My UltraLight Cooking System

Thanks to John Abela from Redwood Outdoors and his recent UL cooking system videos, I have decided to take it upon myself to see what I can come up with for my very own UL cooking system. Considering I am attempting to get a (near S) UL pack weight, this sounded like the right thing to do anyway. Also, I assumed this would be a fairly easy process since I already have a few UL cooking items as it is…

To start off with I decided to go with my 24 oz Heine cook pot which weighed in at 1.1 oz with the lid. I ditched the lid, and added an aluminum baking pan DIY lid which brought the weight of the cook pot with lid to 1 oz even.

Then I had to decide on a stove. This was the hardest decision for me to make. I made a pot stand/stove out of some hardware cloth that is actually (IMO) quite aesthetically pleasing and only weighed in at 0.4 oz. This stove was designed to be used with a solid fuel, and in my testing I came to the conclusion that this design allowed too much air flow to the fuel source. This resulted in a very fast fuel source burn out time and no boil (using 2 cups of water).

At this point I thought about sticking with my tea light stove which will not even register on my scales, however, this method still required some sort of pot stand. So, this is when I started looking at commercially available solid fuel stoves. There are a few different stoves that are available, however, the one that I settled on is a titanium solid fuel folding stove for $15.99 from Antigravity Gear.

For the purposes of cooking, I was not so happy with the performance of the Wet Fire cubes that I had practiced with earlier. They seemed to burn up very quickly and they produced a very large amount of black soot. So, I also decided to go ahead and add 2 boxes of the 12 count Esbit solid fuel cubes to my order so that I could give these a try too. I had read that these do not produce near the same amount of soot, if any. I had also read that they are said to burn for 13 minutes, which is more than enough time to bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Clearly, the Esbits sounded like a winner over the Wet Fire…

As for the windscreen, I simply cut down one of the many that I already had. Before cutting it down, the windscreen weighed a solid oz, but after cutting some extra length off of it, I shaved it down to 0.6 oz, which also included the weight of a paper clip to secure each side together.

Lastly, with the thought of possible soot, I had decided that I wanted to get a dedicated stuff sack to use with this cooking system to keep everything else clean. So, I turned to Joe at ZPacks and ordered the Heine cook pot stuff sack to fill this need. The stuff sack weighs in at 0.1 oz in cuben fiber.

So, I finally got the system together…

So, to recap the specs…

  1. Heine Cook Pot With Lid: 1 oz
  2. Ti Folding Esbit Stove: 0.5 oz
  3. Windscreen with Paperclip: 0.6 oz
  4. ZPacks CF Stuff Sack: 0.1 oz

This brings the total weight of my cooking system to 2.2 oz!

Now, you may be saying to yourself, that is not all of the cooking system…So I will explain…

Of course the fuel is counted in with my consumables. However, just so ya know, each Esbit tab weighs 0.5 oz (14 g). For now I plan to carry 1 tab per 2 cups of water that I plan to boil (although it really only takes about 2/3 of a tablet to accomplish this).

I have already added the way of my lighter/matches in with my Ditty Bag weight so I have no reason to add it in here also.

As well, there are a few other items that make up my Kitchen. These items include a REI Long Handle Ti Spoon to eat with as well as my Kupilka Cup. However, I add the weight of the cook system along with the spoon and the cup to make my total Kitchen weight.

(If that all makes sense…)

Anyway, so at 2.2 oz, I am pretty happy with the weight as well as the way the system functions. I like that the Esbit is at least half the weight of my alcohol, but I really love that the Esbit is not affected by cold weather like other fuel sources may be.  This together is a winning combination for me! The only down side to the Esbit is the price…

I will also add that I only plan to use this system on solo hikes. This way I can still use my other cooking systems that I hate to leave behind…

Anyway, thanks for reading and watching! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will do my best to answer any questions.

