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Hard data on fuel efficiency of Sidewinder Caldera cone systems
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Hard data on fuel efficiency of Sidewinder Caldera cone systems on 05/08/2013 21:02:12 MDT Print View

As a regular cannister stove user, I keep trying to convince myself that cannister stoves are best for 2 person use (as I've done with my wife in the past). But I keep getting lured towards the new Sidewinder Caldero cone systems from Trail Designs. From what I keep hearing, they are among the most efficient of current designs on the market.

Does anyone happen to have empirical research on the fuel efficiency of the alcohol and Esbit setup for this system? Based on my past testing, a good cannister stove will get you around 20.0 g fuel consumed / L of water boiled. This, of course, is temperature, wind, and altitude dependent. But I think this is a pretty fair guess. To see some detailed results (done at sea level) that I did in years past, go here:

Setting empirical data aside, do you think that either the 12-10 stove or gram cracker Esbit stove would save me weight for short (1-2 day) trips with my wife? Or am I better sticking with my current cannister setup? To give you a picture of my boiling requirements, we typically boil about 0.5-1.0 L for breakfast, 0.5 L for lunch, and about 1.0 - 1.5 L for dinner. (This is for the two of us). I mostly do FBC style cooking (now maybe switching to in-the-pot steeping and simmering). I do see the advantage of the cannister stove being able to simmer just in case food doesn't reconstitute. But it seems that for just boiling water and for very short trips, the alcohol or Esbit systems would win out. But hard data would help decide the matter.

Nelson Sherry

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Hard data on fuel efficiency of Sidewinder Caldera cone systems on 05/08/2013 21:41:39 MDT Print View

I like Esbit or alcohol for small volumes of water like a cup or two. When I start boiling a liter or so for two or more people, I run out of patience and go for a canister stove. Any of the stove systems will work, I just pick the one that fits my state of mind/patience. Sometimes "easy" and fast, especially when dealing with multiple different people and their level of buy in, is worth paying a little weight penalty for.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Hard data on fuel efficiency of Sidewinder Caldera cone systems on 05/09/2013 09:17:12 MDT Print View

"...I do see the advantage of the canister stove being able to simmer just in case food doesn't reconstitute."

We "simmer" with our Cone to "steam bake" trail breads. Buy some aluminum muffin tins and do this
By rotating the top tin you can adjust the flame.

Or cut up a heavy foil pan, form it around the bottom of a pop can, trim it square, and cut a 1/4 x 1 " slot in the top. Leave the tab attached at one end to get adjustability and a "handle". We get 15 to 20 minutes of simmer time. We also use the "slotted" version as a snuffer. (Blowing into a cup of burning alcohol is bad juju.)

Edited by greg23 on 05/09/2013 09:23:29 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
(Blowing into a cup of burning alcohol is bad juju.) on 05/09/2013 09:57:09 MDT Print View

Greg, you just made my day with that quote!

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
various stoves/setups on 05/09/2013 13:47:52 MDT Print View

1 liter means a wide pot I assume, which is optimal for efficiency.

If I can find an excuse to skip, I mean, avoid, I mean, with great regret put off, work, I mean, try to sacrifice all for science, I will test a standard 6 jet penny stove in a standard wind screen on 1 liter and see what it starts out as re fuel consumption, then maybe test a more optimized version. The 6 jet is fast, that's for sure, it burns really hot because the jets hit the sides of the can to heat the fuel.

The cones will be a bit more efficient, but not by a huge margin, it depends on how many days trip you are talking about.

Because making a cone takes a while, I won't do that for now, but it is an interesting question.

If I were to guess, I'd guess about 22.5 ml will boil 1 liter water with a wide pot, that's a guess though, the burn characteristics of alcohol stoves varies depending on many factors, including how much fuel they contain for the burn, so it's almost impossible to actually know without trying.

I believe with alcohol stoves, the idea is: fast, efficient, pick one. cones will have different requirements for stoves since they contain the heat more which changes the stoves performance significantly.

However, for 1 to 2 days trips, put your canister and your stove on a scale, and I do not believe it's possible to carry more weight using alcohol because with alcohol you can carry the exact amount of fuel you need in a very light bottle, and the stove itself weighs virtually nothing.

But the joy of alcohol is in the silence, the absolute silence, the total non machine sound, nature is there, you are there, and there's this thing on the ground that you really have a hard time believing is actually doing anything at all in terms of cooking because it's not roaring and sputtering, and the only way you really know it's on is by putting your hand over it. Some alcohol stoves make tiny little boiling sounds and sometimes faint little sputters but you'd be very hard pressed to hear those sounds with any ambient noise around you. A canister stove to me is like bringing my house stove with me, attached to the gas pipeline. And I used to really like xgk and whisperlight cooking, but the first time I did alcohol, I was sold, that silence is priceless.

Re simmer times, a stove like the penny simmers phenomenally well, I doubt anything gas/liquid powered comes even remotely close to the simmering performance, I could not believe it the first time I tested it, I had to keep checking to convince myself the flame was still going. If you simmer, I don't believe anything can be compared to an alcohol stove, then it's a no brainer.

Edited by hhope on 05/09/2013 13:56:53 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
rough tests on 05/09/2013 15:13:41 MDT Print View

without any optimized wind / heat screen, I didn't get great boil times/efficiency, but that's to be expected, I would estimate that if you use slx for fuel, at a specific gravity of about .78, you'll get 1 liter boiled in a cone with an efficient stove/screen using around 24 grams of slx fuel, give or take a gram. That's about 30ml. Others with an efficient cone/stove setup can confirm or deny this via testing/experience, but I believe that's about what you can expect. I cut my testing short because I"m not using a real wind screen designed for the pot so it's not a good use of fuel, though it is a good way to avoid tedious work things for a bit, as usual.

Remember not to get confused by volume ounce measurements, compare apples to apples. So 1 ounce of alcohol by measure weighs 0.78 ounces, give or take depending on if it's heet (all methanol), slx, which is 50/50 ethanol/methanol, or kleen strip green, which is 80-90% ethanol. Ethanol has more heat energy per gram, by a bit.

Assuming 24 grams per boil for slx, for a 2 day trip, of 4 meals at 1 liter, that's 16 grams difference in fuel consumption over the trip, but the stove/canister weight totally remove that advantage. Give or take, assuming your 20 gram gas weight per boil is correct, depending on the stove/screen setup. So it's basically impossible on a short trip to get even close to the weight of the canister/stove setup with alcohol, alcohol will always be lighter. If I recall correctly, I believe when they have charted the weights, they intersect at around 10 days (5 days for 2 people, that is), but even that is deceptive, because alcohol's 'base weight' is always less than canister, and the actual weight you carry by the end of the trip per mile is less with alcohol. Not that a few ounces matter, only a total cripple would be impacted by these things if you are realistic. And you have to always also count as canister stove base weight the fuel you come back with in the canister, it's not fair to pretend that weight doesn't exist when comparing the two types of stoves.

As always with the weight game, the only actual weights that matter are these: trailhead weight, and end of trip weight. Everything else is just kind of a game we play because it's a fun hobby. in other words, if you take an 8 oz plus 3.5 ounce canister in your pack, it weighs x when you leave, and y when you come back. The fuel consumption per day is not really relevant in that situation since you are carrying more fuel than you will use in most cases with canisters. One day I'd like to see bpl people stop talking about base weights and start talking about real weights, what their pack weighs when they leave and come back.

I've done very little testing with 1 liter size boils however, since I would generally not use that amount, and it takes a bit to get the right configuration that is most efficient overall for the task at hand.

Edited by hhope on 05/09/2013 15:23:05 MDT.