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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > Brasslite Turbo 2D stove > Test Report by David WilkesTest series by David Wilkes
Brasslite Turbo 2D Backpacking Stove
Tester BiographyI started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).
The Brasslite Turbo 2D (note the “D” indicates the stove uses a double wall construction) is a brass alcohol fuel, ultra-light backpacking stove. The 2D is similar to but larger than the 1D. The 2D is intended for minimum pot diameter of 5 inches (12.7 cm) and the 1D is intended for maximum pot diameter of 5 inches (12.7 cm). Both stoves are constructed using brass with an attached stainless steel mesh pot stand.
The manufacturer’s web site lists the stove as the “2D” while the invoice I received used the older “II-D” nomenclature. I will be using the newer 2D label or throughout this report.
The image to the right is from the manufacturer’s web page showing the older version.
Some background on my experience with alcohol stoves: I was lucky enough to test the Brasslite Turbo 1D a few years ago. This stove was my introduction to alcohol stoves. Since then I have used it off and on as well as experimented with various designs of homemade alcohol stoves. Most of these experiments were fun but rarely resulted in a product superior to, or even on par with, commercial stoves I already own, alcohol or otherwise. I have also experimented and researched various fuel sources and some tricks. One constant I have encountered is that while I love the weight savings of alcohol stoves, the conditions I encounter during the winter months (just so happens when this test is occurring) have proved to be a challenge for the alcohol stoves I have used. The primary challenge is in getting the stove lit and insulating it from the frozen ground/snow during use. I will go into that in more detail if/when I encounter it during the testing.
The box I received, in addition to the stove itself was one of the aluminum wind screens and an 8oz (237 ml) “Alcohol Dispenser Bottle”. Both of these are optional items that are offered on the Brasslite website. NOTE: I already have my own alcohol fuel bottles (one identical to the one I received) and wind screens (one also identical to what I received) and will probably be using the ones I already have during this test. I only mention that to explain why they will look rather beat up and old in my pictures rather than new and shiny.
When I received this stove I was very curious as to what changes have been made since the version I tested. The most obvious change is the bottom flange is flat as opposed to the fluted priming pan of the previous version. I never did find that priming pan very useful as it did not hold much alcohol so was not really effective at priming in cold weather, and it was very difficult to fill without spilling fuel on the ground (a potentially dangerous issue). The second and not so obvious difference is that the parts of the original version were soldered together while the new version uses “a combination of stamping, folding and tack welding, similar to the manufacture of food cans”. Presumably this makes the manufacture simpler and less costly. The stainless steel pot support is still soldered to the body of the stove like the previous version. Like the previous version the stove still has an adjustable brass “simmer ring”, which is a thin brass sleeve that can be rotated to open/cover the side air holes to adjust the stove's flame height.
There is also an option to have pot stand extensions added to the stove. These were on the 1D I tested and while they did greatly improve the stability of the stove, I found they made packing the stove more difficult and ended up removing them. So I am glad they did not come with this one.
The stove, like most alcohol stoves, is filled by pouring fuel directly into the top opening. Experience has shown this can be difficult to accomplish without spilling at least a little, and this was true for my first test uses of this stove in my kitchen. Since alcohol burns with mostly a clear flame, this can be dangerous. I have found a few tricks for this that I will go into in the field report if/when I find them relevant. Lighting the stove involves inserting a flame (match, lighter, burning stick, etc) into the opening of the stove. Like with all the alcohol stoves I have used, this often results in a small burst of flame that on occasion has singed the hair off the back of my hand.
Of note is there is no good way of recovering unused fuel from these stoves (this is common for most alcohol stoves). It is intended to be filled and then let burn until empty. This seems wasteful but in practice I have found it to not really be a problem. It should also be noted that this stove, like most alcohol stoves, is not intended to be refilled while lit. In fact I would strongly caution adding fuel until the stove has had gone out completely and had a chance to cool. Since alcohol burns with an almost invisible flame I find it very difficult to tell for sure if an alcohol stove is really out. So I wait until I can handle the stove with my bare hands before adding fuel.
