Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Behold....The Sidewinder


As many of you know, I have a love affair of my Titanium Ti-Tri cooking system which I purchased from Titanium Goat (http://www.titaniumgoat.com/) but inspired and designed by Trail Designs (http://www.traildesigns.com/). Now that Trail Designs has the ability to work with titanium, they sell both aluminum versions and titanium versions of their famous cooking cones.


The reason I love the Ti-Tri is fairly simple: it cooks with esbit, with alcohol, and with wood. It provides me with wonderful peace of mind to know that if I run out of whatever fuel I'm carrying that I can just forage and likely find a suitable replacement. It is also the best windscreen on the market because it encompasses the pot completely being that it also serves as a very stable pot stand.


My only real gripe with the Ti-Tri was that the cone was long and required some kind of lightweight sleeve to carry it. Even then, it took up a little too much pack space for my preference.


Knowing that this was probably an issue for other backpackers, Trail Designs recently came out with their "Caldera Sidewinder Ti-Tri Titanium Cone System" (www.traildesigns.com/caldera-tt-sw.html) which offers a stouter cone capable of fitting in a 600ml, 900ml, or 1300ml pot. Essentially, the cone is the diameter of the pot and they package it in a tyvek sleeve. Trail Designs will also make one to other sizes, as long as the diameter of the pot is reasonable enough.
To me, this is an ideal cooking system because the pack size of my whole cooking kit is just the stove itself and I get all the benefits of my longerTi-Tri system.
Because I already had the gram weenie esbit stove (3 grams) and the two extra stakes which allow for wood burning, I only had to purchase the cone and the pot (with lid). Unfortunately, good gear is pricey. The cone alone was $45 (36 grams) and the Evernew Titanium 900ml pot was $53 (100 grams) which came with a lid (37 grams). The tyvek sleeve which holds the cone is 1 gram and likely won't last too long because it is a very tight fit on the inside of the pot when the cone is in it. This may also cause problems for the non-stick surface. I am strongly considering using a pot without the special coating for this reason, and because it shaves a small bit of weight (20 grams). I'm also thinking of swapping out the lid for some heavy duty tinfoil or something equally light to further cut out unnecessary weight.
I almost always carry a 900ml pot or cup because it is a perfect size for my needs. For example, using freezer-bag cooking options, I generally need around two cups of boiled water for a meal. A 900ml cup can hold more than three. So, I pour off two cups into my meal to hydrate it and add some tea mix to the rest of the cup and can have a hot meal and hot beverage together without wasting time or effort. This system also brings 3 cups to a boil on only one esbit. Beautiful.
Although one could use a lighter system overall, like tinfoil for a windscreen, and aluminum pot, and the Backpackinglight Esbit wing stove (http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/titanium-esbit-wing-stove.html) (which can also be purchased from places like Gander Mountain and others), the Sidewinder system offers a more robust option that will likely last substantially longer.
If you've got the cash and you like getting packages with a Yosemite mailing address which include a free Trail Designs rubber wristband, consider this option.

10 comments:

Maz said...

I've been looking at procuring a new stove system or two and the Ti-Tri caught my eye as a very versatile system (meths, esbit and wood-burning - with the option just to take the caldera part if hill-walking in a area with little prospect of finding firewood such as the Welsh hills). To have the sidewinder as an even lighter, more packable option, is superb. Very interested in this...

The Odyssee said...

Nice post and it looks the business. I like the Titanium model as it cools quicker and as you quite rightly say, it will last longer, is more durable and has the multi fuel use.
I too tried the 600 Evernew pot with a foil lid but i kept on having problems with one, for example it can easily blow away if you don't watch it constantly and other issues . Yes you can put something like a tent peg on the top but for me i ended up deciding that the correct lid was the best option all round, even though it was slightly heavier...
Alan

Pig Monkey said...

Can you still feed it when in wood burning mode? Looking at the stake holes in your photo, it looks like the gap between the top of the cone closure and the bottom of the pot is pretty darn small. Might be a pain to get much fuel in there.

I also wonder what sort of affect the smaller cone would have on the system's efficiency (with all three fuels). If you feel like doing a side by side comparison with the normal Ti-Tri, I'd be interested in the results!

Curt said...

Thanks for the review. Really interesting - and this is my pot of choice. How did you get the cone for $45? From the website it looks like the Sidewinder alone without a pot is $80. That doesn't include the Inferno - just the Sidewinder. I'm interested at $45 - probably not at $80.

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Pig Monkey - You hit the nail on the head. The Sidewinder is LESS efficient than the conventional Ti-Tri and Trail Designs doesn't hide that fact. Whereas the Ti-Tri is engineered to be as efficient as it could be, the Sidewinder is engineered to be more of a convenience than a high performer. The results for me have been fairly negligible though, perhaps because it would only matter a lot at high altitude, sub-freezing, or very windy conditions. It also still burns wood which is a little more challenging because the gap is smaller, but it still works. Basically, it just requires a little more handling.

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Curt - I'm not sure how I walked away with the cone for $45. I have no vested interest with them. I simply told them I had the rest of the kit from the Ti-Tri and asked them how much a cone with 900ml pot/lid would be and that's the price they gave me. Who knows, ask the same and maybe you'll get the same. I still didn't like paying $45 for it in the grand scheme of things, but I guess everyone needs to make money and there are suckers like me willing to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an alcohol stove yet. How does their 12-10 stove compare to alcohol stoves from other manufacturers?

Jolly Green Giant said...

@Anonymous - I think too much attention is given towards the "type" of alchol stove as the reality is that all you really need is a cup of some kind to hold the alcohol. Trail Designs uses a Pepsi-can style stove which is plenty fine. When I use alcohol though, I usually use a homemade catfood can like mentioned by Andrew Skurka because it is lighter, serves as a pot stand, is ultra simple and cheap, etc. If you want something that looks nice, is strong, and works as a pot stand, check out White Box stoves (www. whiteboxstoves.com).

jeepingetowah said...

This is the same one I use. Have you ever baked with it? I will do a video for you and show you how I bake in mine. Maybe it will be of interest to you.

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Jeepingetowah - I haven't baked in it but was actually thinking about that the other day. I admit that it might be too much trouble after a day of hiking when I'm sure I'll be looking for the quickest option to cook warm food.