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Friday, March 9, 2012

BushBuddy vs Ti-Tri Cone

Recently, I reviewed the Ti-Tri Cone and the BushBuddy Ultra.  Today, I thought I'd do a quick comparison of the two.

A Ti Tri Cone (Sidewinder type), left, and a BushBuddy Ultra, right. 
First, let me say right up front, that these are two really good quality wood burning stoves.  They're both well designed, well constructed, and a pleasure to use.  If you're in the market for a wood burning backpacking stove, I have no problem commending either one to you.  However, as with all stoves, one or the other will work better for a given individual, depending on that individual's situation and style.  So, let's compare!

Quality of Workmanship
Both have excellent build quality, but the BushBuddy Ultra is a tour de force in craftsmanship.  It is just really well put together by someone who clearly is a master fabricator.    I used this photo in my review, but it's so illustrative that it bears repeating.
The wonderful craftsmanship of a BushBuddy Ultra
Just look at the regularity of the spot welds.  My information is that those are all done by hand (!).  Now, that's craftsmanship.  Of course we're here to burn wood not put something up on the mantle as an art piece, but still, one can't help but admire the workmanship of the BushBuddy Ultra.

Note that the BushBuddy's craftsmanship in no wise puts the Ti-Tri Cone in a bad light.  The Ti-Tri Cone is a well made product.

Packability
The Ti-Tri Cone has a clear edge here.  The main cone, inferno option inner cone, and floor roll up into a little package.  Now, that's pretty sweet.
The main cone, inner cone ("Inferno Option"), and the floor.
The fire grate fits on the floor of the pot; the two tent stakes fit inside the rolled up cone; the wire support for the grate rolls up and stores next to the rolled up cone; and there's still room inside for more.  I can toss in a lighter, measuring cup, alcohol stove, spoon, a couple of ESBIT cubes, etc.
A packed up Ti-Tri Cone (left).  A packed up BushBuddy (right).
By contrast, a BushBuddy in the pot means you generally won't get too much else in the pot.  Now, don't get me wrong.  The BushBuddy's trick of simply rotating the pot supports 180 degrees and storing them within the body of the BushBuddy is brilliant, but the BushBuddy just isn't as compact as a Tri-Ti Cone.
The BushBuddy's pot supports rotate 180 degrees and store inside.
You can fit an alcohol stove or some ESBIT inside, but the BushBuddy isn't quite as space efficient as a Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone.

Ease of Set Up
The BushBuddy is a snap.  Pull out the pot supports, rotate 180 degrees so that the pot supports point up, and set the pot supports in the grove that runs along the top of the BushBuddy.  You're done.  It might take all of about 30 seconds, if that.  On the other hand, the Ti-Tri Cone has an outer cone to assemble, the floor to emplace, the wire roll to position, the grate to set atop the wire roll, the inner cone must be connected, and the two tent stakes must be slid through their respective holes,  Clearly the BushBuddy is the winner here.

However, we're talking about a wood fire here.  Compared to gathering wood, building a fire lay, and getting a fire started, I don't think either set up is particularly bad.  In the context of the amount of work that a wood fire requires, the set up on either one is not a big deal.

Ease of Take Down
As you might expect, it's more work to pack up a Ti-Tri Cone with the Inferno Option.  I don't think it's a huge hassle, especially after you've done it a couple of times, but it is more work.  The one thing I do notice is that my hands get dirtier when taking down a Ti-Tri Cone after wood burning.  I guess one just needs to be prepared for that and pack some baby wipes.

Ease of Cooking
The real difference here is capacity.  Even though the Ti-Tri Cone packs smaller, it sets up larger.  The larger capacity means you load once for a boil.
The Ti-Tri Cone (left) has a much larger fire box than the BushBuddy (right).
The smaller BushBuddy needed to be fed repeatedly while in use in order to get a boil.  If you're wanting to do cooking that requires coals for even heating, the Ti-Tri Cone holds more coals and provides more sustained, even heat.  I've been able to prepare things like a four egg omelet, which is pretty thick when cooked in a small backpacking type pan, without any problems on a wood-fired Ti-Tri Cone.
An omelet prepared on a wood-fired Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone
Non-Wood Use
OK, here's where the Ti-Tri Cone just plain beats the BushBuddy.  Yes, you can kludge up a way to run an alcohol or ESBIT stove with a BushBuddy, but it really doesn't work that well, particularly in wind.
An alcohol stove in use with a BushBuddy.  It works.  Kind of.
On the other hand, the Ti-Tri Cone is an alcohol stove set up of the first order.  The Ti-Tri Cone is also an excellent ESBIT set up.  Really it is excellence in non-wood mode that sets the Ti-Tri Cone apart.  The BushBuddy is great if you're going to be able to burn wood a high percentage of the time and only occasionally have to burn alcohol or ESBIT.  If however you're going to do any significant portion of a trip with non-wood fuels, the Ti-Tri Cone wins hands down.

Wind Resistance
The Ti-Tri Cone system uses the highly effective Caldera Cone as its pot support and windscreen.  Except for the handle cut out, the pot has no gap between itself and the upper edge of the windcreen.
The tight fitting Caldera Cone windsreen.  
On the other hand, the BushBuddy has a 360 degree gap that allows wind to sweep through.
There is a gap that wind can blow through between the pot and the stove with a BushBuddy Ultra.
With wood, efficiency is a little less critical since if the wind blows away your heat you can presumably just add some more wood to make up the difference.  In higher winds, a stove without good wind resistance can be a problem.

If one is using alcohol or ESBIT, then wind resistance is quite a bit more critical.  The Ti-Tri Cone is the clear winner in the wind resistance category.

