Curiosity got the better of me in the end. I’ve had a Vargo Triad for a while now and used it on several bikepacking trips. A Whitebox stove is a variation on the same theme: an ultralight meths stove. I was intrigued to actually see if the Whitebox was better or not, so the only way to find out was to buy one and test it against the Triad.
The two units differ quite significantly in appearance and construction:
Vargo Triad: all titanium in construction, three fold out legs give it stability at the base and three fold out arms support a pan. The main part of the stove is round, with the upper inner part concave finishing in a small hole into which you pour the fuel. The outer part of the ring has 28 holes which form a ring of jets in an upward direction. The stove jets are 45mm in diameter and weighs 24 grams. The overall diameter of the pan support is 85mm.
Whitebox Solo: all aluminium construction, it consists of a simple cylinder with a smaller tapered insert into which you pour the fuel. The base of the insert has two little holes that allow fuel into a gap between the inner and outer parts. Around the outer part of the stove are 15 jets that face outwards. The stove is 58mm diameter and weighs 34 grams.
I wanted to establish the boiling time for 450ml of water (the volume of my titanium mug) and two different pans: Tibetan Titanium 550ml and Snow Peak 1100ml. They measure 90mm and 110mm diameter respectively, which is an important part of the test, as you’ll see in a minute.
The test environment was my garage work bench and all four boil tests were run consecutively. I used the supplied Whitebox reflective wind shield for both stoves. The procedure was to fill the stove from empty to full and measure the weight of fuel. I wanted to see which stove worked bet with which diameter pan.
When you look at the two stoves lit, you’ll see that the jets of the Vargo Triad are orientated upward and the Whitebox are orientated outward.
I lit the stove and timed it to the point that a steady flame emerged from all the jets. I placed the windshield around the stove put the pan on and began recording the boil time. The recorded times below are once the pan has achieved a rolling boil.
Readers should note that the tests were completed without a lid on the pan. This was mainly so I can see the water coming to the boil without having to remove a lid and for there to be variation between each scenario in doing so. Using a lid would of course reduce the boil time. Another point is that when in real world situation I would have accepted water as being boiling sufficient for noodles, coffee, smash or whatever I’d be cooking, a good couple of minutes before it got to a rolling boil. Thus, the total times achieved in the test are not the focus, but the difference between each stove for each of the pans.
The Whitebox would hold 5 grams more fuel than the Triad, but the priming time of the Triad was 33 seconds quicker than the Whitebox. In the boil test, the results showed that the Triad was 15 seconds quicker to boil the water on the 90mm diameter pan than the Whitebox (45 seconds if the priming time is included). Conversely, the Whitebox was 1 minute 25 seconds quicker than the Vargo Triad with the 110mm diameter pan, but this time is reduced to only 52 seconds quicker when the longer priming time of the Whitebox is taken into account.
Given the orientation of the jets on each stove, these results are perhaps unsurprising, though the comparatively small difference is interesting and less than I expected. Though I didn’t measure the remaining volume of fuel, I would add that the Whitebox is virtually dry of fuel after each boil test, whereas the Triad still had enough fuel to be poured back into the fuel bottle on completion. Thus, it appears that the Vargo is a more efficient stove.
For small diameter pans of 90mm diameter (or less), the Vargo Triad would be the best stove to use, as this set up would be provide the lightest weight option: ligher stove, more efficient so less fuel required as well as a smaller and lighter pan.
I wouldn’t use the Whitebox with a pan less than 90mm diameter, and it appears more suited to pans of a larger diameter than that anyway. The increased heat generated from the outward jets of a Whitebox would yield shorter boil times, but at the expense of higher fuel consumption.