The Esbit Pocket Mini Folding Stove is a tiny cooking solution that really does fit in a pocket, fuel and all. It’s aluminium, and light at 92g without fuel and folds to hold your pot securely in various positions so you can use anything from a metal mug up to a 1 litre pot on this little stove comfortably.
The Esbit Pocket Mini Folding Stove uses solid hexamine tablets as fuel. You get 6 14g tablets free with the stove, which then cost £7.99 for 12 replacment 14g tablets, one of which we found will struggle to boil a full titan kettle (800ml), whereas I’d expect 10 titan kettleful (or so) from a 250g canister without any hassle. This makes it an expensive option compared to gas, assuming a canister costs £5. The main advantage over gas is that you know exactly how much fuel you’ve got, and it doesn’t start to struggle when you’re half way through.
You have to let the fuel burn down if there’s any left over after cooking or, more usually the case, have to burn another tablet if your water’s not yet boiled. That’s probably something that can be overcome with practice, as you can cut the tablets in half for warming an MRE perhaps, or use the full tablet in order to get the water boiling. The tablets have an unpleasant fishy smell due to the amines and they leave a nasty black residue on the pots. A Wind-shield is also an absolute must with the solid fuel stoves as they’re next to useless in strong winds, but a simple foil wind-shield is more than good enough.
There’s also a larger version available for £15 that includes 12 tablets, presumably for larger pots. This size is perfect for any pot up to 1 litre or so, but the solid fuel simply struggles to boil that much water. With practice and judicious use of the wind-shield, you might manage it – but we don’t like to leave our ability to cook an evening meal on a trip to chance and assume you’ll get 5-600ml boiled easily with some practice.
Overall, it’s an effective solution for wild camps, but works out expensive to run in the long term. The weight benefit this offers is offset by the expense and faff of getting your water to boil and we’d go for a pepsi can meths stove over this any day, though that’s more personal choice than a criticism of this stove. However, our opinion of this stove is clouded by it’s svelte sibling – the Esbit Ultralight Titanium Stove which might have the same issues as this stove but has such an insubstantial weight of 11.5g that makes it a winner. We just can’t get that excited about this one!