Things are Heatin’ Up!

Well, yesterday was April 1st and we got a couple of inches of snow.  Prior to that, we had rain for days on end.  Rain has been coming down today and snow showers are expected by the end of the week.  Ughhh.  Hopefully all of the crappy weather will be behind us before we hit the trail next month.  I can’t take much more of this!

So, to heat things up, I’ve been doing a bit of canister stove research.  I normally use my beloved, uber-light Heini Pot/Esbit setup on solo hikes but this time around I wasn’t about to give butt head Deep Woods the satisfaction of sitting around (on his 1-1/2 lb camp stool, mind you) eating his hot meal while I waited for water to boil!  So I thought about taking the boat anchor JetBoil, but then Loonie grabbed first dibs on it for a trip she’s doing.  After reading some reviews and comparing specs on a variety of models, I picked up the MSR PocketRocket 2 and topped it off with a Toaks 750ml pot.

The Heini Pot/Esbit setup: 2.74 oz less spoon

The JetBoil Sol Ti

MSR PocketRocket 2 (in the included case) and the Toaks 750ml Ti Pot

MSR PocketRocket 2 in collapsed form

MSR PocketRocket 2 ready to go

Toaks 750ml Pot atop the PocketRocket 2

The pot, including the folding handles, gets screamin’ hot so I tossed in SnowPeak’s HotLips and they fit the Toaks pot perfectly.  A small piece of towel does double duty as pot holder and for cleanup.  It also protects the stove when it’s stowed away in the pot.  I’ll leave the hard plastic case at home.

Toaks 750ml pot with SnowPeak’s HotLips installed

100gm fuel canister, PocketRocket 2 wrapped in towel, SnowPeak HotLips and Mini Bic inside the Toaks 750ml Pot

As for weight, on my scale this setup breaks down as follows…

MSR Pocket Rocket 2:                      2.59 oz
Toaks 750ml Pot, Lid, Stuff Sack:    3.88 oz
SnowPeak HotLips:                          0.12 oz
Small Towel:                                     0.20 oz

Total:                                                6.79 oz

That’s about 5 oz less than the JetBoil Sol Ti (including all components).  Since the Sol Ti isn’t available anymore, for comparison purposes, the JetBoil MicroMo is supposed to come in at 12 oz less the stabilizer.  Unlike the JetBoil, the PocketRocket 2 lacks a Piezo igniter.  So, even though I’m already carrying a Mini Bic lighter, I’ll throw in another 0.4 oz for that.  Add in the weight of a full, small (100gm) fuel canister, which averages around 7 oz, and the total comes out to about 14 oz.  Not too bad as far as canister setups go.  It’s worth noting that Piezo igniters are prone to fail so chances are that at some point you’ll have to resort to a lighter, matches or striker anyway.

Now, the BIG questions are how efficient is it and how will it perform in the wind?  You can typically get better than twenty 2-cup boils from a 100gm canister with the JetBoil and it does pretty well in windy conditions.  It’s a very efficient system.  The PocketRocket 2 is supposed to be as good or better than other small canister stoves of its type, such as those offered by Snow Peak, Primus, etc.  Any such stove will struggle in windy conditions so getting behind some sort of wind break (stacked rocks, logs, etc) would be a good idea.  I’ll be testing it out this week to see how well it does.  Note:  A separate wind screen is NOT recommended as too much heat could be reflected back on the canister, causing it to explode.

I picked up the PocketRocket 2 on sale off Amazon for $33.95 with free shipping.  There are several lighter options I could have gone with.  For example:

SnowPeak Lite Max    1.9 oz
Fire Maple Hornet      1.6 oz
BRS 3000T                   0.9 oz

The price of the SnowPeak, and to a lesser degree the Fire Maple, steered me away.  The uber-light BRS 3000T has gotten a lot of attention the last few years but reports of the pot supports deforming and canisters not fitting scared me off.  Seems pretty cheap to me but what do you expect out of a $17 stove?  In the end, I chose to stick with the tried and true MSR.

In other stove related news, Loonie picked up a pot support for the JetBoil that should allow us to use a variety of pots in lieu of the stock pot/flux ring combo.

JetBoil with pot support installed

Ledmark Kettle atop the JetBoil

I remain skeptical as to whether the JetBoil stove can be regulated such that she’ll be able to do any real cooking on the thing but we’ll see.  She intends to try it out soon.

More to come…

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