site  contact  subhomenews

Helena Campsite and Speedster Stove test

September 10, 2021 — BarryK

Last weekend, went for a hike. Usual stamping ground, Mundaring locality. Caught train then bus to the town of Mundaring, which is in the hills just outside the Perth metropolitan area. Then walked south on the Mundabiddi Trail to the Mundaring Weir Hotel -- as usual, had lunch there. Then walked approximately East, on the Bibbulmun Track, and camped overnight at the Helena Campsite. Next morning, ambled back along old fire trails, to the Mundaring town, then public transport back to Perth.

Lovely Spring weather, a couple of sunny days, though the nights were cold. I was surprised, about 20 people stayed overnight at the Helena Campsite. Some used the internal bedding provision, some, me included, pitched tents. Yeah, we did the sitting-around-the-campfire thing at night. Even somewhat-anti-social-me sat there for awhile.

Here is a photo just after 6.00am, before the sun has appeared on the horizon, but is starting to light the sky:


When I arrived at the campsite on Saturday evening, my legs were knackered, so the walking had degenerated to a slow shamble. Don't have an app for measuring distance, but it would have been about 23km.

Chatted with one young fellow who had run all the way from the Mundaring Weir Discovery Centre, he said it took him about 1 hour. The trail is up and down rocky terrain, and I took about 4 hours to walk that same path. Oh well.

Next morning, followed lovely old fire-trails, here is a photo:


Legs were knackered, but walked slowly and it was very pleasant.

Main reason for this post, is want to report on using the Speedster Stove, and the new "kitchen kit". I used it on the hike, to rehydrate a veggie & couscous packet for the evening meal. Firstly, about the stove, this is it:

...oh, the site is currently offline, say they are off backpacking and will be online in 4 days.

Anyway, that's what I bought, 30ml spill-proof methylated-spirit (alcohol) stove, with a matching folding stand. They hardly weigh anything. The stove burns for about 18 minutes. No priming required, immediately usable. It won't spill, just screw on the lid and fuel can be left in the stove.

I had great fun putting together the "kitchen kit". I own a Toaks 1000ml titanium pot, and was able to put everything into the pot, including the meths. Here is the pot, total weight with everything inside is 498g:


Toaks do not sell the 1000ml size any more, they do have a 900ml and a 1200ml. But there are other manufacturers, look on eBay and Aliexpress. Open the lid, everything packed neatly inside:


The bottles are each 50ml, to hold the meths. Some meths can also be held in the stove, so potentially can carry 230ml. The weight that I measured, 498g, was with all bottles filled and the stove partly filled.

The big question is, how many days will 230ml of meths last? Hold that thought, for now, presenting everything packed into the pot:


...on the left is a collapsible silicone cup, a funnel, matches, sponge, folding knife, pill-holder, titanium wind-shield, folding titanium spoon, and the Speedster Stove and folding stand.

All of these items are available on eBay and Aliexpress. The bottles are these:

They allow precise application of the meths, with a narrow opening, see this photo of the 100ml bottle:


The titanium windshield is readily available also. Mine was originally 110mm wide, but I cut it down slightly so as to fit underneath the pot handles. It is extremely thin and can be cut with scissors. Weight, after cutting, is only 11g. I use a paper-clip to hold it in place around the stove.

The titanium folding spoon is Keith brand, which I chose as it is slightly wider (41mm) than other brands. Got it from Aliexpress.

Here is the stove and stand:


The windshield is absolutely essential. It shelters the flame from breezes, but also acts with the chimney-effect, drawing air from holes at the bottom and focussing the flame onto the pot. With the windshield in place and the pot on the stand, the flame is hardly seen:


If the pot is removed, the flame is quite yellow, and high:


I would never have thought that this is efficient combustion, but it is. With the pot on the stand, there is hardly any tar residue deposited on the pot, and water is boiled remarkably fast.

In fact, side-by-side tests with other meths stoves, the Speedster boils the water faster. There are some comparisons on YouTube, such as this one, using the smaller 20ml Speedster:

...3 minutes versus 4½ minutes, the Speedster won. Also, the Mini Trangia stove has to be primed, which wastes more fuel and time -- he did not include the priming-time in that 4½ minutes.

As can be seen in the above stove, I set it up on top of my kitchen stove (with ceiling extractor fan running). I also tested the boil time. 400ml took 6 minutes.

My "cooking" on the trail is really just heating up food then eat, such as baked beans, or boil water to rehydrate a meal. And, boil water for coffee. Prolonged cooking is not required, as if required can use my insulated pouch to complete the cooking process. I have one of these, weighs just 43g:

So, back on that question, how many days can I hike with 230ml of meths? According to the Speedster Stoves website, the 30ml stove will burn for 18 minutes. I would probably only need to boil about 600ml per day, which will take 9 minutes -- pour some out for the coffee, the rest to rehydrate a meal. That would mean 15ml per day, so the meths will last for 15 days!

Others might have heavier usage, such as make coffee in the morning, but even if the meths lasts for only 7 days, that is pretty good.

It would be interesting to compare with a gas setup. A 230g gas canister weighs 230g plus the steel container, a small gas screw-on burner is about 75g. They would probably fit in the pot OK. All-up weight is probably going to be higher, plus those gas canisters are not environmentally-friendly.

The motivation behind checking out this meths stove, is previously had used a wood-burning stove, but there are fire restrictions for much of the year here in Western Australia. Gas and meths stoves are allowed all-year round.

A few years ago, I was camping on the South Coast of WA, at a CALM campsite, and was cooking in a camp kitchen. I had a Vargo alcohol stove, and was cooking on a stainless steel bench. This stove: is not very stable, and I accidentally tipped it over. Meths ran over the benchtop, and the flame followed it.

The Speedster Stove, on the otherhand, really is spill proof, see this video:

...he is showing the carbon one, I have the "normal" one, presume that is also just as spill proof.

I was wondering what the weight would be if went for a gas canister solution, instead of a meths stove...

Looked up the calorific value (heating power) of butane gas versus ethanol, and it is about 50Mj/kg versus 29.7Mj/kg. However, that is for 100% ethanol. Methylated Spirits sold in Australia is 95% ethanol and 5% water, with a bittering agent to render it undrinkable. So meths is going to have lower calorific value -- let's estimate around 25Mj/kg.

What that means is half the weight of butane to get the same amount of heating power as meths.

Very roughly then a 100g butane gas canister will be the same heating power as my 200ml bottles of meths.

OK, a 100g gas canister from MacPac weighs 190g, costs AU$10.99. A screw-on burner is $67.46, weighs 72g.
4 litres of methylated spirits from Bunnings is $15.72, which is $1.58 for 200ml.

So from a cost point of view, the meths is far cheaper. What about weight?

My kitchen kit, without the meths parts, packed with a 100g gas canister and screw-on burner, will weigh 488g. This is the base weight of 226g, +190g, +72g

Very similar from a weight perspective. So the choice really comes down to cost and environmental impact. Well, not entirely -- if you are only going hiking for a couple of days, then only one 50ml meths bottle is needed, so can reduce the carrying weight: 498g, take off three bottles at 58g each, the total weight of the kitchen kit becomes 324g.

Another consideration: how do you know how much gas is left? You might have to carry a spare canister just in case.

Just remembered something: if you buy the Diggers brand of methylated spirits here in AU, there is a warning on the label not to use it in alcohol stoves. The reason for this is the company is covering themselves legally, see this forum thread:

Interesting topic, gas versus alcohol!    

Tags: light