BRASSLITE TURBO 2D BACKPACKING STOVE
TEST SERIES BY SHAWN CHAMBERS
April 01, 2015
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sound_foundation AT yahoo DOT com
Lexington, Kentucky, USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
182 lb (82.60 kg)
Backpacking Background: I love Appalachian hikes and being in the woods. My preference is for a hike that leads to a stellar view. Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina are my usual stomping grounds. I increasingly find myself enjoying longer, multi-day hikes and I try to find a good balance between pack weight and comfort. I generally have a base weight of 12-15 lb (5.4 - 6.8 kg).
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Turbo 2D by Brasslite
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: brasslite.com
MSRP: US $35.00
Listed Weight: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Measured Weight: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Other Listed Details:
Width of chamber and stand: 60 mm (2.4 in)
Width of base: 80 mm (3.0 in)
Height of chamber: 43 mm (1.7 in)
Overall Height: 70 mm (2.8 in)
Side Port Diameter: 8 mm (0.3 in)
Top Port Diameter: 25 mm (1.0 in)
Fuel capacity: 2 fl oz (60 ml)
Additionally, Brasslite offers the same stove in a smaller model designed with one person in mind. It is called (surprise) the Turbo 1D.
The Brasslite Turbo 2D Backpacking Stove (hereafter generally "stove") arrived well packaged and with some extra optional accessories included - an 8 fl oz (237 ml) plastic fuel dispenser bottle and a Brasslite Ultralight Aluminum Windscreen. These are sold separately on the manufacturer's website with an MSRP of US $6 and US $10 respectively.
Of course the real attraction for me was the stove. I immediately enjoyed the warm glow of the brass. I knew from the website that the material was 30 gauge (.202 mm) brass shim for the stove body and 32 gauge (.254 mm) brass shim for the simmer sleeve, but those are scales of measurement that I am not well acquainted with. Hefting it prior to putting it on my scale I appreciated the lightness, but a firm squeeze of the stove body proved it to be unyielding. The simmering sleeve moved fairly freely around the body of the stove and it is apparent that by controlling how open the air ports are the user can control the intensity of the flame. I am already wondering how delicate the operation will be to get a true simmer going.
I measured the stove and found the manufacturer specifications spot on with the exception of the base, which I found to be 1 mm (0.04 in) larger - not a big deal to me. I did note that the handle of the simmer ring projects just beyond the base perimeter so for nesting purposes the absolute widest point of the stove registers 85 mm (3.35 in) on my tape measure.
The construction seemed fine to me. The stainless mesh wire top is well secured by silver solder (per Brasslite) and the stamped brass parts fit nicely together with no signs of gaps or any loosening. I can understand if some people were to find the stove slightly crude in appearance. Yes, the edges are a bit sharp and there are some tiny dings, scratches and minor cosmetic blemishes that some may find off-putting, but I think it only makes it more rugged and rustic.
As I mentioned before, alongside the stove I was also provided with some optional accessories. The fuel dispenser body has a wide screw top for bulk filling and a separate flip lid for more precise fuel control when filling and priming the stove. Given that the Brasslite Turbo 2D Stove is designed with multi-person backpacking in mind this larger fuel bottle may come in handy.
The provided aluminum windscreen came accordion folded in a plastic bag with instructions on how to make a windscreen with details on sizing, added ventilation holes, etc. The screen material is flexible and has a nice finished edge along the length of the top and bottom. I originally was going to use the aluminum flashing screen I have made for my "cat stove", but this will give me a chance to create a truly custom screen.
|Stove plus some optional accessories
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The Brasslite Turbo 2D stove comes with a one-sided instruction sheet. It covers the following items:
Stove Return Policy
Important Note About Using a Windscreen
Acceptable Fuels for Brasslite Stoves
Using the Simmer Sleeve
Instructions? I don't need no stinkin' instructions! Well, maybe some. A trial by fire is one thing, but this Brasslite stove has a double wall construction (the 'D' in '2D') and the instructions are very useful to learn how to prime it properly and ensure a proper start. There is plenty of useful information on this sheet for using and maintaining the stove (including cleaning if/when necessary).
I found the directions straightforward and easy to follow, but I also have a fair amount of experience using alcohol stoves. Many people are visual learners and most products I use have plenty of graphics on the instruction sheet. This is not the case here and I think that for people with limited exposure to alcohol stoves an illustration or two might be beneficial.
TRYING IT OUT
To take the Brasslite stove for a test spin I chose a controlled environment for the trial run. Using the dispenser bottle I squeezed a small bit of priming fuel in between the double walls as instructed before depositing a half ounce or so of fuel into the main chamber through the top opening. One flick of a match and the primer was lit and then the stove. I didn't do anything the first time except watch it burn. After a few minutes (I didn't time it) the fire burned out and it was time for a second try.
|My gear test facility...my garage!
For the second burn I wanted to do something more proper so I grabbed my 1.4 L (47 fl oz) aluminum pot and put roughly 16 oz (~ 0.5 L) of water inside. I reprimed, refueled and relit the stove, but this time I used a full ounce of denatured alcohol. Placing the pot on top I watched and waited. My mom always told me a watched pot never boils, but she lied. This one came to a nice rolling boil in just under 6 minutes. Since the flame was still burning I followed the instructions on how to safely move the simmer sleeve and rotated it to block the air ports to reduce the flame. Now while it wasn't the "true" simmer of my gas canister stove it was a noticeable difference and will definitely be something I plan on tinkering with. The stove continued to burn before finally petering out around 12 minutes.
Granted, this is a nearly ideal setup with zero wind, but I wanted to have an idea of what it can do before assembling the windscreen and using outdoors. For the coming tests I will provide more test details (e.g. initial water temperature, air temperature, pot base diameter, etc), but this "down and dirty" run is already promising to me.
So far I like what I see with the Brasslite Turbo 2D stove. I find the brass appealing. Most of my gear is aluminum or titanium, so this is something new and a bit uncommon both for me and in the backpacking industry. There are many cottage industries producing gear now and it is usually such smaller manufacturers that are willing to try the unexpected. I know brass is durable since it is the stuff of shell casings, door knockers, and fireplace implements, but the design has to be good too. Otherwise, it will be just another quaint niche product in an already niche industry.
I look forward to testing this stove over the coming months using the provided windscreen and in a variety of conditions both as a solo hiker and in a group.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
For all tests I used an aluminum 1.4 L (48 fl oz) pot with a base diameter of 5 inches (12.7 cm) and a height of 5.25 inches (13.3 cm). Per Brasslite's website the recommendations are to use a pot with a minimum base diameter of 5 inches (12.7 cm) and a maximum capacity of 2 liters (68 fl oz). Assume all references to cooking pot or pot refers to my stated specifications unless otherwise stated.
Brasslite notes that in addition to denatured alcohol the user can employ pure methanol or grain alcohol. I live in a state where pure grain alcohol can be sold, but I prefer to use denatured alcohol due to cost and availability (i.e. some counties in the state are "dry"). Assume any mention of fuel below refers to denatured alcohol.
DATE: November 16, 2014
TRIP LOCATION: Red River Gorge
TYPE OF TRIP: Day Hike
DISTANCE COVERED: Approximately 8 miles (13 km)
WEATHER: overcast and drizzling rain 38 - 40 F (3.3 - 4.4 C)
TEST ELEVATION: 1080 ft (329 m)
I ventured out with three other hikers on a cool, crisp day to tackle the Hanson's Point/Gray's Arch Loop. I knew the day would be cool with rain expected so I thought I would surprise the couple my wife and I were hiking with by making hot tea at our first stop. Hanson's Point is a narrow sandstone ridge completely exposed with incredible views, but a steady wind is omnipresent. I'm glad I packed the windscreen that Brasslite included with the stove, because it would absolutely be needed today.
Once we stopped, I unpacked my gear and got started. I did not bring the large fuel bottle provided by Brasslite since I knew I was only going to do two boils. Instead, I brought my own smaller 4 fl oz (120 ml) bottle. I primed the stove through one of the air ports and then added 1 fl oz (30 ml) of fuel to the inner fuel chamber. One flick of the lighter and it lit instantly, but I only knew that by feeling the heat since the flame was invisible even on an overcast day. I positioned the aluminum windscreen, filled my cooking pot with 22 fl oz (650 ml) of water and set it on the stove. This was a bit more water than the two cups (half liter) that I had been experimenting with at home so I was curious to find the boil time. As it turned out, the additional water didn't make much difference even with the wind and colder temperatures. I had a nice boil going in just over 7 minutes. After removing the pot, I eyeballed the minimal remaining fuel and just let it burn out, which it did about a minute or two later.
|A watched pot...
After filling two cups for our companions, I put another 22 fl oz (650 ml) in the pot for my wife and I. Because I had to refill the stove with fuel, I was glad that it took only about 30 seconds once the stove was out for the heat to dissipate from the wire stove support. The brass was still plenty warm, but I was able to lift the stove by the wire support and prime it and refill with another 1 fl oz (30 ml) of fuel and relight. This time I achieved a nice boil in only 6.5 minutes.
I enjoyed testing the stove in such an exposed location. The windscreen really did its job and the flame never faltered. I kept my lighter handy because I was certain the stove would be extinguished, but it performed admirably. There is no cover at all to block the wind and it was good to test the stove in such an area. Yes, I could have filled my pot close to the brim, added enough fuel and boiled this all at once, but I intentionally did two separate burns to see if I could get some fairly consistent results and I did.
DATE: November 29-30, 2014
TRIP LOCATION: Clifty Wilderness
TYPE OF TRIP: Overnight Hike
DISTANCE COVERED: 8.25 miles (13.3 km)
WEATHER: overcast with temperature range of 45-50 F (7.2 - 10 C)
TEST ELEVATION: 1200 ft (366 m)
An unexpected shift in the weather opened up a great opportunity for an overnight hike and a chance to spend some time really using the Turbo 2D stove. My wife and I were able to get another couple to do a point-to-point hike on the Swift Camp Creek Trail in the Clifty Wilderness, but our friends would be doing their own cooking.
I wanted to do some actual pot cooking and not just boiling water for freezer bag meals so I opted to bring the large fuel bottle that Brasslite provided. I figured I would be doing at least two long cooks and probably three or four more for hot beverages. The 8 fl oz (235 ml) bottle, which is sold separately, weighs in at 1.3 oz (36.9 g) on my scale and I filled it to near capacity with denatured alcohol. I needed more capacity than the smaller bottle that I had used on the previous trip. I especially liked knowing that on the way out most (if not all) of the fuel would be consumed and it would not be useless weight like my gas canister.
We reached our destination in the Turtle Back Arch area and quickly set up camp. I was hungry and daylight would disappear all too quickly. Supper was going to be two packets of a popular brand of broccoli and cheese noodles. The directions called for boiling water, adding the contents, and then simmering until the sauce is thickened and the noodles are soft. I have tried these packets before in a freezer bag and could never get the recipe right. The noodles refused to cook. My canister stove could handle the task just fine, so I was anxious to see how the Turbo 2D would do on the simmering.
I started with 2 cups (475 ml) of water in my pot and 2 fl oz (60 ml) of fuel in the stove. The wind was unpredictable and the large aluminum windscreen also provided by Brasslite was an absolute necessity. The tent acted as a partial windbreak, but it would have been impossible for me to keep the flame going without the screen. As previously experienced, I got a nice boil within 7 minutes of lighting the stove. I added my noodle mix and per the instructions pressed firmly on the pot handle to hold the stove in place while using a small stick to rotate the simmer lever to block the air ports. There was still too much daylight to gauge the flame properly by sight, but the boiling quickly subsided so I knew it had been reduced. Unfortunately, after a few minutes I realized the flame was too low. I opened the screen enough to again adjust the simmer ring and this time I only partially blocked the air intake ports. This was the key. I stirred, watched, and sampled over the next 7 or 8 minutes. Finally, the sauce was thick and the noodles tender - the flame was still burning. After I removed the pot, I could see that the center reservoir had just a tiny amount of fluid left so I just let it burn off. So, from start to finish I was able to get a proper cook in roughly 15 minutes using just shy of 2 fl oz (60 ml) of fuel.
My wife and I shared this first course and then I repeated the entire procedure to cook the second packet. I wrapped the windscreen tighter and this time I started with 1.5 fl oz (44 ml) of fuel. Because I now knew just where to move the simmer ring following the boil I figured my results were better. I was able to cook the second batch in around 13 minutes and this time the fuel expired just as I decided the dish was ready.
Later after a quick cleaning of my pot, I prepared two separate batches of hot water for our cocoa. Each burn was roughly two cups (half liter) and I as before both at home and on the prior trip 1 fl oz (30 ml) was enough to achieve a boil in 7 minutes the first time and 6.5 minutes the second time.
In the morning I still had roughly 2.5 fl oz (75 ml) of fluid left. I filled my cooking pot to near capacity and used the remaining fuel to boil about 5 cups (1.2 L) to cook our oatmeal and fix two large cups of tea. After this hot breakfast, we broke camp and hiked out.
This was the make-or-break trip for me with the Turbo 2D and I will say I was very happy with the performance. I had five good burns, which included two long cooking sessions. I was definitely glad I brought the big fuel bottle. I used more than I expected, but I think the wind whipped the flame so much that it was not quite as effective as the more stable conditions I had during my home test. The fire never went out, though. Also, the water was filtered creek water and was far colder than the water I boiled with at home. Once I figured out where the sweet spot was for the simmer ring the dinner prep was easy. This test reassured me that I can rely on the 2D stove to do more than just boil water.
DATE: December 23, 2014
TRIP LOCATION: Private wooded property
TYPE OF TRIP: Overnight Hike
DISTANCE COVERED: 2 miles (3.2 km)
This was a simple overnight camping trip with a buddy on private land. I used the Brasslite for freezer bag cooking where I only had to boil water.
In addition to the more detailed trips above I have used the Brasslite Turbo 2D on at least four other December 2014 and January 2015 day hikes to make hot beverages. The results were fine and I never carried more than 4 fl oz (120 ml) of fuel on any of these outings. I was always able to deliver a good and hot drink even on a trip where I forgot my windscreen and had to improvise a wind block with backpacks.
