Monday, January 30, 2012

Why a Wood Stove? More Thoughts on the Caldera Cone Ti-Tri.

Why a wood stove?  I mean why not just pile up a rock circle, throw in some wood, and fire it up?  In terms of a stove, what could be lighter than nothing?

I "cut my teeth" on wood cooking back in the day (60's & 70's), so I have some idea as to what's involved with just cooking on an open fire.

I've got to say, it's really nice to have a little wood burner like the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone with Inferno option along compared to just an open fire, particularly if you want to cook real food on a wood fire.
A Ti-Tri Caldera Cone (Sidewinder type)
First, heating is a lot faster. With the Caldera Cone, the heat is concentrated. When we (dad and I) used to cook, we'd drop a coffee can in the fire. Was the heat concentrated? No. Sometimes things would heat quickly and some times not.

Second, it's really easy to have a stable pot. We never dumped our dinner, but with just rocks as your pot support, it certainly could happen.

Third, it's really easy to get the pot on and off. We used to use a long loop of wire attached to the coffee pot and a stick. A bit clumsy, and again, the pot could catch on a rock as you swing it off the fire, dumping your dinner. With a Caldera Cone, it's easy on and easy off.
A pot is very stable on a Caldera Cone, and the pot handles are easily accessible
Fourth, it's easy to get the fire going. The stove provides a lot of ventilation. There's not a lot of blowing into the fire (and smoke inhalation!).  And once started, the fire doesn't go out.

Fifth, you don't have to gather as much wood. Fill the little bowl, and that's plenty for a couple of cups of water, probably more.

Sixth, there's little impact. Just some white ash after you're done that can be buried or wind dispersed (after you've check that the ashes are completely cold of course!).

Seventh, the fire is relatively well contained. Especially if you keep the fire down in size, there's very little in the way of escaping embers. I'd say this is a much safer way to burn wood than an open fire.

Eighth, the combustion is very thorough. What's probably the biggest danger from a campfire? The campfire not being completely out and the flames spring back to life later on, sparking a wildfire. When I've used the Ti-Tri with Inferno option, I've been very impressed with how complete the combustion is. There isn't much left after the Ti-Tri is done.  No smoldering remains, no wildfire danger.

Ninth, it's easier to get a good set of coals for lower heat cooking. You can cook eggs, pancakes, etc. on this stove.
Cooking eggs on a wood fired Caldera Cone
Tenth, in a way, you don't even have to carry a full stove in order to have a first rate wood burner. What do I mean by that? The Caldera Cone is a first class alcohol or hexamine (e.g. ESBIT) stove system in its own right.  On most of my trips I can't burn wood every meal, so I'm going to be carrying the Cone for alcohol or hexamine anyway. In a pinch, I can burn wood with just the Cone, but for an additional 81g, I can get a full blown, efficient wood burner with all the benefits noted above.  81g?  What is that?  Well, that's about the weight of a PocketRocket.  Without fuel.  So, in other words, you can have a full blown, good wood burner for about the weight of a PocketRocket.  I'd say that's not too shabby.


Other wood fired backpacking stove posts:

Other posts on the Caldera Cone:

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    MSR MicroRocket -- Packability Report #2

    People have asked, just how packable is the new MicroRocket?
    A 110g canister, a MicroRocket, and a piezo ignition will all fit into a 550ml mug type pot -- but the lid won't fully close.
    In order to answer that question, I thought I'd compare five reasonably well known upright canister stoves:
    1. MSR MicroRocket
    2. MSR PocketRocket
    3. Optimus Crux
    4. Snow Peak GigaPower (GS-100)
    5. Soto MicroRegulator (OD-1R) 
    Hopefully, once you've seen the photos, you'll have a better sense of just how packable the MicroRocket is.

    The MicroRocket folds down smaller than most. Is it significant? That depends on exactly which pot you're using. With some, it will make a difference.

