Hey everyone! I just thought I’d give you a quick blurb about the cooking system I’ve been using on my last few trips. This system is centered around the Trail Designs Caldera Cone. I’ll go through each piece, then give you a quick idea how it all works together.
Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri Classic: This is a very fancy ultralight windscreen/pot stand. These are sized specifically to fit your pot. The lip of the pot rests right on the upper edge of the cone, which limits the amount of heat that can escape into the air. Instead, this heat is held closer to your cook pot to help heat it more efficiently. This item can be used with alcohol, Esbit, or even wood heat! These are a little heavier than your typical foil windscreen (1-2.5oz, depending on which size you need), but you should be able to even things out by carrying less fuel (or no fuel if you use wood). At $80 this is pretty steep, so you can chalk it up as a luxury. This comes with an alcohol stove, Esbit stove, fuel bottle, and measuring cup.
12-10 Stove: This double-walled Pepsi can stove w/ integrated primer pan comes with the Caldera Cone. Supposedly, it was designed specifically for this system and no other stove will do. Since I’ve never used another stove in this set-up, I have no comment. Lighting the stove with my lighter wasn’t immediately easy, so I gave up. In my rush to get food in my belly, I completely forgot that this stove had a built-in primer pan, which would have solved my problems if used properly, haha. Matches worked perfectly for me. (0.5oz)
Tennis Ball Tube: Since the Caldera cone can be easily bent, and its sharp edges could cut other gear, I roll it up and stick it in this tube. I put my matches, lighter, camp towel, and foil pot lid in the tube as well. The stove fits almost perfectly in the end of the tube as a cap. (1oz)
Evernew 640ml Tall Titanium Pot: This is just your run of the mill titanium pot. It hold a bit over 2 cups of water and doubles as my coffee mug. In order to save weight, I use aluminum foil as a lid, which works very well for me. Like most titanium pots, it is pricy, but who can resist titanium? (2.4oz)
Fuel Bottle: This is just an 8fl oz squirt top bottle. I’ve labeled it, so that no one accidentally drinks out of it. (1oz)
All in all, this system works very well. After a few trips and some non-scientific testing, I’d have to say that Trail Designs’ claims about fuel savings are true. On my last trip, I boiled about 12 cups of VERY cold water (ice crystals forming), and used right around 6fl oz of fuel. My old setup (alcohol stove with a foil wind screen), would have probably required an extra 2-3oz of fuel to boil the same water. I wasn’t sold on the extra weight of the windscreen at first (I’m still not completely sold), but I’m going to give this system another chance on my next backpacking trip. If you have the money laying around, give it a try!
Update 4/15/13: I used this setup again this weekend, and ended up only using about 2/3 of the fuel I had rationed. It’s working out really well for me! I remembered to use the stove’s primer pan this time, and it lit very easily with my mini Bic lighter. I’m fairly certain that I’ll keep this system in my normal rotation… At least for a while haha.