|Heineken Penny Stove and stand|
In a recent thread on the German Radreise-Forum about equipment choices for an overland trip from Germany to China, the question of the ideal stove came up. Alcohol stoves were discounted by some, based on the availability of fuel in many countries along the way and due to their questionable performance at high altitudes and low temperatures. I was somewhat surprised by the latter objections, as on the penny stove website there are a number of testimonial about the cold weather performance of the stove, including a quotation by Reinhold Messner who supposedly made tea with a jet-based alcohol stove on one of his expeditions to the Himalayas. However, the information there was not very specific -- how much longer does it take to boil water at cold temperatures and how much more fuel does it take -- and my curiosity was sparked. I decided to test it myself.
|Air temperature of -9°C|
|Stove, pot, windscreen|
Amount of water: 1l
Air temperature: -9°C
Water temperature at start: 5°C
Pot: 2.2l REI coated aluminium pot with slightly to big stainless steel lid (I couldn't find the original plastic lid)
Stove: Heineken-based penny stove with wind screen
Wind: almost no wind
Fuel temperature: same as air temperature
|Burner at full power|
|5°C water right from the tap|
Now what's the bottom line? Is the penny stove an appropriate choice for winter camping or riding through the Himalayas? I don't think you can definitely answer that question based on my test. Unfortunately, I don't own any other types of stoves and therefore couldn't do replications of the test on other equipment. But there are some hints: first of all, the stove does work in the cold. Even if it may not be the fastest, it will still boil your water in a not totally unreasonable amount of time. Second, we can compare the stove's cold weather performance with some of the published data at higher temperatures: in this test, a penny stove boiled 32 oz (0.95 l) of water in 7:50 at 20° degree air temp with 18°C degree water temp and 670m elevation. It would be interesting to calculate the estimated burn time adjusted for the different starting temperatures of the water, but I haven't done that yet.