- Feb 18, 2018 at 6:58 pm #3519073
Trail Designs has recently announced a new stove – the Kojin – for 2018. Upon first glance, I’m not impressed as it looks like a copy of Zelph’s awesome Starlyte stove.
A few years ago, myself and others here on BPL discovered that Zelph’s [Starlyte stove](http://www.woodgaz-stove.com/starlyte-burner-with-lid.php) works excellent inside a TD Cone, and it offered a number of advantages over TD’s 12-10 stove. Most notably, it was substantially shorter so you could ditch the stakes for a simpler, lighter, more stable Sidewinder system. Other advantages included storing the fuel inside the stove because it contained batting, which made it spill proof and easier to light in the winter.
Because it was awesome, this setup really caught on, with numerous hikers such as Andrew Skurka [describing it as the ultimate system](https://andrewskurka.com/2015/backpacking-alcohol-stove-system-gear-list-ultralight-premium/).
TD agreed the Starlyte was great in their cones and even offered it for sale on the website briefly. It was frustratingly obvious then, that TD wanted to protect the sales of their inferior 12-10 stove, as they wouldn’t sell their cones individually to people wanting to source their own stove, and if you wanted to buy a Starlyte from them, you had to buy a 12-10 first.
Now they’ve stopped offering the Starlyte and introduced their new Kojin stoves, which copies all the major design attributes that make the Starlyte so good: a wide and short tin, filled with fuel absorbing batting, and supplied with a lid so excess fuel can be stored. Sure there are some minor differences as the tin is slightly different, the lid is a different material and it lacks the screen to keep the batting in place, but these are all trivial. The major elements that make the Starlyte so good are all the same.
It’s different enough that it’s probably not a patent infringement (and Zelph probably didn’t bother with patents anyways), but for a company like Trail Designs that goes to such great lengths to ensure others don’t copy their clever designs, it’s disappointing to see them coping someone else’s.Feb 18, 2018 at 7:15 pm #3519077
Nick BBPL Member
I would imagine this has something to do with Zelph’s Toaks Ridgeline sets. I have one of his 550 sets with (I believe) a TD cone. Best cookset ever. Too bad they couldn’t work out a mutually beneficial partnership.Feb 18, 2018 at 8:32 pm #3519084
^agreed. The Zelph 550 Toaks/CC is such a good cookset. I will never sell mine.
I’m surprised to see the TD stove doesn’t have the reduced size opening like Zelph does on the Starlyte Modified. My recollection is the smaller opening helps keep thermal feedback in check when used inside a small, enclosed windscreen.
The new TD stove seems more like a copy of QiWiz’s Dual Fuel Burner.Feb 18, 2018 at 9:05 pm #3519090
The smaller opening is really only needed in narrow cones where the stove gets super hot. For a wider cone – which all Sidewinder cones are – the regular Starlyte works great and boils much faster than the restricted one. I much prefer the regular Starlyte with Evernew 0.9L and 1.3L pots. Same thing probably holds true for the Kojin.
I think what irks me about TD is that they have been and are continuing to use their monopoly position cones, to also sell their stoves. It’s like the old Microsoft anti-trust case on a much smaller scale. The forced bundling is lame, and even then people were still going elsewhere for stoves, so now they’ve just copied the superior functionality conceived by others.Feb 18, 2018 at 9:50 pm #3519103
J RBPL Member
FWIW, I have a narrow TD cone (Keg-F system) and Starlyte without the simmer ring and have had no issues. I even have a stand made of hardware cloth to raise the stove closer to the underside of the pot, so that its top is the same height as the 12-10 would be. No issues this way just a little better boil time for a little less (but still amazing) fuel efficiency.
I haven’t seen the material under the grill on the Starlyte but it doesn’t look whitish like the Kojin, so maybe there are differences that are more significant. I’m sure someone on here very soon will post about both side-by-side with boil tests and torn apart to examine the innards.Feb 18, 2018 at 10:07 pm #3519108
My Starlyte’s had white-ish material until they were used a lot and it blackened. But regardless of whether the aesthetics are the same or not, the functionality looks the same (both stoves are filled with a heat resistant, absorbing, wicking material to prevent spills and throttle the burn).
There could be innovation in the Kojin that isn’t apparent, but when you view TD’s Kojin page, the functionality they boast about there is exactly what the Starlyte offers and their 12-10 stove lacks (eliminates stakes, packs small, prevents spills, saves unburnt fuel).
So the functionality (e.g. spill prevention) and how that functionality is achieved (e.g. absorbent batting) looks like a copy, even if TD has altered the cosmetics. If TD achieved the same functionality through their own ideas (e.g. found another way to prevent spills) that would be great, but seem to be using Zelph’s and my ideas, and only changing the packaging.Feb 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm #3519114Feb 18, 2018 at 10:39 pm #3519116
I already had a look at the zenstove pages because I remembered seeing those wick stoves many years ago on those pages but they don’t have a date .
I know that some were out in 2009 but most likely were already available before in the larger versions like the Origo.
I had a look..
Bengt Ebbeson invented the above burner in 1979.Feb 18, 2018 at 11:08 pm #3519123
For virtually any product, you can find prior art for any specific aspect of it. But a big part of what makes a design unique is it’s collection of features and the functionality that enables. For example, putting a strut in a tent isn’t anything new, nor is two struts etc., but when you take two struts and configure them just right you get a wonderful, patentable design with new functionality like TarpTent’s Pitch Lock corners.
