Last Christmas (2012) my wife surprised me with the LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System. (**The one linked is a newer/updated version than the one I discuss in this post.) Since then, I have used it on a couple of short hikes, as well as a number of times, either on quick day hikes, or even here at home. In the last almost 7 months now, I have got to say that the LiteTrail cook kit has definitely grown on me, and while I can’t say that I am a “one-cook-kit-kinda-guy,” I can say that this kit is definitely in the mix!
Let me say first that the kit that I have now is slightly different from the kit that is now displayed on the LiteTrail site (linked above). I guess you could say that I have the “2nd gen” cook kit… When Jhaura first released this kit (1st gen), it came with a cook pot without handles, the ti wing Esbit stove without the Esbit tray, and a windscreen that needed to be secured together with paperclips. By the time that my wife had purchased mine (2nd gen), he had added the Esbit tray to the stove, and even had notches cut into the wings so that this specific pot rested on the stove very near perfect. The cook kit that is now available (3rd gen) ships with a pot that does have handles and a windscreen with ends that are spot welded together, which also has a notch cut out to accommodate the handles on the pot. (I would just like to add here, that I think I have the best version!) 🙂
So, to get started, what does the LiteTrail solid fuel cook kit come with?
- 55o ml Ti Cook pot w/ Ti Lid (now w/ handles)
- Ti Esbit Wing Stove
- Ti Foil Windscreen (now w/ the ends tacked together)
- Ti Foil Ground Protector/Heat Reflector
- Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack
If I remember correctly, my kit weighed 2.9 oz as delivered. However, since then, I have made a few changes so that this kit suits my own personal needs…
The first thing that I did was replace the “heavy” lid that came with the kit with a lighter weight, carbon fiber lid. I could have shaved even more weight by going with a piece of aluminum foil, however, I wanted to stick to the “durable” nature of this cook kit, so the aluminum foil didn’t make sense (to me). Total weight savings from the lid: 0.4 oz, or 10 grams. This brought my original kit with the replacement lid down to 2.5 oz total.
Next, I actually added weight back in. Yup… I decided that if I were going to use this kit with the intentions of actually cutting weight from my pack, then I needed to add weight to it… so I could use it as a mug too. To convert it to a mug, I needed to be able to hold onto it, as well as drink from it, when it is filled with a hot beverage. So, I added some Hot Lips and a DIY reflectix cozy to the mix. These 2 items added back those 0.4 oz that I had managed to drop by switching the lids, which brought me back to the original weight, but now it was truly multiuse. By doing this, I traded my 1.9 oz mug for 0.4 oz of accessories, which gave me a net savings of 1.5 oz!
One other small thing that I did was to make a tiny tyvek sleeve to store the Ti foil windscreen in. This sleeve doesn’t weigh in on my scales, so I’m not sure how much extra weight this actually added… all I can say is that it is very minimal. I will also admit that this sleeve is not necessary since the windscreen can be stored inside the cook pot without the sleeve, but I like the way it stores when rolled up, all tucked away inside the little sleeve. (Also, I feel like it helps to keep the circular shape a bit better, not that this is really an issue though).
Other than this, I added in a small, cut down piece of lightload towel so that I can dry the pot out afterwards, and a Mini Bic, since I prefer to light Esbit with a lighter rather than with matches.
With these small changes, the entire cook kit comes to a total weight of 3.4 oz, or 97 grams. I am perfectly happy with this weight, considering this is only half an oz heavier than my more fragile “SUL Cook Kit” but many times more durable!
And as a bonus, everything packs away inside the stuff sack all nice and tidy… and small!
As I understand it, the way that kits similar to this one in volume is intended to be used, is to simply do 2 “boils.” Since the volume is minimal, it is very unlikely that one could boil enough water for both a meal and a hot drink at the same time in a 550 ml pot (although, some of the Packit Gourmet meals require very little water, so it is possible). The basic idea is to start with a single 14 gram Esbit tablet, light it and immediately set a full pot of water on the stove. Wait approximately 8 – 9 minutes for this to come to a (minimal) boil, then quickly pour that water off for the meal and quickly replace the pot back on the stove with enough water for a hot drink to warm over the remaining bit of Esbit. In my experience, this does work, however, when using water that is very cold, and/or when in windy conditions, it is almost a bit of a stretch.
The way that I have been using this setup and have been happy with, is to mix and match the 14 gram Esbit tablets with the 4 gram Esbit tablets. Also, being that I have moved to the Sawyer Squeeze water filter, it is not a problem to cook with filtered water, which means I personally don’t worry if my water doesn’t come to a complete, hard rolling boil.
My preference has been to use 1 – 1.5 of the 4 gram Esbit tablets if I am just heating enough water for a hot drink. In good conditions, with anything but icy cold water, I am fine just using a single 4 gram Esbit tablet. This gets the water hot enough for me to still have to sip at it in the beginning. (Worth noting too, is that if I drink my hot beverage slowly, then it will cool faster in this pot than if I were using a smaller mug.) However, if there is a good bit of wind present, or if the water is icy cold, then I will use a full 4 gram Esbit tablet, and then break another in half, which gives me a total of 6 grams of Esbit. Here again, I should still get at least that minimal boil.
At dinner time, if I am not heating water for both my meal and a drink, I am fine using 3 of the 4 gram Esbit tablets to heat a full pot of water. However, if I want both, I will just stick with a full 14 gram Esbit tablet and do the shuffle as I stated above.
So, at this point, I am very happy with Jhaura’s cook kit. I will admit, I have thought about purchasing the available Caldera Cone for it since I feel pretty certain that the cone would increase the fuel efficiency at least a little, however, since it will not store inside the pot, I have been put off by it. (Who knows though… with my infatuation with cook kits, not to mention the cones themselves… I may pick it up one day anyway.) As well, the cone is significantly heavier than the supplied windscreen, which along with the storage issue is a bit more of a deal breaker for me.
So, in summary, I find this kit to be lightweight yet durable, and also fill my needs as both my cook pot and my drinking mug, yet still pack away small enough to require a minimal amount of real estate inside my pack. As well, being that it runs off of Esbit, and that I use both the 4 gram and the 14 gram tablets, I feel confident that I can pack the lightest amount of fuel possible (other than when using wood fires of course). And lets not forget how easy and safe using Esbit really is… I will admit that soot (and smell for some) is the downfall of this fuel source, but in my experience with this kit, the soot has been very minimal and what did collect on the bottom of the pot has been easily wiped off in the grass.
All-in-all, 2 huge thumbs up!
Thanks for stopping by!
Disclaimer: My wife paid full price for this LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System. I am not affiliated with LiteTrail in any way, nor have any obligation to write about the product. The statements in this article (including the video) are of my own opinion, which were formed after personally using the cook system.