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
HikeLighter.Com


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.

1.66 gram esbit tray

Photo Oct 29, 4 10 36 PM
A 1.66 gram esbit tray made by Brian Green from http://www.briangreen.net

Greetings Hikers,

Every so often a group of hikers get together, and through the course of experimentation and sharing of information, find a way to make something that is already really great at what it does, and they turn it into something even better!

For a fairly long time the Gram Cracker by Trail Designs has been the de facto go-to try for ultralight esbit users. It has held a special place in the lives of a whole lot of hikers for a rather long time now. I have used one since I became an esbit user a number of years ago. I still use the original one I bought and it has thousands of miles of use and has had probably 2000+ esbit cubes burned on it and made countless meals and cups of tea and coffee for me.

Back in mid to late 2011 a few esbit users started playing around with some MYOG ideas regarding an esbit try. Honestly I have no idea if they had never used the Gram Cracker and had no idea if it even existed, or if they set out to make a better one, or if they were just playing around and come up with an idea that worked for them. What is worthy of taking note of is that over the course of the end of 2011, it went from one or two people playing around with an idea to a few more people playing around with the idea. In the end, I think it was Brian Green who brought it all together. Continue reading “1.66 gram esbit tray”

Suluk46 Collapsible Titanium Stove

Greetings Hikers,

Wood stoves – there are wood stoves, and than there are wood stoves. Today I want to talk about a wood stove unlike any other that I have encountered, called the “Suluk46 Collapsible Titanium Stove“.

This is not just any wood stove. It is not a fancy double wall stove. This is not a stove where gasification plays a part. It is not a big wood stove. Just the opposite. It is a very small wood stove, with lots and lots of ventilation. It is a pot stand and stove. It is made of titanium. It is made in Canada. It is awesome.

Suluk46 describes this stove rather well:

The Collapsible Titanium (CT) Stove is a 4 piece titanium stove that easily assembles and disassembles to make a nice small package that fits inside your pot or slips into your pack. 3 of the 4 pieces are used as the walls and pot supports. These pieces fit together with 2 small tabs on each side that interlock with the neighboring piece. In order to maximize space and limit parts and weight, each piece is bent in the center to enlarge the firebox, creating a hexagon shaped stove.

Here are some photographs:

As you can see from the photographs above this is a very small wood stove. The cup used in the photographs is the MSR Titan Cup, one of my favorite cups, and probably my most used cup over the last few years.

At 32 grams the CT Stove it is the lightest wood burning stove I have held in my hands.

It is designed to engineering perfection.

Adding together with a 45 gram cup and you can easily have yourself a three ounce cook-kit.

Not a fan of wood or hiking in a location where there is a wood burning ban? Just pull out an esbit cube or a candle alcohol stove and place them inside of the stove and use the stove as a stand.

The first time I used it I grabbed my camera and went out into my backyard. This was awhile back and I have become a bit more proficient using this stove. I will admit I am still a fan of esbit, but sometimes it is just nice to sit down in camp after a day of hiking and fire up a little wood to heat up some water for a cup of tea – without having to waste an esbit tablet.

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”