Common Small Hiker Cups / Pots

Greetings Adventurers!

Way back in 2013 I posted the article Small Cups/Pots for the SUL/XUL Hiker and it has been one of my more popular articles so I thought it was time to give it some TLC.

Over the last few days I have updated the spreadsheet to remove discontinued cups/pots, update pricing, update weights, add a few extra currencies, add some notes, and just do a generalized clean-up on it.

I decided to stay with the previous four guidelines:

  1. It must be at or under 450 ml in volume.
  2. It must be at or under 100 grams in weight.
  3. It cannot be a beer can style cup/pot.
  4. It must be one of the common cups/pots used by sub 2268 hikers.

It is by no means a list of every cup/pot out there that meets those requirements, but it is a list of the ones that best meet those requirements, especially #4.

Continue reading “Common Small Hiker Cups / Pots”

MSR WindBurner Stove System

The MSR WindBurner. A WindProof Stove System
The MSR WindBurner – An Amazingly Windproof Stove System!

Greetings Adventurers!

The MSR WindBurner is quickly becoming one of my favorite stoves systems. In a market that is continuing to get more and more myopic by companies flooding the market with nearly identical products, it has been a refreshing change to see MSR actually try to solve some problems and not just put to market something that is the same’ol’same’ol that everybody else is spewing out.

I remember when the MSR WindBurner was first announced and the internet was being flooded by hikers complaining about the weight of the system – comparing it to xyz-other brands, without even stopping to consider some of the advantages of that extra bit of weight – but, that is just typical hiker hyperbull and ignorant attacking that seems to be all too common these days by hikers, I suppose. It was a shame that those folks focused so much on the weight, yet utterly failed to stop and really take a look at the design.

Yes, when it comes to talking about gear, the purpose of the website has always been to focus on some of the lightest of the lightest weight gear out there. But as my readers well know, I have on many occasions been a hiker that is willing to stand up and say that sometimes adding weight in order to get a better performance, experience, durability, and quality of life while out on the long trail, is a perfectly acceptable decision.

Over the course of this article, and future articles on the MSR WindBurner, I am going to be clear and honest about exactly how I think the MSR WindBurner is when it comes to that statement.

While the MSR WindBurner is a tad bit heavier than most other all-in-one systems on the market – and this really is key to understanding why the MSR WindBurner deserves some serious consideration — MSR put some serious thinking into solving problems.

Continue reading “MSR WindBurner Stove System”

Making Dehydrated Puréed Banana For The Trail


Ok I just had to get that out of the way… I really do love bananas… I eat two or three a day, usually green ones… I only eat green bananas… bright yellow bananas are just nasty!!

I just got my Excalibur [3926TB] 9-Tray dehydrator back from my father who has had it for awhile and the first thing it is doing is making up some banana purée for me.

Banana purée is, simply put, bananas that have been peeled and puréed – think very thick applesauce, except bananas.

This is a great way to have bananas while out hiking, or even around the house, and I prefer it over dehydrated banana slices because it is more versatile and easier to use – because dehydrated banana slices are usually really really hard to rehydrated and are nasty nasty nasty if you do. With banana purée it is very easy to rehydrate it – it can very easily be rehydrated for use in smoothies (even trail smoothies), and because the bananas are in purée form you can do a lot more too it, such as add vanilla or other fruit purée to give it some different flavors.

Continue reading “Making Dehydrated Puréed Banana For The Trail”

LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System – Followup

Greetings hikers,

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:

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 photoso 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:

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.

The Stand:

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.

There is also the ground protector / reflector that makes up the stand system. It is something you should always use – watch this video for why.

The Stuffsack:

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.

Additional Thoughts:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

+John Abela

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.

12 Favorite Pieces of Hiking Gear for 2012

Greetings Hikers,

As the year comes to an end I felt it was time to look back and highlight my favorite pieces of hiking gear over the 2012 hiking season. Last year I did the same thing and I really enjoyed how it made me stop and really consider the truly exceptional pieces of gear that I had used over the year – and I have done a lot of refinement to my gear lists over the last few years and for the most part have them where I want them. This year I am going to list 12 items rather then ten, because this is 20″12″, and I just have more items I want to highlight.

The below items are going to be listed in no specific order, so please do not think that I feel that the first item in the list is any more or any less a favorite piece of gear.

#1 – Six Moon Designs Skyscape X – You can read my review of this shelter or head right over to their website. As is documented within my SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Solo Shelter Comparison, the Skyscape X is “the worlds lightest Total Shelter Weight one-piece fully enclosed shelter“. I first saw this shelter when I was on a hike with the owner of Six Moon Designs and almost instantly feel in love with it. I have bought two of them in the last year or so and would buy another one without thought or hesitation if I needed another shelter. I have never found any one piece shelter at this weight (425 grams / 15 oz) that provides as much protection from the weather.

