I know that I do a considerable amount of postings about cooking/kitchen set’s, or even just the individual components, but let’s face it…each trip can call for different needs… However, I will also admit, I really enjoy playing with different set-ups, and mix-and-matching different pieces to see what I come up with. So, while there are a couple of systems that I really like, I can’t say that there will ever be just one…
Saying this, in preparing for me and my buddies first “SUL” long distance hike, I really looked hard at the gear that is going in my pack. I have been in the “UL” range for a little while so I am already quite used to evaluating what goes in (and what does not), but when it comes to everything weighing less than 5 lbs, well, it took a little more looking…
For this trip, I decided on Esbit simply because I feel that it is a lightweight, reliable and “safe” fuel to work with. As well, the cook kit that I have decided to use is actually my previous “UL Cook Kit” that I have posted about, so I already had a system to work with/from. However, I needed to work with it a little bit more to make it better in a couple of ways. Some things that I wanted out of this revised system are:
- Lighter weight
- More stable
My biggest issue with the previous UL Cook Kit was that it was not as stable as I liked. The legs on the titanium Esbit wing stove were spaced out to the point that my Heine pot would rest in between them, but just so. So, it worked, but I felt that it could be better. So, I decided to go back to my DIY hardware cloth pot stands. I could make these so that they fit inside the indention under the Heine pot, and resulted in a more stable/secure set-up.
However, I really liked the stove part of the Esbit wing stove, particularly the results that I got when using it. But, I had to come up with something that would work with my DIY hardware cloth pot stand. So, after a bit of trial and error, I finally settled on a simple tray that mimicked the tray on the Esbit wing stove made from some titanium foil I recently got from Ti Goat.
Another thing that I changed was my windscreen. I had previously used a DIY aluminum windscreen and with paper clips to secure the 2 ends together. But I will admit, I have been drooling over the titanium windscreens that Suluk 46 sells, and finally laid down the $$ to get one to call my own! However, I will also admit, by adding this windscreen in with the rest of the system, it changed the way the entire system worked, which took a little more time for me to figure it all out…
Simply put, the Suluk 46 windscreen only has air holes in one side of the windscreen (I could easily change this with a simple hole punch, but I’m sure that Steve makes them this way for a reason so I wanted to try to figure it out instead). Up to this point I have been using windscreens with air holes all the way around. So, what’s the difference?
From what I can tell:
- The side without holes can be turned into the wind and help block wind. This is definitely a plus when using alcohol or Esbit as a fuel source since these fuels are so susceptible to wind.
- Fewer holes = less air intake. This really puts the pressure on making sure that the distance between the fuel and the bottom of the pot is where it needs to be. Too close and the flame is smothered; too far away and the flame/heat is wasted.
- With holes on one side only, this creates a different air-flow pattern. The air obviously comes in at the bottom on the side with the holes, but then appears to flow up and out the top on the side without the holes. Because of this, it looks like more heat/flame is focused on the side without the holes (which is also evidenced by more discoloration on the windscreen on the side without the holes). Due to this, I imagine that the distance between the sides of the cook pot and the windscreen will also play an important role in fuel efficiency…although I am still messing around with this…
Because of the above mentioned points, it took me a few different tries using different stoves/methods of burning the Esbit with this windscreen and still getting results I liked. Long story short, this is where I finally came to making the above mentioned DIY titanium tray stove that mimicked the Esbit wing stove. (It is amazing at how just the tiny, 3/16″ tall walls around the edges of the Esbit tablet will make such a difference, but it did.) However, this small stove seems to be the most efficient when used with the rest of the system, so it is a keeper!
I also decided to take advantage of the many Tyvek envelopes I have laying all around the house. Since everything is stored inside my cook pot (remember: packable/compact), I wanted a way to keep the inside clean as well as protected from the contents. To do this, I made a simple sleeve to keep the stove in which keeps the residual from the Esbit tablet inside the stove from getting on the inside of my cook pot. I also made a simple sleeve for the DIY hardware cloth pot stand which helps keep the sharp edges from damaging the inside of the beer can pot.
It is quite easy to stop right here, but there is more to a cook kit…
All that I discussed above will do fine for boiling my water, and quite honestly, even serving as a vessel to eat from (which I will do on this trip). But there is actually more to a cook kit. Included in my cook kit, in addition to the above items, I also have an 8 oz Ziploc bowl/cup, a disposable spoon, 1/2 of a Lightload towel (which serves as a towel, pot grabber & holder) and a mini Bic lighter (I would rather a lighter to use with Esbit than a match).
(All of these items can be seen in the first photo in this post.)
At first I was a little skeptical about the Ziploc bowl/cup in terms of only being 8 oz in volume. However, I have used it a number of times here at home to see if it would be ok to use in the manner in which I plan to use it in (which is really on drinking hot drinks) and I have deemed it worthy! Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to have a little bit bigger cup, but this one seems to work well in a few different ways.
- It fits perfectly over the top of my Heine pot and provides more overall protection & durability to the entire system.
- It is light weight.
- It is plenty durable.
