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Stove face-off: Kojin, StarLyte, 12-10 & Supalite || Boil times & efficiency

Tested stoves (left to right): Zelph Modified StarLyte, Trail Designs Kojin, Trail Designs 12-10 (all paired with the Sidewinder), and the Kovea Supalite.

The new Trail Designs Kojin competes head-to-head with the Zelph Modified StarLyte, which for several years I have used as the burner in my go-to solo alcohol stove system. They have similar weights and size, and are both designed to work with a cone-style stand/windscreen like the Trail Designs Sidewinder.

After an interview with Russ Zandbergen of Trails Designs about the Kojin, I was asked by a reader, Andy V, to compare the boil times and fuel efficiency of the Modified StarLyte and Kojin, as well as the Trail Designs 12-10, which had been TD’s only stove.

I was curious about the performance anyway, so I went for it. For additional perspective, into the mix I added the Kovea Supalite, an upright canister stove that makes for a good shoulder season and couples stove.

Setup & process

In each test, I brought 1.5 cups of water (12 oz, 355 ml) to a rolling boil, using the Modified StarLyte, Kojin, 12-10, or Kovea Supalite (in that order). I tested each stove twice. Here in Boulder, Colo. at 5,350 feet above sea level, the boiling point is 202 F (94.4 C).

On the first round of tests, I used fresh tap water. I didn’t record the temperature, but it’s normally about 55 degrees. During the tests I kept the water nearby in a 1-gallon soft-sided canteen. It may have cooled by a few degrees during the tests, but not enough to worry me. If there was any effect, it would have penalized the stoves tested last, notably the 12-10 and Supalite.

For two hours before the second round of tests, I left the 1-gallon canteen in the testing area, so that it was a consistent “room temperature.” The boil times were all slower during the second round, which I believe is due to the lower starting water temperature.

I used the same cookpot (the Evernew Ultra-Light 900 ml) and stand/windscreen for the alcohol stoves (the Trail Designs Sidewinder). The 12-10 requires the use of two titanium stakes to raise the pot height inside the Sidewinder, which I did. The Supalite is a standalone stove, with no matching windscreen.

The tests were conducted in my garage, inside of which the ambient temperature was in the mid-30’s. I kept the side door open so that there was some air circulation, but conditions could be described as calm.

I weighed each stove three times: at the start of each test, after adding fuel, and after achieving a boil and snuffing out the stove. Because the alcohol stoves did not burn all of the fuel during the first test, they weighed more at the start of the second test.

My testing setup. Notice the orange glow — the Trail Designs Kojin puts out serious heat.

Results

Actual results will vary due to changes in the conditions, including ambient air temperature, starting water temperature, water volume, and wind. But these results are at least suggestive of relative performance.

For fuller viewing, open these tables in a new window.

Analysis

In words, what do these results say?

Modified StarLyte vs. Kojin

When tested under identical conditions, the Zelph Modified StarLyte used 18 percent less fuel than the Trail Designs Kojin to achieve a rolling boil. On a 5-day/4-night trip with eight 12-oz meals (four coffees + four dinners), the StarLyte would use 0.5 oz (15 g) less fuel.

Typically, fuel efficiency and boil times are inversely related, and that is the case here, too. The Kojin achieved a boil 40 percent faster than the StarLyte.

I don’t own a non-modified StarLyte so I can’t say exactly how it performs relative the Kojin. They probably are more similar in both fuel efficiency and boil times.

Kojin vs. 12-10

In both fuel efficiency and boil times, I found that the Kojin outperformed the 12-10: it used 8 percent less fuel, and achieved a boil 15 percent faster.

In the interview with Russ, he said that the 12-10 is still recommended for large-volume pots. I wonder where the 12-10 beings to outperform the Kojin. Personally, given the additional fuss of the 12-10 (i.e. propping up the pot on the Ti stakes, and not being able to store inside the pot both the stove and cone), I would wait for very compelling data before using the 12-10.

Update, 11:30 AM MST

I emailed Russ about these results. His response:

Your numbers seem right for the smaller volume of water. I test with 2 cups.

The Kojin and the Starlyte do not do as well with larger pots and more water. My brother cooks for 2 or 3 people, and sometimes boils 3 and 4 cups with the 12-10. Boil times are in the 15 min range.

The Kojin was really developed for the sidewinder NO STAKE pot height. The 12-10 was developed BEFORE we had the (stow in the pot) sidewinder. The shorter sidewinder cone did not give us the offset we needed so the stakes became a requirement. The Kojin was developed FOR the Sidewinder pot offset.

Kovea Supalite vs. the world

I love alcohol stoves: they’re simple, ultralight, silent, and inexpensive; and the fuel is widely available. But on trips when I want hot water fast (e.g. big game hunting in Colorado in November) or when the stove will be heavily used (e.g. a couples trip, with morning coffee, a hot breakfast, mid-day coffee, dinner, and finally Sleepytime tea), a canister stove is the way to go.

Simply put, the Kovea Supalite kicked ass. It used 21 percent less fuel and achieved a boil 38 percent faster than the second-best stoves, the Modified StarLyte and Kojin, respectively.

Questions about the tests or the results? Leave a comment.


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18 Responses to Stove face-off: Kojin, StarLyte, 12-10 & Supalite || Boil times & efficiency

  1. Andy V February 25, 2018 at 3:49 am #

    I asked and you definitely delivered. Thank you Andrew for your quick results.

  2. Clare February 25, 2018 at 5:04 am #

    Do you know how much fuel can be ‘stored’ in the Kojin stove? For overnighters/day trips where I don’t want to bring along a fuel bottle. Thanks!

