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Vargo Triad XE in the Ti-Tri Cone

Yesterday, Avagdu asked me if the Vargo Triad XE stove could be burned inside the cone of my Trail Designs Ti-Tri Stove System. I’ve used it in the cone a couple of different times, but never performed any direct comparisons between it and the 12-10 alcohol stove that comes with the Ti-Tri system. Today, I spent some time with both stoves to do just that. Temperatures were around 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

I burned both stoves with the same amount of fuel. One of the downsides of the Triad XE stove is that because the main fuel source is enclosed within the inner container, it cannot be directly lit. Instead, some fuel must be placed within the outer section of the stove. This is then lit to prime the main fuel source. On an alcohol stove where the main fuel is directly accessible, such as the 12-10, the outer priming ring is not always required. It will usually be used when operating in colder temperatures. To be fair for these tests, I primed both stoves with the same amount of alcohol.

The Triad XE stove had to be tested in two different modes: with support legs extended and with support legs collapsed. With the legs collapsed, the stove sits a little lower than the 12-10. With legs extended, it’s a bit higher. The tests were done on a hard, solid surface so that when the legs were extended they were not pushed into the ground (as they might be when using the stove on dirt). The Triad XE took longer to bring the 2 cups of water to a boil with the legs collapsed, which is to be expected, since the flames are further from the pot.

Interestingly, when the Triad XE’s legs were extended, it took a significantly shorter period of time than the 12-10 stove to bring the same amount of water to a boil. One would think that the 12-10 stove, being designed by Trail Designs specifically to work within the Ti-Tri cone, would be superior to a general-purpose stove like the Triad XE burning inside the same cone. The Triad XE also had a longer burn time than the 12-10, suggesting that it makes more efficient use of the same amount of fuel (although, in practice, it may require more fuel than the 12-10 since the Triad XE must always be primed and the 12-10 must not).

All in all, it seems that leaving the 12-10 at home and bringing the Triad XE with the rest of the Ti-Tri system would be a smart move. But then, there are the weights. The Triad XE weighs three times as much as the 12-10 — certainly a significant amount. Though it must be remembered that the Triad XE is not just an alcohol stove: it is designed to burn solid fuel tabs (Esbit) as well. So, to be fair, if I switched out the 12-10 with the Triad XE, I would also leave Trail Design’s GramCracker burner at home. But the GramCracker tips my scale at 0.1 oz, so it does not really factor in to the decision much. (I also think that the GramCracker most likely burns fuel tabs slightly more efficiently than the Triad XE, but I haven’t done this comparison yet.)

The other factor in comparing the two stoves is durability. The Triad XE, being made out of titanium is a tough little guy, not phased by the occasional drop or riding around loose in my pack. In contrast, the 12-10 stove is made out of two thin aluminum cans, making it very delicate. Even though it lives within the protective plastic caddy of the Ti-Tri, it has numerous scratches and dents to show for its year in use.

I’m not sure what conclusion to draw. If the Triad XE weighed closer to 1.0 oz, it would be without doubt superior.

Vargo Triad XE (1.6 oz)

Main Fuel:
25 cc
Primer Pan Fuel:
5 cc
Water:
2 cups
Total Burn:
10:30
Boil (legs extended)
6:30
Boil (legs collapsed)
7:12

Trail Designs 12-10 (0.5 oz)

Main Fuel:
25 cc
Primer Pan Fuel:
5 cc
Water:
2 cups
Total Burn:
10:14
Boil
7:15