Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove Review

Based on extensive field and lab testing, I believe that the Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove  is the best alcohol stove system for ultralight backpacking (when paired with a Caldera or TriTi Cone). The new Kojin stove is incredibly fuel efficient and easy to use but best of all it boils water fast! And that’s rare for an alcohol stove.  As such, the Kojin stove has earned its place in my pack as “most favored stove.”

Test setup (lead pic): TD Kojin Stove, with Toaks 1350 ml Ultralight Titanium Pot and TD Ti-Tri titanium cone.

Highlights of Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

  • Fast boil times. Just over 5 minutes to boil a pint! And that’s ripping fast for an alcohol stove.
    (Faster than the previous stove I used, the Standard Zelph Stove1.)
  • Fuel efficient. Uses less than ½ fluid oz (13.8) ml to boil a pint.
    [Many (most?) alcohol stoves use approximately twice that amount of fuel, especially when windy.]
  • No wasted fuel waiting for stove to burn out. No need for precise fuel measurement and waiting for the stove to burn out. Just pour an ounce of fuel in. When the pot boils, snuff the stove out and cap it. Unused fuel is saved and ready for your next cooking session.
  • Safe. Fuel will not spill out of stove. (fiber filler material captures alcohol fuel). Great for safety. You really don’t want to spill alcohol fuel.

What are the Advantages of an Alcohol Backpacking Stove?

Note: If alcohol stoves aren’t your thing, this is an equal opportunity website. So checkout my post Best Backpacking Stove System | Trail Designs Caldera vs. JetBoil. Then you can decide which stove is best for you. And yes, the JetBoil is a great fuel efficient stove system too! Just a canister one.

 

Quick Specs Kojin Stove

Link on Trail Design’s Website: https://www.traildesigns.com/products/kojin-stove

  • Weight: 16g,  0.56 oz
  • Material: Aluminum body with proprietary fibrous filler
  • Dimensions: 62mm diameter x 22mm thick, 2.4 in x 0.87 in
  • Fuel Capacity: 40 ml, ~1.3 fluid ounces
  • Fuel efficiency*: ~14 to 15 ml to boil a pint at 70°F/20°C  at sea level
  • Time to Boil 16 oz*: ~5.5 to 6 minutes – with wide bottom pots of 0.9 to 1.3 liters
  • Operating temp: I’ve used the stove to 12°F (-11°C). Stove lit right up & boiled water without difficulty

* when paired with a Trail Designs Caldera or TriTi Cone.
Note: While the Kojin is primarily for use with the Caldera/Ti-Tri systems, it can also be used in conjunction with your own pot stand and wind screen.


The Details – Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

Starting bottom right and moving left: The Kojin Stove easily fits into the Toaks 900 Pot, with room for a TD Ti-Tri titanium cone, spoon, lighter and matches. On the left is the Kojin stove showing its white, fibrous filler material and screw on cap that seals the stove. Finally (upper left) is a twin reservoir fuel bottle that makes measuring alcohol fuel a breeze. Best fuel bottle on the market!

Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove is composed of an aluminum screw top “pill case” style housing. Inside is a proprietary, white fibrous filler that acts both as a wick and as a fuel stabilizer to prevent spills. You can turn the stove on its side and the fuel won’t drain out. It is designed by Trial Designs to be used inside their Caldera or TriTi Cone systems. [See lead picture for an example of a TriTi Cone system.]

Note: pour fuel slowly into the stove’s fiber compound. If you pour too fast some of fuel may run over the side before it completely absorbs in to the fiber compound. I find that the stove is most easily filled using the Liberty Mountain Twin Neck Fuel Bottle (see right). With a squeeze the bottle easily measures out 1/4 or 1/2 oz of fuel. And a flip top spout on the reservoir side is great for precise pours. I find that its 8+ oz capacity works for a 7-day trip (at least for me). A testament to the stove’s efficiency.