    Here's a photo of a GS-100 in a BPL Firelite 550 pot with a 110g Snow Peak canister.  Note the position of the lid.
    A Snow Peak GS-100 stove and a 110g Snow Peak canister in a 550ml mug type pot
    Now contrast that to this photo with a MicroRocket.
    An MSR MicroRocket stove and a 110g Snow Peak canister in a 550ml mug type pot
    Neither closes fully, but the MicroRocket is a better fit. If this was a 575ml or 600ml pot, you might be able to fully close the pot with a MicroRocket whereas you might not with a GS-100.

    UPDATE, 27 Jan 2012 2256 Hrs:
    I just took my GS-100 stove out. I thought I'd try one more thing, and... I'm going to have to amend my report (above) just a bit.  
    The reason that the GS-100 doesn't fit quite as well as a MicroRocket in a 550ml mug type pot is that the valve adjustment wire on the GS-100 is very springy.  The wire forces the GS-100 over to one side which causes it to fit poorly.
    If one undoes the wire and flips the wire out of the way, the GS-100 fits ever so slightly better than the MicroRocket.  However, there's no material difference between the two in a BPL Firelite 550 pot.   
    So, if one doesn't mind a very minor bit of fiddling, the GS-100 is equal to the MicroRocket in terms of its width and how it fits in that particular pot.
    The MicroRocket is a few mm shorter overall than the GS-100.  In a BPL Firelite 550, this has no practical impact, but for some applications, perhaps that might matter.

    The very best fit was perhaps the Optimus Crux, but I found no practical difference between the compactness of the Crux vs. the MicroRocket. Both are tops when it comes to packability.
    An Optimus Crux stove and a 110g Snow Peak canister in a 550ml mug type pot
    The Soto MicroRegulator OD-1R takes significantly more space than a GS-100, MicroRocket, or Crux.
    A Soto MicroRegulator OD-1R stove and a 110g Snow Peak canister in a 550ml mug type pot 
    The big loser here is the PocketRocket which doesn't even begin to fit -- and that's without a canister of any sort.
    A PocketRocket doesn't even begin to fit in a 550ml mug type pot
    Hopefully you've now got a sense as to the relative packability of the new MSR MicroRocket.

    Thanks for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,


    Other posts on the MSR MicroRocket

    The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone -- The Ultimate Ultralight Stove System?

    Is the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone the ultimate ultralight stove system?

    Hyperbole?  Am I being a little "over the top?"  Maybe.  But maybe not.  Let's check it out.  At the end of the post, I'll discuss why I think this triple fuel system is so darned useful that I really do consider it the ultimate lightweight stove system, particularly for mixed elevation (above and below the elevation where fires are permitted) backpacking.
    The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone in wood burning mode.
    Well, to get started, we're going to need a pot.  All Caldera Cones are designed to fit with a particular pot.  The Caldera Cone shown in the photo above will only fit an Evernew 1300ml titanium pot -- unless by odd coincidence there's another pot out there with the exact same dimensions.  Check the Trail Designs website for which cones will fit with which pots.
    An Evernew 1300ml titanium pot
    Now, notice that in the title of this post, I refer to today's stove system as the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone.  "Ti-Tri?"  What the Dickens does that mean?

    Well, "Ti" is short for "titanium" and refers to what the cone (not necessarily the pot) is made out of (titanium), and "Tri" refers to the fact that this is a triple fuel stove system.  This stove system will run on three fuels:  alcohol, hexamine (e.g. ESBIT), or wood.  Now, if you've seen my previous posts on the Caldera Cone (see links at the bottom of this blog post), those were all aluminum cones.   Aluminum Caldera Cones will warp and or melt if they get too hot, so you can only burn low heat fuels like alcohol or hexamine in them.

