Hi guys, I wasn’t posting for a while because I had some issues with the contractor who build my house and also some stress at work. I have even cancelled my 10-day hiking trip to Swiss Alps. Yeah, it is that bad. Anyways, I wanted to write this review after I come back from the hike, so now it looks like a good time to publish it :).
After 12 months of use I want to share my experience with this stove. I don’t see many notes about it online which is strange because this stove should be your go-to stove for extended overnighter. Please note that this review is for Starlyte XL + narrow&tall pot. In wide pots this stove will be more efficient. I hope this review will be helpful for you.
Sometime ago I was discussing on BPL a cook set for solo hiking. So I decided to try Dan’s
new StarlyteXL stove + Imusa mug combo which costed me just $35. You can see the overview video of the kit here:
What it’s all about that huge Starlyte? Well, if you didn’t get that, Starlyte stove turns
alcohol into solid fuel! No more spilling alcohol, no bottles… At all. Well, yes this is for
2-3 day trips. This big Starlyte stove holds 115 ml (4 fl. oz) of fuel and will not spill it whatever you do (try to lit it and play hockey with it). When I ordered StarlyteXL I was already a strong advocate for Starlyte stove. I think this design is best alchy design you can get.
Since I ordered Starlyte XL as part of the kit, I’ll write in this review also my thoughts
about other parts (mug, lid, silicon pad, windscreen)
I got two versions of Starlyte XL: with regular opening and the small one (just like on the modified Starlyte for Caldera Cones). Both StarlytesXLs fits nicely within the mug pot at the same time including windscreen and mini bic allowing you to use this kit for 5-6 days depending on your cooking preference.
First, the cons:
- It was a bit difficult to fill both StarlyteXLs (especially the “mod version” with smaller hole) because alcohol gathered on top of the stove between the hole and the edge of the stove since there is no inclination of the top surface toward the hole (the burner center). Not a big problem since this is done at home and some wasted drops of alcohol is a no issue, but if you plan to refill in the field, it’s something to consider.
- It was a bit hard to lit the stove at the first time in the wild (first time after the fill). You’d need to hold the lighter for some 10-15 seconds to lit the burner. I believe this happens because you need to warm up the whole burner with a lot of fuel at start.
- The big-hole version causes really intensive burning so the flames are coming out of windscreen and above the pot for about 10cm (Imusa mug). I think this happens because a lot of fuel is warmed at the same time which eventually leads to intense evaporation. I believe it is not that efficient because those higher flames escape without even touching the pot. It also burns the fuel faster which is obvious.
- There is no way to know how much fuel left in the stove. I shake it a bit in a hand to get some feeling of how much fuel left, but the confidence comes after many usages. with the standard Starlyte stove it was easy – it is either full, half full or empty.
- Turns alcohol into solid fuel
- No bottle/refilling needed for 2-3 nights. Very simple.
- Pretty light at just 30 grams
- Closed snugly with provided lid and piece of silicon – ALMOST zero leakage (evaporation), more on this below
- Makes a cook kit simple and functional
Three boils with StarlyteXL with big hole averaged at 8:15 in a calm weather (cold tap water). However boils with StarlyteXL with small hole took 10-11 minutes depending on weather. Not an issue for me and should not be a problem for anyone.
When I first received the stoves from Dan I was concerned about evaporation issue, since the whole amount of alcohol is heated at the same time. I thought this will eventually cause evaporation after using the stove when it’s still hot. So I took the stove with a big hole to the lab. I think if that big hole version doesn’t leak too much, the small-hole version will leak even less. I decided to measure alcohol leakage via weighing the stove when it’s cold. I understand that when the stove is hot, the evaporation is most likely to occur and the stove itself may expand a bit creating or expanding slits. However in order to conduct the experiments I wanted to use the lab precise scales. The scales can measure fluctuations up to 0.0001 of a gram and it is systematically calibrated. But, the one who plays that scientific game should consider that measuring weight when the stove is hot doesn’t make sense because of two reasons:
- Since the scales are in enclosed case (to prevent air flows to interfere the measurements), hot stove will create convection flows within the cavity of the scales and this will affect the measurements
- If evaporation occur in enclosed cavity, the alcohol will evaporate only until air reaches
saturation of alcohol vapors. No further evaporation will occur.
With that in mind I started to measure weight and here are the results:
So, excluding first measurement which was performed when the stove was hot we have 0.2196 gram of leakage in two weeks which is negligible.