So, until next time…

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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31 Responses to My UltraLight Cooking System

  1. Pingback: Yep…Another Cook Kit… | Stick's Blog

  2. Dale says:

    I have been using a homemade keg system for a couple of years, and found it to work great. I use a caldera style pot stand with air inlet only on one sector to really shield the flame from any winds, this greatly improves the performance consistency. I also made a jar shaped cozy (Size of keg) out of foil faced bubble wrap. In testing, 2 cups boiled water in a Ziploc only cooled to 190 deg after 15 minutes. Cozy also serves as carrying container to protect keg. Lastly I use a plastic green coleman coffee/measuring cup for the packing lid. Nesting order, cozy with keg aluminum lid, keg, caldera scrolled into keg, fuel and stove inside caldera, green cup over top to hold it all together with a rubber band. (Measuring cup comes in handy for some of the freezer bag menus.) Everything nested = 4,5 ounces

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Dale,

      Did you make the cone system? I am really wanting the Sidewinder set-up for my .9L Evernew Ti cookpot. I love that it is compact and can easily adapt for alcohol, esbit or wood. I think that that system will make it easier for me to make a transition into wood fires…

      Anyway, it sounds like you have a sweet little system there. I came across one of the Caldera H Kegs for sale the other day on BPL and really wanted to get it, but I knew better than asking for any more money… haha…

      (It does seem that kitchen set-ups has become my item of choice to collect…)

      Thanks for chiming in!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. Lukabrazi says:

    If money was no object I would order the Denali Titanium Clikstand Combo. I had saw this over at Hiking Finland. (http://www.hikinginfinland.com/2010/07/clikstand-first-look-video-passaround.html) It is a bit heavier than your setup and definitely pricey.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Lukabrazi,

      I remember that post. I think those are neat, but I don’t see myself with one. I am really wanting to get a SideWinder caldera cone for my 0.9L Evernew Ti cook pot (which I still need to review on here…) My problem is that I have so many cook systems right now it is hard to get around to using them all…I am testing a Jetboil Sol so I carry this with me on any of my current trips, at least until October… Just curious though, what do you like about that set-up?

      My favorite that I have thoroughly used so far has been my WBS and my GSI kettle. Great combo and a decent weight. I actually bought the Evernew pot to replace the kettle. But when I bought the pot I also made sure that it was one of the few that Rand makes the Sidewinder set-ups for. That will be my next stove purchase… I want it for the efficiency and the multi-use. So far, I have enjoyed using my Esbit stove (granted that is only testing at home). But I love that I can use the Sidewinder with alcohol, Esbit and wood! A while back I made my first wood burner and it didn’t work out too hot. Honestly, I am not real fond of the entire set up, but I think the Sidewinder would be a good idea. And it would probably make a better transition to wood fires…

      Just my $0.02… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Lukabrazi says:

      I just like the way it packs down and seems like it would be stable and solid. It doesn’t look like something I would crush in my pack. Seeing the way it goes together gets the gadget geek in me going. I have saw people use the base as a woodburner stove and it could also work with esbit or alcohol. The Evernew stove and pot/Clikstand combo is about 8 ounces. The Sidewinder may be even less though. I don’t think I have ever heard a bad thing about the White Box Stove or any of the Caldera Cones.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Lukabrazi,

      I understand what you mean by “gadget geek!” I love something that can compact down to almost nothing, and then with a few little clicks, it is a cool toy! If you end up getting one of these systems, you will have to let me know how you like it.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. Gizmo Joe says:

    Hey Sticks,

    I have to start by saying I am super excited…….. I went by the post office any my actual cook kit actually ways 7.3 oz. The bowl really weighs 2.6 oz, the spork weighs .4 oz, and the cup weights .8 oz.

    I will be using Esbit tablets with the stove, but I really don’t know what I think of them yet because I haven’t tried them out yet haha. I am planning on trying one out later this week to see what I think about it, but I will know if I love it or hate it by early September because I am planning on taking it with me on my next section hike. The first weekend in September I am planning on doing the last leg of G.A. section of the A.T. and am actually starting at Unicoi Gap and doing the last 25.5 miles.

