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:


    1. Jim,

      I still struggle with this on some trips as an owner of a 1.3L Sidewinder setup. I hike in groups, so our trips become social occasions, where evenings are often spent lounging around a fire. It's stupid easy to throw in some water and place my pot in the bed of coals and sit back for a few minutes. On the last trip I packed my full Sidewinder setup and used it one evening, the rest of the nights were spent placing my pot into a well attended fire over conversation. I'm okay with this though as I still like having the option for those evenings where a campfire isn't feasible- this is justifiable in my book because the weight is borderline nonexistent and the space required to store the system is only that of the pot interior.

    2. Hi, Eugene,

      You just aren't anti-social enough to be a proper gram weenie. ;)

      Seriously though, good social occasions make my pack feel lighter. If the weight isn't killing you, WHY NOT? The point is first to enjoy, yes? Going light is actually secondary.