(Editor's Note: the Esbit stove was one of my recommended "10 preps for under $10.")
The Esbit stove is double hinged folding stove that uses a proprietary fuel tablet. In its stowed configuration, it is roughly the same size and weight as a pack of cards. In that configuration, it also stores 4 fuel tablets. The manufacturer claims a roughly 12 minute burn time per tablet, which was borne out in my testing. The fuel tab lights readily with either a match or a lighter and burns cleanly, albeit with a slight odor.
I followed Erin's stove testing protocol as closely as I could. I lack an appropriate cup to boil the 16 oz of water, so I had to use the same quart saucepan that I used to boil the 32 oz. I still need to fry an egg, because I lack eggs. (We don't eat many of them around here.) Also, all of my testing is conducted at roughly 4500 feet, in contrast to the other stoves tested.
First, the 16 oz water boil. At 2:30, bubbles were forming on the bottom of the pan. At 7:00, the water was near boiling, and at 10:00, it was a fairly satisfying boil. It was not the same rolling boil as I get on my kitchen stove, but it definitely was boiling. It served to make a decent cup of tea while I prepared for the rest of the testing.
The 32 oz boil progressed at a roughly equal rate, reaching a full boil at 11:30. It actually seemed to boil better, but I'm not sure why.
Another benefit of the Esbit and its fuel tab setup is that the rest of the stove remains relatively cool, and the whole unit cools quickly after use. That may sound a bit contrary for a stove, but it reduces the chance of burns when the pan is removed after cooking, and makes packing up a much faster proposition.
One concern about the Esbit is that it relies on fuel tabs Some folks online had opined that it could be run on natural fuels (sticks and the like), so I decided to try that as well, on another 32 oz boil. While tests showed that it was likely possible to achieve a good boil using natural fuels, burning wood on an Esbit seemed to provide no advantage over a normal fire, and requires far more work to keep burning than a normal fire would.
Beyond that, the Esbit is a great value, especially for the price. It weighs virtually nothing, and takes up almost no space, while storing enough fuel to cook multiple meals. It may not be quite as long-running as the natural fuel stoves, but it holds its own. Mine, at the very least, will be holding its place in my fire kit, as a handy way to melt snow, boil water, or heat an impromptu meal. (I keep one in my Get Home Bag for the same reasons.-- Palette)
Keep on cookin'!
(FCC Disclaimer. I paid my own money for this stove, and would gladly do so again. In fact, I may just do that to spite y'all. Buzz off.)