Feb 25, 2014 at 8:14 am #1313730
Alright, whilst I have been preparing for SUL this upcoming season, I was rethinking my cook kit. It wasn't heavy before- 3.4 oz with stove, pot, and screen. I knew that there must be a way I could go lighter.
I started looking into cook kits- Litetrail, Trail Designs, Suluk 46, etc. The lightest of which (1.59 oz) was the Suluk46 T.E.A. system which is no longer sold but is being redesigned so keep an eye out! I couldn't help but think "I can go lighter than this.
My goal setting out was to get my pot, pot stand (if needed), screen, lid, and stove down to 1 oz and be able to boil water off either 7 grams or less Esbit fuel or half an oz of denatured alcohol. I should show you tons of pictures of screens, cans I cut into pots, aluminum foil bits, and a bunch of little stuff I ordered just to try. I'll let you in on what I found:
Its all about the pot. Your cook kit is going to center around the diameter of your pot (for the stove), how much water you want to boil, what size screen to fit the pot/stove, and durability of the pot. The only way to do this, for me, was then to use a soda can as my pot. I started with a 16 oz monster can and then a 12 oz pepsi can. Both worked, both were stable, but neither were durable. If I had to add something to my pack to protect the cook kit then what was the point?? Then I found it.
Zelph sells a pot that is 12 oz when filled to top, weighs 15 grams, and has ridgelines. This pot was my salvation. It came with a plastic lid and a pot lid, of which I decided to keep the plastic lid for the setup.
You can go lighter than this setup. You could save a couple grams by foregoing the plastic lid, but I kept it because it keeps everything inside and helps the pot keep its shape and resist damage when I squeeze it. For 2 or 3 day trips you could get away with a soda can pretty easily, but I really like this pot and was able to keep it all at an oz and have excellent durability.
At room temperature, sink water, slight fan blowing on it, I am able to get a small boil from 4 gram esbit tablet (enough to cook my ramen or mountain house) and I can typically get a rolling boil from .5 oz of denatured alcohol.Feb 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm #2076946
Your alcohol burner appears to be the aluminum cup of a tealight candle. Is that durable?
It would be interesting to see how the boiling results change if you go to 35*F ambient temperature and water temperature.
–B.G.–Feb 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm #2076962
I see your point and I shall address both inquiries:
It is a tealight candle bottom. If I were to drop it from any height imaginable there would be no damage, I have burned esbit and alcohol on the same cup over ten times and it still functions the same aside from the left over residue from esbit. Of course if I happened to step on it I would face another issue. Unless it forced the cup to tear I could bend it back in place. The only scenario that I would fault against the tealight cup is if it were stepped on, but if that were the scenario I was guarding against I would have to exclude most tent stakes, stoves, and windscreens from even my UL setup.
Also, in case of such weather I would use more esbit, as a 14 gram tablet can easily fit on the tealight cup. For denatured alcohol, I have not tried this setup in those temperatures. I would suspect, from my current results, that I would either only get a small boil or would have to go for a round two another half, or fourth, oz of denatured alcohol.
For both questions, a general discussion on SUL should be addressed. I would not suggest that this is the setup for the average backpacker- you only get 10 oz of fluid to work with, I would not use this at high elevation, and this is not for "group cooking". That said, if I wanted to adjust this setup I could do so with minimal weight sacrifice. If I were in colder temperatures, I could replace the tealight cup with a small can of can food. If you are looking for the "One and All" cook kit, I would not recommend SUL to anyone, with perhaps the exception of John Abella lol.
I do think this works great for a solo pot or a group trip where each cooks for themselves, someone who is comfortable with 10 oz of water per boil, 45F + ambient temps, or someone who is just fascinated with having a cook kit for every scenario. With this setup I could easily go 5 to 7 days with what I have without worrying about anything breaking along the way but of course that in subject to my experiences.Feb 25, 2014 at 3:23 pm #2076992
That's an interesting looking kit Jeremy. I guess the major reason I wouldn't buy it is due to the lack of volume of the pot itself. I prefer having a pint capacity with room to spare (so 550ml) and at 10oz, I can't even heat 1.5 cups of water.
Looks great though.Feb 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm #2076996
Ian is correct that 10 ounces of water might be _enough_ for one person, but many of us want a boiling volume of 16 ounces. For that reason, I use a 20 ounce bowl.
