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764 Vargo Triad Stove 2013-01-30

Vargo Triad Stove

For Christmas I bought my wife a Vargo Triad XE Alcohol/Fuel Tab Stove. Okay guys, I get away with this because she likes to camp, hike, and climb as much as I do. Don't feel too sorry for her, she did get other personal gifts and I did not play with the stove until after she unwrapped it. After the gift was opened, the stove then, however, became communal gear.

I purchased the 'gift' because ... even though we had a host of liquid gas and canister stoves, we did not own an alcohol stove. REI sold the Vargo (they do not have it in stock currently) and I thought it would be a good addition to our cooking gear.

Vargo stove burning alcohol

The alcohol burner with the wind screen

A few notes about the Vargo Triad ...

The stove has two parts (see top photo) - the outer base and the inner alcohol fuel burner. The outer base has three folding legs and cooking pot supports.

The stove weighs 1.9 ounces. The base (used for the fuel tablets) weighs 1.1 ounces and the alcohol burner inset is 0.8 of an ounce.

I used an 11 ounce MSR fuel bottle. The filled weight is 13 ounces. We could use a lighter bottle. The empty MSR bottle weighs 2.8 ounces.

Each Esbit tablet weighs 0.5 of an ounce.

The MSR Titan pot weighs 4.4 ounces.

The MSR windscreen was 1.6 ounces. Once again not the lightest wind screen, but it is a good tough one.

There are lots of variations for packing and adjusting the overall weight.

The stove is designed to burn two fuels: Esbit fuel tablets and denatured alcohol.

When lighting the stove using alcohol, I could not get the stove not to light. Seriously, I filled the inner alcohol burner, then poured a bit on top and struck a match. It lit every time (even in the rain), as long as I could keep the match lit.

The flame is almost invisible.

A wind screen is almost essential while using the stove. Aluminum foil is normally used for a windscreen. I do like the heavier MSR wind screen though.

With my tests, the longest burn time was 17 minutes. I did not however fill the inner reserve to the point of spilling the liquid.

It took 12 minutes for two cups of water to boil.

Using the fuel tablets, the tablets were a bit harder to light. I was using a match and it would have been easier lighting the fuel tablet with a lighter. I had to hold the flame next to the tablet for a few seconds before it ignited.

A tablet boiled two cups of water faster (9 minutes) than the alcohol burner.

The full tablet burns for about 13 minutes. It burns at full strength for about 11 minutes, then toward the end of the burn cycle, the flame lowers as the fuel burns.

For both fuels there is no way to regulate the burning temperature. The fuel is either burning or not. You could however devise a cooking pot stand from rocks or stones to hold the pot higher above the flame.

For both fuels there is really no means to extinguish the flame. Once the stove is lit, it is best to let it continue burning until it goes out.

Never try to add alcohol to the stove while it is burning or hot. Let the burner cool before trying to open the burner and adding fuel.

It is possible to add another fuel tablet to the burner base.

I am not sure which fuel was the culprit, but one or both of the fuels left residue on the bottom of the cooking pot.

vargo stove burning Esbit fuel tablet

Boiling water with the Esbit fuel tablets

I really enjoyed playing with the Vargo Triad. The simplicity was appealing. For long trips, it would be my stove of choice because of the light weight and the fuel's (alcohol) availability from most hardware, drug, or auto parts stores.

Our primary use for the stove will probably be as an emergency stove or a burner to carry on cold weather day hikes.

We still are married to our Sol Ti Jetboil stove. There is something special about boiling water in less than two minutes, but we like the Vargo enough to try and work it into our cooking systems.

Happy Vargo Triad trails


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