Believe it or not, not everyone prefers to cook with an MRE heater. Some people carry lightweight stoves to do so. Today’s article from granola-eating guest writer Kevin Martin takes a look at the Mini Ring of Fire alcohol stove. Mad Duo
I have had the same MSR Pocket Rocket for over a decade. It has served me well from Mount Rainier to the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes I just want to try something new, or at least a new concept that is actually an old idea. I fought carrying a stove in the woods for years way back when before I discovered the simplistic, ultra-reliable canister stove. I do not go into the woods to cook gourmet meals, I don’t even go in to my own kitchen for that. I only need a stove to be a simple way to boil water, either for a hot drink on a cold morning or for a dehydrated meal after a long day. With the proliferation of alcohol burning stoves over the last few years, I thought it might just be the time for me to kick the iso-canister habit.
The stove I chose to pop my alcohol cherry with is the Mini Ring of Fire (MROF) with integrated pot stand, made by a firefighter in Georgia. Who better to know how to harness the power of flame than a guy who fights it on a regular basis? Unique to the MROF is the ability to have two settings, high and low. High will boil water in a respectable time, similar times are reported for a popular alcohol stove made by Trangia. It’s not rocket power fast, but certainly acceptable. On low is where the MROF sets itself apart. The maker has multiple videos on YouTube baking all sorts of fancy biscuits and dry baked goods. This versatility certainly interests me for long term usage.
During a recent trip to Pisgah National Forest I had some time to put the MROF through my extensive testing process, I boiled some water. Guess what, it boiled water. I will say that it was very affected by wind, so be sure to have a wind screen with you. The flame just doesn’t have the power to not get blown away. Other than that, I think the MROF is a fine tool that uses extremely inexpensive fuel. It will take a few more trips before I can fully decide whether or not this will replace my canister powered blowtorch, but that could certainly happen, at least some of the time, especially when space and weight are of ultimate concern.
While I am waiting on my next big trip, I handed the MROF over to my buddy Roger (he has a Ph.D. but don’t hold that against him). He has many years of experience cooking with a Coke can alcohol stove, so I thought he might have some perspective to offer. The following is what he sent me:
Review – Mini Ring of Fire Camp Stove compared to Coke can stove
Can’t say enough good stuff about the Mini Ring of Fire. I did a test comparison with this stove and my “coke can” stove and the Mini won in all areas.
Here’s some data:
Test comparison date: January 26, 2014 // Time: 7:20 p.m. // Elevation: 1150 ft. // Barometric Pressure: 29.9 // Weather conditions: 46 degrees – calm wind
Type of fuel used: Denatured Alcohol – 2 fluid ounces
Wind screen used on both: Yes
Goal: Bring one cup of water to a rolling boil using an aluminum ‘mess kit’ pot
Coke Can Stove
Maximum burn time: 20 minutes (2 fluid ounces)
Positives: VERY light and it works
Negatives: Not very efficient
~ 2 minutes – stove ‘fingers’ begin to ignite
~ 5 minutes – heat bubbles form on the bottom of the pan
~ 7 minutes – lid added
~ 11 minutes 30 seconds – light bowl begins
~ 15 minutes – full boil
Mini Ring of Fire
Maximum burn time: 25 minutes (2 fluid ounces)
Opened vent to about 1/8
Positives: Very efficient and capable of handling a lot of cooking, lightweight, efficient
Negatives: A lot of parts to keep up with
~ 2 minutes – strong heat bubbles form on the bottom of the pan
~ 4 minutes – bubbles rising to the top
~ 7 minutes – lid on
~ 7 minutes 30 seconds – FULL rolling boil
So, this is where I stand on the Mini Ring of Fire at this point; it is not a waste of time. If you need light and small but do not need to boil a lot of water really fast, you could do much worse. I would not feel completely undergunned with the MFOR in the woods. I will say that it has not won me over completely, however I am not turned off to the idea. For me with regards to something new in my pack, that is saying a lot. I think for those already sold on alcohol stoves, this could likely become your favorite version.
For more information, check out Smokeeater908 on YouTube or his web store. He is a good dude with an awesome mustache. He has worked in the metal industry for over 20 years and currently serves as a Sergeant for a north Georgia combination fire department.
About the Author: Master Outdoorsy-Guy Kevin “Trailmix” Martin is not a typical “smelly tree-hugger” but he is definitely the closest thing we have to a granola-loving bark-chewer on staff (that’s including the yoga-loving cat lady warrior princess). After working in the outdoor industry for seven years beginning in the late nineties, from summer camps to university programs, he found a new passion in rescue operations. He served on a county rescue squad in the southern Appalachians as well as a state urban search and rescue task force. He is a certified rescue technician in: swiftwater, high-angle, wilderness search, structural collapse, and vehicle extrication, to name a few. He was deployed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina over a 14 month period. He has taught various courses for several colleges and universities. Currently, MOG Martin works for a private university in Public Safety while also running the school’s outdoor program.