Trail Designs Caldera Cone System
This is a lightweight 12-10 alcohol stove with a custom-made…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $34
This is a lightweight 12-10 alcohol stove with a custom-made cone-shaped aluminum windscreen that serves as a pot stand for your specific cooking pot. Along with a fuel bottle and a Nyquil-like measuring device, the system is all packed into a plastic caddy for easy storage and transportation
- No "fiddle factor"
- Wind resistance
- Not flexible; can't use with multiple cooking pots
About 2 years ago, I made the switch to an alcohol stove – for several reasons: 1) wanted to reduce my base weight; 2) tired of gas canisters; 3) my old canister stove was in need of replacement; 4) I saw other backpackers having good experiences with their alcohol stoves; 5) wanted to go a little “greener” (what happens to all those empty gas canisters, anyway?).
So I did a bit more research and went with the Caldera Cone. I consider it one of my best gear purchases ever.
I’ve used this stove exclusively since I got it. That includes almost 100 nights on the trail or in the back country, in varying terrain and weather conditions. I pair it with my cooking pot, an MSR Titan Kettle. The plastic caddy screws apart and yields 2 pieces: the smaller upper portion that can be used as a cup and the larger lower portion that can be used as a quasi-bowl. I do use the smaller caddy piece as my coffee cup; I’ve never used the lower caddy piece as a bowl. Note the little bonus there: you can ditch the cup you were carrying and use the upper caddy instead. Genius, right there.
It’s lightweight. The 12-10 stove, cone windscreen, measuring cup and fuel bottle nest inside the caddy. When weighed all together, it’s 4.5 ozs.
It’s easy to use. First, assemble the cone windscreen by sliding one dovetail into the other. Measure and pour your fuel into the stove. Light the fuel and place the windscreen around the stove, and then place your pot inside the top of the windscreen, where it fits snuggly. I usually put the lid on my kettle to help the water boil faster. In about 6 to 7 minutes (on average), 2 cups of water reaches a full boil.
I know from using this stove exactly how much fuel is needed to achieve a full boil (exact amount, right down to the milliliter). This is useful because it eliminates wasted fuel, and you can plan to carry precisely the amount of fuel you’ll need for any trip. No more messing around with gas canisters, wondering how much fuel is actually inside and invariably carrying an extra canister “just to be safe.” I use the 5.5 oz bottle that comes with the stove, and supplement it with another plastic bottle of the same size, or a bit larger if I’m going to be out for longer. Again, I know how many meals any trip will entail and can plan to bring the exact amount of fuel I’ll need.
There is no “fiddle factor” with this stove. No moving parts. Nothing that can rust, corrode, or wear out. It is about as simple as a stove can be.
It’s sturdy. No need to worry about the pot being accidently toppled over, or balancing a pot on the 3 prongs of a typical canister stove.
It’s efficient. The cone windscreen has ventilation slots on the bottom for good air flow. The snug fit of the pot into the cone creates an ideal heating environment that maximizes every BTU generated.
I’m a simple man when it comes to backpacking cooking. I only cook meals that require boiling water. I’ll usually use a combination of pre-packaged Mountain House meals and very simple freezer bag meals of my own doing. I don’t need a simmer function with my stove – I just boil water and add it to my meal. For breakfast, it’s usually some oatmeal and coffee. Simple.
I don’t miss my old canister stove one bit and am very happy with the Caldera Cone.
Look for the model that allows the windscreen to be…
Look for the model that allows the windscreen to be used with a wood fire. Burn wood in the aluminum model and the sides will melt.
- With some practice you can gauge how much fuel you need to prepare your meal. Then just light it, do other tasks. When the flame is out your food is ready.
- For week+ outings your fuel weight will be substantial. A lightweight gas stove and fuel will be less weight and more convenient.
On a 10-day hike I found the titanium Snow Peak stove with a canister weighs less than 10 days worth of alcohol. I have used esbit, alcohol, and wood, but the most convenient and easiest to get going is the canister stove.
As far as alcohol stoves go (I have a least a dozen homemade jobs) the Caldera Stove system works very well, just be sure to get the right size for your pot.