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Gear Review: Vargo Decagon Titanium Alcohol Stove


 
   

There are many different options for backpacking stoves and alcohol fueled stoves have become a popular choice. My wife and I wanted to lighten up our packs and got a couple of these Vargo Decagon stoves as gifts. I decided to test them out.

This article will cover some nuances and performance reports. After reading through the article check out the video at the bottom.

Specifications:

Weight: 1.3 oz

Dimensions: 4.25 x 1.2 inches

Price: $29.95

I got out the video camera and began to inspect the stove. I took it out of its packaging and read through the instructions. I had already looked it up online and it seemed straight forward. Before testing I simply placed the Trek 1400ml pot with 4 cups of water on the stove to test for stability. With the wider pots it isn’t very stable, but smaller diameter pots seemed to be fine.

The first thing to do now was fill the stove. The research I had done reported that if you did not fill the stove all the way it had trouble priming. What I did not find was a description on how full “full” was.

I filled it to the top of the largest ring in an attempt to make sure the stove was “full”. This was too much. The alcohol began to leak out the holes in the side (where the flames are supposed to come out of). I let this evaporate and drained some of the alcohol out of the Decagon stove. I left only enough alcohol to fill the smallest ring in the center of the stove. In later use I found that filling half way between the small ring and the top ring is ideal.

The stove primed in about 3m 45s and started producing an impressive amount of heat. I did many boil tests with different types and sizes of pots which you can see in the video. These tests were not to the second accurate, but should give you a good idea of how the stove performs.

Results:

4 cup boil test in Snow Peak Trek 1400ml pot

Ran stove for 15m 25s. Did not boil, but the water was hot enough for dehydrated meals, tea, coffee, etc…

3 cup boil test in Snow Peak Trek 900ml pot

Ran stove for 14m 10s. Did not boil, but the water was hot enough for dehydrated meals, tea, coffee, etc…

3 cup boil test in GSI Stainless Steel Kettle

Ran stove for 14m 35s. Boil was achieved.

2 cup boil test in Snow Peak Trek 700ml mug

Ran stove for 7m 40s. Boil was achieved.

2 cup boil test in Snow Peak Hybrid Trail Cookset

Ran stove for 7m 12s. Boil achieved.

Field Test

I took this stove out on a weekend trip to the Colorado Trail to see how it performed in a real world environment. As soon as I had lit the stove it started to rain and then hail. It did this the entire time the stove was burning and still boiled 3 cups of water; this is with an aluminum windshield however.

Pros

  • Very light
  • Sturdy and well made
  • Produces a lot of heat
  • Long burn time
  • Fast boil times

Cons

  • Can leak if overfilled
  • Unstable with larger pots
  • Priming takes practice
  • Boiling more than 2 cups of water will require a metal windshield/heat reflector

Conclusion

The Vargo Decagon stove is a very lightweight and effective alcohol stove. As with all stoves, a windshield/heat reflector greatly improves its efficiency. Care must be taken during the filling and priming process to avoid catching things on fire, but this can be learned within a few uses.

This is a great and affordable solution for those looking to try alcohol stoves, or those looking for something more sturdy than the homemade pop-can stoves. As always please leave any questions or comments you have below!

Take care,

bigwhitefish.com

November 15th, 2014

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