#2 – ZPacks Waterproof Breathable Cuben Fiber Rain Jacket – You can read my review of this jacket and my follow-up article on it or head right over to their website. There are rain jackets and then there are rain jackets. Some rain jackets are truly exceptional when it comes to breathablity. Some rain jackets are truly exceptional when it comes to weight. Other rain jackets are popular because of their price. This jacket from ZPacks is by far not the most breathable rain jacket in the world. It is nowhere near as breathable as the latest gore-tex nor the latest eVENT. This jacket is also not the most durable rain jacket in the world, and it falls in the middle of the price range for top end rain jackets. What this jacket has going for it is that it is the world lightest three layer rain jacket that is presently on the market. I have used this jacket for hundreds of miles in the rain, a couple of hours in the snow, in hail for twenty or so minutes, and on a day to day basis around town for months. I have bought two of them over the last year or so and some of the changes to the most recent versions have made this my defacto wind and rain jacket.

#3 – Icebreaker Men’s Bodyfit 260 Tech Top & Icebreaker Men’s Tech T Lite Short Sleeve Shirt – My long time readers will know I just moved into the world of Icebreakers this year. I use to be a die-hard Patagonia Capilene 3 user – and was for many years. The price-point of Icebreakers kept me away from them for many years. A sale on them early in the year was good enough that I picked up both the Tech T Lite shirt and the 260 Bodyfit. Together these two pieces of clothing have resulted in the best layer one and layer two setup I have ever used. By themselves they both have their weaknesses (and more weaknesses than positives) but when put together I have absolutely fallen in love with them.

#4 – Inov-8 Trailroc 245 – These shoes, only on the market for a short part of this year, have become an absolute mainstay in my hiking life. For a number of years I have used the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 shoes. I loved their weight, I loved their traction, I loved their support. What I did not love about them was their (for me) narrow toe-box. With the introduction of the Trailroc 2012 series Inov-8 has introduced a larger (anatomical) toe box. As I have said for years, there are times  when performance and functionality matter more then weight. In this case I have added 33 grams (1.16 ounces) of additional weight to my shoes in order to have a shoe that can handle my toes swelling as I am pounding out the long mileage days. Absolutely worth the additional weight. I went with the 245’s over the 235’s because as a long distance hiker I felt the need for a rock plate was of higher importance than ten grams. I am glad that I did. The X-Talon 212’s had two shock zones and to have gone from two to none would have just not been fun.

#5 – TrailDesigns Sidewinder & Evernew Titanium Non-Stick 900ml Pot – Just going to be honest, adding twice the amount of weight to my setup in order to have a more versatile cooking setup was both a hard one, but an amazingly rewarding one. What I have discovered, as a long distance backwoods hiker, is that I have come to value food the more that I hike. I use to be somebody who could feel I was happy with eating idaho potatoes and top romin for days on end. Both of these could be made very easily with just hot water – and honestly, most of the time I did not even heat up the water. But over the last year I have come to value and appreciate getting to camp and spending a few minutes sitting down and actually ‘making’ a real meal. Having a 900 ml pot allows me to make meals I could never make with a food in bag approach. I can sit there and chop up carrots and real potatoes and all kinds of other stuff and make a real meal, thanks to the larger pot. Yes, it means having a 5 ounce cook setup rather than a 2 ounce cook setup. The long term physiological effect of cooking a real meal more then makes up for those additional two or three ounces. The TrailDesigns Sidewinder is truly a magical cooking accessory. A pot stand and wind screen built into one. It rolls up and fits inside of my pot. Super easy. A bit expensive for what it does (my old pot stand and wind screen cost 25 bucks, versus 80 bucks for the sidewinder) but in this case, it is one of those times when the extra money is totally worth the all-in-one-ease-of-use-amazing-performance factor that the Sidewinder provides. (ps: yes, sometimes I even take the pan-lid that is part of the 900ml pot… I take with me some dehydrated o’brien potatoes and some EVOO and wow does it make an easy way to have a great breakfast.)

#6 – ACR ResQLink 406 PLB – This should be an obvious one. I have never actually had to use mine, but as a hiker that spends the vast majority of my time in the deep backwoods while building a new hiking trail, 130 grams worth of weight is something I do not even think about when it comes to overall life-safety. My PLB goes with me, without thought, without hesitation, without compromise.

#7 – Suunto MC-2G Global Compass – This has been a fairly new upgrade for me. I use to use a smaller, lighter, less feature rich compass. But as time goes on I have found the addition of the features of this compass worth the extra weight. Most hikers would question having a compass with a mirror on it for most trails in America, but it has its value in some situations. Moreover the mirror can do double-duty to help me see the bottom of my feet if I have a bad blister that needs to be taken care of (very rare), and can also be used for tending to any facial cuts that I might get from trees or such. See my article When bulk matters more than weight for more on my thoughts about this.

