Friday, March 1, 2013

PPR: Some old friends revisited

One of the first product reviews I did as an actual reviewer -- as in, I asked people to give me stuff to test, and to my surprise they did just that -- was for a quartet of camping stoves.  I am still a fan of the two with the highest ratings, the Solo Stove and the Folding Firebox, and I occasionally check in with them to see if they have anything new to sell.  It turns out that they do!

The first is fairly quick & dirty:  the Folding Firebox now sells two bags specifically designed to hold the stove in the folded state. One of them is a Heavy Duty Cordura D-ring Bag ($15.99, free shipping) which not only holds the Firebox but also has sleeves/pockets for the accessories.  This bag was previously sold only as part of an expensive deluxe kit, and so I am thrilled that the manufacturer listened when I suggested that he sell it separately.

Also available for the Firebox is the Ugly Bag ($9.99, free shipping), a homely but tough case made of vinyl-coated polyester. It doesn't have any of the frills that the D-ring bag has, but it gets the job done. This is the bag I own (I bought it myself! Like a grown-up! With my own money and everything!) and while it ain't pretty, it definitely does the job of keeping the Firebox and all its accessories together in a case that will protect the rest of your stuff from ash, cooking residue, and metal corners.

Here is a video of both bags, so you may make an informed decision.

The second item on the list is the Solo Pot 900 ($34.99).  What I like about this product is that the Solo Stove fits inside of it, so the usefulness of your cooking kit is doubled without any appreciable increase in volume -- and because it's made out of lightweight steel (seriously, I thought it was aluminum at first) there's no appreciable increase in weight, either.

It has volume markings in both metric and imperial, and they go as high as 30 ounces (although I think the total volume of it is closer to 35oz.). It also has a pour spout, two handles that fold out to make a roomy and comfortable grip, and a removable lid with a rubberized ring on top, making it essentially a combination mug and pot.

For consistency's sake, I took the Solo Pot into the back yard and heated 25oz water in it on the Solo Stove, so I could compare its performance to the previous test where I boiled 24oz in an aluminum pot.  Since the first time I tested these I did not cover the pot  (I was told later by my mother that I should have covered it, as that would have improved cooking time), all further tests have been uncovered, so keep this in mind when you consider the following times:
  • At 1:30, bubbles had already begun to form along the bottom. 
  • The water was clearly starting to boil at the 5 minute mark. 
  • It was obviously boiling by 7 minutes, although it had not achieved a rolling boil. 
  • At around the 11 minute mark I knocked the pot off the stove (oops!) and ended the test in a flurry of "Oh shits" as I barely avoided getting scalded. 
  • Considering that test was with the lid off, and that the first Solo Stove test achieved rolling boil by 12 minutes, I think this is a reasonable extrapolation to make for the Solo Pot as well.
My only real complaint, and it's a minor one, is that given the size of the pot it can be difficult to feed the stove effectively, and it's possible to knock it off (like I did) if you feed it too aggressively.  On the plus side, despite being made of metal it cooled off very quickly, and I had no trouble with taking it off the fire with the in-built metal handles.

That said, this is an excellent product. It turns your stove into a complete cook system that is only 4.5 inches high and 4.7 inches in diameter.  That's a stove and a mug/pot in a space smaller than a coffee can, and there's still room in the pot for fuel tabs and a lighter.
 My Rating:  A+

And to round off this post, I am pleased to announce that the Extended Cocking Handle for the Sub-2000, which I reviewed last month, is now available for sale by Twisted Industries. They are calling it the Double Finger Operating Handle and are selling it for $44.99.  Trust me, it's worth it.

UPDATE 11/08/2013:  I just noticed that the operating handle has been reduced to $24.99.  This is a much better price, and if you own a Subbie you now have no reason NOT to get this. The upgrade in comfort is easily worth 25 bucks. Get it -- you won't be sorry.

Photo courtesy Oleg Volk.

If you buy any of these, tell them Palette sent you!

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