When it comes to efficiency, the stove + pot combo is not a winner in the area. However, remember that this stove is intended for extended overnighter. You can easily get 3 boils. I could almost made 4 (upto small bubbles in the last one), however for a week long hiking trip I would suggest a standard Starlyte and refilling it. I believe you can easily make 4 ‘small bubbles’ boils (not the rolling boils) with StarlyteXL. From my measures at home it turned out that the stove burns too much fuel on first boil. In some rare cases it even burnt 1/2 of a total fuel amount (w/o windscreen). I suppose that on first boil it wastes more energy to heat up the whole amount of fuel and then, when it starts burning, it’s really intense. That being said, it’s a winner stove for overnighter or any trip you need 3 rolling boils.
Dan’s windscreen: pay attention not to secure it with provided pin from the side with holes when folded! The pin stuck in the hole and it is really hard to release without damaging the windscreen.
- Not a Caldera Cone 🙂
- Still very useful and quite durable as well.
- Easily folds/unfolds
- Takes very small space in the pot when folded compared to Caldera Cones.
*The windscreen doesn’t wrap around Imusa mug snugly because of the handle. Hence there is quite a gap between the mug and windscreen which doesn’t contribute to efficiency as well in my opinion. This is for sure not a stove/windscreen fault, I would switch to a different pot/mug with folding handles. But if you are on a budget – Imusa mug is just fine.
You can trim windscreen in length to save some weight. Leave some extra length for overlapping when securing the windscreen with a pin.
There is a round piece of silicon provided which worked amazingly good for covering the flame and right after that closing the burner with the provided lid. WOW! this was my only complaint about the classic Starlyte because it was really hot and you couldn’t do that fast. I also double use it for gripping the hot pot when it’s hot. But this is not very comfortable.
The Imusa mug does the job well and Dan’s lid is awesome! The lid doesn’t fall off the mug. There are a few downsides though:
- The handle gets really hot, you can’t touch it without some piece of cloth or anything else. I used the silicon piece to grip the handle. Well, I’m coming from Caldera cone with Evernew pot with foldable handles – they get never hot
- The handle doesn’t allow you to pack the mug as you want. It could even interfere with some other stuff within your pack. But this is really a minor downside.
- The handle makes it impossible to place windscreen snugly around the mug which affects efficiency.
- Also cozy cannot be fitted well around the mug because of the handle.
For these reasons I’m suggesting you to use mug/pot with foldable handles. The cheap option is Olicamp Space Saver Mug ($11). However it doesn’t have lid – so make your own (aluminium foil – free) or order from Ruta Locura one of their carbon fiber lids just at several grams ($18). This will triple initial price of pot however. Another option is Toaks 650ml light pot which weigh just 80 grams including lid. I got it on MassDrop for
$26. Both of these alternatives are pretty much same size and should fit Starlyte XL Stove
nicely. The Toaks Pot will be a bit lighter: 80 gram vs 100 grams of Space Saver Mug + Ruta Locura lid.
The Toaks pot is a bit narrower than Imusa mug and hence the windscreen doesn’t lay flat on StarlyteXL stove when packed in the pot. It is impossible to place two StarlyteXL stoves with the windscreen for the same reason. I’m suggesting to trim a bit the windscreen in order to get it into Toaks pot with 2 StarlyteXLs.
As Dan mentions on BPL in the thread about latest invention of ridged pot and Caldera Cone windscreen (https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/92988/#comments), there are plenty of Toaks Titanium pots with same diameter, so all of them will fit StarlyteXL nicely.
I got two versions of pot stand: one for Starlyte XL stove and another for regular Starlyte stove. Pot stand for Starlyte XL is smaller because it is designed to be placed on top of the stove. To accommodate same clearance between pot bottom and ground, the stand for standard Starlyte is higher. The stove is put inside the pot stand in this case. In comparison to standard Starlyte pot stand (4 wires that go straight into the stove for those who don’t remember) these stands more stable. They are pretty simple and light.
The lid fits the mug really well. I strongly recommend the mug + lid made by Dan. Awesome work, sturdy and light.
The huge + of this StarlyteXL is packability. It will fit nicely within tall pots. My Toaks Ti 650ml pot is 95mm in diameter. There are many other pots with the same diameter mentioned on this BPL page (scroll down to Dan’s post about compatible pots with same diameter). I can squeeze 2 XL burners into Toaks 650ml pot including windscreen and lighter.
lid – 10g
pot stand for XL – 5g
pot stand for reg. Starlyte – 9g
Imusa mug – 74g
windscreen – 19g
StarlyteXL – 30g