It’s curious that we devote our spare time to the pursuit of leisurely activities, yet many aspects of that involve trying to get something done sooner rather than later.

Case in point: We pack our gear and head for the back country, hit the trail and amble off on a scenic trail, dawdling here and there to take in the view or snap a picture. When we set about making camp, the leisurely pace becomes more frantic and we scramble to throw together a meal.

We grab the canister or liquid -fueled stove and begin the rat race.

Wait a minute, weren’t we out here to stop and smell the roses? That’s part of the philosophy of enjoying the outdoors that Brian Vargo, owner of Vargo Outdoors, imparted to me in a recent telephone interview.

Since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking  about his words. His company produces and sells ultra-lightweight  items like titanium spoons, cookwear, tent spikes and stoves.

Last weekend I gave in to the siren song of the alcohol stove and marched into Epic Sports in Bangor and plunked down around $30 for an ounce of titanium called the Vargo Triad alcohol stove. Yep, an ounce. As I walked out of the store I couldn’t help but think that the price of gold used to be about $30 an ounce.

It has three folding pot support legs and three folding stove support legs that Vargo recommends pushing into the ground to make the stove sturdy. Filled with an ounce and a half of denatured alcohol, it will burn for 15-20 minutes, although on my first three burns I didn’t get more than 18 minutes. Folded it’s 2.3 inches in diameter and a little over an inch high.

As for speed, alcohol is not in the same class as a Jetboil or Soto OD-1R (both can boil two cups of water in under 3 minutes) or the MSR Dragonfly (that boils water in about the same time and in any temperature — and it can simmer food as well).

But , given that we’re in the outdoors to lay back and enjoy life, I’m coming around to the alcohol stove’s silent steady output.  It’s in no way a speed demon (2 cups of water took more than 8 minutes to boil in the comfort of my kitchen), but it did boil the water, it is silent, and at an ounce, plus an ounce and a half for the fuel, you won’t even know it’s in your pack.

For more information on Vargo Outdoors go to