Saturday, April 11, 2009

And now for something completely different!

This post is going to step away from the photography aspect of this blog and get into some of the gear testing. My favorite piece of outdoor gear is the stove and over the years I have acquired five of them and even made one. The two that I have found that have been working great for me are the MSR Pocket Rocket (top) and the White Box alcohol stove (bottom). Both have their pros and cons so lets start with the MSR.
-No preheating, once on the canister you just light it and its good to go.
-Will boil 2 cups of water in my Titan Kettle in less then 4 minutes.
-Has flame control, it doesn't have to run at full blast all the time.
-Flame is more concentrated so you don't heat up the wire handles of the Titan Kettle.
-Weighs in at 3 ounces for just the stove itself.

-Takes the canisters that you can't just pick up at any hardware store or gas station. Also you can't tell how much fuel you have left.
-When the canister is empty you still have to carry it with you and you have to make sure to puncture it before you can recycle it.

The White Box alcohol stove
-The stove is made from recycled aluminum bottles.
-Stove, windscreen and base weigh less then 3 ounces.
-Can boil 2 cups of water in the Titan in about 5 minutes with only 1 ounce of fuel.
-Whisper quiet (which is also kind of a con if your trying to use it in bright light since you can't see the flame).
-Uses denatured alcohol or even HEET (yellow bottle) which can be found at any hardware store or gas station.
-Can store the fuel in something as simple as a pop bottle so you can see how much fuel you have left and when empty it doesn't weight hardly anything.

-No simmer control, its pretty much full blast.
-With the original size stove the flames come out around the edge of the Titan which makes the wire handles get too hot to handle. They have since came out with a smaller solo model that is designed to work with the smaller pots.
-Even though the stove is very stable you have to make sure you don't tip it over since the fuel isn't really contained.

On a side note, it doesn't do much good to have a stove without a pot to put on it and I have as many cook-sets as I do stoves. My go to set-up for the last two years has been an MSR Blacklite which I can't even find on MSRs website anymore. They probably discontinued it since they had always had a problem with the nonstick coating flaking off. I never had a problem with it since I never use metal utensils when I am camping. This system came with two pots that nest together, a lid, pot lifter and a wash cloth sized camp towel. Making it the choice when I go out with a group. When I am going solo you'll find the MSR (titanium) Titan Kettle. Works great as a pot, mug or bowl. The biggest complaint I have heard about this pot (aside from price, titanium isn't cheap) is that the lid fits too tight. It does fit tight, to the point where it is best to just set the lid on top when cooking, otherwise you have to grab hold of the pot itself to get the lid off.

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