- Since I am not adding milk to my hot cocoa, the smaller volume makes my cocoa more creamy! 🙂
So, as far as I am concerned, the 8 oz Ziploc bowl/cup works well in a number of ways, and has made its place as my cup on this upcoming trip! (And maybe more…who knows…)
Concerning the spoon, I am a little disheartened that I am leaving behind my long handle REI Campware Ti spoon, but as I mentioned already, I have to really think about what I am putting in my pack for this trip. And the truth is, the long handle REI spoon is overkill for these needs. The disposable spoon I will carry instead is way lighter and will work just as well. The downside is that it is not as durable, however, as I just realized, the disposable spoon will easily fit inside my cook pot with everything else, so it is very well protected. Thus, durability is less of an issue now, and overall, the disposable spoon wins out…
The last individual item I want to briefly discuss is my LightLoad towel. These towels are not very durable in my experience, but considering the “light load” that I require of it when using with this cook kit, it works beautifully!
First off, I use the towel to wrap around the pot stand (which is also wrapped in the Tyvek sleeve) when transporting the system. This keeps the pot stand from bouncing around inside the cook pot, as well as helping to protect the inside of the cook pot from the pot stand. As well, I use a folded corner of the towel as a pot grabber when pulling the pot off the pot stand when the water comes to a boil. I can also double the towel over and wrap it around the cook pot to form a pot holder which insulates my hand from the hot cook pot. And last, I use the towel to wipe the pot dry after using.
So, I feel like the half piece of Lightload towel that I carry is a very useful piece of gear (although I know that I can use my socks to grab the pot too…but it just isn’t the same after hiking in the sock for 3 days… 🙂 )
So, concerning my list of wants from this revised cook kit which I listed at the top of this post, I feel like I have definitely made the system more stable when in use, and after lots of experimentation, I have finally gotten the efficiency I wanted with these given pieces. And as far as the entire systems ability to pack together…
And last, but definitely not least…weight…
I will admit, when I posted my previous “UL Cook Kit” I did not list all the “extras” in the final weight. So, to compare apples to apples, and realize how much weight I dropped off of my original system, I will first list the core components of the original cook system to compare:
- Heine Cook Pot With Lid: 1 oz
- Ti Folding Esbit Stove: 0.5 oz
- Windscreen with Paperclip: 0.6 oz
- ZPacks CF Stuff Sack: 0.1 oz
This is a total of 2.2 oz for the core components. Here is a list of the revised components:
- Heine Cook Pot w/ Aluminum Foil Lid: 1 oz
- DIY Hardware Cloth Pot Stand w/ Tyvek Sleeve: 0.2 oz
- DIY Ti Stove w/ Tyvek Sleeve: 0.05 oz
- Suluk 46 Small Ti Windscreen: 0.4 oz
- ZPacks CF Stuff Sack: 0.1 oz
This is a total of 1.75 oz, which gives me a net weight savings of 0.45 oz from the original set of core components! (Ok, so it’s not even half an oz…but the point is, it is less weight.) As well, some of it is still DIY, which makes it even more awesome!
But, this is not everything. As I already mentioned, there is more to a cook kit than just these core components… So, here is the rest of the kit and their weights:
- 8 oz Ziploc Bowl/Cup: 0.35 oz
- Disposable Spoon: 0.15 oz
- Heat Reflector/Ground Protector: 0.05 oz
- Mini Bic: 0.4 oz
- 1/2 LightLoad Towel: 0.2 oz
This is a total of 1.15 oz in “extras” and while they are all not needed (particularly the cup), I feel like they are quite necessary to complete the entire cook kit as a whole. So, when I add the total weight from the core components to the weight of the extras, I come up with a total cook kit weight of 2.9 oz!
I can live with this, I am very happy with this, even in an “SUL” base pack weight…
Overall, I am very happy with this system. I am not saying that it still cannot be improved upon, or that I will keep this system forever, but at the moment I am happy with it. I feel like this kit meets all of my requirements, and does so well. As I already mentioned, it is definitely more stable than previously, and as is proven by numbers, it is lighter. As well, considering everything fits inside the cook pot, or flush against the outside, it is very packable & compact.
As far as efficiency, I feel like it is performing the same as it did when using the commercially manufactured Esbit Wing Stove. Saying this, I feel like I can consider this system to be efficient. However, as I noted when talking about the windscreen design above, I will continue to tinker around with it and see if I can witness different results. However, this system can vary so much just due to the surrounding conditions, I feel like it will be hard to come up with cold hard facts. All I can say at this point is that it works as well as I want and expect it too.
So, enough with the reading, and the limited visualization of plain ole’ photography…how about some video…
As well, at 2kargarage1‘s request, here is a video I just did that shows the cook system in use…
Thanks for your time!
YMMV/HYOH: What makes this cook kit “SUL”? Well, I don’t know… What I can say is that I called my previous post a “UL” Cook Kit simply because at that time, my base pack weight (BPW) when using that system fell in the “UL” range. Now though, I am using this revised cook kit with a “SUL” base pack weight. So, between this and the need for me to give this post a name, I called it a “SUL” cook kit, and for no other reason. I completely understand that everyone’s idea of “SUL” when it comes to cook kit’s will vary, but at the moment, this is mine. As far as I am concerned though, there is no set rules on what is and what isn’t a “SUL” cook kit, just as long as it works for you and still allows your base pack weight to fall under 5 lbs.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”