After that put the stove in the cone and carefully light it with a match or lighter [some light the stove an then put the cone over it]. When your water boils take your pot off the cone and blow the stove out (it isn’t hard). Then you can gently place the cap loosely on the stove being careful not to touch the hot stove [but don’t screw it down]. This prevents heated fuel from rapidly evaporating.

After the stove has cooled sufficiently to safely handle! (~ 5 minutes) you can screw the cap down to seal the stove and save the fuel for your next cooking session.

Which Pot Works Best?

While the Kojin Stove will work with many pots and stoves, I find it works optimally with wide bottom pots of 0.9 to 1.3 liters. E.g. Evernew and Toaks 900 and Toaks 1300 pots (the Toaks Pots are a particularly good value). With these pots you get fuel efficiency of 15 ml fuel to boil a pint or better! And the fast burn rate of the stove, and wide heat transfer are of the pot bottom gives you fast boil times. You can buy these pots at Trail Designs or Amazon.

Compared To?

All of the stoves below are similar in weight (15 to 17g) and work well with the TD Caldera or TriTi Cone system. They are discussed below from left to right:

Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

  • On the left is my well used May 2017 prototype stove. After a ton of use it still works great. The cap shows the grey sealing material.
  • Next is the production Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove. Mostly cosmetic changes, altho the finish on the production version makes the cap easier to screw on and off. I find this stove excellent for solo use. But it’s also my stove of choice for my wife and I to share where we use it with a Toaks 900 or Toaks 1300 pot.
  • 1 Then the Standard Zelph Stove with the steel mesh covering its proprietary filler compound. The Zelph is a good stove with similar fuel saving properties. But a smaller surface area and the steel mesh slow the Zelph’s heat output for slower burn times. And I find the plastic sealing cap (green) tends to loosen up over time and not seal as tightly.
  • Finally the Classic Trail Designs 12-10 Stove. Still a great stove and it boils a bit faster than the Kojin (but it’s close). It also holds more fuel so it’s better if you boiling a lot of water/cooking for multiple people. Downsides are: 1) the stove won’t easily fit in a pot with a sidewinder cone like the Kojin and Zelph stoves. 2) you can’t save fuel—you have to let the stove burn out after it boils. And 3) you have to use stakes, inserted into sidewinder cones to raise the pot up in the cone for optimal operation. So in my opinion, the Kojin is a far better stove than the the Classic 12-10.

What could be Better

  1. The filler material doesn’t absorb fuel quickly as you pour it in. If you pour too fast some will run over the sides. Having a slight lip on the stove above the filler material would fix this. [Right now the filler material is flush with the top of the stove]. Work around for now is to use flip spout cap on your fuel bottle. This will give you the control necessary to easily fill the stove. Again, the Liberty Mountain Twin Neck Fuel Bottle is the best for this purpose.
  2. I could wish for a bit more capacity than 40 ml. My biggest problem is over filling the stove after 3 to 4 uses. At that point I don’t really know how much remaining fuel is in the stove, and I can over fill if I don’t watch carefully. Even 50 ml capacity would be a help. Again the work around is to pour carefully from the spout of the Liberty Mountain Twin Neck Fuel Bottle.

Conclusion

Since the first prototypes in May 2017, I’ve been field (and lab) testing the new TD Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove. After many weeks of use in the field, the stove has performed almost flawlessly. This included using it down to near single digit temperatures at 11,000 feet in the Sierras. The Kojin stove lit right up in the morning with no issues and quickly boiled my water. Because of this, the Kojin stove now goes on every trip with me — whether I am traveling solo or with my wife.

Trail Designs Kojin Ultralight Alcohol Stove

I used the Kojin stove in near single digit temperatures at 11,000 feet in the Sierras. The stove lit right up in the morning with no issues and quickly boiled my water.

Further Reading

Disclaimer

This post contains some affilate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a small portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.

