Emberlit Ti or Littlbug Jr. for Winter Backpacking (only)
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Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: Bryce--Emberlit on 12/26/2011 18:57:52 MST Print View

Thanks for the links Brian. I would tend to the agree... the Emberlit is a no fuss, sturdy, relatively lightweight stove that packs down to nothing.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Why the Vargo won't cut it in the Winter.... on 12/26/2011 19:08:17 MST Print View

....well a Winter in which you are at or below freezing temps AND need to melt a lot of snow and bring it to a boil to sterilize.

The Vargo worked fine. It packs up very small, weighs the least of any commercially available wood stove I know of at 4.1oz in Ti, and packs down to "nothing." I would definitely carry this stove over any other for 3 season use when I'm in warmer temps and need to boil a cup or two of water for dinner kind of thing.

Where it fails is in situations where you are dealing with A) very cold water, B) Very cold temps (I tested at 18F and 25F-30F), and C) melting lots of snow and/or boiling lots of water,. It's just too small to put out enough heat to overcome those two factors.

I was able to boil a cup or two of water no sweet even @ 18F, but when I filled my .9L pot to the top (replicating melting a lot of snow), it took FOREVER. Granted I'm a newb at bushcraft and wood stoves and there def was a learning curve (I'm sooo glad I practiced for 1/2 a day splitting wood and trying different strategies.), but in the end I was feeling pretty goof about myself. I was able to keep the that sucker burning for as long as I wanted, but still no boil with a full pot (the 25-30F tests were done with a fair bit of wind, but that helped somewhat).

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Pics of Vargo Ti Hexagon Wood Stove in action w/ observations, challenges, triumphs on 12/26/2011 19:33:53 MST Print View

This is the Vargo with my 22oz Heiny pot on top, my first burn with the stove. It ~just~ fits. Workable, but on the whole if you smack the stove, your pot may just fall over. Prob best not to use your Heiny with this, or use tent stakes across the gap for a pot stand:
qwb

Here I switched over to the 4oz, .9L Ti Vargo pot. Much more stable. Here you can see me using longer twigs and trying to feed them in there like the Emberlit to cut down on the chore of feed it little chunks of twigs every so often. It works, I probably had the "door" on the stove open 85% of the time. This is also most likely because it was 18F at this time and the fire was "hungry." I suspect in the summer I'd be able to feed the fire a bit, then close the door for awhile, either way, no biggy. The problem I had at this point was the cold (duh) and the fact that I had been feeding the stove just pencil sized twigs and always had trouble keeping it going:
544

The reason for this problem was the fuel source. The twigs were dry (not sure how to tell, but they snapped when you broke them in your fingers well enough), but the BARK was the problem. See at 18F the moisture from the day settled on the ground for a bit of frost. Well all the twigs were cold as heck at this point (as any branch would be big or small), and had this layer of frost somewhat. The BARK was doing way too good a job in these conditions of protecting the nice dry wood underneath it in the fire. You see in all the Youtube videos, these wood stoves just chowing down on twigs in warmer weather for the most part, but at these temps, the bark is a beotch. So I took out my Mora and started to shave the bark off....whamo, the fire worked better, not perfect, but better.

The next day (25F) I went into the woods to try splitting wood and try out my new Mora Classic. Once I noticed the bark being slightly damp underneath and a hindrance to the fire at those temps, I thought processed wood would be the answer...and it was.

In this pic you see the tools of the trade. Vasoline (I found the cotton pads wrapped around a glob of vaso to work really well as in it burned a long time and my fingers got less messy than massaging the vaso into a cottonball. BTW, in a previous thread I thought alcohol pads would be lighter and might work...don't bother. Yes lighter, but in these cold conditions they didn't last long enough to get the fire going. In 3-season I'll try them again, they prob will work then. You'll also see my cheap folding blade Browning knife that I put a different bevel on it. People always say never baton with a folder... well if I were doing logs, I would agree, but with these small/medium sized sticks, the folder works just fine. You not really hammering it anyway. The Mora of course worked awesomely as well. I really enjoyed batoning wood and splitting it up to get to the really dry stuff....amazing what the positive reenforcement of the fire growing will do. :p

4v224t5h2

Here you'll see the Hexagon chugging away. Notice how I've switched to mostly split/processed wood. The downside to getting a roaring fire here is that you lose some flame out the front, though mostly my fault for orientating the "door" away from the wind, when to turned the door to face into the wind, the stove became a blast furnace! This certainly could have contributed to the inability to boil a full pot in cold temps. Also notice how the sticks are laid in there in an overlapping "X" fashion. This worked well to utilize all of the space inside the little Vargo with the longer sticks as I fed them in. And notice how the stove is up on a two good sized sticks as a platform. During 3-season use this won't be a problem as you can boil a cup or two very quickly, but when you're going to use the stove for as long as I did (hours) at a time, you get ash buildup. The Vargo has cutouts on the bottom for air intake (the sides of the stove have no holes for air intake as the sides are a VERY good wind screen) and over time when burning so much wood for so long, ash buildup becomes an issue with choking the fire. The stove produced very little coals and seemed to produce a lot of ash with all that wood.

