Sunday, 7 April 2013

Is there still a place for Trangia’s in the outdoors?

Is there a person out there that participates in outdoor activities that hasn`t at some point used the venerable Trangia stove? The familiar sound of clattering metal as the 3D jigsaw is put together, the sight of methylated spirits disappearing into the side well as if by magic and the frustration as you realise you`ve put the top on too soon and melted the rubber ring to the burner (you only do it the once!) with more and more alternatives coming onto the market how much longer will Trangia be with us?

 Having both personal and professional experience with the Trangia I can say I both love it and hate it. From a professional instructors perspective the Trangia is one of the best stoves on the market, the size, shape and low centre of gravity of the base of the unit makes it very difficult to tip over and spill contents over clients, the windshield is very high compared to the position of the burner meaning less heat is lost to the wind, the lack of any moving parts (if you discount the pin on the simmer ring) makes the Trangia one of the most reliable and maintenance free stoves on the market, with the exception of cleaning, another benefit of these aspects is that very little training has to be given to anyone in terms of cooking on Trangia`s, in most cases it is safety that has to be reaffirmed with most groups.

However from a personal perspective compared to other stoves the Trangia is very bulky, approx. 22cm x 10cm, very heavy 1170grams, very slow to boil one litre of water approx. 15-20 minutes (all dimensions based on Trangia 25)and fuel can be hard (but not impossible) to find.

Over the years alternatives have been slowly coming onto the market these range from flameless cook sets through lightweight wood burning stoves to homemade stoves, but do they really spell the end of the Trangia?

Trekmates flameless cook system

This is claimed to be a “revolution in cooking outdoors” and is one incredible piece of equipment, no liquid fuel is used, neither is gas or solid fuel, just add water to a sachet and within seconds heat is produced, within minutes the heat reached cooking temperature this stays hot for a few hours allowing potentially more than one meal to be cooked by one sachet, it has less bulk and weight than a Trangia, is just as maintenance free and is just as reliable. However the relative cost of running these stoves is high, £10 for 5 sachets, and each sachet can only be used once. There is also the amount of waste generated by the product, not only the used sachets themselves but the wrapper as well, all of which has to be carried out, although the same can be said about food in general, although a very good product the cost has to be considered as well as obtaining these sachets.

Wood/multi fuel stoves

These stoves have been gaining popularity in recent years within the bushcraft community because of there lightweight, compact and versatile nature, there are many different types of these stoves offered one example of which is the “honey stove”, this is several pieces of interlocking metal that clip together to form a rigid hexagonal stove capable of burning small amounts of wood or if a centre ring is used a Trangia burner, it can also be used in a square shape just using the Trangia burner, the advantage to this stove is depending on where you live fuel is always available and free in the form of small sticks for burning, it packs away to virtually nothing and weighs very little. However when burning wood using this stove takes practice and patience the risk of burns increases as does the risk of failure. Again a good product however training to use these stoves would be required to use them properly.

Homemade stoves

                These stoves have been gaining popularity amongst lightweight backpackers as they can be made at home using very basic materials, often using drinks cans, knives and pliers, there are several videos on You Tube of these stoves being made (search for “penny stoves”) they primarily run off of methylated spirits and can be built in different configurations, they are very lightweight, very compact and if built properly can be very fuel efficient and very strong, I have built one of these and defrosted a frozen block of ice to 80 degrees in one fill, they have a relatively low centre of gravity but because of there light weight can be blown around by wind fairly easily, further disadvantages of these stoves are if built incorrectly can be inefficient and spill fuel, other disadvantages include the need to carry a windshield to decrease heat loss, the cost of these stoves makes these a very promising alternative however because of the disadvantages these stoves require a lot of practice not only to build properly but to get the most out of them as well.

How have Trangia adapted?

                Although the design has changed little since its introduction, Trangia has adapted what it makes to stay current, including making the sets out of titanium, cutting a hole in the windshield to allow gas burners to fit, introducing the “mini Trangia” which is a single pot compact lightweight version of the Trangia as well as other adaptations.


                The fact that Trangia`s are still being used by various companies as their main group stoves shows that Trangia`s still have a place in the outdoors and probably will for the foreseeable future, be it because of cost, safety or ease of use.

As with all outdoor equipment personal preference is key to any decision that you make.

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