You know, if you could get a tealight cup that was fabricated out of titanium, it would be many times stronger. I've never seen anything like that for sale for a reasonable price. Of course something like that would cost hundreds of times more than the aluminum version.
I assume that you use the tealight cup in the normal orientation for burning alcohol, but maybe you invert it to burn Esbit.
–B.G.–Feb 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm #2077078
The typical noodle or freeze dried meal that says 2 cups of water, really only needs 1.5 or so when soaking FBC style, it doesnt absorb the water like it does when boiling. Most of us are carrying pots around that are a bit too large anyway. I like to use no more than 60-75% of what the directions call for, and if I need to add a smidgen of cold water to dilute it a tad,then it cools it to eating temp too.Feb 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm #2077080
Great set up!
For me I would be pushing 10oz (just under 300ml) in most scenarios, unless I planned my meals specifically for it, ie I kept the weight of them under say 3oz/100g dry.
How much does the tea light stove actually weigh? Would it be better to add maybe half a gram and use say a BGET or legless BGET? For efficiency I'd be keen to slow the burn down a little bit more.
I can't find the pot on Zelph's page, any chance you can provide a link, or is it something he's just doing for you? Is it based on a fosters?
Cheers!Feb 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm #2077093
zelph usually includes the 1 cup pot free when you buy a fosters pot. Ive got a couple of them.Feb 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm #2077101
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Your efforts are commendable.
In the field, I have found that I want at least a 16 ounce volume pot. It is hard to beat a Caldera Cone system and I find it very durable with 100's of boils. The original Foster pot I used was a weak link and a couple of years ago Trail Designs fixed this with more ridges added to it.
For overall durability but Esbit only, the LiteTrail is excellent. I also have many, many trips with this set-up.
Both are around ~ 3 ounces and work well if your goal is SUL or XUL, whatever you want to classify.
For me they work, and for me there is no reason to experiment or look for other alternatives, as I see it as an effort of diminishing returns. YMMV.Feb 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm #2077103
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
*with Crocodile Dundee accent* Heh, heh…That's not a pot! Now THAT'S a pot ….. *exhibit Titanium 900 ml pot*
One of the things I MOST notice, especially starting 3-5 days out (and unaffected by resupplies), is how important food becomes. I'm worried that, maybe your self at that point is gonna want to kick your other sitting-in-front-of-spreadsheet gram-weenie self in the butt at the smallness of the "pot". Guess you will find out. But likely you could use the same setup with a little bigger pot if you feel you want more capacity later.Feb 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm #2077112
I also have one of Zelph's pots. It's small. It can be easily duped using a Blue Diamond Almond can (the short pot doesn't need ridges, IMO).Feb 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm #2077136
For me, 10 oz of water has proved to be enough especially if I plan with it in mind. I understand that it isn't for everyone, as we eat different amounts and enjoy different foods.
This is a starting point of 1 oz and for the durability of the pot. One could use a 16 oz can and save a few grams while gaining volume. I didn't opt for that because of durability and width of pot. I may be able to offer this in a few options: 10 oz, 16 oz, or 24 oz setup. Of course with each increase you are asking for a heavier setup but not by much. Zelph sells a reduced height foster pot that weighs 20 grams, so you could forego another 5 grams and get a 2 cup pot that is still durable.
Adam– The Tealight stove weighs less than a gram. I wish I had a scale that registered miligrams but unfortunately it does not. So it must weigh less than half a gram since it rounds up or down. What is a BGET?
For all interested, let me know what you think about the 16 oz 20 gram pot?
Here is a full setup option for someone who wants lets say the heavy side but more durable side of this setup:
20 gram reduced height pot- 16 fl oz capacity
7 gram ti windscreen- as opposed to aluminum
5 gram stand- same
x<1 gram foil lid- same…. or the 4 gram lid that comes with the pot
x<1 gram tealight cup… if you are using esbit the tealight cup is essentially just pad
for the tablet
4 gram plastic lid or 1 gram cuben fiber stuff sack
This is still a durable kit that weighs at most 1.5 ozFeb 25, 2014 at 8:27 pm #2077141
Fritos Bean Dip can at about 10 oz. volume.Feb 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm #2077151
BGET is this:
I haven't made or tried one yet myself (access to titanium sheeting…), but the reviews by everyone inc John Abela are very promising. The sides can hold a tablet fairly tightly, restricting airflow enough to slow it down for better efficiency (probably really important when using really small pots), and the tray holds the liquid so that that isn't wasted but burnt-your tealight stove does that part well already.