Trail Designs provide samples of the Kojin stove and Toaks 1350ml UL Pot and Sidewinder Ti-Tri.

 

32 replies
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      John, apologies for the late reply. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Being in the US we don’t always keep up with the latest gear in the UK. Yes, the stoves look similar. But since all these manufactures seem to keep their fuel trapping/wicking medium proprietary — it’s hard to definitively say how similar they are. I do see that the speedster stove’s lid seal is not heat resistant like the Kojin’s. Being able the snuff out and semi-cap a warm stove to stop fuel evaporation does save fuel. On the other hand the larger 50 ml Speedster burner does look attractive for large pots, for its longer burn time. But the Kojin has a larger surface area (62mm vs 58mm diameter) and no steel mesh which likely results in higher heat output and faster boils. Note that I am basing this on data of the Zelph (very similar to the Speedster 50m l) vs the Kojin — so this is not a tested data point. All the best, -alan

      Reply
  1. John
    John says:

    Thanks for this review, Alan. It seems like a worthy (and reasonably priced) upgrade over my StarLyte with ring mod.

    When you used it in colder temps, did you place the stove right on the ground, or do you use a shield of some kind? I’ve been using a rock (when available) or exposing bare mineral soil before setting the stove down and lighting up.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q John. I just placed the stove on dirt area cleared of flammable materials. It worked fine. So yes, about what you describe. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q J. I have not. But given that my Kojin running about the same heat output as the 12-10 I would expect similar performance. The deal is that the Kojin is a shorter stove so the pot can be lower without impairing stove performance and/or increasing CO2 amounts. If you do test, please let me know what you find out. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  2. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    As someone who has to fly rather than drive anywhere I want to hike, how easy is it to “dry out” the filler from the Kojin so that no fuel vapor, let alone liquid remains behind (this will be a function of the density of the filler material, I suppose)? My overlords from the TSA don’t like fuel vapors in camping gear in the luggage. I have tales to tell. The metal mesh on the Starlight might make it very difficult to remove the filler, with the Kojin it looks at least technically easier.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thomas, I’ve flown with mine many times without issues. Just burn off all the extra fuul in a well ventilated area. Then let the stove air out with lid off for 12 hours or so and you should be good. The alcohol evaporates pretty quickly. Hope this helps. Best -a

      Reply
  3. Steve Elder
    Steve Elder says:

    I hadn’t seen this latest development by TrailDesigns. Thanks for bringing it to our attention! I just ordered the Kojin to try with my Keg-F. I’m thinking it will also be easier to light than the 12-10? Sometimes I have a hard time getting the flame down in there enough, particularly when cold/windy.

    I love that you can save fuel for later. And I’m going to try that fuel bottle, too!

    One question (which is probably a dumb one). What is the best way to put the Kojin out? I’m used to having to let the 12-10 burn….

    Thanks again

    Steve

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Apologies for the late reply and short reply. I’ve been out trekking in Patagonia for the last two weeks (and am still in Pagaonoia wth crappy Internet). Just blow hard and it will go out like a B’day candle. Then cover it to prevent evaporation. Screw the kid down WHD it’s warm enough to havdle. Warmest -alan

      Reply
      • Steve Elder
        Steve Elder says:

        Thanks!!! I’ll let you know how it goes, Alan. Have a great trip! Never a need to apologize. Always grateful for your good stuff.

