Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

Heineken beer can based Caldera system capable of cooking for two people.

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by Alan Dixon and Alison Simon | 2009-07-28 00:09:00-06

Editor's Note: This article was opened to the public on July 22, 2010. To subscribe and see Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 articles as they are published, click here.

Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) - 1
5.9-ounce Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H System as field-tested.

One of the new products Trail Designs showed at us was their Caldera Keg-H cooking system:

  • Light: At 3 ounces per person and capable of boiling 2.5 to 2.75 cups of water, the Keg-H may be the lightest complete two-person-capable alcohol cooking system on the market. It is almost half the weight of the similar boil capacity Trail Designs/Anti Gravity Gear 3-cup Caldera Kitchen (approx 5.7 ounces per person).
  • Fuel efficient: We cooked for two people (5 days, 4 nights) on 8 fluid ounces of fuel.
  • Compact: The whole Keg-H system is just slightly larger than a standard 24-ounce Heineken beer can.
  • Easy to use: We found the Keg-H system as easy to use as the AGG 3-cup Caldera Kitchen; possibly easier, since it requires no pot holder.

After the Show, Alison and I had an opportunity to field test the Keg-H system on a five-day backpacking trip at 11,000 feet. While a smidge less fuel efficient than the AGG 3-cup Caldera (our reference standard for an alcohol system), it did quite well. We cooked for two people, 5 days and 4 nights, on 8 fluid ounces of alcohol; with the weight savings over the AGG 3-cup Caldera system, you can easily carry more fuel and come out ahead on boils per trip. The Keg-H will probably be our couple's cooking system in the future, and may well be Alan's solo cooking system as well. It retails for $60.00.

System Weight as Field Tested - Caldera Keg-H for Two People
Item g oz
Trail Designs Caldera Cone 26 0.92
Trail Designs Stove 15 0.53
Self-supplied 8 fl oz fuel bottle + fuel measure 31 1.09
TD Heineken pot w/bands (cup for one person) 41 1.45
Lid 6 0.21
Self-supplied Glad 14-oz bowl (cup for second person) 38 1.34
Bag 10 0.35
Total Weight 167 5.89
Weight per person 84 2.95

Fuel Consumption per day 11,000 feet (50-60s F evening, 40s F morning)
19 ml PM boil 2 cups for two-person freeze dried meal
15 ml PM heat 2.75 cups treated water for two-person hot chocolate
26 ml AM boil 2.5 to 2.75 cups hot water for two-person tea
60 ml Total ml alcohol per hiking day (2 fluid ounces)

Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) - 2

 Keg-H System Weight as purchased from Anti Gravity Gear
Item g oz
Standard Caldera Cone 26 0.92
Stove 15 0.53
5 fl oz capacity Fuel Bottle (note smaller capacity) 18 0.63
TD Heineken pot w bands (cup for one person) 41 1.45
Lid 6 0.21
Anti Gravity Gear Cozy 18 0.63
Anti Gravity Gear Cup (cup/bowl for second person) 38 1.34
Anti Gravity Gear Bag 10 0.35
Total Weight 172 6.07

Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) - 3
The Caldera Keg-H system packed.


Citation

"Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)," by Alan Dixon and Alison Simon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/orsm09_caldera_keg_h.html, 2009-07-28 00:09:00-06.

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Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/28/2009 19:49:08 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009)

Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:11:01 MDT Print View

What a rip off. Minibull designs has been making this for years and it comes with all of those accesories. On top of that, Im sure even before minibull designs, there was someone who thought of this. Now some company feels the need to copy and industrialize it. Ha...Im not paying for something I can make...let alone something that is sold by a small time operation like minibull designs. Go make me something that the little guys can't make, otherwise go away. End of story.

Edited by MichaelRedbeard on 07/28/2009 20:13:16 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:22:07 MDT Print View

Hmm...pretty sure TrailDesigns is a 2 man operation. And Tinny doesn't offer anything like the Caldera Cone.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:24:43 MDT Print View

Chris, +1.