    On the other hand, titanium cones can handle heat just fine.  With a titanium cone, you can burn wood.  Why might burning wood be an advantage?  Burning wood is an advantage because you don't have to carry it on your back.  I mean, think about it:  When was the last time you saw fuel-grade alcohol welling up out of the ground?  When was the last time you picked fuel off of the ESBIT tree?  The point being that if you use alcohol or hexamine, you're not generally going to find it out on the trail.  You have to carry the fuel with you.  Wood on the other hand is frequently available from your surroundings.

    In today's blog post, I'm primarily going to discuss wood burning using a Ti-Tri Caldera Cone.

    OK, let's open up that pot we saw earlier and see what's inside.
    The wood burning components of a Ti-Tri Caldera cone
    Inside is the cone all rolled up.  Note that my cone is a "Sidewinder" type cone which is a lower slung cone that will fit inside the pot.  If you buy the "Classic" type cone, you'll need to carry something like a Caldera Caddy to hold the cone.  See What "Color" is your Caldera? for more information on the cone carry options.  Note also that the grate, wire roll, and cone normally come with Tyvek stuff sacks to prevent scratching.  I'm using a pot that does not have a non-stick coating.  No coating, no worries.  I didn't carry the Tyvek stuff sacks.

    Now, let me mention that with the set up I'm showing today, I have the "Inferno" option.  The Inferno option is what transforms a regular cone into an efficient wood burner.  With the Inferno option, wood becomes your "go to" fuel.  Without the Inferno option, you can still burn wood, but efficiency and ease of use suffer.  Inside the rolled up cone are the floor, two titanium tent stakes, and the Inferno insert.  Underneath the rolled up cone is a grate.  To one side, is a rolled up wire mesh that is similar to hardware cloth.

    Let's take everything out of the pot for a little better look, shall we?
    The components, removed from the pot
    Well, let's set that puppy up!  The cone works just like any other Caldera Cone. Just slide the dovetail joint together.
    The dovetail joint slides together.
    Note the extra titanium reinforcing tab.  Very solid, very well built.
    An extra layer of titanium sheet is used as a reinforcement for the dovetail.
    With the Inferno option, there is a second, smaller cone that is placed inverted within the primary cone.  Like the outer cone, it too is joined by a dovetail joint.
    The inner cone of the Inferno option
    The inner cone does not bear weight and is not reinforced like the outer cone.

    Next, we roll out the floor.  On top of the floor we set the wire mesh, formed into a circle, and on top of the mesh, we place the grate.
    The floor of a Ti-Tri Caldera Cone with the wire support and grate of the Inferno option
    The floor does cost an additional $10.00 USD over and above the price of the Cone and Inferno option, but I'd really encourage people to consider purchasing it.  One of the drawbacks to wood fires is that they can leave fire scars all over the place.  No one wants to be hiking in an area pockmarked with your fire scars.  When using wood, I encourage you to Leave No Trace.

    Now, I'm going to set the outer cone in place.  Notice that the inner cone is left off to the side just for now.  I'm leaving the inner cone out just so that the various components can be seen easily.  In practice of course the inner cone goes inside the outer cone.
    The floor, wire support, grate, and outer cone with tent stakes.  Note that the inner cone is left out temporarily for photographic purposes.
    OK, hopefully the various components are clear in the above photo.  Now let's add the inner cone.  The inner cone is placed upside down within the outer cone.
    The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone with Inferno Option, all set up and ready to go.  Just add wood.  :)
    Note that the tent stakes do not go through the oval vent holes in the cone.  There are special round holes specifically for the tent stakes.

    OK, let's add fuel.  Here, your fire building skills are going to come into play.  Today, I'm going to use the "log cabin" fire lay.  I pull off the outer cone for ease of access.
    A "log cabin" fire lay
    To start, I place a lot of easily burned material on the very bottom layer, directly on top of the grate.  I use items such as very dry, crinkley leaves and such as my first layer.  You might also want to carry artificial tinder for fire starting purposes.  On top of my leaf tinder, I add kindling consisting of the smallest sticks that I can find.  I then add successive layers of sticks.  Each additional layer is comprised of sticks of increasing thickness.  Note that I'm stacking them in a square pattern.  This square pattern is referred to as a "log cabin" fire lay.  This type of fire lay allows for good air flow which eases fire starting and provides for good combustion.

