I first came across the Flat Cat alcohol stove a number of months ago thanks to a blog post by Jason Klass. When I watched the video that Jason included in the entry, I thought that the Flat Cat was an interesting stove. Since then I have heard some mention of the Flat Cat here and there at different backpacking forums, and then most recently on Brian Greens blog.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, Jon from Flat Cat Gear contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in checking out one of his stove systems for a while. So of course I said sure! Then, just a few days ago I received the Snow Leopard Original cooking system in the mail.
Jon sells 2 main systems at his site, the Bobcat (which is designed to use with the 1.3L Evernew Non-Stick or the UL Ti cook pot as well as the REI Ti-Ware 1.3L pots) and the Snow Leopard system. The Snow Leopard system is designed to work with as many as 24 different size mug-style (smaller-diameter) cook pots. However, in order to work with so many different size cook pots, Jon offers the Snow Leopard system in 3 different options: Original, Jr. or Sr.
As well, Jon also offers 3 different stove’s with the Snow Leopard system:
According to the Flat Cat Site:
All stoves have different advantages depending on your cooking needs, fuel availability, and weather conditions.
When I opened the box I was immediately impressed simply with the care (and time) that Jon took to package the items, specifically the windscreen which was very neatly wrapped in newspaper. (However, the shipping box looked like it took a hit during delivery and a small section of the top edge of the windscreen was a little smashed in, but it was easily bent back out.) Then I took each piece of the Snow Leopard Original cooking system out and examined it closely. Here is a list of the contents which were in the box, along with my own weights:
- Windscreen: 1.1 oz (31 gm)
- Stove: 0.7 oz (21 gm)
- (2) Pot Stand Wires: 0.2 oz (5 gm)
- Heat Shield: 0.1 oz (4 gm)
- Measuring Cup: 0.1 oz (2 gm)
- Total Weight: 2.2 oz (63 gm)
Also included inside the Ziploc which the stove was sealed in was a single sheet of paper with tons of useful information. One side of the sheet includes many useful tips and instructions, including: “Parts” listing, “Assembly” instructions, “Boiling Water” tips and information, “Packing and Storing” and of course some “Warnings and Safety” tips. On the flip-side of the sheet is even more information, but also includes helpful pictures and even a QR code that will take you to Jon’s YouTube video with information on how to assemble, store and fine tune the Snow Leopard system (as seen directly below).
So, I am planning to use the Snow Leopard cooking system that Jon sent me with an 800 ml IMUSA mug/cook pot which measures 4″ in diameter and approximately 4.3″ in height. My cooking style really only consists of boiling water and then adding it to my dehydrated meals. So, I will also be using a DIY reflectix cozy with this system to rehydrate my meals in. Below is a photo of the entire cooking system that I will be carrying, including weights.
- Snow Leopard Original Cooking System (as listed above): 2.2 oz (63 gm)
- DIY Reflectix Cozy with Lid: 0.7 oz (20 gm)
- IMUSA 800 ml Pot with Aluminum Foil Lid: 2.9 oz (81 gm)
- 1/2 LightLoad Towel: 0.2 oz (6 gm)
- Sparkie: 0.2 oz (6 gm)
- Total Cook System Weighed Together: 6.3 oz (178 gm)
As far as weights, this system is only slightly heavier than my beloved system that I recently put together. This will make it hard for me to leave my other kit behind, but I am curious to see what kind of fuel efficiency that the Snow Leopard system will give me. According to the instructions that came with the system, “approximately 1 tablespoon (17 – 20 mls) of alcohol can boil 2 cups of water.” Also noted in the same set of instructions, “2 cups of room temperature water will start to boil in about 8 – 9 minutes.” So, yesterday I decided to do a little video in which I show the components of the system and then did a boil test. Check it out here:
In the video I used 20 mls of HEET (in the yellow bottle) colored with 1 drop of green food coloring and 16 fl oz of room temperature (~ 65 F) water. The ambient temperature outside was 80 F and I am at an elevation of 490 ft above sea level. There were occasional slight wind breezes, although I am not sure of the wind speed (all I can say is that they were gentle and occasional). As can be seen in the video, the 2 cups of water came to a full rolling boil in approximately 8:30 and then the stove died out around 8:45.
This was the 3rd burn in this stove since I have received it, however, this was the first timed boil. The other times I simply added some fuel to watch the stove burn (the design makes one curious). Based on the above boil/burn out times, this system is right on par with my DIY system, although this is only one use so I will gather better results hopefully with more use.
I typically boil 3 cups of water for my needs 2 times a day (breakfast and dinner). At breakfast I could probably get away with only boiling 2 cups of water if I needed to, but at dinner I need all 3 cups. So far it appears that 2/3 oz of fuel will successfully bring 2 cups of water to a full rolling boil (but just barely), so based on this it will take a full oz of fuel to boil 3 cups (pending ideal conditions). So, at this time, I will still carry 2 oz of fuel per day (1 oz per meal) for use with the Snow Leopard system. This is where I am curious to see if it will change before I send the system back to Jon.
One other thing worth noting is how well the entire system packs up into the cook pot. The windscreen goes into my cook pot first and then everything else goes into the middle of the cook pot. As can be seen in the video above (or the picture below), all of my cooking gear easily fits into the IMUSA cook pot.
Overall, I am pretty excited to have the opportunity to be trying out Jon’s Snow Leopard cooking system. It is very intriguing, packs down easily, is light-weight and does indeed boil my water so that I can enjoy a nice warm meal (or drink) on the trail. Gotta love that! So, now it is time for me to simply take it out for a while and use it to see how it does in the real world…err…the real trail. So, thanks to Jon for this opportunity. And I will be sure to do a later post before I send the system back to Jon and further discuss how the cook system did for me!
Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer: Flat Cat Gear has loaned me (free of charge) this Snow Leopard Original Cooking System for reviewing purposes. I do not own this system and at the request of Flat Cat Gear all items will be promptly returned.