Also, although might not be what you are after given the weight, but flat cat gear now have a ~5g prototype that improves on esbit efficiency again. I've ordered that and will give it a shot. If it were to improve efficiency by an average of 1 or 2g per boil then it could be worth trying on trips of more than a couple of nights length with your set-up.
On really fast and light trips where my meals constitute mostly ready to eat solid foods, something like your kit could be great if I just want the odd hot drink or soup to go with it.
Cheers!Feb 25, 2014 at 8:54 pm #2077157
Another thing I was wondering, is that you are worried about durability, but then it seems like you are using aluminium foil for your lid and screens? Isn't that only going to last a few days? If you are replacing that every few days of walking, why not also replace your pot, so say use a cut down soda can? You could build up a batch of them in less than half an hour that would last quite a lot of hiking.Feb 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm #2077159
Adam- Ah yes I have seen that before. I think I actually have what you are referring to, the focus fire 14. I had not incorporated it yet because my initial goal was to get in all in at an oz.
Now that I have come in minimally at 1 oz with a doable and reliable kit, you can really go from there as you wish. Add a larger can to get the boil time, change the stove depending whether you want to use esbit differently or if you need more than .5 oz of alcohol, you could use a litetrail wind screen. Essentially the one piece that really ties it together is the pot stand, which I have to thank Gary (DRZOOZ@aol.com) for. He makes them custom to whatever pot you want to use, you should check out this thread for more details:Feb 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm #2077166
"The Tealight stove weighs less than a gram."
I hesitate to call it a stove. The tealight cups come in different sizes. All of the ones that I have here weigh 0.4 grams.
–B.G.–Feb 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm #2077176
Yeah that pot stand is sweet. And yeah you can definitely swap out windscreens and stoves easily. I like your thinking/approach.
That's another good stove thread :-)Feb 25, 2014 at 11:47 pm #2077216
I got asked to jump in on this post and share my thoughts… here are just a few brief ones:
1) A couple years ago I made pretty much this identical setup. Think at one point I had a video on youtube showing it, but I have come to hate youtube and pulled most of my videos I had uploaded, so cannot show how I went about it, but I used the same pot from Zelph, a custom made (shorter) stand from QiWiz, and I think just a flat sheet of Ti for putting esbit on and some Al foil for the lid.
2) It was, well, usable. I used it on a number of sub24hikes but it was just never good enough for me to make it beyond my s24h testing.
3) I think playing around with these kind of setups is fun and totally worth the time invested in the pursuit of learning SUL/XUL hiking. You learn what works and does not work for you. The awesome thing about backpacking is we all have options to use and go with different gear and use what works for us, eh!! I still have the pot and the stand somewhere, but they have never been used since I initially tested it.
4) It was just a little too little amount of water.
5) I believe that our gear, whether in the HH/UL/SUL/XUL world of hiking should be as full-proof against failure as possible. The can can too easily be squished. The stand has those little connector pieces that hold them all together that if you drop one in the sand, snow, thick forest floor, or whatever, they can be lost – I know, I lost two of them during my s24h testing. Both of these place the cook system into the 'too high of risk failure' for me.
6) If given the option of a 6 g stand that has parts that can be lost, vs an 8 gram wire mesh stand (say, one of these cut down in height) I will choose the 8 gram one. I want reliability in my gear and the reason I try to promote sub-24-hour hikes so much is because they given folks a chance to really learn what is just not going to work for them before they go out and hit the longer trails. I am not saying this setup will not work for Jeremy – not saying that by any means at all, it just did not really work out for me. So, I choose to ditch the stand and the too-small-for-me cup and bounce up to a wire mesh stand and a slightly larger pot.