        Steve

        Reply
  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    I tested out the Kojin stove with my MLD 850ml titanium mug and the Ti-tri fusion system and in short I will still be carrying the12-10 stove in my pack. The Kojin flame produces much more of the cooler yellow flame whereas the 12-10 is purely the hot blue flame after initial warm up. In this regard the 12-10 brought water to a boil quicker and longer using the same amount of fuel. Pouring the fuel is less messy with the 12-10; I tried to cover all the surface area on the Kojin but I am not sure if that is necessary – perhaps it is better to pour the fuel in just one spot, this I am not clear on. As well with MLD mug and ti-tri system I still had to use the stakes for the Kojin. Without them the mug sat lopsided and was not stable. Perhaps using the wider/shorter pots works better without the use of stakes. Using just the top part of the ti-tri did not work as the bottom of the mug sat right on top of the Kojin. In summary I do like that the Kojin can fit in my mug when packed and the ability to snuff out the flame, but this is not enough of an incentive for it to replace my 12-10.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Interesting observations Chris,
      And apologies for the late reply. I’ve been out trekking in Patagonia for the last two weeks. I and most people I hike with carry the wider bottom, (non-cup) pots like the Evernew 900 ml. These are easier to cook io, clean and are more fuel effienct than a cup. But obviously larger to pack. In my testing and that of others the Kojin is equal to, or possibly better than the 12-10. But that may be the difference between using a cup vs. a wide-bottom pot. Either way they are great stoves. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  5. Chris Watson
    Chris Watson says:

    Hi Alan,
    This is my first post to your site, but have been reading and getting educated from it for a coupe of years now. Thanks for all the good information!
    I bought the twin neck bottle mentioned in the post via the link provided, but found that it leaked right away now matter how tightly I screwed down the caps. I am not sure how comfortable I would be with this in my pack. Going back to the Amazon site, I found several similar reviews/complaints about the leaking problem. Have you not had this problem with the bottle?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for the kind words. We just got back from two weeks of trekking in Patagonia. Used our twin neck fuel bottle multiple times each day. Sealed tight as a drum every time. Ours does not have the flip spout tho. Just the two solid caps. And I have many friends with non-leaking bottles. Can you determine if its the flip nozzle or the threads at the base of the caps? And while both my twin neck bottles are solid, I have had other poly bottles (different sizes and mfrs) but using the same standard thread/cap design that have leaked. So it is possibly that you got one from a batch with some flawed bottles (or caps). (If you read through poly bottle reviews you will almost always see some complaints about leaking bottles). Best, -alan

      Reply
    • John Mury
      John Mury says:

      Can you find a suitable rubber o-ring? The ones designed for garden hoses are a little too big. I happened to already have an assortment on hand but you can buy combo sets at your favorite online retailer. With o-rings in place, I couldn’t make my bottle leak.

      Reply
      • Chris Watson
        Chris Watson says:

        Just an update on my bottle. After Alan’s initial response, I simply decided to crank down on the bottle cap a little more than I previously had. Since I did that, the bottle has not leaked. I think I was initially apprehensive to turn it too tight and over-tigthen it and ruin it for sure. Glad I tried it a second time. I really like the bottle now.

        Reply
  6. Chris Weber
    Chris Weber says:

    Have you tried out the the Firebox UL nano, I love it and with the additional alcohol set up I have many options.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Chris. Although I have never used the Firebox UL nano, it looks decent enough. And I know that there are a bunch of people that really like to cook with wood. So if fires aren’t banned, then by all means use your Firebox UL nano in health.

      But for me wood burning stoves just take too much time — time I’d rather spend on other things. You have to find small pieces of dry wood, then likely break them into smaller pieces, and then feed them into the stove over time. I guide clients with stoves like this and I’ve eaten my dinner and washed up by the time they finally get enough of a fire going well enought to put their pot on the top of the stove, let alone reach a boil. And weight savings is negligible vs. an alcohol stove on most trips. Finally, many of the places I like to backpack have a ban of fires which includes wood burning stoves.

