UL (ultralight) gear doesn’t always require you to shell out large amounts of money. While true UL items such as packs and shelters can be quite expensive, there are quite a few items that can be made which are very inexpensive. And a kitchen set-up is one of them. Of course, the most UL kitchen is the non-existent one, but for those that like to have a hot meal (or drink), even if it is only every now-and-then, can still go quite light for a very little amount of money, and just a little bit of time.
I have a few different kitchen set-ups as it is, but I have recently decided to add another one to my system. The Heineken cook pots are actually quite popular among the backpacking crowds, and up until I realized that the classic mini-keg style cans are now out of production I have not really taken any interest in them. But for some reason, now that I realize that they are somewhat of a rarity, I have now decided that I want to make a cook pot out of one…
So, I went and searched, and searched, and searched, and finally found one (that’s 1) 24 oz Heineken Mini-Keg can. I then went and picked up a side-opening can opener and a can of Fancy Feast cat food. I was not really sure about the entire set-up that I wanted to build, I just knew that I wanted to use an open flame alcohol stove so that the flame would be directly under the small diameter Heine pot. The wind screen and pot stand design was still up in the air. So, I gathered up all of the items I thought I might need, and got started…
Since the Heine cans are so rare, I decided to start practicing cutting the tops off of Foster’s cans. These can be fond at any of the local gas stations for less than $2.00, and the cool thing is that these Foster’s can can also be used as cook pots, the same as the Heine pots. However, because of the design of the can, the Foster’s are not as strong as the Heineken cans. So, I grabbed the can opener and went to town on the Foster’s…
So, as you can see I had a little trouble getting the can opener to work properly. But I didn’t give up, I got another Foster’s and also decided to try a different style of a side-opening can opener to try as well. However, after destroying a couple of Foster’s cans and almost a 12 pack of soda’s I decided to call it a night. But the one lone Heine pot still remained, untouched…and waiting.
In case you don’t know, the way these side-opening can openers work are quite neat. They actually score the lip at the top of the can rather than the actual can under the lip. This allows the lids to actually still fit inside the top of the can so they indeed make the perfect lid for the can. Also, with the way it scores and cuts the lid, it is not supposed to leave a sharp edge. Unfortunately since I have not yet removed the top off of a can in the way that these can openers are made to do, I cannot attest to this.
So, this morning, I was still afraid to use one of the can openers on the one and only Heine can. So, I decided to do it the old-fashioned way. I stacked up books until it was at the right height so that I could set a utility knife on top of the books and align the blade in the middle of the lip on the top lid of the can. Then I turned the can…and turned…and turned…and turned…and turned… After about an hour of turning, I was finally give-in. I decided to give the can opener one last shot. If it worked, it worked, if not, then I would just be without. And it worked!
So, now I have my very own Heine cook pot and stove system. And it rings with that cool factor, you know the one…the one that says I built this myself (even if it is just cutting the top of a can off…) Oh, and the fact that it was very inexpensive.
Now, before I start talking about all the specs and such, I want to talk about the stove and pot stand a little bit. I mentioned above that I wanted a stove that would position the flame directly under the Heine pot. To start with, I am no stove expert, but the reason I say this is because in my mind, the more of the flame that is under the pot, rather than licking up around the pot, the more efficient the stove is at actually heating the water within the pot. Also, the faster the water gets heated, less fuel gets used, so to me, this seems to be more fuel-efficient. Of course this can also translate to mean a lighter pack, because the less fuel needed, the less fuel carried and the less amount of weight in my backpack!
So I decided to make a simple open flame alcohol stove. To make this, all I did was buy a can of Fancy Feast cat food, opened it and fed it to the cat, then washed the can out, removed the label, added some fuel and lit it up! So simple I would imagine just about anyone could do it. Again, in my mind, by doing this rather than putting holes in the side (such as the Supercat) the flame should be directed up rather than out, aiming the flame right at the bottom of the Heine pot. (I will say though that I will probably try to make a Chimney Alcohol Stove at some point just to try out with the Heine pot.)