7) Tealight holder. Jeremy, what is your purpose for that? Unless we know WHY you are using that, its just an unknown. (a) Are you using it in an attempt to provide efficiency to your esbit cubes? (b) Or is it to prevent esbit sludge for going all over the place? (c) Are you using it as a ground protector? If you are using it for efficiency, you can give up… its not tall enough to deflect wind, not tall enough to help focus the flame, and the material is too think to store heat transfer. If its to prevent esbit sludge, well, that I understand and that is all I ever used a teacandle holder for. (c) If it is for ground protection, sorry but that is just not enough. Even the all-too-typical .005" thick titanium that companies enjoy packaging these days as part of a 'complete kit' is not thick enough. I have almost started a few ground fires because of not having a thick enough ground protection when using esbit. I have found that one of the few things that really works is a square cut piece of carbon felt. ref. What Bob Gross wrote is dead-on right… a tealight holder is just not durability enough for the long trail. The easily get squished and after a few times the metal starts to split.
8) What BG wrote… "invert it to burn Esbit"… is actually a rather interesting idea. It would (a) raise the esbit closer to the bottom of the pot (if needed to reach the best efficiency height of esbit<->bottom of pot… which I do not remember) and it would also (b) get the esbit off the ground a little higher and thus help with lighting any pine needles or whatever might be on the ground. One thing would be… would that gap of air that would be inside of it cause efficiency issues?? Unknown to me, but others here have the knowledge of that.
9) BGET or legless BGET… oh boy, lets hope Brian Green does not hear us talking about leggless BGET's :-D Umm, I guess what we really need to address here is "does a pot of this size, with this little amount of water, really justify even worrying about efficiency?" I mean lets just be honest here, a little 4g esbit table is about all a person would need to bring this amount of water to a temperature good enough for your tea/coffee and almost warm enough to be viable at a meal rehydration without it being too cold. Go with a 4g and a 4g broken in half, so you have 6g and you can (should??) be able to reach the 200(f)+ mark with this little amount of water (have you tested this yet Jeremy??) So, anyway, my vote just goes for doing away with the teacup and/or the BGET. If the goal is to have the lightest setup possible, carrying either/both of them make no sense as they are just not going to provide a viable amount of efficiency. Lets remember, the fastest way to get water to boil, and the hottest way to get esbit, is without any of these kind of things… just the straight esbit set underneath the pot. All these kind of things (BGET/TDGC/FF14) really are designed to do is give you a longer burning time, not to give you a faster boil time.
10) DS said: "I also have one of Zelph's pots. It's small. It can be easily duped using a Blue Diamond Almond can (the short pot doesn't need ridges, IMO)". Ditto and totally agree. I bought a few different size BDA containers when I was playing around trying with this same stuff.
11) Adam said: "why not also replace your pot, so say use a cut down soda can"… I did this too. OMG did that little soda can get hot!! And stay hot too. It took almost 20 minutes for that little Al can too cool off enough to pick it up. The thinness of the Al over the thickness of a beer can surprised the heck out of me in regards to how long they stayed hot. Learned my first time using a soda can that they are not a good idea LOL.
12) BG said: "All of the ones that I have here weigh 0.4 grams." — Dang BG you scored on your tealight holders! All the ones I have are 0.59 grams. Maybe its the green paint on mine LOL.
13) Jeremy said: "I am thinking about putting 10 or so of these setups together and selling them for 40$ or so". Uggh, I think that is kinda priced over the top Jeremy. I think the average SUL/XUL hiker is just not going to put out that kind of money for this specific setup. $20 bucks, maybe… if shipping was included. Unfortunately, and yet the reality is, this is just too small of a niche market.
14) But even more than that, I think that part of the adventure of going from UL to SUL/XUL is the exploration of testing and trials and successes and failures. Folks buying their way into SUL/XUL is just not a good thing. The idea is (and especially with XUL) to learn along the way, not buy your way in. Playing around with different setups, learning what works and does not work, for you as an individual hiker, learning where that 'point of putting myself at risk' is at — all of these things are the type of things we should be encouraging. I admire your own exploration in having the lightest possible cook setup that you can – I did it myself and still find that quest trying to suck me back in every few months. Have fun with this, keep learning, keep experimenting, keep sharing with others — all of that is what all of this is really all about!!
(ugg that took me an hour to write up… I gotta get back to what I was working on before I visited BPL tonight LOL)Feb 26, 2014 at 12:33 am #2077219
"12) BG said: "All of the ones that I have here weigh 0.4 grams." — Dang BG you scored on your tealight holders! All the ones I have are 0.59 grams. Maybe its the green paint on mine LOL."
Like I said, there are various sizes of tealight cups. The companies that make those things discovered that they use less candle wax if they make the cups smaller.