    I totally agree with you about cuben fiber, it is just too sexy haha. I recently got a cuben pack cover and kilt from Zpacks.com and am pumped to be taking them out in September. By the way thanks for the good reviews on both products, they helped me make well informed decisions about both purchases.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Gizmo Joe,

      Finding out that your kit is lighter than expected is awesome! Congrats!

      I have not yet been able to use mine in the field. (I am testing a Jetboil Sol so I take it every chance I get until the report is done.) However, I like them a lot from the few that I have burnt here at home as a trial. I think I may try out my hardware cloth pot stand with a tea light tin for the Esbit to sit in though. I like the way the Heine pot sits on my hardware cloth stands a little more than the folding stove, but don’t get me wrong, I think that the Heine pot and the folding stove will work well together too.

      You are making me jealous…how I wish I could meet up with you and do that hike with you…but I will be at Orange beach the weekend before and getting off of work won’t work out… bummer… I do hope that you have a great hike though!

      So what do you think of the kilt? I really don’t hike in much rain. I still have managed not to use the kilt as a kilt on the trail, however, I love it as a ground sheet for a quick stop and be able to spread out my stuff a little if needed. As well, my rain cover has seen little use as well. But this is one reason I wanted cuben for both of these items. As much as I use these 2 items, I would rather them be as light as possible since they ride in my pack more than get used. Although, I know I can rely on them for when I need them too…

      Anyway, thanks again.

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Gizmo Joe says:

      Hey Sticks,

      I have heard good things about the JetBoil’s and have several friends who have and love them, hope the testing is going well. My conventional stove of choice is the Snow Peak Litemax, and it has served me well and I really only have good things to say about it. After putting my Ti bowl/pot on the Wetfire stove I can definitely understand thinking about going a different route for cooking with the Esbit tablets. My Ti bowl has a larger diameter bottom so I think it will work well for my set up, but your new idea might actually be lighter haha.

      Yea it would have been cool if we could have met up on the trail in September, but sometimes you just have to do what you got to do and suffer at the beach haha. If your interested at some time before the end of the year I am wanting to do at least a few miles (20 to 40ish) of the N.C. section of the A.T. in which you would be more than welcome to come along.

      I do like the Kilt and Pack cover from Zpacks, and can’t say enough about the quality and service of the company. Thankfully like you I have had no reason to use either product yet but it is nice to know it is in my bag taking up as little space and weight as possible haha. I would like to mention my choice of rain jacket, is the Marmot Essence, and so far the little I have used it it has been amazing and is very well thought out. In a size large it weights only 6.5 oz and still has enough room for my Montbell Ultralight Down Inner Jacket. It doesn’t have pockets but my pants do so I think I will be ok, and another interesting feature is it has pit ports instead of pit zips. The pit ports are mesh on the inside and partially cover on the outside to prevent rain from getting in, but allowing some ventilation.

      As always good talking with you.

      Gizmo

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Gizmo Joe,

      I will admit, the Jetboil is very attractive in it’s own right. My problem is I have become addicted to alcohol… haha… heck, I even went and bought a 5th of Everclear (190) to use as a fuel source in my WBS. Although, another problem is I have so many other new cooking systems that I want to try out…

      For a while, my go to system was a WBS (original) and my GSI Kettle. That is a great system IMO, however, I decided that I wanted to go to a 0.9L Evernew Ti pot just in case I ever wanted to cook in the pot. Of course cooking in the kettle can be done, but I felt that it would be harder to clean and just more appropriate in an actual pot. So, I got my nice new Evernew Ti pot and one of those sexy cuben fiber stuff sacks for it and it is waiting on me to take it out…

      And of course, I have my Heine set-up with the Esbit that I am itching to try out…

