About a month ago I posted an article introducing the 2013 version of the LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System and over the last few weeks I have had a fair number of folks contacting me wanting to know my follow-up thoughts on it, after having put some trail miles onto the system.
My thoughts on the system at this point are that it is a great all-in-one-purchase setup for esbit users! There are ways that a slightly lighter system could be put together, but it would involve purchases from multiple companies, and that means additional shipping fees and your own time, and it would probably just not be worth it for the average hiker. I think as it stands right now, the LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System is the best all-in-one-purchase esbit system that I have come across.
The cookpot itself has proven to be awesome for my style of trail cooking. My previous Ti 600ml pot was 75 grams and this setup is 72 grams – and 54.71 grams by ditching the lid, which makes it a sub 2 ounce Ti pot!
Two factors with all pots… the pot itself and the lid for the pot.
The pot itself is wonderful. One of the issues I have had with my 600ml pot was I could not get a ziplock bag to fit into it. This 550ml pot holds a lunch/dinner size bag just perfect (ref: this photo) so that makes me happy. The pot fits on every pot stand I have put it onto. The handles are a good size, even with my large hands. The rolled lip on the top of the pot is good. The pot does have some flex to it – being a thin-walled cookpot – but you really and intentionally have to give it a good squeeze to get it to flex.
The lid is a good lid, but I have since switched it out to one I made myself out of a sheet of 0.005 inch thick titanium foil. As I see it, if a lid does not actually stay attached to a pot, its pretty much serves no real purpose beyond helping with the convection of heating up water, and any old thing might as well be used… aluminium foil for example – just something to help trap in the heat. Now, if you can get a pot with a lid that actually stays attached to the pot (thinking along the lines of the old snowpeak pasta pot and lid – now that was how a pot and lid should work!) that is an awesome thing and the weight can be worth it. But at 17.33 grams (0.611 ounces) just for the lid, I could not justify it. Some things I did like about the lid: the vent holes (I wish more companies would add a lot more vent holes, there are three on this lid… add another row of three, or preferably four, on the other side of the lid, would be really nice), and interestingly, the lid fits perfectly onto the top of a Jetboil Sol Ti, so I have now swapped out my Jetboil Sol Ti plastic lid with this one, and saved two grams off the weight of the JetBoil setup – and I would rather have a Ti lid than a plastic lid any day of the week.
I am not saying the cookpot setup it is not worth buying because of the lid, you should buy this pot if you need something in the 300ml (cup size) up to the 600ml pot size, or if you are a 600ml cookpot user and want to save a few grams, regardless of whether you plan to use the included lid or swap it out, the pot itself really is that good.
The windscreen worked out pretty well. I had a few times in really strong wind that I could tell it was suffering because of the low height of the windscreen, but this is unavoidable because the windscreen is cut to size to be able to fit into the pot. There is a nice cut-out for where the cookpot handles are at. It has vent holes around 50% of the bottom of the screen – good size ones too, considering that esbit requires a fair amount of air to really reach peak heat levels.
Durability of it might be an issue over the long run. I have around 15 to 18 days of use with it and it is already suffering a few hard wrinkles. I think they were caused by me stuffing the rest of the cook kit into the pot. To compare: I have well over two hundred trail days using the Suluk46 Ti Windscreen (disclaimer: Suluk46 is a sponsor of mine) and it has not suffered any serious damage or hard wrinkles. I think for the average weekend hiker or those doing short long distance trails (CT/JMT/etc) it should hold up fine, but I am a bit concerned, at this point, over whether it will hold up over the long haul. Only had it for a month, after all.
There is not a whole lot to say about the stand… you unfold it, put your esbit on it, light the esbit, and put your pot on the stand. These tri-wing esbit stands have been around a long time and they have more than been proven to be rock solid. They can eventually fail if you pound through a lot of esbit and do not clean off the build-up, but if that happens to you, well, you deserve to have it happen… take better care of your gear.
Going to have to admit here that I did not buy my cook kit with the bag – I bought each piece individually, because I did not need the stuff sack. The reason for this comes from a discussion that Chad “Stick” and I had back in November of 2012. In one of my messages to him, as I was typing the message, an idea hit me, it went like this:
Regarding the cuben fiber cookpot bag… I have actually been thinking of ditching the one I use and instead using a one gallon zip lock bag. They weigh about the same and I can get my 900ml evernew pot to fit into one with lots of room left over. I would much rather deal with esbit soot and stickiness within a throw-away ziplock bag than within an expensive cuben fiber bag. I usually have two or three ziplock bags with me anyway so adding another one would not be any big deal. Think I am going to have to give this a try.
So for the past 7 months that is what I have done… now I just stuff my cookpots right into a ziplock bag. When they finally get to a point where they are all nasty inside because of the esbit left-overs, I just throw the ziplock away and grab another one. Heck of a lot nicer to throw away a bag that costs a few cents than a cf bag that costs 13-15 bucks.
So all that said, there is one very sweet thing about the LiteTrail CF stuff sack… and that is the fact that it is a rounded stuff sack with a flat bottom. Not really sure it helps stuffing it into your backpack all the much easier, even for those of us that use outer pockets for putting our cook kit, but it is a nice change-up from how everybody else makes stuff sacks, and having a flat bottom makes it so you can use it for other things where you want a bag to stand upright.
Jon from FlatCatGear has been playing around with a “focussing ring” for esbit stove systems that in my own testing has proven to be highly beneficial. Because of the low height of the LiteTrail windscreen, anything at all that I can do to help increase heat from esbit is worth it, and this is an easy and very lightweight means of potentially gaining a few extra BTU’s from your cooking setup.
After using the tri-wing for one trip, and knowing that it worked, I switched it out and went back to my BGET esbit tray. Nothing wrong with the tri-wing, but I just prefer this little tray and a dedicated wire pot stand (such as this one) that I had made and is 4.03 grams, so with it and the BGET my stand system is 5.69 grams, compared to the 12.59 grams of the tri-wing stand. It is a more stable system and less likely to have the pot tip over in high wind or if the water is boiling really hard, plus it is a lighter method.
If you are a fan of the TrailDesigns Caldera Cone systems, for $35 bucks you could swap out the LiteTrail windscreen and Tri-wing and switch over to the much more efficient Caldara system. The downside, of course, is that the Caldara Cone will not fit inside of the LiteTrail 550ml pot, unlike the LiteTrail Windscreen. I asked TrailDesigns if they were planning on releasing a Sidewinder for the LiteTrail 550 pot and they said it could not be done, which is the answer I expected, but that would have been super sweet if they could have.
In the world of hiking there are a crazy amount of cooking systems available for hikers.
In the world of SUL/XUL hiking those numbers decrease very quickly.
Most XUL hikers are cookless hikers so it is a mute issue altogether, but for those XUL hikers who still enjoy a hot meal or tea, there are not a lot of options. The LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System provides a great base system that with a few changes could be made into a sweet XUL cooking system.
For those who are SUL hikers, this is one amazing all-in-one-purchase esbit cooking system, and as I said earlier, probably the best option out there.
For UL hikers, this cooking system offers everything the beginner or skilled esbit hiker needs.
The current price for the LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System is $90 bucks – I have spent a whole lot more on a single cooking system, so this is a great price for a complete esbit setup.
In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that the products mentioned within the content of this article were not supplied to me in exchange for services.
As of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Gossamer Gear, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46.