24q4e2

So this is why this stove won't work for me at <32F for winter camping while trying to melt snow. If I were winter camping and just boiling a cup or two and had a stream for a water source, no sweat. But in the conditions I expect, I wanted a bigger stove. I also didn't like the side feed of the stove (or the Emberlit, though the Emberlit may require less feeding with bigger sticks) as I had to sit on the ground. In the snow, this sucks as your butt gets wet and the ground is cold. NOTICE HOW ALL YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF THE EMBERLIT ARE OF THE STOVE PROPPED UP ON SOMETHING.....HRMMMMM. :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwIWj2i2d9w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljwag58nbhU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFLn8TewlW0

(I will say the Emberlit certainly is low maintenance feeding fuel if you can prop it up on something, is pretty stout, and it has a relatively complete burn.)

I want something with a top feed as I sit on a stump (perhaps). I hope this helped anyone considering the Vargo...I think I'll still keep mine for 3-season as it's still the lightest stove I know of and it will work well in the 3-season conditions me thinks.

Edited by bster13 on 12/26/2011 19:46:45 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
A couple things on 12/26/2011 19:50:58 MST Print View

I admire your perseverance and hanging out in the cold for the day. From past experience, wood is driest that does not have any bark, stuff where the bark has fallen off on its own is driest. Your wood looked like it needed more seasoning as it looks like the bark is still firmly attached. Second, hardwood, whether it be cottonwood or oak, both fall into the same group, leaves a lot of ash, so be prepared. Learned this from using a woodstove as my main heating source in my home the last 30 years.

Thanks for the heads up on the Bush Buddy, I was thinking about trying to get one of those. I'll wait for the smoke to clear on all these new stoves. :)
Duane

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
nice trial on 12/26/2011 19:55:34 MST Print View

Bryce,

A picture is worth ... now that I see how small the vargo is as compared to a o.9L pot - I see how inefficient it is. Also if you look at the emberlit and the littlebug, the airflow is better. I think that the vargo has no airflow unless the barn door is open. A few well placed holes on two sides near the bottom , may remedy this. When I use a standard hobo, I drill holes at the bottom on one side, then you can pivot the stove into the wind to stoke the fire. You can really get it going that way. Of course the problem with size and weight of a traditional hobo is what I am trying to solve with a folding stove. I'm just glad that you started this timely thread.

Maybe the emberlit will be available soon - his site says shortly after the new year.

Thanks,

Dave

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: A couple things on 12/26/2011 19:57:09 MST Print View

Yeah I definitely started to devel some wood burning skills through trial and error this past weekend. Much better to do it at home than on the trail in the middle of the winter. hehe.

I agree about the sticks with bark. It was what was around my parents house b4 I went into the forest. You just see all these wood stoves chowing down happily on twigs, but people don't realize (I didn't at least) that these are warm twigs in the summer, not winter, cold twigs that are slightly damp even though dry to the touch. If I have a choice on the trail...I'll have to learn to identify different types of wood.

For the record I only evaluated the Vargo Ti Hexagon wood stove (nutshell = great light option for 3-season). I only researched the Emberlit quite a bit. Not too familiar with the Bush Buddy.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: nice trial on 12/26/2011 20:05:00 MST Print View

I think I made things worse by trying to make the Vargo burn hotter and hotter to boil a full pot. It's not meant to be crammed like that.

Like I said, it boiled a cup or two just fine in those temps. I think it'll work great with it's given ventilation/airflow in 3-season. There are V cuts in along the top of the stove where the pot rests to allow flames to flicker out. So basically it is drawing from the bottom to the top, no side vents needed (and if I added them, then it wouldn't work so well w/ out a windscreen and I'd have to add that and it's weight to the mix).

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Why I chose the Littlbug Jr. over the Emberlit Ti on 12/26/2011 20:43:52 MST Print View

- BPL said it was the best!
BPL Ultralight Stove boil-off

(To be fair, BPL did not test the Emberlit. Doh! But beating out all the other stoves has to give it some street cred. :p)

- I will be using this in the winter, so have the largest fire box, most heat, biggest cranking fire is best to melt mass amounts of snow to a boil in cold conditions.

The Emberlit is 3.5 x 3.5in opening at the top.
The Littlbug Jr. is 5.5in diameter.
Both stoves are about the same height.

