The Big Trangia Review

 

 

 

What is a Trangia
Trangia is the trademarked name for a line of alcohol stoves designed and manufactured by the Swedish company Trangia AB in Trångsviken. They were first sold in 1925 and being both simple and lightweight were aimed mainly at backpackers and hikers. There are a variety of models that all share the same basic design – a brass spirit burner with simmer ring in a holder over which pots, pans or kettle rest. The pots and pans do not have fixed handles and are moved around with a pot lifter. The key component to the Trangia system is the brass burner, famous for being virtually indestructable. It operates in the way a pop-can stove does where fuel poured into a central reservoir when lit evaporates with vapour being forced up an outer sleeve to burn through holes at the top producing a hot, even flame. The simmer ring is a brass cover that fits over the top of the burner allowing it to be partially covered reducing the flame and heat. The pots/pans/kettle are either aluminum or hardanodized aluminum and are lightweight and durable.

The Trangia Range
The Trangia comes in a number of different sizes each with a number of options. The basic range is the Mini Trangia, 25 series and 27 series. The Mini Trangia is a more recent addition aimed at ultralight solo users and varies slightly from the usual design in that the burner is housed on the ground in a basic holder without windshield. The 25 and 27 series are the tradational style where the burner is held off the ground and surrounded by a windshield. This gives more shelter and therefore higher fuel efficiency but at the cost of additional weight. The 25 series is sized for groups of 3-4 and the 27 for small parties of one or two. Both the 25 and 27 series come in an additional more hardy hardanodized version whereas the Mini is only available in standard aluminum. The Mini Trangia also has a lighter, more simplistic pot lifter than the 25 and 27 series. The 25/27 Trangias can also be converted to gas but for the purposes of this review I’ll be sticking to alcohol.

Range Differences
Within the 25 and 27 range there is an additional (and slightly confusing) set of 6 variations which I’ll get to shortly but the basic difference between them is purely in the size of the pots/pan/kettle. In the 25 you get 2 saucepans (1.75 and 1.5L), 1 fry pan (22cm) and an optional kettle (0.9L). In the smaller 27 series you get 2 saucepans (both 1.0L), a fry pan (18cm) and an optional kettle (0.6L). The mystical 6 additional options are as follows (and the same for both series) : 1) Basic, no kettle, 2) Basic with kettle, 3) Basic no kettle, pan is non-stick, 4) Basic with kettle, pan is non-stick, 5) Basic, no kettle, all pots/pan are non-stick, 6) Basic, with kettle, all pots/pan non-stick. The Trangia Mini does not have any variations and comes with a single 0.8L pot and 15cm non-stick pan. The 25/27 series includes an sturdy aluminum pot lifter, the Mini only has a more basic stainless steel version.

The Series 27 Trangia including kettle

Packing for Transport
One of the great things about the Trangia range is the fact they are designed to be stored on a single unit with all parts inside Russian doll style. With the 25/27 series everything packs inside the windshield/pot stand using the pan as a lid. For the Trangia Mini everything including the burner/burner holder and pot lifter packs inside the saucepan. This system works well but the downside is if you can’t clean everything before packing then you’ll have a mess when you take them out again. The Trangia Mini has a pan that clips non-stick side down to the pot with the burner holder inside. This can cause the pan to be scratched and so, comes with a thin plastic sheet sized for the pan that protects it.

Accessories
Trangia sell a range of useful accessories including fuel bottles, gas conversion kits, various sized kettles, spare pot grabbers and burners to name a few. There are also some 3rd party manufacturers who sell lightweight burner holders and cloned burner units.

Using a Trangia in the wild
All the Trangias work in basically the same fashion and the only difference between the 25/27 and Mini in actual operation is that the larger versions hold the burner off the ground within a windshield. This is exceptionally useful in cold conditions as the alcohol must vapourise in order to burn at a decent temperature and when the burner is in contact with the ground it is much more likely to have a problem getting up to temperature in near or sub zero conditions. In additon, the windshield of the 25/27 speeds cooking considerably and slows fuel burn but obviously this can be achieved for the Mini with a lightweight foil shield or some carefully placed rocks!

The Trangia Mini including lightweight pot lifter, burner, simmer ring and non-stick pan

In practice using a Trangia is a mixed experience. When out with chums using gas or multifuel you can sadly expect to still be boiling water when they’re having desert – there is no comparison in speed between alcohol and gas/multifuel. Also, although the Trangia burner comes with a simmer ring it tends to be fiddly to use and and only approximate when trying to set a steady simmering temperature. Whilst on the contra, it is also only fair to point out that on longer trips the trangia becomes heavier in comparison because of the fuel you need to carry. However, the decision on a cooking system is never quite as simple as tallying up the pros and cons. For one thing, unless you’re in a race, generally you’re having a break or stopped for the day so when enjoying the great outdoors, where’s the rush and many people enjoy the gentle cooking and nostalgic smell. The Trangia also doesn’t suffer from a highly centralised heat in the same way that an ultralight gas “can top” burner does. It is also highly beneficial in that it packs tightly into its self meaning it is efficient to carry and easy to unpack. Weight wise, I wasn’t intending to go overboard with gram for gram comparisons to alternative cooking systems in this review but needless to say, for shorter trips assuming you have the right size of model for your circumstance it’s not significantly heavier than comparable alternatives. Many people also point out that alcohol just doesn’t burn as hot in cold conditions and that the Trangia burner can require primed in seriously cold conditions (where you use a saucer of burning meths to heat the burner enough to allow it to vapourise the alcohol properly). Personally I have never experienced this. If anything, I find that gas performs badly in the cold as it suffers from low pressure.

Personal Experiences
I have both a 27 series and Trangia Mini and I think they’re both excellent. I also have several gas stoves and generally swap between all the different cooking systems depending on cirumstance. For example, if I’m canoeing and weight isn’t an issue I’ll bring the 27 because it’s plenty big and sturdy/stable but if I’m going to cook in the canoe I’ll stick to gas (who wants to find out what would happen if burning meths spilled in the bottom of a boat!). Similarly, on a lightweight summit camp I’ll often bring the Mini because even without a windshield I still think it performs just as well in the wind as a can top stove but is so perfectly sized for one person it’s amazing – the pot is just right and when they made the non-stick frying pan they must have purposely made it just the right size for a rib eye steak! Ignoring the cooking element and looking at the cookwear Trangia have obviously thought it out well. The pots/pan distribute the heat extremely well meaning hotspots are not a problem and when comparing the aluminum to the light hikers favourite space age technology, titanium, the Trangia stuff is only marginally heavier. This leads on nicely to price. The Mini Trangia as a complete single purchase cookset is a bargain at roughly £25 and saves slightly in that you can burn all the fuel so no more binning 1/4 empty gas cannisters. As you go up in the range, the kits still stay competively priced at circa £45 for the 27 and £48 for the 25 (without kettle or non-stick pan).

The Trangia brass burner with simmer ring

Alternatives
There are a world of alternatives and nothing fills more fireside chat than the heated discussions on which cooking system is the best. Personally, for super light I like the Vango gas can top stove (ironically) with the Trangia Mini pot/pan. For hot drinks and dry/wet MREs a Jetboil is the best and for cooking a more complicated meal a floor standing remote stove like the Primus Gravity II is faster and more precise. For pots and pans I still regularly find myself taking the Trangia cookwear for use with other stoves – they’re hardy, well sized and easy to clean. I have meddled with titanium but for the ridiculous price to save a few grams it just doesn’t seem worth it. However, there isn’t a situation that a Trangia can’t equal any other system for end results and in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing a 3 course meal is perfectly possible!

Recommendations
Personally I blow a bit hot and cold on Trangias but it’s nearly always because of the cooking speed. Sometimes when I’m trying to cook a steak on a blustery peak and on a second fill of the burner it makes me grumpy and I wish I’d brought gas. However, generally gas tends to perform just as badly in high winds with the added nuisance that once the can is less than half full then pressure becomes an additional issue so the chances are it didn’t matter what I was cooking on, I’d have had roughly the same experience. With that in mind and coupled with the fact that it’s a single contained cooking system, I’d recommend it every time.

Amazon Trangia Range

Buy a Trangia from Amazon - every sale gets a small donation for NI-Wild which goes towards development and design.

Pros and Cons
Pros:
* Light and simple
* Virtually indestructible
* Packs neatly
* Single purchase of an entire cooking system (no need to separately choose cookwear)
* Have been sold for 85 years virtually unchanged
* Fuel available worldwide

Cons:
* Slower than other fuels
* Can be messy if you spill
* Can be dangerous if you spill burning meths (meths burns with an invisible flame!)
* Sometimes necessary to refill the burner while cooking
* No pot lids (although the frying pan works nicely)
* Heavier for longer trips
* Fiddly to simmer

Some weight figures
Trangia Mini : 330g
Series 27 (no kettle) : 850g
Series 27 (with kettle) : 980g
Series 25 (no kettle) : 1100g
Series 25 (with kettle) : 1290g

Some useful links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trangia
http://www.trangiastove.co.uk
http://www.trangia.se/english/

This entry was posted in Gear Reviews.

3 Responses to The Big Trangia Review

  1. Ahh thats got me longing for the smell of burning meths 🙂 Other stoves may come and go, but I don’t think I will ever sell my Trangia. The 27UL is especially good for two people and you can easily shave some grams by leaving some of the bits and pieces at home. One thing I would like to see in action is the relatively new Trangia Triangle, which would probably be a good option if you already had a spirit burner and pot lined up to use with it.

    Refreshing to see a new review of a classic product 🙂

  2. Vincent McGill says:

    Puns !!! Heated discussions by the fireside and as a matter of interest where do you find a saucer on the top of Errigal to experiment lighting meths. Personally, I prefer using a candle to heat the meths container at – temps.

    Excellent report but there again you are talking to the converted ;being using the 25/27 series for about 20 yrs. Was going to convert to gas but changed my mind —- peace of mind !! (Less noise).

    As Jon Patterson says it is nice to hear a new (and honest) review of the Trangia and I’ve yet to come across “anything” to compare with it favorably considering all parameters. Since there is quite some space “inside” the assembled product for cutlerly; film cannisters containing ….. Dare I go on . So it is the TRANGIA for another 20 years !!!!

  3. Zeaphod says:

    Great review – really comprehensive.

    I would just add a couple of things: I use my old 25 series with a gas converter. It turns a good cooker into a great one – all the storm proofing of the basic design, with the speed and convenience of gas. Highly recommended, and the cheap copy of the Trangia gas burners work fine.

    I have heard a few comments in the past years about recent Trangia cookers being less solid than those of yore. This is because all the cookers in the range are now made of thinner alloy – they are labelled “UL” for Ultra Light. I suppose Trangia did this to compete with lightweight cookers. My old 25 is definitely made of heavier guage alloy than those at work. (Tiso)

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