    • Andrew Skurka February 25, 2018 at 11:57 am #

      I didn’t measure it, but I would say at least two meals worth of fuel.

  3. Randy February 25, 2018 at 5:41 am #

    Not a big deal but 1 pint = 16 oz not 12 oz.

    • Gordon February 25, 2018 at 6:40 am #

      12 oz. is a backpacker’s pint!

  4. Kevin February 25, 2018 at 8:25 am #

    It’s my understanding that the only difference between a modified and non-modified Starlyte is the ring over the mesh part, which can be easily removed for a hotter, more aggressive burn. I’d be interested to see the comparison between that version and the Kojin. As it stands, 0.5 oz fuel saved over 5 days doesn’t seem worth the 40% increase in boil time, unless you’re running really short on fuel. Interesting data!

    • Gordon February 25, 2018 at 8:32 am #

      The ring is secured by a turned edge. I suppose you could *remove* it easily, but good luck putting it back. If you want a modified Starlyte without the ring, I suggest buying the Starlyte. 😉

  5. Cody J February 25, 2018 at 11:28 am #

    Guess I know which stove is replacing my original pocket rocket when it goes.
    Thanks for the test!!

  6. Dan Durston February 25, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

    Thanks for this Andrew. Great stuff.

    I’ve done quite a bit of testing to compare the restricted vs. regular Starlyte stoves in a variety of pots (750ml, 900ml, 1.3L), typically with 2 cups of water, but as you say, it’s the relative performance that is the most insightful.

    So generally, the regular Starlyte takes 75 – 85% as long to boil as the restricted one, with a mean of 79% across a variety of testing conditions. It does so, while using 5 – 10% more fuel (mean of 7%).

    In your testing conditions, I expect that the regular Starlyte would boil in 6:30 while using 9g of fuel.
    That falls halfway between the restricted Starlyte and Kojin on the “speed vs fuel economy” spectrum. So I consider all of these to be quite similar stoves in terms of efficiency other than occupying different positions on this spectrum.

    It’s also worth nothing the stove-pot gap has a large effect on the speed vs efficiency as well. If you add 1/4″ more gap, the Starlyte will boil faster while using more fuel. The Kojin looks a bit shorter than the Startyte (older Starlytes used to be shorter). Most likely a Starlyte that was the same height as the Kojin and non-restricted, would generate very similar numbers.

  7. Dan Durston February 25, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

    12-10:
    Like you, I’m a bit confused by the claim that the 12-10 is better for larger groups. I’ve spent >200 days boiling 4 cups of water with my Starlyte. Typical boil times for 1000ml (~4 cups) are 12 minutes in the “lab” and 15 minutes in the field. So I don’t see how the 12-10 beats the Starlyte here, and the Kojin appears to be faster still. If if boils 1.5 cups in 5 min, I expect 10-12 min for 4 cups.

    Kovea Supalite:
    Certainly it is fast, but when you consider the canister weight, the fuel weight savings more than evaporate. Saving 2 min per boil is somewhat nice, but not worth it for me outside of winter due to the cost, hassle and environmental impact of the canisters. Also, without a windscreen the Supalite would likely be impacted more by wind than the cone setups, so the real world speed & fuel efficiency improvements might be reduced.

  8. Ron Stibbe February 25, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

    Might want to check out the Soto Amicus if you are shopping for a Pocket Rocket replacement. Hikin’ Jim does a review on his Adventures in Stoving blog. If I’m not using my Soto I carry a Firebox Nano Ti with the Trangia/Primus gas burner. If I run out of gas I can always burn sticks in it.

  9. TrueToTheThru February 26, 2018 at 2:56 am #

    I think alcohol stoves are a waste of time and a fire hazard. I’ll take two minutes of stove noise for ease of use, fast boil, better fuel efficiency, and the same weight in terms of fuel storage.

  10. NathanT February 26, 2018 at 11:26 am #

    Much as I would like to go with alcohol, the Pacific NW hiking areas are now routinely blanketed with summer fire restrictions on all stoves that do not have an on/off switch. So while some might object to canister stoves as as environmentally wasteful, many of us have no choice. I would also mention that forest fires are far more “wasteful” and hazardous than the odd canister or two.

    I have the Kovea and love it but I also routinely hike with a partner so we are heating up 32oz of water at dinner and 24oz for breakfast coffee. That much hot water needs to come quickly or we are wasting hiking time.

  11. stevens February 26, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

    Interesting comparison & data.

    Here’s a follow-up (or perhaps you’ve already looked at this issue:)

    Kovea SupaLite vs. the BRS3000 and any other worthy contenders in the canister category…

    ?

    Cheers

    • Andrew Skurka February 27, 2018 at 10:50 am #

      Don’t own the latter, so that test is not on the immediate docket.

      The performance of these two stoves is probably different, but relative to the alcohol category they will be much more similar than different.

      • Gordon February 27, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

        No BRS3000?! All the cool kids have one. 😉

  12. PackmanPete March 1, 2018 at 11:26 pm #

    In all fairness, unless it’s warm and calm, the alcohol stoves NEED a windscreen or better yet, a cone. You really should include that in the weight of them. Sure, a canister stove can benefit from a windscreen, defiantly not a cone, but a little bit of creative blocking usually suffices.

    • Andrew Skurka March 2, 2018 at 7:57 am #

      This test was setup solely to compare the relative performance of the alcohol stoves, and I threw the canister in there at the end just to see what would happen. I don’t know exactly what a “fair” test of alcohol vs canister would look like, but this was definitely not it.

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