one is that once the stove is hot, if you run out of fuel before your water is boiled you will need to wait for the stove to cool first before adding extra fuel. Pouring fuel onto a hot source can auto ignite and lead to uncontrolled fire spread, a critical consideration, especially whilst travelling in woodlands. For use whilst camping consideration must be taken not only near the use of fragile fabrics but also to avoid fumes building up if not properly vented. Some meths stoves do offer a level of regulation in terms of heat control. The Spirit Volcano is very basic and with the pot stand at a single height this is a stove aimed at a quick boil rather than something you could prepare a meal with.
The Spirit Volcano is very lightweight and compact, whilst providing an efficient flame to save on fuel and boil times. Made entirely out of titanium it is robust, easy to keep clean and will see many years of service. The simplistic approach makes for a dependable heat source and with a variety of fuel sources available makes it a great choice for trips at home or abroad. It certainly harks back to fond memories spent using a similar stove in the past, although we would mostly opt for a modern gas alternative when heading for the high hills and tent camping.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...