In a reply to Franco in another post, the folks at TD said they went through 1,000s of stove designs to get the stove to work in the cone at all feasible altitudes. They are a two-man shop and put the time and R&D into this.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:36:37 MDT Print View

Chris +2.

There is no comparison between what Tinny is doing and Trail Designs has done.

And not to take anything away from Tinny. He is and has been a leader in alcohol stoves. His focus is both deep and wide.

Trail Designs is a mixture of science, study, and experience that works. Simple, light, clean, efficient, repeatable, reliable, integrated systems.

You can copy what they do. But what you are copying is what they have developed over years of effort. Others have tried to "improve" or "substitute", but nothing works like a Cone. For good reason. They pay attention to the details.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:44:07 MDT Print View

.

Edited by annapurna on 05/02/2010 08:22:20 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Pffft.... on 07/28/2009 20:47:51 MDT Print View

Can't really compare a tinny *stove* to a Caldera *system*. The Caldera is in a (higher) league of it's own IMHO.

The caldera H (and F) are both superb systems that are my 'go to' for solo use.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Kaldera Keg on 07/28/2009 22:12:48 MDT Print View

Looks like a great setup, but I don't think I'm willing to pay $60 for it. I know there is a lot of time to develop the components for the right fit, but the cost just seems high to me.

Aaron Bradshaw
(bradshaw) - F

Locale: Alberta
Was that necessary? on 07/28/2009 23:22:52 MDT Print View

I have this system and love it. Most efficient alky stove set up I've ever used. And I have 3 of Tinny's. Maybe not in your price range but hardly think it should be called "rip off."

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Re: Kaldera Keg on 07/28/2009 23:59:21 MDT Print View

"Looks like a great setup, but I don't think I'm willing to pay $60 for it."

Just stop by the liquor and hardware stores and get the stuff to make one.

IMO, beer and pop cans are cheesy looking.

Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Main Point... on 07/29/2009 00:39:29 MDT Print View

It kind of flusters me to know that they are charging $60 for this piece of equipment. Granted Mr. Chistopher at Trail Designs may put a lot of time and research into developing his products, I do not think it is fair to charge $60 for this stove. In fact, it puts a grin on my face to know that they had the audacity to charge this figure for what you are getting. I will say that I did not do my research on the company and that you guys were correct with it not being a big producer. However, I think it is a joke that people do not make there own alcohol stoves. There is a million and one different videos on youtube to show you how to make them. If you need links Id be glad to provide them. Personally I do not think this set up should cost more than $30 at most.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Main Point... on 07/29/2009 03:48:37 MDT Print View

You can make your own alcohol stove all day long. You can make your own cone too. However, it won't be anywhere near the efficiency of the Caldera system. Efficiency is why most people buy the Caldera systems.

jeffrey bennett
(jollygreen)

Locale: Near the bottom
Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H on 07/29/2009 04:38:21 MDT Print View

Tim wrote "However, I think it is a joke that people do not make there own alcohol stoves. "

Some people do not like to make their own gear.

Tim Wrote "Does anyone know if I can pay extra to have them seam seal it for me? "
Just like some people do not like to seam seal their squall classic.
If a man can make 60.00 dollars for a well thought out product, I say great! One point Free market!

Tim Testa
(MichaelRedbeard) - F
Re: Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H on 07/29/2009 04:44:11 MDT Print View

Fair enough Jeff Ha Ha Ha. You jerk...you just had to bring that up didnt you Ha Ha Ha. I'm so afraid of seam sealing though. God forbid, I dont want to get wet. Yikes! However, you are correct, if they can get $60 for these things, more power to them. Crap I wish could get $60 making these things. Free market all the way!

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/29/2009 06:21:31 MDT Print View

When I select gear I try to compare performance to price. I always give the edge to something I make especially if I can do so cheaply. Tim makes a good point about alchy stoves being a place for people to do just this. I have made many alcohol stoves and used them numerous times. I would recommend this to anyone interested in gaining the satisfaction of firing up a homemade stove while camped under a tarp watching the sunset across a mountain ridge.

