BRASSLITE TURBO 1D BACKPACKING STOVE
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
March 26, 2015
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Brasslite Turbo 1D Backpacking Stove
Manufacturer: Brasslite, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.brasslite.com
MSRP: $25.00 US
Listed & Verified Weight: 47 g (1.7 oz)
Listed Product Materials:
Body: 30 gauge brass shim - 0.305 mm (~0.01 in)
Inner cup & simmer sleeve: 32 gauge brass shim - 0.203 mm (~0.01 in)
Stainless steel wire cloth and jeweler's silver solder
Listed and Measured Dimensions:
Chamber and stand width: 50 mm (1.97 in) -- Measured at 51 mm (2 in)*
Base width: 65 mm (2.56 in) -- Measured at 67 mm (2.63 in)*
Chamber height: 38 mm (1.5 in) -- Measured at 32 mm (1.25 in)*
Overall height: 64 mm (2.52 in) -- Measured at 59 mm (2.32 in)*
Side port diameter: 8 mm (0.31 in) -- Measured at 9 mm (0.37 in)*
Top port diameter: 25 mm (1 in) -- Verified
Fuel capacity: 1 fl oz (30 ml) -- Verified
*All my measurements are based on a tape measure with measurements to the 32nd of an inch.
Per the manufacturer the stove is designed as a minimalist solo stove suitable for one person for use with cups and small pots having a maximum base diameter of 5 inches (12.7 cm) and a maximum capacity of 1 liter.
The Brasslite stove I'm testing over the course of the series also arrived with two accessory items offered by the manufacturer. They are not included in the price of the stove, and must be purchased separately, but I will give specifications on these items as well.
|Stove and Optional Accessories
Optional Accessory #1
Custom 8 Ounce Capacity Alcohol Dispenser Bottle (237 ml)
MSRP: $6 US
Listed and Confirmed Weight: 37 g (1.3 oz)
Listed Measurements: 6 in x 3.5 in x 1.5 in (15 cm x 9 cm x 4 cm)
Measured at: 6.25 in x 3.63 in x 1.63 in (16 cm x 9 cm x 4 cm)
The dispenser bottle has a screw cap for filling and a flip-top cap designed to eliminate removing and replacing the nozzle with a cap each time the bottle is used. The dispensing reservoir capacity is 0.5 oz (~15 ml) with a second 0.25 oz (~7.5 ml) graduation reading.
Optional Accessory #2
Brasslite Ultralight Aluminum Windscreen
MSRP: $10 US
Listed and Measured Weight before Trimming: 48 g (1.7 oz)
Listed Dimensions: 6 in x 30 in (15 cm x 76 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 6.38 in x 28.88 in (16.3 cm x 73 cm)
The windscreen is a softened aluminum strip with lengthwise folded edge. The user may trim the aluminum to fit individual cook pot sizes. A standard office paper punch is also needed to make venting holes along the bottom. The windscreen also arrived with a directions page on how to cut an angled slot in the aluminum for use with pots containing handles. I trimmed 5.5 in (14 cm) of aluminum and created a slot for use with one of my pots giving me a windscreen that weighed 38 g (1.3 oz) afterwards.
The Brasslite Turbo 1D that I will be reviewing over the course of the series is actually an evolution of the current model available on the company website. The key variations in the new model involve replacing the majority of soldering with a combination of stamping, folding and tack welding. The fluted pan of the current stove has also been replaced with a flat base that is designed to allow the simmer sleeve to slide with less resistance. The base of the stove has also been concaved to raise the fuel chamber slightly off the ground. Brasslite states that this will reduce convective heat loss. Finally, the quality of the brass and finishing has also been improved. All these changes result in a stove that weighs less than the currently available stove. At the time of this writing the new models are not yet available for sale on Brasslite's website.
|Stove in Use with Denatured Alcohol
When the stove arrived I opened the package to find a product that appeared to be well thought out in design and the craftsmanship appeared impeccable. I eagerly spent time measuring the stove in both weight and dimensions as I looked forward to grabbing some alcohol and seeing how it burned!
