Wednesday, December 17, 2014


As announced several weeks ago, Paleo Meals To Go ( offered one of my readers with the opportunity to try one of their great products via a random giveaway.  The offer was for one (1) Nomad Bundle (3-meals valued at $36!).

The winner is:  JOHN!  (Since we had two entires from people named John, the winner is the candidate with the very first comment in my previous review with no last name whom I have already contacted).

I'd like to thank Paleo Meals To Go for their generosity and encourage my readers to give them a try.

Thanks and happy holidays. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Emberlit FireAnt Three-Fuel Folding Titanium Stove (2.8oz)

In July 2014 I wrote about the Emberlit (Original) titanium 3-fuel folding stove.  After mentioning it was $85/5.7oz, I received some comments that it just wasn’t light enough for the ultralight backpacking crowd.   

Almost immediately after my review in July, Emberlit introduced the FireAnt, a smaller version of their original stove which was $69/2.8oz.  Yes lightweight backpackers, you have another potential stove purchase in your future.  

Somewhat accidentally I was able to pick up one of these stoves and test it for several months before it was widely available.  Like the original, the FireAnt is solidly constructed, well-conceived, and fun to use. 

I’ve included some pictures below for comparison purposes.  While the FireAnt is fine, of no surprise the original is more efficient primarily because more (and larger) fuel can be used and there is greater air movement.  Either way, both stoves are a lot of fun and quite packable.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

JetBoil MiniMo

I wanted to write a quick blog about the JetBoil MiniMo ($129/14.6oz) primarily because I haven’t seen a ton of reviews on it.  I’m guessing this could be because it isn’t very well known as it is being exclusively sold through REI, at least for now.

I have a love/hate relationship with JetBoil.  While I marvel and acknowledge the performance and engineering behind their stoves, I had a very bad experience with their Sol Ti.  In short, after just 4 uses, the fins burned and fell off the bottom while I was backpacking.  There is nothing more sickening than watching your new $150 stove rendered useless, through no fault of your own, knowing full well you had a lot of miles ahead.  From there, I argued with JetBoil for over two months trying to get them to honor their warranty.  They claimed I cooked in it, which I had not.  I simply used it to boil water, but it took entirely too much interacting with them to get them to show they were a stand-up company and to back their product.  In the end, I got a new cup, but by then I was done with the Sol Ti which was only further enforced after reading several reviews from others who had similar experiences.  I also understand the SolTi is unlikely to be manufactured in the future due to so many consumer issues with it.  With this in mind, I sold the Sol Ti and used the proceeds to purchase a JetBoil MiniMo.

My personal lightweight stove preference is Esbit.  It’s more expensive as a whole, but it’s nominal for someone who is more of a weekend warrior versus a thru hiker.  The difference in size and weight to most any other stove option is phenomenal as Esbit stoves are tiny and nearly weightless.  My second choice is a cone-style stove which affords the use of natural resources (wood, duff, etc.).  When compared to compressed gas or similar canister stoves, a major difference is really time and convenience.  Gas/Canister stoves cook more quickly and can be less fussy.  Being able to boil a cup of water using a JetBoil in just shy of 3 minutes is such a mental and physical pick-me-up versus waiting for 8-10 minutes using an alternative.  With that said, you can assume that I use gas/canister stoves primarily when I just don’t want to deal with the fussy nature of other stoves, if the weather is very poor, or if I just don’t mind carrying the extra weight.

There are several things I really like about the JetBoil MiniMo.  First, it is short and squat which improves the angle of eating from it and it works more like a bowl.  Being squat and made from aluminum also makes cooking a little more flexible.  While other stoves may claim broader cooking capabilities, unless the pot is as wide as the JetBoil MiniMo, there will be a certain degree of inconvenience as food much be chopped into small pieces just to get it to fit.  The real gain of the JetBoil MiniMo is the ability to fully control the flame making simmering and low-temperature cooking a real possibility.

A small canister and stove (and spoon for that matter) can conveniently fit in the cup of a JetBoil MiniMo.  Support legs for the canister fit nicely in the lid.

Unlike other JetBoil products, the JetBoil MiniMo cup has robust handles which just makes the experience a little more pleasurable.

But, there are some things I don't like.  The little plastic cup at the bottom, while useful in theory, continues to be cheaply made.  I've already broken a corner off mine.  The overall stability, especially while trying to remove the main cooking pot from the stove, and then the stove from the canister, always leaves me expecting to get burned or dump my food.  Components like the lid are over heavy and so are the handles.  The neoprene sleeve, while useful to help hold warmth, could use a cut-out for lips and it would be nice if it were easier to remove for cleaning.  I'd also really like JetBoil to come up with some kind of attachment, like it offered for the Sol Ti, which would allow a pot to be set on top of the burner (like a skillet or a cup without fins).

Bottom line, while I wouldn’t take it on every trip, it’s nice and convenient, performs well, and while perhaps a little bulky, overall it is a non-issue.  When I want something that makes my life easier, I use the JetBoil MiniMo.