      That is good to hear on the Essence. My current shell is the GoLite Tumalo. I got it because it had features I wanted, which is pit zips and hand pockets. Not to mention I used the GoLite 40% off coupon a while back and got it for $90. It weighs in at 10.8 oz in the large, so it is not the lightest, but definitely not the heaviest…Although, here again, I haven’t been able to use it much as I have been carrying a Columbia Peak 2 Peak shell that I am testing for BGT. This jacket is a little heavier (15.9 oz I think) but I love the way the large fits me and I love the feel of it against my skin. Plus it feels quite durable and is pretty breathable (for a shell). I couldn’t layer my down inner under it though, I would have to go with the XL for that, and my biggest hang up is that it doesn;t have hand pockets. No hand pockets is a big transition for me…

      I also just got a NF Verto wind jacket. Of course it is not waterproof, but it is fairly water resistant. I have worn it in a good rain the other day and the material did a good job at keeping the water out, but the seams are not sealed and water came in there. This has a roomy fit which will allow me to layer my R1 under it, and even my down inner. The coolest thing is that the large weighs 2.9 oz! I am thinking about carrying this in place of my hard shell in the dead of summer, like now…

      Anyway, I hope that your hike goes well, and I really do wish I could make it out there with you. Maybe sometime later this year we can get out…

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. Gizmo Joe says:

    Thanks for the interest,
    Snow Peak Titanium Bowl 1.8
    Homemade windscreen and lid for bowl sorry no weight
    2 small paperclips for wind screen no weight
    The same Wetfire Stove, mine weighed in at .4 oz
    All this including the zip-lock bag that came with the stove weighs in at 2.9 oz
    Right now I am still using Sil nylon stuff sacks, and in the case of my cook kit it is a Granite Gear Air Bag 3 with a listed weight of .67 though I have not personally weighed it yet.
    I hope to be able to get cuben stuff sacks some time, but that would mean a lot of money I don’t need to spend right now haha.
    Included in my cook bag will be a Light my Fire Spork listed at .2 oz not weighed, Guyot Designs Squishy Bowl listed at 3.3 oz not weighed, and a small measuring cub I think 1 oz.
    I guess I really need to invest in a scale and stop being the creepy guy at the post office weighing things.

    So, a rough estimate until I weigh everything would be 8.07 oz for everything except fuel for all my outdoor cooking needs.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Gizmo Joe,

      Nice set-up. Do you use Esbit in the stove, or another type of solid fuel? What are your overall thoughts on solid fuels so far?

      Some of my stuff sacks were DIY sil stuff sacks that weighed about the same as you list (0.5 – 0.6ish oz). The only reason I got cuben is because cuben is sexy… 🙂 of course I did save 0.5 oz too though…

      Getting a scale was a great thing for me, and I would highly recommend getting one. Before I got mine I took stuff to work and weighed it on a baby scale… haha

      Anyway, thanks for posting again, and congrats on the lightweight set-up!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Gizmo Joe says:

    Thanks for the good idea, I now have my UL cook kit down to 3.5 oz with a sil nylon stuff sack.

    Like

  7. Jason says:

    Nice video as always. One suggestion though. I also use a Hienie Pot with a Gram Weenie Pro stove setup. The pot got quite warm with boiling water, so the label was removed and replaced with fiberglass tape, the kind you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot and used for plumbing, to absorb some of the heat. It might add an ounce to your weight depending on how much to apply, but allows you to hold the pot with boiling water in it. Just a thought!

    Jason Cravens

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jason,

      Thanks for the tip. I actually have another Heine pot with some fiberglass tape wrapped around it. It works ok, but the heat still makes its way through and I figure it would work better with more on it, but I really do not want to add any extra weight. I have found that using my hanky works great at a zero (extra) weight penalty. It may not be the most convenient, but it is 100% effective…and I really don’t find it to be a hassle… at least so far…

      For this setup though my goal is to go as minimalist as possible, of course while still being able to boil enough water to FBC with.