Here is where I get honest...I currently use a caldera cone. I use it for the same reason as my other gear. For the price you pay I can not find a better product. I really dont care that it is made of tin or cans or whatever. I use it because it performs like nothing I have made or can buy for less. My current setup is a caldera with a 550 ti pot. It allows me to carry less fuel (less weight) it is easy to use and works well each time. It even performs well with strong wind. My current setup cost more than $60.

If I were to purchase the Keg version of the cone I would get an even lighter system with the capacity to boil more water. I could do this for less money than what I spent for my current system. The con would be giving up some durability, but that often comes with UL decisions. So the way I look at it "is $60 a fair price for a SUL high performing cook setup...my answer is yes!" It is a great deal... so much so I am considering buying one to suppliment my current cooking methods.

But what may be a good deal to me...may not be to someone else and that's all good.

Jamie

Edited by jshortt on 07/29/2009 08:14:21 MDT.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Tested System is Lighter: Trail Designs Caldera Keg-H (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009) on 07/29/2009 07:27:05 MDT Print View

A minor error in the weight of the setup we tested.
It is actually lighter.

Self-supplied Glad 14-oz capacity bowl is 20g / 0.7 oz

Total weight is 149g / 5.25 oz

Weight per person 2.6 oz

Edited by alandixon on 07/29/2009 07:27:56 MDT.

Aaron Bradshaw
(bradshaw) - F

Locale: Alberta
Completely useless on 07/29/2009 08:58:34 MDT Print View

That's me when it comes to making my own gear. I've got some ideas, sure, but could I realize them - no way. Even as a wee lad, I had problems putting lego sets together. It's just not the way my brain works. The only thing I don't like about this cook system is putting it away - reminiscent of my lego issues.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Main Point... on 07/29/2009 13:48:14 MDT Print View

"It kind of flusters me to know that they are charging $60 for this piece of equipment. Granted Mr. Chistopher at Trail Designs may put a lot of time and research into developing his products, I do not think it is fair to charge $60 for this stove"

That merely shows that you have no idea of what goes into designing, manufacturing and marketing these systems (again I stress it's a system, not a stove). I personally know that TD have had to pretty much design and manufacturer ALL of their own machining/tooling equipment to be able to produce these in bulk. That's on top of all the design and experimentation, beta testing etc...sure, you can make your own, and don't have to pay yourself a wage, but come on, to suggest that TD is ripping people off is really not fair.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Re: Main Point... on 07/29/2009 14:08:00 MDT Print View

(walking gingerly into this discussion)...

Actually, the basic Caldera Cone with stove, fuel bottle, and caddy is generally only $30-40. The actual price varies with the size you need for your pot. You still need a pot, but I like that they will provide a Caldera Cone sized to fit almost any pot that is likely to be used. Antigravity Gear sells pots at decent prices to boot!

The Beer Can Caldera Cone packages ARE priced at $60 (well, $59.95), but that includes everything you need except a lighter/match/firesteel...and fuel.

Since the basic Caldera Cone is both windbreak and pot stand and comes with caddy and fuel bottle AND the stove, it's a relative bargain for a system that works very well and is convenient to use while being decently efficient with fuel use.

I don't begrudge the pricing. If any vendor's product price seems high to me, then I just keep on looking and keep my monetary powder dry for what I think offers value.

Edited by Beep on 07/29/2009 14:11:50 MDT.

Elizabeth Zaffarano
(buteo35)
Questions on 07/29/2009 15:25:12 MDT Print View

Concerning using the Caldera Keg in the field:

First-The AGG website talks about boiling 1.5 cups of water, even though the capacity of the can is 24 oz, because some of the can sticks out of the cone. But I see you boiled 2-2.75 cups of water. Did you adjust the band around the can to get more water inside the cone, or is it no problem to heat water efficiently no matter the level above the edge of the cone?

Second-How do you take the can out of the cone? Are the edges very hot? Does that top silicone band really protect your fingers?

Edited by buteo35 on 07/29/2009 15:30:53 MDT.