Aluminum Can Backpacking Stove

pop can stove

i spent the weekend trying to come up with a design for a cheap, portable espresso machine.  what i ended up with was a caulk gun actuated pvc tube contraption.  you can read all about it over at engadget.  several users have written that pvc is not approved for hot water use and may be dangerous, so i’d recommend checking out cpvc (or something completely different and more eco-friendly).  there’s room for improvement, so beat me to the punch.  come up with a better diy espresso machine and send it in.  i’ll make sure to post it and you’ll make caffeinated hikers everywhere happy.

so, on the topic of hikers and diy portable gagetry, i just recieved a great link that i had to move to the front of the queue.  scott henderson wrote a great howto on making a nifty little backpacking stove out of a chimeric combination of pepsi and guiness cans.  it’s a simple, elegant design that really makes you think about how you can use every day items in creative ways.

these are my favorite kinds of hacks, bar none.  everybody thank bruce for sending this our way, and make sure to send in your favorite hacks.

21 thoughts on “Aluminum Can Backpacking Stove

  1. I’ve made this. Really fun. Took forever to nest the two cans. What drew me to it was the amazingly appealing flame that comes out of the finished product. It really works. Trickiest part is making some sort of simple/light stand that is sturdy enough to hold a pan above the flame.

  2. This is a great one. I actually made one of these about a year ago, and it works excellent. Fitting the cans together can be a bit annoying, but this stove is amazing. Empty, it weighs practically nothing. And it runs well. One of these will boil a quart of water in no time. The only problem is, you need a collar or something to go around it that you can sit the pot on, cause its not smart to put it on the can. For a collar, i used some wire mesh, cut into a long strip, then put end to end to make a basic collar. However, anything works.

  3. I also made one of these stoves to use in backpacking. It works great! The stove can boil water in about 3-5 minutes and it’s incredibly cheap and easily hackable.

    Here is a great directory on making your own backpacking gear. The DIY food dehydrator will be my next project.

  4. These stoves work really well, and actually when you practice making them, you can put one together from just one can, very carefully cut and fit.

    Since heat-tabs are no longer standard-issue, this was how we made coffee in Nasiriyah in March/April ’03.

  5. jason, real espresso involves higher pressures than you can get with a stove top device. when the coffee (at high pressure) exits the espresso machine and depressurizes, a network of small bubbles forms giving it that nice foam.

    so that’s the real trick to this project. how do you make a usable small form factor device (out of common materials) to pressurize water to 10 bar and force it through coffee?

    it seems like a really difficult challenge, but i’m sure someone will find a good solution and make it look easy.

  6. I made one of the Pepsi-G stoves. They seriously need some sort of wind break or they have little effeciency.

    I at the time i made them was not of drinking age so i had my uncle get the Guinnes (Bad spell). He bit**ed that it tasted horable but he got me the cans. Really simple but not the best.

  7. Its not exactly a stove, but I used to use a tuna can firestarter (and fire, in a pinch). Take a nice long strip of cardboard, spiral it inside a tuna can, then cover the whole thing in a nice combustable wax. The cardboard strip acts as a wick with an incredible surface area, giving you a pretty great flame size. If you cant start a fire with it, you should probably consider taking up sewing instead.

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