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 check out 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 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.
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.
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:
- 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
- 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]. Workaround, for now, is to use a 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.
- 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.
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.
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Trail Designs provide samples of the Kojin stove and Toaks 1350ml UL Pot and Sidewinder Ti-Tri.