It’s a Bird!…It’s a Plane!…It’s…

SUPER CAT!

Boy, I could open a can of worms with this one. Everybody that hikes or camps has an opinion about stoves. If you watch the various hiking/backpacking/camping forums much you’ll find that stoves get just as much discussion as backpacks, tents, hammocks, tarps or sleeping bags. Heck, people even get into arguments about stoves and which is best. OK, com’on folks, is there really a ‘best’ stove? I mean, it is just a bit subjective, don’t ya think? If it works for you, go with it and don’t dis someone else because they prefer something different.

So why the great interest in stoves? I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it’s because they’re just plain fun to tinker with. Or maybe it’s a more primal thing…face it, not too many things allow us to connect with our roots like fire. Like our ancestors, we’re often in awe of the power of fire and, well, OK, some of us just like playing with it. Or, maybe it’s something simpler…maybe we all just like to eat and hot food in the woods beats cold food most any day.

Anyone that knows me or has read my blogs knows I like to make things. I tie flies for myself and others, I’ve built a few flyrods, I’ve dabbled with woodworking, and I’ve made the majority of the hammock camping gear that me and my family use. It probably shouldn’t be any great surprise that I’ve found that I enjoy tinkering with stoves too. I mean I really like fiddling with stoves. No, I…I…I…

Hello, my name is Steve and I have a stove problem…

Lately I’ve been on the hunt for an inexpensive, simple to make alcohol stove that me and the kids can use on day hikes and backpacking trips. Let’s take a look at these criteria…

1. Inexpensive – If I’m going to pay more than 4 or 5 bucks for stove material I might as well just but a ‘professionally made’ stove. Yep, they’re out there. Plenty of them and they typically cost between 15 and 100 bucks, depending on what the stove is made of and how it’s made.

2. Simple to make – The less specialized power tools necessary, the better. OK, yeah, power tools are fun but sometimes they add unnecessary levels of complexity or even add to the cost when you have to buy some new tool (this is often my downfall).

3. Alcohol stove – For short trips I tend to like simple alcohol stoves. They’re typically light, simple to use and the amount of fuel that we’d need for a two to three day trip would typically weigh just a few ounces.

I’ve bought or traded for quite a few stoves, some that I liked and some I didn’t. I’ve made a few ‘penny stoves’ from Coke and beer cans. I’ve also made clones of Zelph Stoveworks famous Fancee Feest stove (which I really like but making it can be a bit of a pain without a good way to cut the aluminum insert).

Enter the Super Cat stove…

I’ve known about the Super Cat for years. It’s simply a 3 oz. cat food can with a series of evenly spaced holes punched in the side. Why I haven’t tried making one of these stoves before I don’t know. This past week a new cat stove thread popped up on Hammock Forums on which several folks gave the stoves very favorable reviews.

As I began to think about it I realized that the Super Cat met my criteria. It’s inexpensive, a 3 oz. can of store brand cat food costs about 39 cents, name brand is about 59 cents and the tools required to make one are minimal – just a tape measure, a Sharpie marker and a simple hole punch.

As usual, I spent a little time searching the web for any how-to information I could find. I came across this how-to on HikingForums.net and this video by hiker/adventurer Andrew Skurka. Check ‘em out.

Fortunately for me I already had a few of the 3 oz. cans on hand. Rather than try to wrap a tape measure around the can and mark the hole locations, I decided to make a template that I could use to make additional stoves if I wanted. 9/1/13 Addition – I found a printable ready-to-use template.  Click the LINK, print a copy and you’re ready to go…

Template

Template on

It took about 10 minutes to mark and punch out the first stove…

Super Cat

Once finished I took it out along with a couple of cups of water my 10 cm IMUSA mug cook pot and lid for a couple of test burns.

Burn 1

Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with the results. I tried to boil water three different times using an ounce to an ounce and a half of alcohol and never got the water to a rolling boil. As I watched the flames I suspected that the flame pattern was too wide and I was losing a lot of heat up the side of the pot. I remembered reading that this particular stove might not work well with fairly narrow pots so I decided to give it another try with my 0.9L Evernew pot and got a rolling boil on the first try.

Evernew Burn

Evernew Boil

I don’t know if it’s the difference in diameter between the two pots or the difference in the materials they’re made of (the IMUSA mug is aluminum, the Evernew pot is titanium) or maybe some of both that made the difference in performance.

IMUSA 10 Size

Evernew Size

Unfortunately, the girls both have the 10 cm IMUSA mugs for cook pots.  We may look into getting a couple of the 12 cm mugs to try or since we still have a few cat food cans I’ll make a few more and change up the hole patterns to see if I can come up with something that works with the pots we have now…

Stay tuned for more stove fun…

UPDATE

Figured out my problem…had just a little breeze and not enough wind screen.  Tried the Super Cat again tonight and closed the lid on my Egg…burned just fine and I got a rolling boil in short order.  Love it when a plan comes together…Now to make some stoves!

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This entry was posted in Alcohol Stove, Backpack Stove, Backpacking, Camping, Cat Stove, Day Hike, Hammock Camping, Hiking, Super Cat Stove. Bookmark the permalink.

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