Invented in 1936, the Esbit solid fuel tablet is a compact and quick alternative heat source to white gas and cartridge-fueled camp stoves. The tablets -- based on a chemical compound called hexamethylenetetramine -- ignite at the touch of a match and burn a near-invisible blue flame for 15 minutes at a pop.

Pair the tablet with the company's classic Esbit Pocket Stove, a $10 foldable shell of galvanized steel, and you have an easy way to heat water or soup outdoors with little fuss. Simply unfold the stove, insert a tablet, set a pot on top, and light.

Convenience and light weight -- not heat output or performance -- are the main advantages to the Pocket Stove, which is distributed in the United States by AGS Labs ( There are few moving parts, zero mechanical components and nothing much to fail.

For all these reasons, plus the cheap price, I am a fan of the Pocket Stove for wilderness trips. On the downside, there is no temperature adjustment or heat regulation -- the tablets burn at one steady temp until they're done. You can't simmer a pot of stew on low flame.

But for quick heat with little fuss, Esbit offers an affordable camp stove beyond compare.

Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoors gear at