    When I've completed my fire lay, I touch off the tinder on the very bottom layer.
    Starting the burn
    Just one "little" problem though.  It rained today.  In fact, it was a pretty decent rain.  Everything is wet.  In fact, I deliberately chose to try the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone on a rainy day because rain is one of the facts of life of wood fires.  You have to be prepared for it to rain once in a while.  Do not assume you'll have good weather when you're out on the trail!  The fire just won't start with only my lighter.

    How did I handle it?  I let the fire burn completely out, and then I added a capful of alcohol.
    Re-starting the fire, this time with alcohol.
    As the alcohol burns, it dries the wood.  And in a moment...
    The fire takes hold
    Success!  The fire takes hold.

    What's that?  This is a bit contrived?

    Well, maybe.  I mean I did deliberately go out on a rainy day.  But, guys, this is real world stuff. Wood fires are not automatic.  Wood fires are not like your little gas stove where you just turn the knob, hit the piezo button, and you're cooking, come rain or come shine.  You're far more at the mercy of Mother Nature.

    And in case it's not obvious, you have to plan your trip such that you can find wood.  I typically like to pull into camp with plenty of daylight left if I'm going to be using a wood fire.  Finding wood in the dark is a royal pain.  You also need to allocate time for building the fire lay and getting the fire started.  Wood fires are definitely a lot more "fiddle" than using a stove with fuel that you've carried with you.  Wood fires take a lot more time, are a lot more work, and are far from guaranteed.  Of course, people have been using wood fires for centuries, so there's no reason you can't do it too, but spend some time thinking, planning, and practising.  Remember the five "P's:"  Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.  Wood fires are great, but don't enter in to it too lightly.  Do you're homework or you may be in for a cold, wet night out on the trail.

    OK!  Enough lecturing from worry wart Jim.  Let's get on with it.

    Now, when you put the pot on, place the handles away from the cut out where the handle would stick out if you were using alcohol or hexamine. Flames are going to come shooting out of that spot.  It's no place for a handle!
    Flames will come out of the handle opening.  Position your pot accordingly when using wood!
    This is NOT where you want to position your handles!
    Flames exiting out the handle opening.
    Of course, if the wind kicks up a little, you do get some cool flame plumes out the handle slot.  :)
    A plume of flame exiting out the opening for the pot handles
    That handle slot isn't just a source of neat pyrotechnics; it has a very practical function:  You can add wood without removing the pot or interrupting the cooking process.  Sweet!

    Now, as a stove, how well does this ensemble work?  It works great. In fairly short order, I had a pot of boiling water.
    Water boiling on a Ti-Tri Caldera Cone fueled by wood
    And it's a really good, strong boil.  Nothing insipid about it.
    A vigorous boil on a wood fired Ti-Tri Caldera Cone
    OK, so we can definitely boil water.  Now, let's have a look "under the covers."
    A look in through the handle opening
    Take a look at that wood burning.  That is HOT.  The inferno option lives up to its name, producing a good, hot fire.

    OK, let's pull the pot off and have another look.
    The Inferno option at work
    It's pretty easy to see why they call it the Inferno option.  Those sticks are pretty well burned down by this stage of things, but there's still a lot of combustion going on.  And those coals will put out a nice consistent heat.

    Hmm.  A nice consistent heat, eh?  Let's try something.  Let's put that pot of boiling water back on.
    Water NOT boiling over a wood fire.
    This photo is a little dim, but notice that the water is not boiling.  In other words, with the Tri-Ti Caldera Cone and a bit of experience, one can do more than just boil water.  No, not exactly the convenience of gas, but one can vary the heat and do more than just boil water.

    Now, in the process of cooking and experimenting with this stove, I filled it with sticks and let it burn down four times over the course of the evening without emptying the stove.  Well, with all that wood, you'd think I'd have a big pile of ash.
    Even though I reloaded four times, all that was left at the end was this little bit of ash
    Nope.  Even though I reloaded the stove four times, all I had left at the end was a little bit of powdery white ash.  Let me stress that:  White ash.  No chunks of charcoal.  Guys, this Inferno option really works.  That is really good, complete combustion.  And that little bit of powdery ash is very easy to dispose of.  Just dig a little cat hole with whatever you're using for a potty trowel and dump the ash in.  Replace the soil, and you're done.  No fire scar.  Sweet.

    And no difficulty putting out the fire.  I've had wood fires that were a huge, time consuming hassle to put out.  I had to go multiple times back to the creek fill all my water carriers and schlep water back up to camp to put the darned thing out.  With a Ti-Tri Caldera cone, it'll combust so completely that it will burn itself out.  There's really no fire to put out.  Just hand check the ashes to make sure they're cool, and you're pretty much done.  The ashes can be disposed of in small cat hole.

    OK, so it's a nice stove, but c'mon.  The ultimate ultralight stove system?

    Well, why might I call this the ultimate ultralight stove system?  OK, what's generally the heaviest portion of an ultralight stove set up?  The fuel.  With the Ti-Tri in wood burning mode, there is no fuel to carry.  There is no fuel lighter than no fuel at all.  In wood mode, your fuel weight is zero.  Pretty tough to top that.

    OK, yeah, zero fuel weight is pretty cool, but aren't there a lot of other wood burners out there?

    Indeed there are, but this one, being titanium, is pretty doggone light.  Not only is it light, it's compact.  It rolls up and fits in your pot (note that there are different types of Caldera Cones out there that store different ways.  Refer to TrailDesigns.com for further information.)

    But those things alone aren't why I call the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone the ultimate ultralight stove system.  The real key here is flexibility.  With a lot of wood stoves, you pretty much have to burn wood every time you cook.  Not so with the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone.  The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone runs equally well on hexamine (e.g. ESBIT) or alcohol as it does on wood.

    Consider a recent backpack I went on.  The first night, I camped at 5000ft/1500m.  The second night, I camped at 8000ft/2400m.  The third night, I camped at 10500ft/3200m.  The fourth night, I camped at 11,500ft/3500m.  Wood fires above 10,000ft/3050m are generally illegal in the Sierra Nevada where I like to hike.

    Do you see what's going on here?  A stove that only burns wood is no good to me.  I need a stove that can work in wood or non-wood mode equally well.  The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone is that stove.

    And look at the advantages.  The first two nights, I can cook with wood.  That's half the nights of my trip.  I can bring half the fuel.  What's the weight penalty for bringing the Inferno option?
    Item Grams
    Wire roll 9
    Grate 15
    Stakes 14
    Floor 18
    Inferno 25
    Total Wood 81

    On any trip where I can save a fuel weight of at least 81g/2.86oz, I come out ahead by leaving some of the fuel at home and bringing the inferno option.

    With the inferno option, I can also adopt a different style of use, one that doesn't need to skimp on fuel.  What would you do if you have a virtually unlimited supply of hot water?  How about a hot shower?  Yes, I'm serious.  OK, it's a bit of a luxury, but you rig up your hydration bladder, and...  Well, you get the idea.  I mean, if you've got wood, why limit your thinking?  This could be pretty sweet after a week on the trail.  :)

    That and there's something to be said for the satisfaction of working with a wood fire.  A gas stove?  Well, it's almost too easy.  With wood, you really feel like you've earned it.  And there's just something primordially satisfying about cooking on a wood fire.

    Is a wood stove for everyone?  Certainly not.  If you're planning on long days on the trail where you're getting up before first light and stopping to camp at last light, then maybe wood isn't for you.