A year ago I made a low-pressure alcohol burner out of two of these cups plus part of a third cup and some epoxy. By the time I got done with it, it weighed nearly 2 whole grams! The trouble with it was that I had to have a pot stand to go with it, and it weighed another 2 grams. Geez, what is the world coming to?
–B.G.–Feb 26, 2014 at 4:50 am #2077237
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
There have been many thoughtful replies, especially John's. But I feel designing to weight ONLY is like playing tennis without a net.
If you start out without a clear idea of the required function then you can always throw out function (not to mention durability) in favor of weight. Are you actually sure you will be happy with a meal that requires only 10 oz of water? IMHO, starting out knowing the function you require (e.g. "I need at least 2 cups of H20 to rehydrate my dinners") the exercise is more interesting, at least to me. The "knowing" and "require" parts take much more work and experience than the design part.
So if the discussion was of whether one cup of boiling water per meal can be made to work – that might be more interesting. That actually sounds like one of John's blog posts. :-) I'm doubtful, but taking John's very good advice, it might be a good idea not to "buy into" SUL, but approach it asymptotically from above – find what works and only then see if you can get less to work the next time.
For example, on the short, safer trips that this small stove is seemingly designed for would it even be necessary to cook food at all. And on longer, more calorie-challenged trips are you just hiding your weight in the heavier fuel required to make up for a more inefficient stove.
Still I very much appreciate the thought that went into the OPs solution, just in a more abstract way than if he told us about it after it had been used in the field and discussed its pros and cons in THOSE terms. Ultimately I find that in practice I define a stove as "something that will make ingesting the required calories on a long trip more palatable" and both the ingesting and the palatable parts, at least for me, require a bit more water per burn..Feb 26, 2014 at 6:39 am #2077261
Excellent posts both John and Mark!Feb 26, 2014 at 7:06 am #2077277
"But I feel designing to weight ONLY is like playing tennis without a net.
If you start out without a clear idea of the required function then you can always throw out function (not to mention durability) in favor of weight."
Definitely a very good point. I guess for the OP he's pretty sure it fulfills his needs.
"it might be a good idea not to "buy into" SUL, but approach it asymptotically from above – find what works and only then see if you can get less to work the next time"
YES YES YES!Feb 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm #2077406
I really like the feedback I am getting! Thanks for participating all who have invested time and opinion into this thread.
I agree with John and would like to express that it wasn't my intention to ask anyone to buy into SUL, I agree with that sentiment. Rather what I was doing was sort of throwing out what I have been working on and seeing if anyone was interested in trying it for themselves. The price was set at a high estimate of what it would take for me to order everything and reship it out while still making it enough that it would be worth it to me to put them together.
John- I am using the tealight cup much like Suluk 46 has it used in the T.E.A. system. Flipped one way you can hold a small amount of alcohol then flipped the other way a platform for lifting the esbit table off the ground and bring it closer to the pot.
With this small pot efficiency has not been a problem, I ought to invest in a thermometer to test the temps of the water, but in every test I have done with 4 gram tablets or 1/2 oz alcohol I have been able to get it to boil enough water to rehydrate meals. Of course, that may change when I hit the field because after hiking all day I may want more food than I do while I am doing my testing. That fear does not quite bother me because worse comes to worse I can/have used the esbit tablets and alcohol for fire starters and cooked over the fire. If I were to run out of fuel, need more water, or lose my stand I trust my own ability to improvise. Also, if all 3 happened and it rained and it was just so that I could not get a fire going. For dinner, I eat non-cook food for the next day and call the trip off. This is an extreme example that has yet to happen, but I am not above knowing where my personal line must be drawn.
Like I said, this is not my one in all cook kit, rather something I have been working on and have enjoyed putting together.
Perhaps it was too preliminary. I am interested in adding the 16 oz reduced height pot. That may call for 6 or 8 grams of esbit to bring the water to the right temperature, but I think it still works out.Feb 26, 2014 at 3:39 pm #2077465
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Planters makes several sizes of aluminum cans in the 15-24 ounce range and up to 33oz.
A lot better of an option than the Blue Diamond.
I realize it gets away from the 1 ounce set-up, but for someone looking for a simlar SUL set-up, (like me), it should do the trick.
Just need to figure out what to do with that inner ring on the top of the inside of the can (probably nothing as it helps the rigidity).
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