Weight
Just below, I've put down the weights corresponding to the various modes that one could run a Ti-Tri Cone in.  These weights are measured on my kitchen gram scale.  Note that I'm using a Ti-Tri Cone sized for a 1300ml Evernew pot which does not need stakes when used with alcohol.  Smaller pots will require the use of stakes.  Each stake weighs 7g.

Ti-Tri Cone   Grams  Ounces
Full Wood Mode (Inferno Option) 126 4.44
Minimum Wood Mode (with floor) 77 2.72
Non-LNT Wood Mode (no floor) 59 2.08
Alcohol Mode (no stakes) 60 2.12
ESBIT Mode (with stakes) 57 2.01

By contrast, the BushBuddy weighs 139g/4.9 ounces on my scale.  No matter what configuration in which the Ti-Tri Cone is used, the Ti-Tri Cone is lighter.

Keep in mind also that you'll need a windscreen for the BushBuddy if you use alcohol or ESBIT.  The weight of a windscreen will add weight to the above listed weight.

Pot Stability
Both stoves provide good pot stability.  I'd say the edge goes to the Ti-Tri Cone, particularly in sloping or uneven terrain.
Two Evernew 1300ml pots on (left) a Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone and (right) a BushBuddy Ultra.  The Ti-Tri Cone is more stable in varied terrain.
Price
The Bushbuddy Ultra is $120.00 Canadian Dollars including shipping to addresses within Canada and $128.00 Canadian Dollars including shipping to the United States including Alaska and Hawaii.  No pot is included.

The price of a Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone will vary with the options you select.  For the full wood burning set up listed below, the price is $130.00 US dollars which does not include shipping.  No pot is included, but a 20% discount is offered if you buy a pot along with the Ti-Tri Cone.  Shipping to my location is $6.37 for the below listed components.  Shipping to your location may vary.  California residents must pay sales tax which I believe is 7.6% in the county where Trail Designs is located.

The BushBuddy is slightly less and includes shipping but the Ti-Tri Cone set up includes more, and Trail Designs offers a 20% discount if you buy a pot for your set. Take your pick.

Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone Component List
a)  Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cone (outer cone)
b)  Two titanium tent stakes
c)  12-10 alcohol stove
d)  "Gram Cracker" ESBIT stove with drip plate
e)  Inferno insert (inner cone)
f)  Fire grate and wire support
g)  Floor
h)  Tyvek sacks to house the various components.
i)  Fuel bottle (for alcohol)
j)  Small measuring cup (for measuring alcohol)

LNT Considerations
I have experienced some scorching of the ground after using the Ti-Tri Cone for an extended period of time (long periods of testing with multiple items cooked in a row) despite using the floor.  I have not experienced scorching with normal use.
Superficial scorch mark left on the ground by a Ti-Tri Cone
The scorch marks are very shallow and easily removed, but one should clear the ground before use and inspect the ground after use.

I have experienced no scorch marks when using a BushBuddy Ultra.  Indeed, the bottom of a BushBuddy doesn't even get hot while in use.

It's also worth mentioning that with either stove, fuel consumption is far less than with an open fire.  Using less fuel means that there is less impact on the environment.

Flexibility
Here, the BushBuddy wins, no question about it.  With the BushBuddy, you can use pretty much any pot, kettle, or pan.
A BushBuddy Ultra with a 1300ml Evernew pot
The same BushBuddy with a 1000ml Snow Peak pot
Note however that if you want to pack the BushBuddy in your pot that you'll need a relatively tall pot.  A BushBuddy will not fit in a shorter pot.  The BushBuddy Ultra is sized to fit well in a Snow Peak Trek 900 pot.
A BushBuddy Ultra will not fit in, for example, an Evernew 1300ml pot.  A taller pot is needed.
With a Ti-Tri Cone, you are generally restricted to whatever pot the Cone was built for.  Each Ti-Tri Cone is sized for a particular pot.  The Ti-Tri Cone seen here is sized for a 1300ml Evernew pot.  However, I have been able to balance a pan on top of the edges of the cone.  In other words, I actually have a few more options than just the pot the Ti-Tri Cone was made for.
Cooking scrambled eggs in a pan placed on top of a Ti-Tri Cone
Note:  I would not try cooking with a pan placed on top of an aluminum Caldera Cone.

Conclusion
Overall, I prefer the Ti-Tri Cone because of it's lighter weight, greater capacity, better packability, wind resistance, better stability, and ability to run equally well on wood and non-wood fuels.  Particularly where I live where wood fire bans are a fact of life, the ability to run equally well on wood and non-wood fuels is key.

Moreover, I would think that for anyone who camps both above and below tree line that the Ti-Tri Cone would be the wood burning stove of choice.

So, there you have it, a quick look at the BushBuddy Ultra and the Ti-Tri Cone in terms of how they compare to one another.

I thank you for joining me on another Adventure In Stoving.

HJ

Acknowledgments
The two stoves featured in this comparison were provided by BPL members Christian D. and Randy N.  Thank you to Christian and Randy!

Other wood fired backpacking stove posts:

Posts on the Caldera Cone:

2 comments:

  1. Great article Jim. I myself am a ti-tri owner and I've been curious as to how it might compare to other wood stoves. I ended up going with the ti-tri mostly for the weight savings but thought the BB ultra may be a superior stove. I'm glad to have read your comparison of the two and I must say my findings with the ti-tri totally correspond with yours. Now that I have your experiences to compare to I'm sure I made the right choice.

    Phillip

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Phillip,

    Having run them head-to-head, I'd say the Ti-Tri comes out ahead in every category but most especially when in non-wood mode.

    Glad the comparison was useful. It was a fun one to write.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete