One bright, windy morning on an island off the coast of Maine I finally decided I no longer wanted to cruise with my iso-butane backpacking stove. A cold front had passed the night before and the wind was coldly streaming in from the northwest. I was attempting to boil water for soft-boiled eggs, and the roaring flame sputtered inefficiently while I contorted my body around the stove to block the wind. Suddenly, while awkwardly repositioning myself, I knocked the top-heavy assembly over onto the rocks.

I wanted a stove that would be better suited to small-boat camp-cruising by providing a wide stable base, be more windproof, and yet remain neatly stowable where space was at a premium. I also wanted to do more cooking than just boiling water. After much research, the stove that met these requirements was the venerable Trangia 25-8.

Trangia, a family-owned Swedish company, has been making camping stoves since 1925. Their stoves and cooking hardware are modular, with most of the components nesting within each other for compact storage. Pots, pans, and kettles allow all sorts of camp cooking, from boiling water to pan-searing scallops or making chili. The Trangia 25-8 works with multiple burners and fuel types, and the wide base and windscreen make for a solid cooking platform that resists all but the most howling winds. A wide variety of other accessories expand the cooking options even more.

Photographs by the author

The Trangia system is designed to nest the stove parts and cooking pots in a compact package.

The Trangia comes in two sizes, the 27 which is smaller and suited to one person, or the 25, which is larger and better suited to two. The 25 is about 8-1/2″ wide and 4-1/2” tall when stowed. It comes with a frying pan, a 0.9-liter kettle, a 1.5-liter pot, and a 1.75-liter pot. The windscreen base assembly and the pots can be chosen in different materials depending on what the discerning chef requires. I chose the Storm Cooker 25-8 UL/HA for the ultralight aluminum windscreen and hard-anodized aluminum cookware. Plain aluminum, stainless steel, and non-stick coated are also available. All the items are also available separately so mixing and matching of different materials is possible.

The stove was designed in the 1950s around an alcohol burner. The back side of the base is perforated with holes to provide airflow to the burner while the shield protects the flames and retains heat

The wide range of fuel options is especially conducive to camp-cruising. The standard is the brass alcohol burner, which is compact and completely silent. Making coffee during a peaceful early dawn on the beach is a joy with this quiet burner and a welcome departure from other more powerful burners that disrupt tranquility. A simmer ring, with a pivoting metal plate, attaches to the top of the burner and allows flame regulation—perfect for cooking pancakes, which are easy to scorch on other stoves.

The Trangia system can also operate with canister fuel, shown here, and liquid fuel delivered by a bottle pressurized by hand with a built-in pump.

Using the alcohol burner aboard, however, is strongly discouraged as the open top of the unit is liable to slosh and send burning alcohol into the boat.* When I’m cooking on the boat, I use the Multi-Fuel burner. This burner can be used both for hand-pressurized white-gas fuel tanks or iso-butane cartridges that are readily available at most outfitters. The Multi-Fuel burner clicks into place where the alcohol burner is normally located and it provides a strong, steady heat without the risk of an upset and spilled fuel, but it produces more noise. Also available is the Gas-burner, which is less expensive than the Multi-Fuel burner, and uses only iso-butane cartridges.

The wide range of Trangia accessories increase customization options. I get a lot of use out of my 4.5-liter Billy pot. It is perfect for steaming clams and mussels on the beach and, when not in use, the Trangia fits neatly inside the Billy which is then in turn placed into my 5-gallon galley bucket with plenty of room to spare for the rest of my cooking equipment.

The Trangia stove system, with its wide and stable base, wind resistance, versatility and compactness, is a winning combination for small-boat cruising. It has become one of my most cherished pieces of kit, and has re-kindled the simple joy of cooking while camping.

*See the Comments below for more on the risk of using an alcohol burner in a small boat while afloat. Ed.

Christophe Matson lives in New Hampshire. At a very young age he disobeyed his father and rowed the neighbor’s Dyer Dhow across the Connecticut River to the strange new lands on the other side. Ever since he has been hooked on the idea that a small boat offers the most freedom. 

The Trangia Storm Cooker 25-8 UL/HA is listed by Trangia for $112.20 with the spirit burner and $157.90 with the gas burner. Burners are available separately as accessories.

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