    But on those trips where you need to have a mix of fuels and you have time to prepare and use a wood fire, the Ti-Tri Caldera Cone is the ultimate ultralight stove system.

    Special thanks to Randy from Colorado who made his Ti-Tri Caldera Cone available for my evaluation.


    Other wood fired backpacking stove posts:

    Other posts on the Caldera Cone:

    Technical Appendix -- Weights

    Key weights 
    Full Wood Mode (Inferno Option)  126g/4.44oz
    Minimum Wood Mode (with floor)    77g/2.72oz
    Non-LNT Wood Mode (no floor)      59g/2.08oz
    Alcohol Mode (no stakes*)         60g/2.12oz
    Hexamine (ESBIT) mode             57g/2.01oz

    The above weights are for a Ti-Tri Sidewinder Caldera Cone sized for an Evernew 1300ml pot.  Weights include a strap that weighs 3g to keep the cone rolled.  Weights do not include the pot, stuff sack, or any fuel.

    *Stakes are not needed for alcohol mode for a 1300ml Evernew pot because of the size of the pot's bottom and the width of the cone.  For smaller pots, stakes should be used when in alcohol mode with a Sidewinder cone.

    Detailed Weights
    Inner Cone (Inferno)
    Gram Cracker hexamine (ESBIT) stove
    ESBIT tab (one)
    12-10 Stove
    Inferno, Cone, Floor, and Strap
    Ti Tent Stakes (each)
    Wire Roll
    Evernew 1300ml pot with lid
    Pot Only
    Lid Only
    Full Wood Set Up (With Pot)
    Plastic bag
    Evernew Stuff Sack
    Total (All wood, alcohol, and hexamine items)

    Note:  You'd probably never carry all wood, alcohol, and hexamine items at once.  Why would anyone carry both the hexamine and alcohol set ups simultaneously?  The total listed above is for reference only.  

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    The New MSR MicroRocket -- Completed Review

    If you've been following my blog at all, you know I've been evaluating the new MicroRocket stove from MSR.
    The new MSR MicroRocket
    As a part of that evaluation, I've put up a series of posts on the MicroRocket:
      The new MSR MicroRocket comes with a separate piezoelectric ignition 
      Well, I'm done with the evaluation, and my completed review is now available on Seattle Backpackers Magazine.  Hikin' Jim says "check it out."  :)

      The new MSR MicroRocket in the field
      Thanks for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,


      The Kovea Camp 5 Remote Canister Stove

      If it's cold out and your remote canister stove has a generator (a pre-heat mechanism), then you can invert (turn upside down) the canister.  Inverting the canister means that you're sucking liquid off the bottom of the canister instead of sucking vapor off the top.  Now, liquid fuel goes to the burner where the heat of the flame vaporizes fuel.

      If the heat of the flame is doing the vaporization, you're far less dependent on the weather.  In fact, all you need from the weather is just enough warmth to keep a little pressure in the canister, just enough pressure to get some liquefied gas to the burner where the heat of the flame will take care of the rest.

      And that pressure should be pretty easy to come by.  Unlike upright operation, the propane content of your canister does not burn off faster.  With inverted operation (liquid feed gas), your gas mix -- and thus your canister pressure for a given outside temperature -- stays fairly constant.  As a practical matter, you can run your stove inverted in weather that's about 20F/10C colder than if your ran your stove upright.

      Wow, gas in colder weather? All the simmering, none of the priming, how sweet is that?  Um, but what's the catch?

      Well, the "catch" is that remote canister stoves that can handle inverted operation usually weigh two or three times what an upright stove weighs.  But we're making progress. Today, we feature a guest post by Geoff R from Australia.  Geoff reviews the Kovea Camp 5 (KB-1006).  The Camp 5 weighs 142g/5.5oz.  Which, while not as light as an upright stove, is a step in the right direction, particularly when you compare the Camp 5 to other remote canister stoves like the MSR WindPro (227g/8oz) and the Primus Express Spider (198g/7oz).

