Zelph Toaks 550 Cook Kit

I’ve written a number of posts about the Toaks 550ml titanium cook pot, so it should be obvious how much I like it.  In my opinion, it is still one of the best options for a solo pot/mug on the market.  At the same time, I have come to appreciate the efficiency and convenience of a Trail Designs Caldera Cone.  The Caldera Cone is nice because besides being an incredibly efficient design, it functions as both a windscreen and pot stand, thus simplifying the the number of pieces in your cook kit.  So when Zelph aka Dan at Zelph Stoveworks decided to release a custom Toaks 550 pot with ridgeline and a titanium Caldera Cone, I jumped on it and ordered one from his first run.  

Custom ridge line which makes this system really work

Custom ridge line which makes this system really work

When I received the kit, I began experimenting with a variety of MYOG esbit burners in an attempt to maximize efficiency with 4g esbit tabs.  I tried a lot of different designs and finally settled on this little guy.

It’s a very simple design, but functions incredibly well.  The kit came with a version of the BGET, which worked well with the system but is engineered more toward the larger 14g esbit tabs.

This particular burner works with a single or double 4g esbit tab.  Based on the design, a third tab does not work well and puts the flame too close to the bottom of the pot and really degrades efficiency.  Based on the volume of the 550 pot, I have found two 4g tabs to be sufficient.  In addition to the burner, I made a small titanium base to catch any liquid esbit which may escape the burner, as well as provide some ground insulation and heat reflection.

A number of people feel a tray design esbit burner is necessary to contain the liquid as the esbit burns but with the smaller 4g tabs, proper burner height and the efficient design of the Caldera Cone, I have found the tray to be unnecessary.  However, if you are using the larger 14g tabs, then I recommend a burner with a tray, like the one Zelph includes with the kit.

The pot is 550ml volume and the above photo shows the pot with 1 3/4 cups water.  I feel this is the ideal volume and provides head room for boil and makes it safer when pouring hot water from the pot.  2 cups will technically fit but it will be right up to the rim of the pot and I do not recommend it.

Now here is the really interesting part.  With this setup, I am not getting the usual esbit goo on the bottom of my pot.  Burning two 4g tabs results in only a small amount of black soot, which when wiped off, leaves only a small spot of what I would describe as hard, stuck on soot.  It is definitely not the typical stickier goo which all us esbit users know and love.  I have done 40+ burns with my MYOG burner and the results are the same every time.

Here’s a picture of the bottom of the pot after burning two 4g tabs.

pot dirty

Now here is a photo after wiping the bottom of the pot with a paper towel.  Notice the very small amount of soot on the towel.

pot wiped

Note the spot left in the center, that is what I was describing above as hard stuck on soot.  It’s not sticky in the least bit.  I was easily able to scrub it off with a wet towel and my finger nail.

Below is a not very good photo of the burner after burning two 4g tabs.  Note the edges of the burner which show how little liquid run off there is.  No tray necessary.  Also note the blackened bottom of the burner is fairly smooth, with no chunks of unburned esbit left behind.

tray dirty

I’m not really interested in collecting exact data on this set up but I typically get around a 17 minute total burn time from two 4g tabs and typically get a small boil with 1 3/4 cups water around the 10-11 minute mark.  Again, these are just rough estimates.  So is this the fastest or most efficient cook kit out there?  No, probably not, but I like it.  It’s incredibly lightweight, compact and durable.  Here is everything nested inside the pot.

nested

Inside the pot is the Caldera Cone in a tyvek sleeve, the burner/base in a small ziploc and nested inside the rolled up cone is another tiny ziploc with twelve 4g esbit tabs.  There’s still plenty of room in the pot for a lighter, small towel, etc.

Another thing, which I have already mentioned in a couple other posts, is this system fits perfectly in the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack.

warmsack1

warmsack2

 

In addition to making my own burner/base, I also replaced the stock titanium lid with a lighter, carbon fiber lid from Ruta Locura.

Total weight for 550 pot, carbon fiber lid, esbit burner/base and cone = 71 grams.  The GG Warm Sack adds another 16 grams.

