Checkout my DIY Ultralight Cookset

12:35 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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I've been going stir crazy this year with all this extreme cold. So I have been playing around with all kinds of DIY projects (and writing tons of of gear reviews). Here is a 3.5oz cookset. I don't know that I would actually use this on the trail, but it was fun to play around with (I will use the stove).

2:51 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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What?...no boil test:-)

3:02 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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I just [carefully] use my bandana to handle my pot/pan...tried that little "pot gripper" that came in the Minimalist cookset, and man, couldn't do it. Doesn't help that I've got gorilla mitts for hands, but damn near burned my fingers off.

You try using a silicone wristband, slipped over the top of the pot?

3:25 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

I just [carefully] use my bandana to handle my pot/pan.

 The bandana is one of my most useful items, and may be used for so many purposes.  For example --

Hot pot gripper

Wipe off tent condensation

Cooling rag worn around neck

Personal hygiene implement (wet it with water & a little Dr. Bronner's soap)

Pressure bandage on cuts/gashes

Worn as a do-rag under my mountain biking helmet

A pre-filter for water

Well, you get the idea.  It's lightweight, quick drying and so versatile.  I always have one with me when trekking.

3:54 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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@Eric, I tried the silicone wristband. 1. It burned my piggies. 2. I thought it might crush the can.

@Earth Pig--I agree about the versatility of bandanas. I just don't like using my all-purpose bandana around my food use (Wipe my sweat...grab my cup-yuck!)

3:55 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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@Joseph--it boils fine! :)

4:01 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

@Earth Pig--I agree about the versatility of bandanas. I just don't like using my all-purpose bandana around my food use (Wipe my sweat...grab my cup-yuck!)

 Well, I do try to rinse it out in between uses.  I'm not a complete neanderthal.

Then again, I believe in "The Five Second Rule", so..... maybe my wife is correct.

5:25 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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Earth Pig said:

 Well, I do tryto rinse it out in between uses.  I'm not a complete neanderthal.

Then again, I believe in "The Five Second Rule", so..... maybe my wife is correct.

 ROFL!!!

5:56 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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I'm sure it boils great...but Youtube if filled with videos of men recording themselves boiling water...you could've been a part of that great heritage:-)

6:33 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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jrenow said:

I sure it boils great...but Youtube if filled with videos of men recording themselves boiling water...you could've been a part of that great heritage:-)

 Yes, YouTube does appeal to the narcissist in all of us. :D

11:45 p.m. on February 11, 2014 (EST)
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Great review... really helpful.  I had my oldest son watch it so he could work on his cook kit.  I gave him one of my pop-can alcohol stoves and that's about as far as he's gone in getting it more compact and lighter.  He's agreed to some trail-torture with me this summer.  He'll learn!

7:43 a.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Nice job, Goose!

Thanks for sharing this, and also for the shout-out to Trailspace at the end, complete with cute cat.

9:40 a.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Wow. Great cookset G00SE!

OK. Dumb question time: I've been interested in these SUL cook kits for a while, but I've heard that most pop cans have a polymer liner that isn't heat tolerant and might leech into your water. Could such a liner be burned off? Have you noticed any odd tastes? (Odder than Mountain Dew residue!)

Great video!

11:13 a.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Seth, I don't have an answer to your question. When I went to look it up, I found nothing, but conflicting responses. FDA says soda cans are safe...others claim the FDA is in the back pocket of the soda industry.


But when has the soda industry ever misled us?


cola-earlier.jpg

1:15 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

Seth, I don't have an answer to your question. When I went to look it up, I found nothing, but conflicting responses. FDA says soda cans are safe...others claim the FDA is in the back pocket of the soda industry.


But when has the soda industry ever misled us?


cola-earlier.jpg

Laughing-out-loud.  Priceless response G00SE.  I think I'll feed my 3yo some Coke tonight.  Maybe we can get the drugs, strippers and loaded guns out and really give the kids an experience.  Ha, ha, ha!!

1:29 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Seth said:

Wow. Great cookset G00SE!

OK. Dumb question time: I've been interested in these SUL cook kits for a while, but I've heard that most pop cans have a polymer liner that isn't heat tolerant and might leech into your water. Could such a liner be burned off? Have you noticed any odd tastes? (Odder than Mountain Dew residue!)

Great video!

