The Perfect Cooker for Cyclotouring? A Quick Look at the Trangia Spirit Burner

Ever wondered what the Platonic Ideal of The Stove looks like? Then check out the Trangia Spirit Burners. It’s simple, cheap, and light. And it may just be the best stove for cyclotourists.

by Tamia Nelson | April 14, 2018
Originally published in different form on October 4, 2010

Camp Food Article on

I like to cook. In fact, I’ve been known to spend all day preparing a meal. But that’s at home. On a bike tour I subscribe to the KISS principle. I embrace minimalism, and the last thing I want to do is struggle with a fussy camp stove. Give me simplicity, especially if it’s combined with light weight and small size. That’s why I’ve turned my back on my old standbys, the Optimus 111b, the Coleman Peak 1, and the venerable Svea 123. Their replacement? The Trangia Spirit Burner. It appears to be the Platonic Ideal of The Stove, the essence of “stoveness” with none of the extraneous trappings. Just glug in around three fluid ounces of fuel alcohol (known as “methylated spirit” in countries that take the trouble to demand strict labeling), shelter the burner from the wind, strike a match, and light up. The burner will already be operating at maximum efficiency by the time you put the pot on. There’s nothing to pump, no priming or preheating (in above-freezing temperatures, at any rate), and no need to pack a kit of spare parts and a special wrench. Sound ideal? It is. In fact, it’s Ideal. And If you’ve never seen an Ideal in the flesh, here’s a brand new Trangia in all its glory:

Trangia Spirit Burner - (c) Tamia Nelson - Verloren Hoop -

What about it? Do you like the idea of cooking your meals on an Ideal? Then here are a few things to keep in mind when using a Trangia:

  • Alcohol flames are invisible in sunlight. What you don’t see can hurt you.
  • Never screw the lid back on a hot burner. The O-ring will melt.
  • Use the simmer ring, not the lid, to snuff out the flame when you’re done cooking.
  • Don’t cook inside a tent or confined space.
  • Carry fuel alcohol in a clearly marked bottle. Methylated spirit is toxic.
  • Never, ever try to refill a hot burner. It may be the Ideal stove, but it’s not foolproof.

I’ve had my Trangia spirit burner only a few weeks, but I’m already mightily impressed. If it continues to perform as well as it has so far, we’re going to be inseparable.

Read more: KISS With Trangia | In the Camp Kitchen | Tempest in a Teapot

Trangia Cooking - (c) Tamia Nelson - Verloren Hoop -

Questions? Comments? Then click here to send Tamia an e‑mail.

This entry was posted in Bike Touring, Evaluations: Bicycling & Touring Gear, Evaluations: Hiking & Camping Gear on by .


For half a century, Tamia Nelson has been ranging far and wide by bike, boat, and on foot. A geologist by training, an artist since she could hold a pencil, a photographer since her uncle gave her a twin-lens reflex camera when she was 10, she's made her living as a writer and novelist for two decades. Avocationally her interests span natural history, social history, cooking, art, and self-powered outdoor pursuits, and she has broad experience in mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, snowshoeing and skiing.