Safety Notes: One trick I have learned is to add a bit of salt to an alcohol stove when filling. This causes the flame to be a bit yellow making it easier to see. In the field I have found this to be only partially effective, so often do not do it. Another safety tip is coloring the alcohol to reduce the chance of accidently drinking. I have experimented with using various size containers for holding the fuel so I can carry only what I expect to need. However since the alcohol is clear (looks like water) and with one exception (pure grain alcohol) poisonous, this could present a danger. So I put a bit of food coloring in the fuel to make it a nasty green or yellow color to deter accidental ingestion. I also try to clearly mark the container. However the easiest method I have found is to use an alcohol dispenser bottle (like the one I received for this test) as it looks nothing like a drink container in addition to making it easy to measure and dispense.
On the Brasslite website there is a good explanation as to why the stove is made from brass, as well as some other information about alcohol stoves and fuel. There is also a large volume of information (not to mention lots of conflicting opinions) about alcohol stoves available on the internet.
After inspecting the stove I gave it an initial test using alcohol I have on hand (denatured alcohol from a hardware store) and the three pots I use most often. The test was performed in my kitchen solely to verify its function. I was able to fill and light the stove as mentioned above with no problem. My 0.9 L Titanium pot, with a somewhat disfigured bottom due to attempting to melt snow without priming, rocked a bit but was reasonably stable. My 0.8 L Jetboil pot fit nicely on the stove and seemed stable. My aluminum GSI soloist cup fit well, but the flames from the stove went all the way up the sides of the stove and so I had to remove the lid for fear of it burning.
As with the 1D version the simmer ring of the 2D is a thin brass sleeve that wraps around the body of the stove and can be adjusted to open/close the air intake vents and thereby adjust the flame height. As with the 1D, in my tests it was difficult to adjust while the stove was in use. The ring is difficult to move without having a firm grasp on the stove, and when in use both the stove and the ring get too hot to touch with bare hands. I will go into more detail about this as I see how it performs in the field testing.
Before taking the stove out I did some repeated tests under controlled conditions (my kitchen and backyard) to get used to it, compare it to the original Turbo 1D that I have and to test various fuels and lighting methods. In my Initial report I mentioned the unsuitability of isopropyl alcohol for use as a stove fuel because of its low percentage of alcohol. Since posting that I stumbled across a product listed as having 91%. I purchased this for some testing. I was surprised to find, even in ideal conditions (indoors) it was difficult to light and when it did light burned cool and dirty. 1oz (30ml) of fuel was insufficient to boil even 0.5l of water and in the processes left the bottom of my pot covered in a thick layer of soot.
I performed a few indoor tests of the Turbo 2D stove using the hardware store alcohol I sometimes use as well as the yellow “Heet” auto fuel additive. My tests showed very little difference when it came to lighting and boiling water with these fuels, beyond my previous experience of the Heet product being slightly easier to light and requiring slightly less fuel to boil water. However the difference between these two was so slight as to be irrelevant to how much fuel I would use for a given task, so in practical terms they about equal.
I have found the larger diameter of the stove (relative to the Turbo 1D) requires a bit more care when I am filling the stove to avoid spilling the fuel. As a result I have taken to tipping the stove at an angle as I start to pour and this has been quite effective. I have tried filling the stove using both the optional fuel bottle we received as well as smaller containers I have ranging from 0.5 oz (15 ml) to 2 oz (60 ml) all with similar results.
In my IR I mentioned that this version of the stove does not have the priming ring that the original had and that the large flat surface might serve that purpose. My experience so far is that the top of the stove will not retain enough fuel for this purpose. However since I don’t think the preheating ring in the original design was very effective either, I don’t see this as a negative, just an observation.
As mentioned in my IR (Initial Report) the simmer ring, while it does work to control the flame and thus the heat of the stove, is difficult to use. The ring can be difficult to move, and since the stove gets very hot some sort of protection must be used. Making this more difficult is that it would be very dangerous to knock over the stove while it is lit, so care must be used when trying to adjust the simmer ring. I have tried lighting the stove with the simmer ring closed and found even indoors it makes the stove difficult to light so would not do this in the field especially in cold conditions. As a result I have taken to lighting the stove with the air vents open and then adjusting it as/if needed after the stove is fully lit.
My first use of this stove in the field was during a day hike. I used the stove to make miso soup in my 0.9 l titanium pot for lunch. The air temperatures were hovering just above freezing and there was no wind in the canyon I was hiking. I used 1oz (30 ml) of Heet fuel to heat 2c (473 ml) of water for my soup and estimate that it required only about half of the fuel to bring the water to a boil. The second outing was an overnight trip where I again used my 0.9 l titanium pot to heat tea during my lunch break, cook soup (grain with chicken bouillon) for dinner, and cream of wheat (the quick 2.5min cooking version, not instant) for breakfast. On this trip the temperatures were just below freezing at night and just above during the day (very unusual for this area and time of year). For the overnight trip I forgot to bring a wind screen and at the last minute I decided to bring the 8oz (237 ml) rather than the individual 1oz (30 ml) bottles I had planned. As a result of not having the wind screen and there being a slight breeze during this trip I ended up using twice the fuel I was expecting to. Had I gone with my original plan of bringing only the fuel I expected to use I would not have had enough. This also gives an idea of how much even a slight breeze can have on an alcohol stove. Please note that it is my experience that this is true for all of the alcohol stoves I have used not just this one.
The Turbo 2D being larger than the Turbo 1D, and most other alcohol stoves I have used, creates a more stable platform for my pots. However I discovered that the flat bottom of the stove, vs. legs like some other kinds of stoves have, can make it difficult to get the stove stable. If the surface the stove is on is uneven it tends to rock, and this is exaggerated by the height of the stove such that the water in the pot can slosh back and forth. To combat this I have taken to getting the stove as level as I can and then using whatever I have on hand (such as twigs) to shim under the stove to prevent it from being able to rock and this has been quite effective. Please note that most of my pressurized gas stoves that I own have the same limitation, and since most are taller than the Turbo 2D it is even more important to ensure they are stable.
With this stove, and has been my experience with all alcohol stoves I have used, it is not really feasible to put the stove out once lit, and even if I could it is very difficult to recover unused fuel from the stove so it would be pointless to bother trying. Since it would be unsafe to add fuel to the stove after it is lit because of the danger inherent squirting a flammable liquid into a fire, it does require a bit of planning when deciding how much fuel to use when filling the stove. When I have not added enough, I had to wait to be absolutely sure the stove was out before adding more fuel and relighting. It also seems like the stove lights easier and performs better when starting with more fuel so I have been trying to err on the side of starting off with more fuel then I expect to need.
Overall I am quite pleased with the stove. The new design looks to be at least as good as the previous and I like the added stability and versatility of the larger size (vs. my Turbo 1D).
On the Umtanum Canyon trip the temperatures were a little over freezing during the day and dropped to a little below freezing at night. The weather this spring was unusually warm and wet so the ground was wet and the air damp. As such I again used the silicone pad to insulate the stove from the ground. I also used my homemade aluminum wind screen. I used the stove to cook broth with tortellini for dinner and cream of wheat for breakfast. For both meals the stove and alcohol were cold (I left my fuel bottle in my pack, outside my tent over night) so it took a bit of effort to get the stove lit.
On the second trip I hiked into the Ancient lakes area, but due to the unseasonably warm weather it was rather crowded so I hiked down to the shore of the Columbia River where I camped in a stand of trees near the beach. At dusk I used the stove to heat water for tea then used it to make Ramen. In the morning I decided to sleep in, so when I did finally get up I made more tea and had a cold breakfast before heading back to the trail head.
During this phase of the testing I had the opportunity to use this stove with a new pot. This pot has wide bottom (7.5” / 19 cm), almost a frying pan, and made of anodized aluminum. As I have experienced before the wide bottom pot is more energy efficient than narrower ones and the wide base of the Turbo 2D stove was reasonably stable.
During this testing I have not made any effort to be gentle with this stove. When not in use I have simply tossed it in with the rest of my cooking gear. As expected the stove has proven to be strong and durable, and while it has become discolored from use, this is only cosmetic only. I fully expect to have this stove for years to come.
One of the things I like about gear testing is it gets me to really think about my gear choices. While I am fond of the light weight and simplicity of alcohol stoves, they are also not as convenient as some other options I have. As such, except for testing purposes, I tend to only use alcohol stoves for warm weather trips where my priority is reducing my pack weight. I anticipate this will be the case with this stove. However, as mentioned previously I also have an earlier version of the Turbo 1D and anticipate when I take an alcohol stove, I will probably opt for the larger Turbo 2D in most cases, primarily for its greater stability.
This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at Brasslite and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > Brasslite Turbo 2D stove > Test Report by David Wilkes