Hey Seth.  Just like G00SE I can't speak to the exact answer.  I also suspect that, at least to some extent, the course of manufacturing is different from one manufacturer to the next.  In other words, we may find there's no liners or problematic coatings with, say, a Mountain Dew can.  But then there may be something lurking in other cans.

That said, here's some personal experience with SUL soda can stoves that may help answer your question.  I got interested in these roughly 2 years ago.  I watched a ton of YouTube vids and got to see and hear a manure-truck full of quackery advice.  Based on that, I went at it and built / tested some 30 different stoves.  Most of those were my final design as I made about 20 of them and tested them to see which one's worked the best (yes, even in the same design I found that they performed with different burn rates and efficiencies).  Most designs only worked "so-so".  More than one design burned up in front of me - poof!  I did come up with a final design that I really ought to document.  Maybe I'll post it here when I get a chance.  But what I saw in watching all of them do their thing is: there's no residue.  Nothing on the inside of the cans was burning, and those areas are in direct contact with the alcohol that is burning.  The only residue I found was from the alcohol itself (it has a light reddish-brown look).  The stoves that burned up (yes, burned themselves into a metal mess that got thrown away) were burning on the outside - it was the can's outside paint that was burning... nothing on the inside.

Since I collected cans from my Cub Scout pack, there were all kinds of types and brands.  None of them seemed to act any differently than another on the inside.  So the take home message:  I think the inside of a typical pop can has nothing to worry about in it.

Hope that helps, and happy adventuring!

2:45 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Y'all are too funny.

Well, hey - different strokes for different folks, I guess, eh? I owned a GSI Minimalist for awhile, and gave the whole "two-fingers-and-a-thumb" pot gripper the good 'ol college try. Couldn't do it, and damn near burned my fingers off trying. 

Trail Designs offers a "Caldera" set with one of their keg cans, but

A.) $60 - what?!?

and B.) the darn case for the set weighs more than the cookset itself. 

Probably just need to track down a YouTube tutorial of how to make a "Foster's Pot" and go from there. Considering all I wind up doing is boiling water, it's about the best way to get down to bare bones without any weight penalty.

I've also heard using those side-entry can openers helps with sharp edges on these things. 

3:08 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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I ruined several cans trying to do the side-entry cut. Works on the tin cans, with which I made the lid.

3:11 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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You know...I've tried different SUL cook-systems...and I am not convinced the weight they save is real...because in actual use the liquid alcohol fuel that most are based on more than offsets the savings in weight. They are also incredibly delicate...and for me that usually means I will break it within a few trips. I think these things are for careful folks who do not believe there is a such thing as marginal weight loss...and who like Esbit a lot.

4:56 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Really cool and thorough review GOOSE, nice job, but that thing wouldn't last long on any of my trips.  It would get destroyed in my pack or something.  

My primus stove and SnowPeak titanium mug weigh around 10 oz (doesn't count fuel canister) and are pretty much indestructible.  The weight is about 17 oz with canister.  I carry that setup when I need to stay light.  The small fuel canisters nest nicely inside the SnowPeak mug.  I carry a jetboil when I have room and weight isn't so much an issue.  

5:10 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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For mostly solo and overnight trips, the alcohol stove-based cookset is hard to beat.

I've been through canister stoves, a JetBoil, ESBIT, and my favorite of them all is the alcohol stove.

Paired with my current SP Hybrid Trail Cookset, I've got a system right now that comes in around 7 oz: Blue-Mini alcohol stove, rolled aluminum windscreen and priming plate, pot, pan/lid, STS X-Mug (ditched the orange silicone bowl that came with the cookset - mug's actually lighter!), short spork, matchbook, lighter, and a bandana that easily fit in the mesh stuff sack SP provided with the cookset. 

Probably the best going setup that allows me to accomplish a basic boil, but if and when I've the means for legitimate cooking, I'm able to do that, too. Once I've more time with it and can put it through the paces, there'll be a review, too.

6:02 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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I have been using a catfood can stove (0.2oz) for nearly a year, and I'm convinced it is the way to go.

I use EXACTLY 0.5 fluid ounces of fuel for each meal. I don't bring my filtered water to a full boil, because then I'm just burning my tongue or waiting for it to cool back down.

My fuel usage works out to 0.817oz of weight per day. So on a 7-day trip, I need to start off with a fuel WEIGHT of 5.72oz (I use a 0.2oz plastic bottle to carry it in).