I then noticed the instructions that came with the optional windscreen that accompanied this stove. The instructions centered on cutting excess aluminum to match pot sizes and trimming angles for pots that have handles.
I grabbed the three primary solo pots I use in the field and needed to make a decision before cutting the aluminum. I often use a GSI Halulite Minimalist, a MSR Titan Kettle or a discontinued REI TiWare pot (this last pot was manufactured by Evernew and is still available via that manufacturer). The REI pot is shallow and wide while the other two pots are narrow and tall, so I decided I'd make my cuts to the aluminum to match the majority of the pots. Should I use the REI pot during the review series I will simply use an existing windscreen I currently own.
|MSR Titan Kettle on the Brasslite
This review centers on the Brasslite stove, but I mentioned the information above as the manufacturer has clearly stated that a windscreen is necessary for optimal stove performance.
The accompanying information stated the stove would burn for an average of 10 minutes using 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel. The average time to boil 0.5 L (~16 fl oz) of water was 6 minutes. These tests were conducted in an interior environment at 21 C (70 F) with no wind simulation, but using the windscreen. Elevation during the tests was roughly 24 m (80 ft) with the stove sitting on a plywood surface. The information clarified that varying pots, weather conditions and other environmental factors would affect both fuel consumption and boil times.
After I prepared the windscreen and read the instructions I took the stove out to do a little initial testing!
Conditions for testing: 11 C (52 F) with winds from the south at 19 km/h (12 mi/h). I placed the stove on a solid piece of plywood on my back deck.
I've used varying alcohol stoves for several years and I'm used to getting a rapid boil with 15 ml (0.5 fl oz) of fuel so this is how I started my initial backyard test. I was using my Titan Kettle with 0.5 L (~16 fl oz) of tap water. After roughly 8 minutes the fuel expired and I had no boil. I stopped my timer, added another 15 ml (0.5 fl oz) of fuel and restarted the timer. It took approximately 12 1/2 minutes to get a rapid boil in these conditions with 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel.
I then tried my MSR Halulite Pot, but now started with 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel. It took the same amount of time to garner a rapid boil.
|GSI Halulite at a Rapid Boil
The next day as I was penning my initial report, I pondered if a wind vortex was effecting my boil times. Although the stove was on a flat surface, it was elevated on my deck. There is a chance wind could have affected the test from below.
I decided to do one more 'backyard' test on my front stoop. I completed this test on my concrete walkway just off my front porch. Conditions for this test were are as follows: 2 C (36 F) with southerly winds at 21 km/h (13 mi/h).
I used the MSR Titan Kettle starting with 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel. Some 24 hours later with cooler temperatures and similar wind conditions it still took just under 12 minutes to bring the same amount of water to a rapid boil.
These conditions were certainly cooler and windier than the sterile tests conducted by the manufacturer, but I feel as if I need to ensure I have at least a minimum of 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel in the field to boil the amount of water I typically use for a meal. The Brasslite literature mentioned adjusting your windscreen circumference and airflow holes around your pot to maximize stove functionality. I've used similar windscreens with these pots for some time, so I'm comfortable with the setup I have, but I may adjust the windscreen a little tighter and/or looser to see if I can shorten the time to boil in the future.
I'm actually less concerned about the time required to reach a rapid boil than overall fuel consumption. A trail buddy of mine told me a good while ago that if I wanted to cook with alcohol "I just needed to be patient". If I wanted a fast boil, I simply needed a different fuel, he clarified. However, this same friend has made several stoves for me in his garage that use an average of 15 ml (0.5 fl oz) of fuel to bring the same amount of water to a boil in repeated field trials.
After testing rapid boil times I did test the simmer function on the stove by closing the vents and I was quite pleased. Using this function also extended fuel life by around 8 minutes.