When using an open flame alcohol stove the cook pot cannot sit directly on top of the stove, so a pot stand is needed. So, I grabbed some hardware cloth and began cutting and folding and shaping. At first I tried making a circle with the hardware cloth that was wide enough for the Heine pot to fit down into and tall enough to help hold the pot in place in case it accidentally got bumped. Then I simply inserted two of my Mountainfitter 7″ Ti-Eye stakes through the squares on one side of the hardware cloth and then through the other side, which provided the pot with a place to sit directly over (but not on) the stove. (This can be seen in video # 2.)
This worked fine, and the hardware cloth was pretty light, however, it was not very durable. After bending it back and forth a few times to store and then to use it, it would easily begin breaking. Plus , I still had to put a windscreen around the entire set-up.
That is when it hit me. The windscreen I will be using is actually a windscreen that I got when I ordered my White Box Stove. It is made of a thin, but very durable piece of aluminum. So, I opened my windscreen and set it to the diameter that I wanted and then simply ran the stakes right through one side of the windscreen and then out the other side. By doing this, I managed to use my windscreen as not only my windscreen, but also as my pot stand! This means one item is doing double duty, which means less weight! The nice thing about this as well is that with the weight of the Heine pot sitting on the titanium stakes ran through the windscreen will also hold the windscreen down. This is nice because I have found it a little annoying when a breeze comes along and starts blowing the light-weight windscreen all around my stove and cook pot.
So, if I have managed to confuse you, I will try to fix it by embedding the last video I have made. In this video, I kind of show off each piece, make a comparison to another stove system in the same category and do another boil. Hope this helps clear up things…
So, without running on, I will wrap this post up with some listed specs.
- Heine Pot with Beer Band: 1.2 oz (35 g) ~ Cost me $2.50. Already had the band.
- Heine Lid: o.2 oz (7 g) ~ Came with the can.
- Stove: 0.2 oz (5 g) ~ 3 oz can of Fancy Feast cost around $0.75.
- Windscreen: 0.9 oz (25 g) ~ Already had, came with $20 White Box Stove Set.
- 2 Paper Clips: 0.1 oz (3 g) ~ Practically free.
- ZPacks Small Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack: 0.1 oz (4 g) ~ Already had, but cost $9.95
- Mountainfitter 7″ Ti-Eye Stakes: included in my shelter weight. Cost $2 each.
So, that is a total of 2.7 oz, or 79 g for what could easily be my entire kitchen set-up, minus an eating utensil. And it actually only cost me $3.25 to buy the Heineken and the Fancy Feast cat food can. Granted for someone else to make this same set-up and use it the same way I do, they would still need to make the windscreen, so a little more money would need to be spent on some aluminum, however I have heard that some can be found in arts and crafts stores such as Hobby Lobby. Also, I already had the stuff sack, and $10 is not a bad price, but there are less expensive methods. Simply buy some cheap ripstop nylon at a local fabric shop (or Wal-Mart) and one can easily be sewn.
The last thing that I would like to mention is durability. This set-up is proven to be very light-weight, and quite inexpensive, but one thing it is not is bomb-proof! In the video I compared it to my 700 ml Backcountry.com Ti cook pot and my Gram Weenie Pro stove, and while the Heine set-up is only half the weight of the other, it is not as durable. This doesn’t mean it is not worthy, it simply means that more attention to care is to be carried out with this set up if you expect it to last. If the set-up is treated right, it should last a very long time, however, if a lack of care is taken and the set-up is say, stepped on, be prepared to probably need to buy another one. Also, care must be taken when this set-up is packed inside your pack as well. It can easily be squished inside there too. However, if this were to happen, it is nice to know that it can be replaced for around $5, or less! (And of course time…)
So, anyway, I will stop running my mouth, err…my fingers now and end this post. I appreciate you spending your time to read this and watch the videos. Also, one last thing I feel the need to mention…I have made a lot of references to the term UL in this post, but I am not claiming that I am an actual UL backpacker. I am more of a happy “light-weight” backpacker. I was just using that term to point out how light-weight this cooking system is.
Anyway, now that that is out of the way, if you have any comments, please be sure to leave them below and I will be sure to get back with you! Until then, here is a picture of the entire set-up in the stuff sack and ready to go!