      The selection of lightweight remote stoves in the US is pretty limited, so I am particularly happy to welcome Geoff's contribution to Adventures In Stoving.  So, without further ado, I turn things over to Geoff...

      Since I acquired my MSR Dragonfly in 1998, I have been a firm believer in liquid-fuelled stoves.  Partly that was because of the underwhelming performance of gas stoves I had used before that – such as the Bleuet 206, especially in the wind.  Gas stoves have however advanced a lot in the intervening 14 years.  Hence I decided to investigate getting a gas stove again to enjoy benefits such as lower weight and simplicity of use again.

      My criteria were to find a second stove which would be useful when two stoves are required to cook a meal, for taking with on day walks when I just want a quick cuppa, or as a more lightweight solution for longer overnight walks.  After some research I decided to take the plunge and order the Kovea Camp 5.
      The Camp 5 comes in a nifty-looking plastic container
      The Camp 5, which weighs in at 156g/5.5oz, comes with a separate piezo-igniter and is packaged in a nifty-looking brown plastic container.  I initially struggled to pack the stove back into its container.  With practise, I have now worked out how to fit everything back together properly.  The separate igniter weighs in at 14g/0.49oz and the container weighs another 60g/2.12oz, bringing the total package to 230g/8.11oz.  While not the lightest stove on the market, it is still probably one of the lightest remote canister stoves, and is a featherweight compared a packed weight of 502g/17.71oz for my Dragonfly.
      The Camp 5 comes with a separate piezo-igniter.  Editor's note:  The AA sized battery is shown for scale only.  The stove does not run on batteries!

      While some may take issue with the separate igniter, I prefer not to have the igniter continually being cooked all the time while the stove is on.  Also, if it breaks, I won’t have a piece of ballast attached to the stove.  In addition to the stove itself, I also purchased an adaptor from Kovea to permit the use of cheap long butane cans with the stove, as a fuel source in warm weather.  (This kind of adaptor has already been reviewed in Butane Adapter WARNING.)  Editor's note:  One must be very careful with this type of adapter.  If the canister rolls, the stove can go into liquid feed mode unexpectedly.  However, since the Camp 5 has a generator/pre-heat mechanism, use of such an adapter should be fairly safe with this stove if reasonable care is exercised.  

      Initial impressions
      On unpacking the stove, the overall impression is that it feels quite solid for something that weighs only 156g/5.5oz.  The legs feel quite sturdy.  My only concern was with the pot supports, which look quite flimsy, and which rotate loosely on the ends of the arms coming out of the stove body.  I don’t think the pot supports would stand up to rough handling or very heavy cookware.
      The pot supports rotate loosely on the ends of arms coming from the stove body
      The stove legs and the arms which run up to the pot supports feel quite securely attached to the stove body, and are articulated together by sets of teeth which ensure that the legs and stove supports lock securely in position when the stove is unfolded.
      The legs and stove support arms are articulated together by sets of teeth

      Another feature, which was a major in my decision to choose the Camp 5, is the fact that it has a small generator tube.  Based on my initial research on the stove it is capable of running in liquid feed mode, with an inverted gas canister.  More on this later.  The canister hose itself feels very flexible, and it rotates freely at the point where it is attached to the stove.

      The burner, visually appears to be the same as that on the Kovea Flame Tornado, which is widely believed to be the same stove as the MSR MicroRocket, bar some cosmetic changes.  (One of those cosmetic changes between the MicroRocket and Flame Tornado is the burner itself.)

      In Action
      The first impression on firing up the stove is that it seems more like a flame-thrower than a stove.  The flame is very concentrated.  This does raise some questions about its ability to cook omelettes!
      The first impression on firing the stove up is more flame-thrower than stove
      After getting the stove running, one of the first tests I performed, with both a butane can and a propane-butane-isobutane mix was to invert the canister.  All the documentation I received with the stove was in Korean, so I have no idea whether inverted canister operation is officially sanctioned by Kovea.  Try this yourself at your own risk.