Similarly here, wicks have been around for a long time, as have lids. But by combining a wick stove, with a lid and low stack height, and then testing and deploying that into a cone environment, novel functionality was achieved: a substantially better cone cooking setup (simpler, safer, lighter, more stable, more packable, no spilling, no measuring). That outcome, and the ideas that achieved it, are what appears to be copied here. Other prior wick stoves didn’t accomplish this.
I’m not saying TD is wrong to do this in a copyright law sense. Just that someone else did the leg work (Zelph and I), and TD is piggybacking on that.Feb 19, 2018 at 12:10 am #3519141
The devil is in the detail.
It would be interesting to hear from TD about this.Feb 19, 2018 at 1:07 am #3519153
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
wow. what a thread that seems to want to trash a vendor for bringing to market a design very similar to tif not a copy of another vendor’s but the designs are generic and not protected IP.
I bought at least one Zelph stove from TD and I also bought one direct from Zelph. There is absolutely nothing to stop customers from buying whatever product they think is best for their own use.Feb 19, 2018 at 2:08 am #3519174
Skurka interviews Trail Designs on Kojin stove / compares to Starlyte:
Russ (TD Owner) indicates they were having a hard time getting the Starlyte, so they did this to replace it.
Worth nothing that TD is now willing to unbundle their 12-10 stove from their cones, now that they have their own wick stove. Previously if you wanted to buy a Starlyte, you still had to buy their 12-10, or they wouldn’t sell you a cone.Feb 19, 2018 at 3:01 am #3519184
Mole JBPL Member
( When these came out a few years ago, the maker said he was inspired by the 100 year old design Sirram wick stoves…)
It’s just a cosmetic tin with ceramic insulation. Cheap and easy to make. In Not as elegant as a Starlyte. In my experience, the threads on those tins are prone to jamming after a while if care isn’t taken. But they do the job.
Over here, some were using Starlytes in cones ( TD and homemade) back in 2010. I’ve certainly been doing so since then.
Starlytes (and others) have finite lives. They wear out/ corrode, so need replacing on occasion.
Who knows, maybe Dan( Zelph) can’t supply demand, so TD have come up with a version of their own to consistently cover orders.Feb 19, 2018 at 3:23 am #3519186
John S.BPL Member
“We expect existing Sidewinder owners to want it as an upgrade for the Starlyte.”
They put silicone liner in lid to make it more spillproof I guess.
Feb 19, 2018 at 3:26 am #3519188
- This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by John S..
Matthew SBPL Member
Did zelph start refusing to sell the stove to TD? That’s what the Skurka interview sounds like.Feb 19, 2018 at 6:14 am #3519200
Katherine .BPL Member
This past summer I asked TD about the Starlyte and why they weren’t offering it anymore. Rand said there had been some problems with them overheating.
(personally, mine has been just fine)Feb 19, 2018 at 9:05 pm #3519296
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
There seems to be a lot of speculation here…
…from the English Oxford Dictionary
Form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.Feb 19, 2018 at 9:54 pm #3519304
and I thought that speculation meant a list of the specs.Feb 19, 2018 at 10:08 pm #3519311
There seems to be a lot of speculation here…
…from the English Oxford Dictionary
Form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence.
On BPL? Nah!Feb 19, 2018 at 10:34 pm #3519322
David FranzenBPL Member
The container/jar that TD uses for its Kojin stove is just too similar to the one I ordered quite some time ago from a Chinese/Hong Kong retailer.
like this cosmetic jar on etsy (which is a bit taller. probably there are various sizes/versions)Feb 19, 2018 at 11:13 pm #3519337
The container/jar that TD uses for its Kojin stove is just too similar
Most of the packaging/containers are not made by the people that sell the product.
That is the reasons why one beer can looks like another and one gas canister looks like another.Feb 20, 2018 at 10:18 am #3519431
Rand LindslyBPL Member
I would rather not reveal confidential emails, so you’re going to have to believe me, nothing happened here behind anybodys back. We worked very hard to continue to sell Zelph’s stove’s in our system, but for a number of reasons, none of which had anything to do with drama, or animosity, or ill will, or skulduggery or any other juicy thing, it wasn’t going to work out. Again, I don’t feel comfortable spelling it all out. So, I have to leave it there.
RandFeb 20, 2018 at 11:43 am #3519435
Troels LBPL Member
I can maybe offer some insight.
Got my Starlyte stove (modified version for caldera cones) yesterday and has been testing it eversince in a Trail Designs Ti-Tri Sidewinder cone made for the 400ml Evernew pot. Distance between the stove top and pot bottom was 28mm.
The starlyte stove has issues at higher ambient temperatures, at least from 24C and warmer.
The flame at 6C ambient temperature
The flame at 24C ambient temperature – Its going slightly crazy with the flame filling up the whole interiour of the cone.
After this overheating event the glued seal in the starlyte disintergrated (in lack of a better word).
When I tried to snuff out the starlyte stove with the flat surface of the lid (worked before), the flames came out from the seal on the sides of the stove (no picture as I panicked slightly ;) …).
The stove was very easy to take apart as the picture below shows. I dont know if there is an easy fix with some pop rivets and silicon glue.
I would call this an over-heating issue. A temperature of 24C is not uncommon in the summer.
So I might consider ordering the Kojin stove in the near future.Feb 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm #3519436
Thanks Rand for posting.Feb 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm #3519437
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