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.
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.
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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