LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System . . . In Defense of Esbit

Photo courtesy of LiteTrail.

Photo courtesy of LiteTrail.

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.

Silnylon stuff sack, secured with shock cord.

Silnylon stuff sack, secured with shock cord.

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.

4g esbit comes in a package of 20.

4g esbit comes in a package of 20.

4g cube in the Ti wing stove.

4g cube in the Ti wing stove.

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.

Eight 4g esbit cubes, aluminum foil and mini ziploc = 33 grams

Eight 4g esbit cubes, aluminum foil and mini ziploc = 33 grams

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.

I store the folded wing stove in a mini ziploc, inside the cookpot.

I store the folded wing stove in a mini ziploc, inside the cookpot.

Wing stove and ground reflector.

Wing stove and ground reflector.

550 pot seated on wing stove.

550 pot seated on wing stove.

Ti foil windscreen.

Ti foil windscreen.

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.

Residue left behind after burning one 4g cube.

Residue left behind after burning one 4g cube.

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.

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13 responses to “LiteTrail Titanium Solid Fuel Cook System . . . In Defense of Esbit

  1. I very much liked this write up, at this point I do prefer Alcohol systems better because of the esbit reside but I am looking forward to the new LiteTrail system to see if I can go a bit more lighter even if I need to just embrace the reside and adapt.
    Thanks.

    • Don, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the post. I was just checking out your blog, looks like you are in Arizona also, what part of the state? And give esbit a try, the residue issue really has been way overblown by some in the backpacking community. See Stick’s comment below, he is right on about the 4g tabs being the way to go.

  2. Excellent write up, and I agree, these systems are excellent! I actually prefer v1 of his kit, but am curious to see just what Jhaura is changing up on the newer system!

    I am glad that you brought up the soot, or lack of, when using the 4 g tabs. As you have pointed out, I notice much less amounts of soot when using 4 g tabs, even when using 2 of them, I still don’t get soot anywhere close to what I would get if I burned half of a 14 g tab. I am not sure why this is, but it has been what I have found.

    And as far as smell, I don’t smell the 4 g tabs. I was shocked because I figured they would be stinkier since they are not even individually blister packed like the 14 g tabs, but I cannot really detect any odor. I simply through how many I need in a foldable sandwich bag (not the kind with the zipper) and I am good to go.

    And last but not least, I like the 4 g tabs because it is so much easier to bring a more precise amount of fuel that I need, which is not much.

    All in all, I think it is one of the greatest solid fuel kits on the market. Simple to use, super light, packs small, very durable, and actually pretty dang efficient. What more could one ask for… 🙂

    ~Stick~

    • Thanks for the comment Stick, you are right on about the performance of 4g vs 14g tabs, I have had the same results with much less soot and the smell is very minimal. I am probably going overkill by wrapping them in foil, the ziploc alone would probably be fine.

      I like the carbon fiber lid you are using with your LiteTrail 550 v1, I was wondering if they may be going that route with the v3.

      • That would be pretty cool if he did team up with someone making the carbon lids. I feel like the lid is definitely the easiest thing to replace and save a (considerably) large amount of weight. And what I like about the carbon fiber lid is that it is still robust, and light, although, it will not blow away like a piece of foil…

        ~Stick~

  3. Just received a v3 today and it’s awesome. The folded edges of the windscreen seems the best of both worlds. Fits nicely into the pot, but no paperclips to misplace. Love the cuben stuffsack but may use this elsewhere and use a Ziploc for the Litetrail. Also currently expecting an Evernew 400ml TD Sidewinder in the post (I know, very extravagent!) – want to compare fuel efficiencies when I can…

    • That’s great, let me know how it works out with the Sidewinder. I just ordered one of the new windscreens and a handle-less pot. Really didn’t need it but, you know how that goes.

    • I’d be really interested in the comparison with a TD caldera, too. One would expect the TD to be a little more efficient just because the wind screen is tailored to be tighter to the pot.

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