I recently spoke with representatives of Brunton, Inc., a manufacturer of technical gear for outdoor activity, regarding inTravelMag’s last issue’s article on portable power options . I mentioned that I spent a lot of time looking for uniquely flexible and unusual items. In response, they suggested that I review their Vapor AF expedition stove. According to Brunton, this stove could burn just about any liquid or gas fuel. Anything from gasoline and kerosene to butane and jet fuel is usable in this stove. Of course I had to do the review.
What’s in the box?
Included with the Vapor AF is the stove itself, a fuel bottle including a “flip-stop” valve (more on that later), a carrying pouch large enough to carry the stove, a cleaning needle tool for cleaning the fuel jet, a maintenance tool for disassembling the stove, a set of spare rubber O-rings, a folded aluminum sheet about 24” long and 5” high which may or may not be a flame shield, and a single sheet of instructions provided in English and French.
- Single jet for all liquid fuels & butane
- Precision simmering control
- Quick-priming burner
- Aluminum / stainless steel / brass construction
- Self-purging flipstop pump
- Overall dimensions:4.1”x5.2”x2.3” folded
- Weight: 16oz
- Aprox BTU rating: 10,000 Liquid fuel - 12,000 Butane
- Fuel: Butane, White gas, Kerosene, Diesel #1, Auto Fuel, Jet Fuel & others
- Burn time: Up to 2.5 hours-high output
- Boil time (1 L of water): Down to 3.5 minutes
Using the Stove
The small size and weight of the stove is striking. Weighing in at 16oz. and with dimensions of only 4.1”x5.2”x2.3” when folded, the stove itself is portable and easy to pack away into the carrying pouch. This doesn’t include the aluminum fuel bottle which adds some bulk (but not a significant amount) to the weight of the whole package. The stove and bottle, while appearing light and flimsy to the eye, have a sturdy feel that is important to camping trips where conditions may not be the best. The stove seemed both solid and well constructed and I decided to test this with a make shift durability assessment: I threw it down a flight of concrete steps three times. Aside from a few scratches, the stove was unharmed and still functioned properly. The folded stove is shown below. The grid is made up of 1” squares to provide scale.
The stove itself arrives in one piece and requires little assembly. The legs unfold easily but this is where the ease of use ends. Given my experience with both last month’s review and this one, Brunton seems to have the market cornered on providing THE WORST INSTRUCTIONS IN THE WORLD. The double-sided page of instructions was hard to understand and gave ambiguous directions that were difficult to follow. It was provided in both English and French, but neither made assembly or operation of the stove clear. Intent on managing the technical troubles, I spent two full days tinkering with the stove and finally unraveled its secrets. I shudder to think at the time wasted had I been trying to figure this out for the first time in the woods.
Once the initial confusion passed, the Vapor AF began proving itself a worthy addition to any outdoor excursion. The stove had two settings, one for butane and one for liquid fuels. The included bottle could be used for liquid fuel with one setting, or a butane canister could be attached and used with the other. According to the instructions, the stove supported the following fuels: butane, white gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and auto fuel but indicated that one should NEVER use fuels other than those listed. My curiosity was intrigued and I felt a second test was in order. By my reasoning, specific fuel types may not always be the easiest to come by in a remote backwoods location, but there is one product that has and always will be readily available in any area: booze. With that assumption, I decided that my fuel of choice would be rum. Concerned that the 80 proof variety might be insufficiently combustible, I hastened to my liquor cabinet and pulled out the strongest bottle I had: 151 proof.