A mini-canister of Jetboil Fuel weighs 6.5oz when full. But when your done, your still carrying a 3oz empty canister.


On the last day of my trip, I'm carrying 0.4oz (catfood can & plastic fuel bottle).

7:03 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Goose...my comment wasn't so much about the stove as it was the cook-pot...folks have been using cat-stoves forever with little problems (I use one occasionally...and many recommend them for thru-hikes)...but a cook-pot made from a soda or beer can is considerably less durable and versatile as one made of titanium (you can only use alcohol fuels)...and the negligible reduction in weight between the two is certainly something a lot of folks have reservations about....particularly if you're using liquid alcohol as opposed to solid fuels (similar to cutting off the end of your toothbrush at the same time you're bringing a full tube of toothpaste). To lend more weight to my opinion...I know of no professional or well-known hiker/adventurer that recommends the use of soda and beer can pots for thru-hikes...this isn't to say that it cannot be done...but since you (Goose) say that everything you do is based from a thru-hike perspective I thought I'd mention the issues of durability and versatility. The lightest cook-system I've seen that is what I would call "thru-hike practical" (if this is something you're interested in) is a simple 600ml mug with a DIY pie-pan lid which the guy (Seth) brought to a boil with a small stick-fire. Seth "cooked" as many hot-meals as I did for 10 days and his entire cook-system (mug+matches+lid+stuff-sack+wire-handle) weighed just over 3oz. Compared to my system he was saving about 3oz of weight + the 7-8 oz of fuel I carried (that's over 1/2 a pound). His system was just as durable and versatile as mine (both were titanium pots). What really opened my eyes to the idea...was the fact that it rained 4-5 days of the trip...but which he easily worked around by grabbing a handful of twigs in the morning to start his small fire in the evening with (it took me two days to notice he was doing this...so I thought he was a fire-whisperer for at least a day). Again...I'm not saying that I don't like the cook-system (it is cool) and totally practical for a weekend trip...I just thought I'd mention the issues of durability and versatility (what would you do if your fuel leaked?) in the chance that you might be considering it for your thru-hike (which you say everything you do is geared towards).

9:38 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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Joseph, I agree. Like I said, I don't know that I would actually use this...maybe on a weekend trip just for kicks & giggles. Honestly, I still think the most bang for the buck is the GSI Minimalist set I have (sans foon).

I could go lighter with Titanium, but another thing I consider is cost per ounce. For example, I have a 3.4oz Gerber multitool that paid $18 for on clearance. Recently I saw a 2.2oz multitool for $20. So....is that 1 ounce with $20 to me? No. If someone gave me one, of course I would use it, but I'll go broke trying to buy down ounces.

On the other hand, my next DIY project is going to be a 15oz Tyvek Tarp. I'm just waiting for a few scrap pieces to come my way.

10:22 p.m. on February 12, 2014 (EST)
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I hear you Goose...titanium is certainly an expensive way to drop a negligible amount of weight. I would be a little nervous about using a lightweight aluminum pot on an open-fire...but aluminum is certainly a smart economical option...particularly if you're only boiling water.

I know a guy who would probably sell you some Tyvek cheap (he uses it building barns). It isn't the really nice thin stuff...but the pieces I got from him worked really well for foot-prints:-)

7:33 a.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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Our maintenance team is finishing up repairs on a building and will have some for me in a few days.

The aluminum pot in the GSI isn't all that lightweight. I'm using mine with alcohol, but I know many use it with a PocketRocket. I expect to get years out of it.

9:38 a.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE, based on your hilarious response, I have decided to forgo cooking entirely and subsist on exclusively cola!

For real though, inspired by your video and herdingcats' comments, I'm going to take the plunge and make this pot!

11:27 a.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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Make sure to post it for us, Seth!

12:12 p.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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herdingcats said:

Laughing-out-loud.  Priceless response G00SE.  I think I'll feed my 3yo some Coke tonight.  Maybe we can get the drugs, strippers and loaded guns out and really give the kids an experience.  Ha, ha, ha!!

Seth - G00SE's response is inspiring to be sure, but it must be my follow-up comments that are truly inspiring your cola-only diet.  Should be a wild ride.  If you survive to the other side, let us know how it went... well, if you can remember.  :-)

5:07 p.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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