Recently I have completed 2 four day trips on the Skåneleden in Sweden. I have used Esbit as fuel for each trip but have taken different stoves so as to compare the performance of each in real life conditions. In both cases the temperatures experienced ranged between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius and the stoves were sheltered from the wind, often on the floor of the Vindskydd (windshelters). I have been using Esbit because it is easily measurable and thus makes it easier to determine just how much is needed to be packed.
The two stoves used have been the BPL (USA) FireLite Titanium Esbit Wing Stove and the Trail Designs Firelite SUL 475 Trapper’s Mug Caldera Cone using the Gram Cracker for Esbit. The pot used in each case was the BPL USA Trapper mug a 475 ml pot weighing 37 gm, there is no lid and I used a piece of Aluminium foil.
BPL (USA) FireLite Titanium Esbit Wing Stove, windshield, and reflector plate (as shown in the picture below) = 26 gms (not including the Trapper mug)
Trail Designs caldera cone, gram cracker and Caddy (optional extra) and Trapper Mug
i. Total weight with caddy = 117 gms (not including the Trapper mug)
ii. Total weight without caddy = 37 gms (not including the Trapper mug)
The advantage of the caddy is that it can be used as a bowl and a cup, the disadvantage is the weight.
So how do they compare with my style of cooking, which is boiling a cup of water in the morning for coffee, making a cup of soup in the evening as well as a cup of coffee and a “freezer bag meal” where about 400 ml of water is boiled and then added to noodles mixed with other ingredients. In a day I would heat to boiling about 1600 ml of water that is 4 mugs. I normally carry a mixture of 4 gm and 14 gm Esbit tablets and for heating water in the morning I found I could use 1.5 tablets (6 gm) with the Caldera, but needed 2 tablets (8 gm) with the BPL Ti Wing. In the afternoon one 14 gm tablet was the ideal option for both stoves especially for the Caldera where I was able to boil 2 pots of water whereas for the Ti Wing I was able to boil 1 pot with the second almost boiling.
In summary, for the BPL Ti Wing I needed a total of 38 gm of Esbit whilst for the Caldera I needed 34 gm of Esbit, in each case there would be a little in reserve and as the weather gets warmer there is the potential for further savings. The following chart provides an overview of the weights for a 7 day trip using each stove and with or without the caddy. Unsurprisingly the Caldera with caddy is the heaviest and remains so. By the end of the third day the Caldera is a slightly lighter option than the BPL Ti wing, however using these figures after a week the difference is only 17 gms taking into account the original weight of the stove and the differences in the weight of fuel used.
So which option is better? Well as always it depends on your preferences, but if weight and packability are your highest priority then the BPL Ti wing is the best option, however, if you want to say that you are carrying the lightest option then the Caldera over a 7 day period is better. The Caddy of course provides additional options in food preparation and may on some trips be the best option especially if you are sharing the kitchen.
We will continue to explore these alternatives as well as other stove options, but most importantly getting out there is more important than counting the number of grams of a stove you are carrying.