> Think I'll stick with Esbit even though it's sometimes tough to light.
I also found esbits slower to start than most other systems though I never was unable to get one going with a match (or two) or using a lighter. That said, think if I had to keep my mini bic lighter going for a second or two more my thumb would have gotten burned. I couldn't get one lit without help using firesteel, UST Sparkie, or a spark-lite which have been enough to light every other system I have used. While not as cool as the wetfire tinders, I found a little bit of dryer lint placed next to and under the edge of the esbits allowed me to get it started using firesteel or the sparkie.
> maybe I should give it a second look.
I have certainly had bad experiences in the past as well. I couldn't understand why people loved the stinky, underpowered system which left oily crud on the bottom of the pot. I am giving them another try largely because a number of people I respect like GVP love them so. This time around I tried several things in the backyard until I was sure I could actually make them work there. Now I have used them a couple of times in the field. I am not sure if I am going to make the switch long term, but I will give it a couple of seasons and then decide.
I found that the caldera cone system addressed performance issues. [I hear tell the various bearcan systems work equally well]. I have gotten over the lighting issue cause I figure that most other systems I have used required some help: priming (white gas, some alcohol), keeping fuel warm in cold conditions (alcohol & upright canister). A few extra seconds with the bic or some lint doesn't seem some bad. I noted similar trade offs with the cleaning the pot.