- Can shove more wood in the Jr. with that bigger fire box, thus more heat.

- (possibly) Easier to keep cranking at full bore by feeding sticks through the top vs. the Emberlit side fueling. Yes, the Emberlit advertises ease of feed with long sticks, and I agree, but that is still on the ground and a long stick would have it's end sitting in the snow, plus I still need to bend down to advance the big sticks. With the Jr. I hopefully just need to drop fuel in from the top as I am sitting on a log/stump.

- If I want the ease of feeding long sticks in the Jr., I may be able to do that too... just have the stick hanging out the top of it around the sides of the pot and the sticks will be absorbed into the stove over time as they burn down.

- I think the Jr. will burn hotter as I think the Emberlit has a "terminal velocity" if you will... all regulated by how many sticks you can cram into the feed hole at once. The Jr. has a HUGE feed hole all around the top of the stove (depends on size of your pot of course). If I want a ton of heat, well by golly I'll just cram a lot of sticks all the way around the top of the stove / bottom of the pot. I think it will burn hotter with bigger fire box and ability to cram more into it's feed hole.

- The Jr. is lighter than the Ti Emberlit by .35oz.... but, this advantage could quite possibly be eaten up by weight of the storage envelope for the bigger (folded) form factor of the Junior.

- Emberlit certainly is very easy to pack, but the Jr. won't be too hard to pack around my pack liner in a semi-circle.

- Emberlit has a floor which is very nice. Jr. does not, but I'l ok with this as it's winter and I'll just put a few sticks together and pack them with snow as a base. Hopefully I won't have to carry a tin foil botom (extra weight), but we'll see.

- The Jr. is available, the Ti Emberlit is not right now. :p

Least that's how I justified my purchase... time will tell. I appreciate everyone's insight!

Edited by bster13 on 12/27/2011 09:57:16 MST.

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
Little Bug Jr. on 12/27/2011 07:25:39 MST Print View

I am away from home until after New Years, but I'll post a review of the Little Bug, Jr. and the Bushbudy. I can run them side-by-side.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: Little Bug Jr. on 12/27/2011 07:27:43 MST Print View

Doh Frank...don't leave us hanging! (Ok, ok, you get a pass. Happy holidays.)

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Found another review of the Littlbug Junior, thinking of smaller diameter pot on 12/27/2011 07:30:33 MST Print View

Ben's Backwoods Cook Kit Review


It looks like the Zebra pot is perfectly sized for the Jr. in that it catches a lot of the flames and still gives you room to feed really good sized sticks into the stove while it boils the water.

I have a .9 liter, 5 1/4in diameter by 2 3/4in high Vargo Ti pot to use with the Junior, similar diameter to the Zebra pot in the review. It weighs 4 ounces. Being the ever-gram weenie, I am thinking of moving to a .9l Ti Evernew mug that is 4.5in diameter by 3.9in high and only weighs 3.5 ounces... a savings of .5oz.

Do you guys think it is worth it to go for the lighter Ti mug that is smaller diameter to save the weight and would allow even MORE space to feed big sticks into the Jr., or will I lose a lot of efficiency by having too many flames not hit the pot (possibly the flames will crawl up the sides of the pot? BPL used a similar 900ml Mug in their tests of all the wood stoves....hrmmmm)?

Edited by bster13 on 12/27/2011 09:56:06 MST.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
ok on 12/27/2011 08:36:50 MST Print View

Here is my unsolicited 2 cents. You are saving a ton of weight by not taking a white gas stove and fuel, so spend just a little of that weight on a decent sized pot. How much water will you need for dinner and a drink? Will you be using hot water bottle to warm-up your sleeping bag? Size a pot to make the volume you need without having to melt multiple fills.

We had one guy on our last trip trying to melt snow with a weenie of a stove/pot and we were always waiting for him in the morning. We finally banned him from using his stove and he melted snow on a firepan tripod (chain) camp fire. A 0.9 L might be too small - a 1.3 L might be ok - a 2 L would be perfect for 1 guy and < 2 L of water for each meal. (since no-one fills the pots up to the top)

I realize that we pull sleds and you backpack, so take this for what it is worth - I use a 2.8L evernew pot and a big hobo. I am seriously looking at the little bug SR.