      Thanks,

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. Joslyn says:

    Well great minds must think alike because I was looking through John’s videos too this weekend and have consequently been putting together my own UL cook kit post, lol (as soon as I find the camera charger…). Anyway, great setup and video! I tried Esbit tabs my first trip out and in field never could get two cups to a boil, but now I get the feeling that had more to do with the same issue you were having with the abundance of air. After seeing your setup I’ll have to go back and play with them again.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Joslyn,

      I am almost 100% sure that the air flow is what burnt up the fuel source so fast, as well as did not bring a boil, at least in my experience. I imagine that with the large amount of o2 available, the tablet went full force and was quickly consumed. As well, since the flame was burning so hard, it was going all over the place and not really being concentrated in one place. I imagine most of the heat probably escaped too fast to actually get the water hot enough to boil.

      It is amazing at the difference in the amount of burn time when the Esbit cube is simply sitting in the flat dish of the stove. It burns much slower and seems to be somewhat directed, or at least concentrated enough to be quite efficient. It makes me wonder how well the Gram Cracker stove with the wings would make it. However, for a cheaper version, as Bryce has mentioned, I figure that a tea light dish may do just about the same…

      Anyway, have fun getting your kit together, and thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  9. Bryce says:

    Tealight works just fine. It was actually out of laziness since I use the same cup for when I go with Alcohol (as opposed to solid fuel). I didn’t even think about it melting. 😮 I actually started with the cup inverted, but the flame pattern reached around the outside of the Heiny pot. When I flipped the cup right side up, and place hte Weber cube inside, the flame pattern was perfect and I actually think the tealight optimizes the flame pattern, focusing it up. It also leaves no residue on the ground from the burn. I bet you’ll get to my idea w/ the 12oz can b4 I do, and i hope you do! haha. GL.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Bryce,

      Eventually, I will try out using some of the Esbit in the tea light. What you say about the tealight directing the flame makes perfect sense…it is almost functioning the same as the gram cracker stove with the side walls. Plus, I believe that the tea light with the hardware cloth stand will weigh about 0.1 oz less than the folding Ti stove…

      Thanks again for sharing…

      ~Stick~

      Like

  10. Bryce says:

    Tealight has been great. It was born out of laziness in that I already had it on hand for the alcohol side of things. Overheating the thing didn’t cross my mind, perhaps it should have. 😮

    I originally turned the tealight upside down to get the weber cube closer to the bottom of the pot but that made the flame…flame out around the sides of the Heiny. Once I put the tealight right side up it all came together. It fit the weber cube in there nicely, the flame was kept under the pot well, and perhaps best of all, I think the cube’s burn its optimized since the tealight focuses the flame upwards. Try it out and let me know your thoughts! 🙂

    Like

  11. Brian Green says:

    Another great video Stick, I was disappointment you didn’t show an actual burn demo 😦 You’ve got the overall weight down to almost nothing so not much I can suggest, nor do you need me to. But I will say that in order to make the Ti stove legs support the Heine pot better why don’t you get a pair of pliers and bend each of them just a hair? It’s Ti so you won’t break it (trust me), you can bend them each inwards a bit -or- get even more creative and bend the tiny feet over to make it custom fit you Heine pot. There’s a whole MYOG hack post/video idea right there. Anyway, enjoyed the video as I always do, cheers!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Brian,

      Thanks for stopping by. I thought about including a burn demo, but by the time I got around to making the video I had already burned up a few of my cubes. I figured I had better quit burning it all up and save some to actually use. I am going to try to get out for a hike this weekend (although it is my wife’s birthday this weekend too…) but if I do I will try to take a short clip of it burning once the water comes to a boil.

      One other thing that I didn’t mention about the Esbit, I noticed that it crackles when burning. It reminds me of a wood fire sorta, or even the Wood Wick candles. I kinda like it though…

      As far as bending the legs on the folding stove, I don’t think that I will attempt that. I can see myself bending them off kilter a little and then they would never be quite right…

      Thanks again Brian,

      ~Stick~

      Like

  12. Great writeup Stick. Thanks for taking the time (and thanks to John too). I’m a newb at all this, so the thoroughness is really helpful. I bought a scale and weighed in for real this weekend, and I discovered that my typical three season multi day setup base weight tips the scales at 20lbs! Yikes. I’ve got a long way to go, and replacing my JetBoil Sol with something like this seems like a good place to start. Thanks again!