      It is definitely advisable to turn the stove right down before inverting the canister.  The rate of fuel delivery does increase considerably on inverting the canister, especially with a propane/butane mix.  Apart from the fact that you need to be cautious of the much higher flame output, I had no issues with inverted canister operation.  I was not able to turn the valve open all the way, since the stove quickly got to a point where it could no longer suck in enough air for the amount of gas being delivered.
      Inverted canister operation was no problem apart from the much higher output
      Kovea seems to have erred on the conservative side when stating that the time taken to boil 1l of water is 30m30s.  During my tests, I was able to achieve a good deal less than this using a full 230g canister of propane/butane/isobutane mix from Primus.  I used the Dragonfly as a control to compare with a relatively well-known stove.

      Boil time
      Fuel used
      Camp 5
      Camp 5
      Camp 5
      Camp 5

      Editor's note:  "Shellite" is a brand of white gas available in Australia.  Shellite is similar to Coleman Fuel.

      It would appear that with a propane/butane mix, in liquid feed mode, the stove is no longer operating efficiently.  Turning the stove down a little would probably help on the efficiency front.  While I did not perform enough tests to build a statistically relevant sample, it appears that butane may be a little less efficient than a propane/butane mix.  The time quoted for the Dragonfly only includes the time from the point when the stove had reached full output and the billy of water was put on it, until the time when the water boiled.  The fuel used by the Dragonfly includes the fuel used for priming.  This test once again verifies the fact that gas stoves use less fuel than liquid-fuelled stoves.

      The tests were performed at an ambient temperature of 22°C/72°F and 24°C/75°F at an altitude of approximately 7m/23ft above sea level.

      Getting Out
      Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get out on the trail with the Camp 5 yet, so a few tests on the gravel path in the back yard would have to do.  The small feet of the stove do have a tendency to bury themselves in a loose or soft surface.   That is however a problem I would expect any stove with small feet to have.  I didn’t have the expectation for this stove to have the same level of stability as the Dragonfly anyhow.
      The feet of the Camp 5 have a tendency to bury themselves in loose gravel
      While I was outside there was a nice sea breeze blowing.  The breeze was “nice” enough to blow over a potted yellowwood tree, which I have in the most sheltered corner of my back yard.  A windshield was definitely advisable under these conditions.  With the windshield, cut from a piece of aluminium flashing, in place I was still able to turn the gas right down to a low simmer.  As I turned the gas down, however, the circle of bubbles on the base of the billy became smaller and smaller – an indication that this stove may not be good at evenly cooking your simmering bolognaise.

      I’m looking forward to getting out into the bush with this little stove.  I would hardly say it is perfect, but so far it is pretty much living up to my expectations.  I believe that every stove is a compromise of some sort.  For my purposes, I think the Camp 5 will be the right one.  It still isn’t without its disadvantages though.  In summary, here is a short list of the  Camp 5’s pros and cons from my point of view:

      ·      Light weight (for a remote canister stove)
      ·      Ability to use cheap butane cans with an adapter
      ·      High power output
      ·      Ability to turn output down to a light simmer
      ·      Overall build quality feels solid
      ·      Generator tube makes it possible to operate the stove in liquid feed mode (I am not sure if this is officially sanctioned by Kovea.)

      ·      Flimsy-looking pot supports
      ·      Very concentrated flame – possibly not great for simmering
      ·      Difficult to get the stove back into its container
      ·      Small feet bury themselves in loose or soft substrates

      Note: I do not have any affiliation to Kovea.  All images in this post are © GM Rehmet 2012 and have been licensed to Adventures in Stoving.  No images may be reproduced without permission.  For licensing details, please refer to http://www.rehmet.alt.za/copyright/

      A big thank you to Geoff for his contribution to Adventures In Stoving!


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