Enjoy,

Dave

Edited by dmgoody on 12/27/2011 08:46:48 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
bigger pot on 12/27/2011 09:00:24 MST Print View

From what I have been gathering the last few weeks, a bigger pot for melting snow is best. The Sr. sure goes up in weight compared to the Jr.
Duane

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: ok on 12/27/2011 09:07:45 MST Print View

@Duane, yes the bigger pot the better, but I'm wondering, given the same volume of the pot, will wider diameter melt snow quicker or will little thinner base and flames wicking up sides work best? (and give me weight savings)

@Dave, It's never unsolicited.... I posted, I want everyone's ideas so keep them coming. :) I plan to do my melting at night if possible when I have time. Just a quick boil/warm of water for oatmeal in the morning so hopefully I won't be lagging like your friend (what setup did he have exactly?). I know I'm saving a ton of weight....I guess we'll see how far I can push it. One tip I picked up is to bring a garbage bag and load that sucker up with snow when you get in camp. Then as you are melting snow, you have a clean source of snow to add right next to you so less trips. The hope is that I can load up the Littlebug Junior with enough fuel from the big open top to concentrate on melting snow. The .9l pot may bite me, not sure, but willing to try.

That Littlebug Sr. must put out massive amounts of heat... like no need for even a campfire with the warming heat it must put out. :o

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
brrr on 12/27/2011 09:29:03 MST Print View

are you prepared for and ok with the extra 10-15 minutes you'll spend outside of your sleeping bag preparing/building/tending the wood fire as opposed to lighting the white gas and hopping back into the down? i know my buddy and i did this 1 winter ago but now we use esbit in the AM and then cook on wood fires in the evening.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Something I didn't think about on 12/27/2011 10:11:55 MST Print View

This trip is weird, it's going to be long days, but also a lot of people. So I figure we'll be tired, but socializing quite a bit at night. So I'll be out and about in camp anyway. If I were going solo or with a smaller group, I'd be more likely to crawl up in my sleeping back quickly I think. (snow shoeing 2mi at night the first day after work, 8mi the next, and 10mi back to trailhead the 3rd. NE BPL Winter Gathering)

I also didn't think about how I'd going to transition water from the Ti pot to my Platypus water resevoirs. I have a lightweight silicone funnel to place in the small mouth of the platy, but I will need to hold it there and tip the platy back a bit (the mouth of the platy is angled on the corner of the bag). Doing all this while holding a hot pot. Hrmm... even if the wider pot is a bit more efficient, I'll welcome the handle on the taller, more narrow pot while juggling. The Wider .9l pot I have has no handle (I planned on using my mitten shells and/of bandana to hold the pot initially). Thoughts?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
Stove on 12/27/2011 10:15:46 MST Print View

Bryce,

To be fair, you already have more experience hiking than that guy did. His stove looked like it was bought at the antique road show. It was a small white gas stove that wasn't much bigger than an alcohol stove. He used a 0.9 L pot/mug.

Don't forget that you have to melt enough to take hiking with you. I agree with the Brr factor. This is why we spend some weight on a platform (cookie sheet) to set a top logs - so that we can have a roaring fire above the snow. The level of the fire is even with my body in the horizontal position - I get some heat this way (watch for sparks). This is why feeding logs in sideways is no big deal. We collect enough wood the night before and cover it with a stuff sack. We can stay in our sleeping bags while we cook breakfast. I only emerge when it is time to pack up.

Dave

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
How much snow I'm going to boil on 12/27/2011 11:13:27 MST Print View

When I come into camp, let's say I'm bone dry w/ water.

I plan on having a 1.5L platy and a 1l Platy on me, maybe 2 x 1.5L platys.

Dinner will take 0.354882355 liter (1.5 cups).

So all told I'll need upwards of 3.35 liters of water boiled.

3.35l / .9l = 3.72222222l or ~4 "sessions" over the span of the night.

I've read 2l per day for drinking while on the trail so I may not need as many melting "sessions:"
How many miles / day would you average in these conditions...

Boil 3-4 pots doesn't ~seem~ bad, no?

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
pots/boils on 12/27/2011 14:21:32 MST Print View

Sounds like a medical diagnosis on an episode of House :)


melting snow is not like boiling water. Fill it up melt it down - repeat - repeat - repeat - repeat - ok 1 pot done. Most people don't fill their pots to the rim, so effectively a 1.3 L pot will yield 1 L of liquid. four boils is doable, but it may take a while. I think that Roger C. had a great idea - instead of pouring your precious water through a funnel, he uses a dipping cup and holds the platy over the pot while filling.

I like to "camel" up at night, so that I have little to do in the morning - but melt for my breakfast. Fill my walking water and put in a cozy to warm-up my sleeping bag.

Unless we get some snow soon, you may not find out until your trip.

Dave

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Re: pots/boils on 12/27/2011 14:34:54 MST Print View

Ok fair enough on the "repeat, repeat, repeat." I still may get a bigger pot, we'll see.

I agree, at night is when I have time to "camel up." I want to do my boiling then and then just a little in the morning.

I wonder if I can find a squishable cup for "dipping." Have you found (cheap/walmart) one that works?