I am well pleased with the performance of this stove so far. It has been used for two overnight trips and five day hikes. The overnight test where I actually cooked was the deal breaker, but the Brasslite Turbo 2D worked great. The stove still looks excellent and shows no signs of wear or damage. I have become pretty proficient now at using the stove and I look forward to continuing my testing.
These past few months I have really gotten very familiar with the Brasslite Turbo 2D stove and now have the chance to present my final thoughts regarding this stove. Due to record level snow falls in the month following my Field Report many of my planned group hikes were canceled and I was not nearly able to get this stove in the field since then as much as I would like, but that certainly does not mean testing was stopped.
After finishing my last hike in late January, I spent the snow-filled and bitter cold month of February dabbling around the house with the Turbo 2D. I finally had the chance to use this stove in low temperatures approaching conditions 0 F (-18 C). I used it for boiling both with and without a metal heat shield under the stove and both dug into the snow and resting on top of the snow. I also had a chance to experiment using cooking vessels much smaller than factory recommendations like my 600 ml (20 oz) titanium cup. This time was great for refining my windscreen size and placement, simmer ring adjustment and fuel usage. In short, the bad weather let me spend some quality time doing tests that hiking sometimes just doesn't allow due to tiredness, impatience, and hunger!
Overall, I tested the stove around the house on six different days in February at a set elevation of 980 ft (300 m). I already knew that I enjoyed cooking with the stove, but this just helped me do it better and experiment with new recipes. I now can adjust the simmer ring very easily and can eyeball instantly the correct placement for what I'm cooking. I can also vouch for the manufacturer's size recommendations regarding pot diameter. My use of various cups to boil in was never very successful. Either the flame would blossom well up the sides of the cup or I would have to adjust the flame so low as to make the boiling time impossibly long. I also was able to cut the windscreen a bit lower without compromising its ability to shield my flame.
Fortunately, the weather broke in March and I was able to squeeze in two more good hikes before my test was completed:
DATE: March 21-22, 2015
TRIP LOCATION: Daniel Boone National Forest
TYPE OF TRIP: Overnight Hike
DISTANCE COVERED: 30 miles (48 km)
WEATHER: clear 40 - 65 F (4.4 - 18 C)
ELEVATION: 1100 ft (335 m)
DATE: March 29, 2015
TRIP LOCATION: Red River Gorge
TYPE OF TRIP: Day Hike
DISTANCE COVERED: 11 miles (17.7 km)
WEATHER: sunny 60 F (15.5 C)
ELEVATION: 1150 ft (350 m)
In mid-March, I was finally able to get in another section of the Sheltowee Trace and packed the Brasslite Turbo 2D along with my usual 1.4 L (48 oz) cooking pot in order to make my favorite pasta side dish at camp. This is the same meal I prepared in my Field Report, but now it is much easier since I know just where to move the simmer ring during that phase of the cooking. I only took enough fuel for one dinner and one hot drink and used it all. This made for a nice, light load on the trail during this long hike.
The second trip in late March was a nice and casual day hike with my wife. I used the Turbo 2D to just boil some water and hydrate some prepackaged meals. The wind was moderate, but I found a nice overhanging rock to cook underneath and it was uneventful.
With my final hike wrapped up before the close of the testing window, I decided to do some durability and strength testing. I dropped the stove at least a dozen times onto my lawn from eye level. I did manage to dent the circular stove base once, but I was able to easily bend it back flat with just my fingers. My biggest concern early on with the stove was the strength and overall integrity of the thin wire grid that makes up the pot stand. As seen in the photo below, I stacked 10 lb (4.5 kg) of cast iron weights on the stove with no damage whatsoever. That is far in excess of any weight I would ever have resting on it in the real world, but I was curious to test the welds and wire. The stove supported it easily. Again, I do NOT recommend doing either of these tests as they are far outside the normal and expected use of this stove.
In summary, I still really like this stove. Will I use it every time I go out? Of course not, but I could say that for almost all the equipment I own. There are times when I will need to just boil water in a cup and will need a stove better suited for a smaller diameter pot. The Brasslite Turbo 2D, however, will be a welcome addition to my cooking collection and perfect for when I am actually preparing food for more than just myself. It is light enough and compact enough to not be a burden and durable enough to take abuse. My stove still looks great and has developed a nice patina that I think suits it well and I still really like the rustic design. Beyond the looks is the performance. The base is stable and the wire pot stand is durable and cools incredibly quickly. The simmer ring still turns smoothly. The stove functions for me now just as well as it did the first time I used it. It has been a lot of fun testing this stove and I look forward to many more trail miles with it in the coming year.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
I'd like to give a big thanks to Brasslite and BackpackGearTest.org for this test opportunity.
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Read more gear reviews by Shawn Chambers