    Like

  13. John Abela says:

    Thanks for the mention Stick!

    I had hoped that the pot would be a lot more stable than what it seems to be. That is actually something that worries me. How much flopping around does that pot do on the Ti stand when its at a rolling boil?

    Out of curiosity, what kind of stove were you using that required an entire ounce of fuel to bring 2 cups of water to a boil? Seems like a little on the excessive side.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      I believe that the Heine pot will be fine on the folding stove. As long as the ground beneath the stove is stable and flat and that care is taken around the entire set-up while it is in use I don’t see any problems. Since I have been using alcohol so much I have already gotten myself in the habit of being careful around a stove that is “on” although IMO this care should be taken with any stove systems… Saying all of this, I really do not foresee any problems with this set-up.

      As far as flopping around when boiling, I have witnessed nothing like this. Granted I have only brought water to a boil with this set-up twice so far, there was nothing that caused me any concern. With 2 cups of water in the pot, it weighs the pot down pretty good. And the Esbit brings the water to a full rolling boil, but it is not as violent as it could be with something such as a Jetboil…

      Before this I loved using my White Box Stove, and I always planned for at least one oz per 2 cups of water. In optimal conditions, it easily brought the water to a boil with left over, however, in the field with cold water (and sometimes fuel) and a nice breeze, I was usually happy to have the full oz. And I always used the HEET in the Yellow bottle.

      Hope that this helps. And thanks again for stopping by! (And inspiring me… 🙂 )

      ~Stick~

      Like

  14. Bryce says:

    Well played. Great minds think alike, though I am using the Weber Lighter cubes for wknd warrior trip.s I have a similar setup here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=49519&skip_to_post=420364#420364

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Bryce,

      It was actually your comment on my MYOG Heine post that got my mind rolling…then when I saw John’s videos, well I figured I would see what I could do…

      Thanks again for all the info and for checking out my blog!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Bryce says:

      Next adventure in stoves for me is a 12oz soda can “pot” (I never need the full capacity of the 22oz Heiny, I only cook solo and use 1-1.5 cups of water), MYOG Caldera cone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VerP7-aiEBw) to make it as efficient as possible and eliminate the chicken wire pot stand. Only kicker is I would use solid fuel for this (8oz Poland Springs bottles nest PERFECTLY inside the 22oz Heiny, but too big for 12oz soda can) and find a place to store the caldera cone (again, the windscreen fit perfectly inside the 22oz Heiny, but won’t fit inside a 12oz can). And I don’t use foam sleeping pads to store the caldera cone flat (I use a NeoAir Short). We’ll c when I get time to play with it. Feel free to give it a go if you thin it is worth it! GL!

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Bryce,

      First off, that is a really cool MYOG CC video! Thanks for sharing…Seems like the flashing may be heavy, and like you said, finding a place to store it could prove to be a challenge… But still, that looks like it would be fun to make. Recently when I bought my 0.9L Evernew Ti pot (which I still need to do a review on, I think…) I bought it with the hopes of one day getting a Sidewinder to go with it. The cool thing about the Sidewinder is that it packs inside the pot… But I currently have so many durn cooking systems though…it’s getting hard to explain to the wife that I need another one… 🙂 But I just may have to try this out one day…probably won’t be soon but if I ever do rest assured that I will post a video about it here on my blog…

      I did notice in your post over on BPL that it looks like you are using a tea light candle with your solid fuel. How is that working out? I was afraid that the intense heat would simply melt the little tea light tin. I thought about using the hardware cloth stand with a tin in the bottom for the Esbit but never tried it. To be honest, I like the way the hardware cloth stand works a little better than the folding stove, although the folding stove is growing on me…

      Anyway, thanks again for stopping by and for the great info!

      ~Stick~

      Like

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