      That being said, I know some people who immensely enjoy the fire thing and are more than happy to dedicate some time to it. Wishing you a great year of hiking. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  7. Jud
    Jud says:

    Alan, such a great website – I’m learning a ton from you and your buddy Andrew Skurka. I just bought a Trail Designs sidewinder with Kojin stove based on the recommendation of this page and Skurka’s site. Great little stove – 3.5 minute boil time for 2 cups water (sea level, 70F). But have just been learning in the last few days that alcohol stoves are now banned in many locations, including some districts along the PCT in California and in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National forest here, near where I live in Northern Washington. Kinda bummed because this forest, including the Pasayten and Glacier Peak wilderness areas, is where I do a lot of my camping and hiking. The ban applies to esbit type stoves and twig burners as well… anything that is non-pressurized and cannot be controlled with a valve, basically. Shoulda done my research first, but I didn’t even consider that they would be considered a problem. Thought readers should know that there is another drawback to these alcohol stoves that’s not so obvious.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Jud and sorry for the late reply. You posted just as I was heading into the field to Guide for a number o weeks with Andrew Skurka. I know that SEIKI that has very strict fire restrictions but does allow alcohol stoves. They consider them in the same category and canister stoves. And FWIW the Kojin stove can be put out just as easily as a canister stove. You can blow it out like a birthday candle and cap it, essentially reducing it to a non-burning fuel container no different than a canister stove. That being said, you must ALWAYS comply with park regulations. Best, -alan

      Reply
  8. Rud
    Rud says:

    Alan – three of us used the Kojin stove on the Wind River High route this summer. Overall the stove performed fine but the leftover fuel in the stove tended to leak out. Have you experienced this, and is there any way to prevent it?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Rudd, nice to hear from you and glad you got out on the WRHR this summer! I’ve been using a Kojin stove for at least a 60 days in the field this year — Patagonia, AT Section Hiking and recently two weeks guiding in the Rockies. Mine does not leak. My suggestion is that you contact Trail Designs and see if they have any suggestions (warped/damaged lid, damaged lid seal, damaged threads?). They are good folks and quite responsive. All the best, -alan

      BTW I keep my stove in a ziplock snack bag not because it leaks — but because it keeps the stove from rattling around in the pot. But it is also a secondary barrier to stove leakage. If my stove were to leak even a little bit I would see the fuel on the inside of the baggie. And it hasn’t. -a

      Reply
  9. John
    John says:

    Hi Alan,
    Fantastic site!! You have helped myself and a few buddies return to backpacking with the detailed information about how to pack lighter.

    I did have a question about the fuel used in alcohol stoves. I’ve read that some of the fuel people are using produces dangerous fumes and that many alcohol fuels contain additives a that are toxic.

    What fuel do you use in your stoves and are there fuels that you avoid?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks John, we will update the Guide. But also please feel free to post in the W and Circuit Guides as well. Wishing you a great trek. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi John, if you use one of the major brands of denatured alcohol, like Klean-Strip you should be fine. These are usually listed somewhere as “clean burning marine fuel,” or something like that. The standard easily avaialbe alternate in remote areas, e.g. at many convenience stores and gas station stores is HEET. It works fine but does leave a residue. Cheers, -alan

      Reply
  10. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Hello Alan,

    I enjoy reading your very informative site, lots of good intel without all the rhetoric found elsewhere. The wife and I just finished our first JMT at age 61 and 59, and are planning are next trip. I like the alcohol stove idea because it seems to pack up smaller and weigh less than our system we used on the JMT ( Pocket Rocket 2 with 700ml Snow Peak ti pot). Do you mind listing the various parts of the system described above in the article? I would like to order it to test and not sure which pot would be best for two people – 900ml or 1300ml, and was hoping for an easy to follow list with links for each part. Thanks! Jonathan and Gretchen

    Reply
      • Jonathan
        Jonathan says:

        Hello Alan,
        Do you recommend a floor in the system above for LNT practices using the alcohol stove with the cone?

        Thanks, figured you were off on an adventure, Alan!

        Best,
        Jonathan and Gretchen

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          If you are on soft surfaces, especially that you need to clear of potentially burning debris then a floor would be a good idea. TD does make them. That being said, if you can cook on a rock, then the stove leaves absolutely no mark so you could skip the floor. But again, for perfect LNT in a situations the floor would be good. Wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan

          Reply

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