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Make your own: Fancy Feast Alcohol Stove Windscreen

Alcohol stoves are more susceptible to wind than conventional backpacking stoves, and therefore a good windscreen is a critical part of the system. I make my wind stoves from aluminum foil (e.g. Reynolds Wrap).

Advantages

  • It is ultralight, at just .3 oz.
  • It is very inexpensive, costing just pennies to make.
  • It can be made very quickly, in less than 3 minutes.
  • It requires no tools to make.
  • Its raw material (aluminum foil) is available in every town.
  • It folds up easily and can be stored in the bottom of my pot, where it can’t be crushed.
  • It is functional for about 10 days (at 2 meals per day). This exceeds the length of most trips. When on a thru-hike, I just put a fresh windscreen in every maildrop, which I usually pick up once a week.

Make your own

1. Cut a length of foil that is about 3 inches longer than the circumference of your pot. When your windscreen is placed around your pot, leaving a half-inch gap between the two, you want the ends of the windscreen to overlap by 1-1.5 inches.

2. Fold the sheet of aluminum foil in half length-wise.

3. Double over all of the edges in order to increase durability and proneness to tears. Before you double over the last edge, smoothen out the windscreen in order to get all of the air out. If there is air inside the windscreen, it will expand when heated and blow out an edge or part of the windscreen.

19 Responses to Make your own: Fancy Feast Alcohol Stove Windscreen

  1. Matt S January 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    I made the fancy feast stove last night (boil in 6:30 with 1.1L MSR steel pot) and will make this screen tonight.

    I’m seriously considering an AK trip with you in 2013. I just want to cut my teeth more in Chugach Forest this summer. Fell in love with Alaska last year.

    Looking forward to getting your book as well.

  2. J.K. March 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    You can back heavy duty cooking foil with foil tape (adhesive back) . The kind used on hvac duct work . It can handle more abuse . You and a friend could each make one spit the coast.
    Also i have seen a crumb catcher for a kitchen sink used as a stove ( a metal one).

    • wayne July 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      I use light weight flashing with a cut out for my msr kettle’s handle. I fold the ends to lock together. I also put holes in the bottom of the wind screen to aid with air flow. It also supports my pot greatly do to the cut out ,where the handles rest on.

    • David Turkel April 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Using HVAC tape may be a bad call. I just tried it, and the adhesive is flammable. It may have been due to it not having dried out completely.

  3. jesse November 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    I just discovered a mod to this windscreen that cut my boil time in half. I’ve been using a paperclip to roll up my aluminum windscreen. I found that by using 4 clips along the bottom and leaving them protruding from the bottom 1/4 inch, the air flow improves drastically and still protects from wind. No more need for air holes slits etc. My boil time on 500ml is 3.5 mins down from 8 mins. The flame burns steadier too.

    • Andrew Skurka November 11, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Can you send me a photo? I’ve become aware of the airflow problem recently and would like to figure out an easy solution.

      • Knotty January 16, 2013 at 7:52 am #

        When using a windscreen w/o holes, you can create an air gap by putting small twigs underneath the edge, lifting the screen. With no holes or gap, air to feed the fire has to back flow down from the top, making for an inefficient burn.

  4. Davis Bigelow March 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    In addition to a windscreen making a big difference, on my white gas stove (Dragonfly II), I also carry the top part of an Outback Oven kit. (Available at mec.ca – enter “outback oven” in the search bar) The cover is made of reflective, fire retardant material that slips over the pot and outside of the foil windscreen. It has a hole in the top for venting the heat around the entire pot before it escapes into the surrounding air. The steel pieces in the Outback oven are heavy, but not the fabric cover. (I’ve only used the entire oven once – in my back yard, because I think the whole things is too heavy to pack long distances.) The lightweight cover always goes with my stove and reduces my fuel consumption by about 70%. I did a 4 day backpack for four of us and cooked nearly every meal (I had the only stove and we never built a fire due to fire bans.). I used about 13oz of fuel for the entire trip.
    Oh, and thanks for all the sharing here. Good stuff! I’m getting antsy for summer here in southern Alberta. You guys should come up here and enjoy it with me.
    Davis

  5. Brett March 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Here’s a vid of a super simple foil windscreen with airflow holes.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=NmO7ZRiZ5JA&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DNmO7ZRiZ5JA

  6. Mike April 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Instead of aluminum foil I use the foil from a disposable roasting pan. One pan will make a few windscreens and is durable enough to put a few air holes in. It’s not as light as foil, and I haven’t weighed mine, but it’s not too heavy either.

    • Tom F May 17, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      Following Mike’s tip, I just made one out of a Walmart roasting pan, rolling the edges over like Andrew did on his aluminum foil version to avoid cuts from the sharp edge. It weighs 1.3 ozs for the size I made, which makes it about 80% around a 1.3 Liter pot and goes quite high. I figured I can always cut it down, but can’t add more material later without starting from scratch.

      I will probably use a small bit of aluminum foil in case I need to seal up the remaining 20% in heavy wind. Definitely heavier than Andrew’s version. I plan to experiment with both.

      • Andrew Skurka May 17, 2013 at 10:00 am #

        You’ll want the windscreen to wrap all the way around the pot.

        Also, consider storage. The beauty of the aluminum foil screen is that you can fold it into eighths and place it in the bottom of the pot during the day. The turkey pan foil doesn’t bend as easily and therefore isn’t as easy to store.

  7. Patty April 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    I made the wind screen elevated with paper clips for my three-ounce Fancy Feast alcohol stove and measured how long it took to boil two cups of cold water out of my tap. I did it three times and my best time to a rolling boil was seven minutes. If someone got a true rolling boil in 3.5 minutes, some variable was significantly different, perhaps the starting temperature of the water?

  8. Rhea Patrick December 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Have you come to any conclusions about air flow into the windscreen . And if it adds to the flame would taking the paper punch to put holes in the foil accomplish this ? And if not what are you doing currently/

    • Andrew Skurka December 20, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      Yes, punch some holes in the bottom of the wind screen. It helps.

      • Chris February 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

        Are you punching holes in the rolled over, double layer of the windscreen or above it? Also, how far apart are you doing the windscreen holes?

        • Andrew Skurka February 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

          Above that section, which is only 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide.

          The holes are probably about 1 inch apart. I’m not that scientific with it: I fold up the screen in eighths, which is the size I find best for storage in the bottom of my pot, and punch three holes on one end (thus creating a top and bottom for the screen). That ends up being about 24 holes, and the screen is probably about 18-24 inches long — wide enough to surround a 900ml pot.

  9. Kerry F April 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Andrew – any chance you could now post a picture of your windscreen with the holes? It would help. Thank you for posting this detail and the video on making the stove. I’m excited to make my first one!

  10. Rummy B July 10, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I use the middle sections of two soda cans leftover from making a soda can alcohol stove (cut the bottom and top off a soda can, split remainder of can down one side). Held together with paper clips, if you prefer. Trimmed down to necessary size. Uber lightweight, cheap, and fits inside my solo pot when not in use. Hole punched at the bottom for airflow.

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