[Benjamin Loaiza cooking with the larger Esbit stove]
At least 40 years ago, we all had to get the little Esbit pocket stove for our camping trips. They were made in Germany, but you could obtain them at some of the various camping supply stores that were more common back then. The entire stove is just a little larger than a pack of cigarettes,and it folds open so that the two “doors” become “legs.” You set the stove on the ground or a sturdy surface, and when open the bottom is just a little off the ground, so there’s an air space underneath. You add a little fuel tab, and you rest your metal cook pot on the top. It was ingenious, small, lightweight. You hardly knew it was there.
When you purchased one of these little Esbit stoves, it came with little fuel tabs, probably trioxane. One tab was enough to bring a cup of water to a boil.
But as campers with no money, we never bought fuel. We’d just stuff some twigs into the Esbit cooker, light them, and cook some soup or tea in a metal Sierra cup. Sometimes we just cooked in an old soup can. I’ve used my Esbit stove in the desert, in the mountains, and even in the parking lots of rest areas in California and Arizona!
In the last four decades, we’ve seen some amazing high-tech gear for the campers and backpackers. At a recent self-reliance and survival shows in Utah, I’ve seen no less than six new high-tech cookers, all very useful and – very expensive. There are many variations of the original Esbit cooker, generally which go by the name of “tommy cookers.”
Never being a fan of heavy, bulky, expensive gear, I’ve never bought into many of the new products that flood the marketplace. Of course I do have a few such stoves, and they are great to store in your garage in case I ever have to cook in my backyard after an emergency. I have used mine in the backyard many times.
Getting back to the Esbit. I didn’t even know the company was still around, until I got one of the latest Esbit stoves to test. This time, it’s not the tiny stick-in-your-pocket cooker. But it’s the same stove on steroids.
The new Esbit stove is bigger, a bit too bulky for most backpackers, but ideal to stick in the car for camping, or to keep handy for home emergencies. [Alan Halcon and I did a Dirttime Youtube video on this stove and others; maybe you saw that?]
It measures 13 " deep, 10" wide, and 4 inches high. It weighs around five pounds. It won’t fit into your pocket but it would f it into your trunk. I don’t think anyone would backpack with it, though you might just carry the grill along.
We tried cooking on the large Esbit cooker during an expedition to the local mountains, and found it to be convenient to use and easy to pack back up.
I was with a group and Francisco Loaiza and his son Benjamin – mostly his son Benjamin (a recent Eagle Scout) – did most of the cooking.
While everyone agreed that they’d not carry this stove backpacking, it seemed ideal for the cookout for three to five people where a convenient stove in the trunk is just the thing.
According to Francisco Loaiza, “I like the fact that it is constructed of stainless steel, and would resist rusting and I like how it folds up to a nice compact size. Some other barbecues are "oddly shaped" and would be more cumbersome to pack neatly. This is a basic box shape as opposed to the round mini barbecues I have used in the past.”
We both liked the charcoal bag which allows you to neatly carry charcoal, and pack it within the stove.
Though this Esbit stove might be a bit small for a large group, it’s fine for a small family barbeque, car-camping, and emergency backyard use. It’s built of stainless steel, compact, and neatly fits into a convenient carrying case. Loaiza and I both noted that some stoves of this category have covers, which would allow one to use the stove as an oven. Though this new Esbit stove has no cover, one could easily be fabricated with aluminum foil.
Esbit stoves are exclusively distributed in the U.S. by Industrial Revolution, whose web site is http://www.industrialrev.com/esbit.
[Nyerges schedule of classes can be seen at www.ChristopherNyerges.com]