Friday, 20 November 2009

MLD 850 pot, Compact Caldera and Esbit

I have been a fan of the Trail Designs Caldera system ever since it has been released, however, packing a full size cone into a caddy that weighs approximately 75 grams which I do not use seemed like a waste of space and weight. So when Trail Designs and MLD launched the compact Caldera I felt that with everything fitting into a pot would save weight and space in my pack.

It had been reported that the Compact caldera was less fuel efficient than the regular Caldera but still provided enhanced performance over a normal stand and windshield. On a recent trip I used the Compact Caldera and MLD pot and what follows are my impressions from this three day trip

I normally boil about 800 ml of water in the evening for a freezer bag meal, cup of tea and soup and a cup of water in the morning for coffee. The temperatures during the trip were approximately 5 C at night and a little cooler in the morning. I did not measure the water temperature but assume that it was around 10 C. There was a light breeze blowing each night and I cooked outside with the stove sheltered behind a large rock. I use a mini fire steel and lighting Esbit can be a little problematic, so I poured about 5 drops of alcohol from a dropper bottle for striking the fire steel, this lit the cubes within three strikes in the cool evening conditions. Though I did discover when it is dark the flash from the fire steel can be very bright.

I used Esbit with a Gram cracker and the weights are as follows.

Gram cracker 3gms
MLD 850 pot including lid 90 gms
Compact Titanium Caldera 21 gms
Ti Base Plate 6gms

Total carried is 120 gums.

For the first night I used 2 x 4 gram tablets placed on top 1 12 gram tablet in the Gram Cracker, this arrangement, just boiled about 600 ml of water and I needed another 2 x 4 gram tablets to boil water for a cup of tea.

The following night I reversed the arrangement and placed the two tablets at the bottom (Gram Cracker) and the 12 gram tablet on top, this arrangement allowed me to boil 600 ml of water as well as a further 200 ml of water for a cup of tea. Whilst the jury is still out I intend to explore the later arrangement further as it appears to provide a more economical use of the tablets.

Soon I hope to be able to trial the use of an inferno as part of this system, which may provide the optimum solution for long distance hiking trips, where some fuel is carried.