Another thing about this cook kit which may appeal to a lot of people, is that Zelph designed this as a multi fuel system.  It includes not only his tray style esbit burner but also a modified Starlyte alcohol burner.  I don’t use alcohol anymore, but if I did, the Starlyte is a great design and it’s what I would choose.

Below is a photo of everything which originally came with the cook kit that I do not use.  I think the contents of the kits he is selling now may vary, so check his website or shoot him an email to confirm exactly what is included.

Original lid, stuff sack, esbit burner/base, esbit burner/base holder, Starlyte burner w/lid, alcohol measuring cups, alcohol bottle, slap band pot grabber

Original pot lid, stuff sack, esbit burner/base, esbit burner/base holder, Starlyte burner w/lid, alcohol measuring cups, alcohol bottle, slap band pot grabber

Yeah, that is a lot of unused stuff.  If I had it to do over again, I would probably contact Zelph and see if he would be willing to sell me just the cone and custom ridgeline pot.  He seems to be a pretty accommodating guy when it comes to custom stuff.  I have also read recently he is offering a version of this with a 550 pot w/handles and also larger volume Toaks pots which have the same diameter as the 550.

I’m really liking this set up and when I’m not going no cook, I will be bringing it with me.  I appreciate all the work Zelph has put in to this kit to finally bring it to market and look forward to what he comes up with next.  If you aren’t familiar with the various offerings from Zelph, take some time to stop by his website and check out all his products.

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12 responses to “Zelph Toaks 550 Cook Kit

  1. Nice writeup! I got one from the original run as well and I’m very happy with the setup. I noticed my Four Dog Stove lid fits the Toaks 550 nicely saves a few grams over the stock lid.

    I like your 4 gram Esbit burner. I’ve been using the smaller tablets since your post a few weeks back. I think I have some extra foil scraps left over from another project…

  2. Been hearing about this setup the last week. Cool little setup for sure.

    Love that 4g BGET and super nice to see others jumping onboard with the 4g tablets. I remember a few years ago when I started using them and talking about them, almost nobody else had ever used them. They really do make a lot more sense than the 14g tablets. Less waste, less residue, easier to light. only real downside is they tend to be more expensive per gram than the 14g tablets. oh well, such as things go eh.

    So do you have an exact weight on just the pot+cone?

    • Thanks for commenting. I should have broken it down in to individual weights but I was just being lazy. Here you go.

      Pot w/out lid: 42 grams
      Ti lid: 18 grams
      Carbon Fiber lid: 9 grams
      Cone: 17 grams
      Burner/base: 1 gram

      So obviously, based on individual weights, my setup should weigh 69 grams but when I put it all together on the scale I get 71 grams.

      I actually kind of stumbled on the 4g tabs. When I bought esbit for the first time, the 4g tabs were all my local outfitter had in stock. They do end up being a bit more expensive per gram but not enough for me to worry about. Too many other benefits outweigh the cost.

  3. I too acquired this kit. I use the GG cozy with it as well. Those 4 gram esbit tabs are tough to find anywhere though!

  4. Yer ESBIT burner needs a retaining “cup” as with the original BGET tab holder. It holds the liquid residue so it can burn and almost doubles the burn time. This is a big deal on week long trips B/C it permits you to carry less fuel.

    • Not necessary with this set up. As I mentioned in the article, if I was using the 14g esbit tabs then yes, a tray burner would be more efficient. With this set up, the liquid does not need contained because it is burning up as it liquefies and not running out over the base. Also, I get an average of a 17 minute burn with 8g esbit, a tray is not going to double that. I tried tray burners before settling on the one in the article and I found them to be unnecessary (with the 4g tabs).

  5. Yeah, it’s just one piece. I tried making one with legs but the distance between the bottom of the pot and the burner is so short, it adversely effected the efficiency.

  6. Well, “It’s a free country” and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    Personally I will NEVER use another Ti utensil, be it mug, pot, skillet or spoon. Ti does not conduct heat well enough for cooking. i.e. it has a hot center spot and not a more evenly heated surface as aluminum does.

    My favorite solo cook pot is from Trail Designs. It’s a 3 cup anodized aluminum pot and lid that fits my Sidewinder Caldera Cone, which IS Ti so it can withstand the high heat of the Inferno option gassifier wood burner insert.

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