#8 – Sawyer PointOne Squeeze Water Filter System – Very little can be said herein that has not already been said about this product. The weight to performance of this filter makes it the unquestionable king of filters for hikers. Combined together with the Evernew Water Carry Bags and you have yourself the best 1.0 Absolute Micron filter on the planet with water bags that are durable enough to handle long term use when used properly.

#9 – Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles – You can read my full review of these poles or head right over to their official website. These poles continue to be an exceptional pair of hiking poles. Thousands and thousands of miles using them. I list them as my “favorite gossamer gear product” on my Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador page for a reason: because they are the finest three-season hiking poles on the market from a weight to performance factor.

#10 – Black Rock Gear Vest – I am new to the world of hiking with vests rather then full on jackets, and the Black Rock Gear Vest has proven to me that vests have a place in a backpackers setup. Sadly the demand for these and the fact that Black Rock Gear is a small cottage company and the fact that sourcing material is often times hard, the availability of these vests have been extremely limited. I was lucky to get one from their last batches – and very glad I was able to get one!

#11 – Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles – You can read my short-term review of these poles or head right over to their official website. In my quest to find a four-season set of hiking poles, pretty much everybody I respect that I asked said these where the best ones out there. I gave them a go and have to agree. While significantly too heavy for summer time hiking (unless you are not a sul/xul hiker) these are freaking amazing bomb-proof trekking poles.

#12 – ZPacks Arc Blast Backpack – I have to be honest here and say that I have very few miles on this backpack. However once you have hiked a lot of miles you are able to very quickly know if a backpack is going to work for you or not. This year I have purchased 11 backpacks from three different cottage companies, most of them I used for less then 20 miles and just knew they were not going to work out. The Arc Blast reminds me a lot of the days when I had a ULA Circuit. It has the support and tough feeling factors that my normal non-frame cuben fiber backpacks lack. This should make it very nice for winter hiking and for those times when I am on the trail for 8 or 10 days between trail towns (note: I have not used this backpack in such a situation yet, as I only got it about a month ago, but one just knows these things.) Loaded up with all of my winter gear, this backpack feels like my load is around 4 pounds lighter then what I know it actually is – and that is sweet. I really look forward to using this backpack in 2013 in the deep backwoods of the Redwood forest. I was amazing hesitant to buy this (and did not buy it for over six months since it was released) because I had previously used hybrid cuben fiber backpacks from HMG and found the material to be way overkill for me. In the end my decision for buying it was other hikers reporting the ability to load it up with a fair amount of weight and have it carry the load very well. So far with the limited use I have used it for, I too have been amazingly impressed. I do not understand the how or the why, and my previous ZPacks Blast with external supports did not carry the load good at all, but this backpack is a whole other story. I have had a few buddies try it with a full load and it has made them go “wow”, just like I did the first time I put it on. A ULA Circuit is still going to be more comfortable overall, but if you are willing to give up 26 ounces for just a little bit of comfort, which I am, this could be the go-to backpack for me for the foreseeable future while I am long distance hiking. Only time spent on the trail will truly show if all of this is true or not.



Have you posted a “favorite gear of 2012 article”?? If so post a comment with a link to it so I and others can check out your favorite gear!!



In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that I am a “Trail Ambassador” of Gossamer Gear. The Gossamer Gear products mentioned within the content of this review were purchased by myself and were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services, by Gossamer Gear, unless otherwise mentioned. I hereby declare that I am a “Sponsor” of Black Rock Gear. The Black Rock Gear products mentioned within the content of this review were purchased by myself and were not supplied to me free of charge, or in exchange for services, by Black Rock Gear, unless otherwise mentioned. Any other product(s) mentioned within the content of this review is free of endorsement(s) between myself and the manufacturer(s) and meets all FTC 16 CFR.255 compliance requirements. (i envy those of you who live in countries where these stupid disclaimers are not required by law to include in articles)

2 Ounce Cook Kit

Greetings Hikers,

It has been awhile since I posted an article on a cook kit, and my good buddy Chad recently decided to post a blog on his cook kit, which he and I worked on a bit to finalize (and I think he really nailed his) so I figured I would go ahead and share with the world what cook kit I have been using lately. The difference between his and mine is somewhere around 0.1 ounces so these will be pretty close to identical. I also know four or five other hikers out there who have contacted me the last few months and are building themselves nearly identical cooking setups. Most of them SUL hikers, one I think was UL wanting to just have something light and simple.

I feel it will be important here to start off by saying I have typically been a “no cook hiker”, which means that my meals are able to be made without the use of any hot water. For 2012 I have told myself that I will not abuse myself as much as I did last year (in my quest to go hard core XUL, with sub 2 pound BPW setups) and so I have switched back to carrying a cook kit. This does result in an additional 8 ounces of weight per section of trail (1 ounce per day of fuel + cook kit, on average of 6 days between resupplies) but the ability to have a warm cup of coffee in the morning, or some eggs, or a hot meal after hiking in the rain all day, well it really makes up for those extra eight ounces, when it all comes down to it. Continue reading “2 Ounce Cook Kit”