Standing a mere two inches tall fully opened, the Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove from Vargo Outdoors isn’t a major space taker. Despite the small size and weighing only an ounce, the Triad has met with mixed responses.
In concept, it is unique. A tripod design bears folding legs that hold up the pot and lift the stove off of a surface. The stove can be inverted and used with solid fuel tabs. Excess fuel can be drained from the stove and channels along one of the tripod legs to be returned to the fuel supply. The stated specs under ideal conditions state that the Triad can boil one and a half cups of water between 7 and 10 minutes.
The Overall Durability of the Triad
Whatever else may be said about the Triad alcohol stove, it is sturdy. Over 2,000 miles of daily use through all sorts of weather left it in the same condition as when it was first purchased. The legs seem flimsy, but are surprisingly strong thanks to the titanium construction. It is tough enough to stand up to most typical backpacking and camping activities, but the movable legs do mean there is something that could theoretically be damaged.
Titanium Triad's Fuel Usage
Filling and priming the Triad is one of the most difficult tasks. The solid fuel tab side of course has no problems, it is the alcohol aspect which proves a fight. Of the alcohol stoves available, it has one of the smallest center holes. Alcohol must be poured into the center a little at a time, then allowed to drain completely before adding more. This must be done several times before it is full enough to be primed.
This filling ritual and the shallow priming pan at the top cause fuel to sometimes splash over the edges and be wasted instead of going in. Priming is only possible using a small metal cap full of fuel below the stove if the user doesn’t wish to fill it entirely. The overall fuel capacity for the stove is quite small, leading to short overall burn times.
Excess can be poured out of the stove and will flow along its tripod leg, but it is very difficult to empty it all out. Also some unused alcohol will be lost as it cools due to vaporization. Since pouring does not eliminate all of the fuel, the stove must be lit again to remove the remaining fuel, which may itself require additional fuel. It is easier simply to let it burn off what little fuel may be left instead of pouring.
Alcohol Stove Flame Strength
It is likely an intentional design to allow for easily blowing out the stove for pouring off extra fuel, but the flames of the Triad die easily. Wind breakers, which are already important with other alcohol stoves are absolutely vital with the Vargo Outdoors’ design.
It also puts out a smaller flame than many other alcohol stoves and experience may vary as to its ability to boil water at all. Any number of factors can interfere with the stated boil times. In most situations, two cups of water can manage to form bubbles and steam a little on a single load of fuel.
The Stability of the Triad
On a level surface, the Triad does as well as any other stove. The problem comes from the narrow profile. It is entirely unsuitable for larger pots, as the further they extend, the greater the instability. For a smaller pot, it generally has few problems. Round-bottomed pots may slide on it somewhat if one is not careful.
Titanium Triad XE Alcohol Stove
The latest variation of the Triad is the Titanium Triad XE, half an ounce heavier than the previous design and said to have a 25-minute burn time. It is no longer a single piece, instead having a holder and a stove. The holding unit bears the legs in this newer design.
Filling is now far easier as the central ‘puck’ component can be opened, filled and then closed again instead of, in the earlier design, requiring sloppy attempts to fill a tiny hole at the center of a shallow depression. Priming is now done simply by pouring a little excess fuel over the puck component and into the stand component.
Last Thoughts on the Titanium Triad
Unless it has already been purchased or one wishes for something novel, most hikers and backpackers are likely to prefer a homemade cat can or pop can alcohol stove. The Triad XE is far easier and runs at around the same price, so may be a more reasonable option. The trade-offs of the Triad XE when put up against a pop can stove may mean it is of greater value to many hikers.
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