Overall I'm excited and prepared to begin testing the Brasslite stove over the course of the next few months. It appears to be a well-made product, and the fact that it has shaved weight off the current version appears exciting!
I'm excited not only with the lightweight nature of the stove, but also the fact it should easily nest inside any pot I plan to use on the trail. It appears much sturdier than most of the alcohol stoves I've used that have been designed out of soda or pet food cans, so I don't suspect I'll have any durability issues.
In my initial tests before taking the stove in the field it has taken longer to reach a rapid boil than the literature suggests. I'm not so concerned with the time to boil as I am with the fuel consumption. The primary reason I use an alcohol stove in the backcountry is to conserve weight. If I'm carrying additional fuel in place of a lighter stove it may defeat the overall purpose.
I do look forward to testing the Brasslite stove over the next several months to see if I can minimize fuel consumption by dialing it in. I'm also interested in attempting to simmer with the stove. Many alcohol stoves don't allow such a benefit, or if they offer the feature they don't do it so well. I was able to do so with the Brasslite in my initial backyard test. This excites me.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Initial Review portion of this test series I mentioned the stove was not available on the Brasslite website, however, as of the posting of the Field Report I can notify that the manufacturer does now offer this model on their site.
28 - 30 November, 2014; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I was able to sneak out with my children for a three-day/two-night outing. Temperatures ranged from 25 F (-4 C) to right at freezing and it was windy. The valley and forest protected from the majority of the gusts and we covered around 6 mi (10 km) during the outing. Elevations averaged 650-800 ft (198-244 m).
19 - 21 December, 2014; South Cumberland State Park, near Tracy City, Tennessee. On a trip to visit friends over the holidays I was able to take in a solo three-day/two-night outing in my old stomping grounds. I trekked the entire Fiery Gizzard Trail up and back covering roughly 27 mi (43.5 km). Elevations average a fairly constant 1750 ft (533 m) along the ridge with several drops into the gulf. Conditions were dry with lows around freezing and I measured a high of 55 F (13 C).
1 February, 2015; Eagle Creek City Park, Indianapolis, Indiana. I'd been cooped up with winter weather a little too long in January, so I took in a 6.75 mi (11 km) hike on the Red Trail during a snow event that turned to rain near the end of my two hour day hike. Had I not stopped to enjoy a hot snack and drink on the trail I'd have likely avoided the cold rains.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the Field Reporting portion of this test series I was able to use the stove in the three aforementioned instances. I had been a little concerned about the time to boil I'd experienced during the Initial Review, so I ensured I had a new container of fuel before I used the stove in the backcountry.
|Ready For Some Coffee
I used the stove with my 0.95 qt (.9 L) TiWare pot on the Tennessee trip and my 0.90qt (0.85 L) Titan Kettle pot on the two Indiana outings. Although, I had my children on the one trip I used a different stove setup for cooking their meals. They aren't as patient as I am when it comes to a hot dinner.
The stove was used primarily to boil water for dehydrated meals or to heat water for coffee, save the day-hike when I used it to heat both water and soup. I used it for breakfast and dinner on most occasions and the air temperatures were usually right around freezing. To boil 16 oz (~0.5L) it averaged around 12 minutes to boil in nearly every instance. The longest instance was 15 minutes. I never was able to bring that volume to a boil in less than 10 minutes, and I generally used a little over 1 oz (30 ml) of denatured alcohol per boil. I boiled two cups (0.5 L) of water a total of eight times on the two backpacking outings.
