LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System v.2
Titanium Foil Windscreen: 4.4 grams
Titanium 550ml cookpot w/lid: 72 grams
Titanium Wing Stove: 13 grams
Titanium Ground Protector/Reflector: 1.2 grams
Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack: 4 grams
I had always been a devout user of alcohol stoves. What’s not to like? You can easily (and cheaply) make a variety of your own, denatured alcohol is easily found (and cheap), most are lightweight and let’s face it, they can be a lot of fun to play around with. So what exactly is the advantage of esbit over alcohol? Nice try, I’m not even going to get into that heated debate. Instead, I’m going to highlight my current, and preferred, esbit cooking system, and give some examples as to why it works for me.
A few months back I wrote a review of the LiteTrail 550 Ti cookpot here. This companion post will once again include the LiteTrail 550 but will expand to include the full LiteTrail Ti Solid Fuel Cook System. Unfortunately, this particular system is not available from LiteTrail at this time but here is a quote directly from LiteTrail:
“Stay tuned for a special announcement regarding the LiteTrail Ti Solid Fuel Cook System! Version 3 is coming for the holidays.” – Jhaura Wachsman
I’m pretty excited to see what changes the new system will have, although I think the current version is pretty darn near perfect.
One thing that is missing from my 550 system is the cuben fiber stuff sack. I purchased each piece of the kit individually, and didn’t feel the extra expense of the cuben stuff sack was necessary. The 550 pot came with a thin silnylon stuff sack that works just fine and only weighs 3 grams. I replaced the stuff sack draw string and cord lock with a single piece of 1/16 shock cord, which once cinched closed, I can wrap around the pot like a rubber band. That keeps the lid from rattling around on top of the pot while I’m walking.
Esbit is available in 14 gram or 4 gram cubes and I prefer to carry the 4g cubes. I will use one entire 4g cube* to heat 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups water to rehydrate a meal and ½ cube (2 grams) to heat 1 cup of water for a hot beverage. Neither of these will bring the water to a boil, but it will get the water plenty hot to rehydrate a meal or make coffee. *Depending on conditions, such as very cold and/or high winds, I may use 1 1/2 or even 2 of the 4g cubes.
One major complaint about esbit is the stink factor. I don’t find it all that offensive but some people seem to be more sensitive to the smell. To help contain the odor, I wrap the esbit cubes in a single layer of aluminum foil and then seal them in a mini Ziploc bag. Once contained this way, I can barely detect any odor.
The esbit wing stove is nothing new, it has been around for a while. The one thing that makes the LiteTrail version unique is the custom modified wing tips. Each wing tip has a ¼” half moon concave cut that perfectly accommodates the 550ml pot. Other size pots will still work fine with this wing stove, but the 550 has an advantage, as it seats very securely.
Another complaint I hear about esbit is the amount of residue it leaves behind after burning. With the 4g cubes, there is very little residue left on the pot and it can be easily wiped off, either with a bandana, piece of towel or even just by rubbing the pot on some grass or dirt/sand. Now if you are using the larger 14g cubes, you can expect more residue, but once again, it can simply be rubbed off in the manner described above. And once you are home from your trip, any residue still on the pot can easily be scrubbed off. So, the residue factor has never been an issue for me. Plus I just can’t understand people being concerned about the bottom of their cookpot getting dirty.
Simply put, this kit just works for me. I cannot stress enough how compact and easy to use this system really is, and I would (and do!) highly recommend it to anyone that carries a cook kit. At first, I was unsure how I would feel about esbit (mainly because of all the negativity and complaining I had been reading online) but the transition from alcohol to esbit has been an easy one, and I am not looking back. Esbit is simple to use, has a much higher safety factor (compared to alcohol), lightweight, and for the most part, idiot proof.