On the day hike I heated a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup that I snagged from the kid's section of our pantry. This was about the same liquid volume as the previous boils, and it took right around 12 minutes to bring it to a sub-boiling temperature that was pleasurable to eat. I also boiled water for coffee on that afternoon, roughly 10 oz (0.3 L) and this also was about a 12 minute process. My entire break on the hike was 35 minutes in preparation and boiling before hiking out again with a hot cup of coffee in hand.
|Side View of the Stove
The stove gets the job done, albeit a little slower than I expected. I'm generally accustomed to achieving a rapid boil with similar amounts of water in the six to seven minute range. The stove also tends to use considerably more fuel than I anticipated. In fact, it uses nearly twice the amount I had expected. That stated, exterior elements can certainly affect a stove like this, and perhaps I have yet to precisely dial in how to best preserve fuel.
The Brasslite Turbo 1D stove is designed as a lightweight option for backcountry cooking. It heats both my drinks and my meals. In my opinion it takes a little longer to boil water and uses considerably more fuel than I expected. In fact, I generally pack twice the amount of fuel that I've historically taken into the woods for similar trips. This adds overall weight to my pack.
I do look forward to continuing to use the stove over the coming months to see if I can 'dial it in' and bring down both my time to boil and my fuel consumption.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
27 February - 1 March, 2015; Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, near Bloomington, Indiana. I had a last minute hall pass this weekend with little time to plan. I still have minimal backcountry knowledge concerning Indiana, but I am familiar with these trails, so I snuck in a three-day/two-night outing in this forest. Temperatures ranged from 29 F (-2 C) to just above freezing. I experienced snow that covered the canopy and the ground. I hiked around 11 mi (18 km) during the outing. Elevations averaged 650-800 ft (198-244 m).
14 - 15 March, 2015; Mounds State Park, Anderson, Indiana. It was a long cold winter in Indiana, and this was the first opportunity since November I had to get my children out for a little backwoods rest and recreation. This overnight outing had lows just above freezing and highs just over 60 F (15.5 C). We hiked about 2 mi (3.2 km) of trails and stayed in the family camping area. It was sunny during the day and clear and dry in the evening. Save the mound, the average elevation in the area is a constant 879 ft (268 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD & FINAL SUMMARY
Stove performance was fairly similar in this portion of the test series as it was during the last. Boiling 16 oz (~0.5L) of water took nearly 12 - 15 minutes in every instance. There were two occurrences in the cooler temperatures of the Hoosier National Forest that the fuel levels depleted before the water came to a full boil. At that point I'd have to refuel, delaying the overall time to boil.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Based on either adding additional fuel to the stove at the onset to ensure it didn't run empty during the burn or adding additional fuel at the mid-burn caused me to generally have some left after my water did reach a rapid boil. I found no practical way to save it, causing me to both waste fuel and carry more on the trail than I typically do.
As with my autumn trip with my children, the Brasslite wouldn't have been my key choice for three people since it is designed as a solo backpacking stove, but in the spirit of testing I used it for all of us this time. Of course I had to be the patient one and wait for my dinner!
The stove certainly serves its purpose and it is lightweight. I was able to simmer during testing, but I'm yet to become extremely proficient at doing so. I don't generally have a need to use the simmer function based on my primary cooking style, so it hasn't been too much of a concern for me. I merely dabbled to see if I could get the function to work.
Although the stove is light, I find that I have to carry more fuel than I've historically been accustomed to so I've found that a little frustrating. The stove also takes a little longer than I expected to bring water to a rapid boil. I really can't complain about this, because speed time to boil has never truly been my expectation when using a stove of this sort. If I need a faster boiling method I'll choose a different type of stove.
All stated I've enjoyed testing the Brasslite Turbo 1D Backpacking Stove. When the stove arrived I was somewhat concerned about the wire frame and wondered how well it would hold up during the test series. That never was an issue. The stove did fall from my gear cabinet once and in doing so the base became bent, but I was able to straighten it out without any tools. I'm certainly satisfied with the sturdiness of this little brass stove. I'll keep it in my gear stash and certainly use it again in the future, though it likely won't be my primary go-to stove. I can see myself using it on low mileage trips when I have plenty of time to laze around camp and spend time cooking!
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Brasslite, LLC for allowing me to test this stove.
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