Monthly Archives: April 2011
We got our new cook kit from AntiGravity Gear in today! AntiGravity Gear sells many products and most of them are from other companies but they do sell their own stoves and pots. They also partner with Trail Designs, making the ever popular Ultralight Caldera Kitchen sets.
We purchased the AntiGravity Gear Mama’s Kitchen 3 Cup Deluxe Solo Non-Stick Cook Set. It came with everything we needed except for the primer pan and fuel bottle. I also added a insulated zip mug to protect the stove and to use as my bowl. It’s not really a needed piece but a bowl and cozy for an ounce was well worth it. I knew the kit was going to be light but when the box arrived I was still amazed at just how light it really was! The box was well packed and everything inside was wrapped in thin brown packing paper so that it didn’t move about too much. The invoice was printed but due to the handwriten notes on it you could tell this is still a small personal company (just the kind I like!).
What was in my box: 3 Cup Non-Stick pot w/ lid, 3 Cup pot cozy, Clamp Handle for the pots, Alcohol stove, Windscreen, 1 oz fuel measuring cup, primer pan, fuel bottle, insulated zip mug. In total it all weighs 10 oz for the whole kit cutting .5 lb off our pack weight! Also the fuel was really easy to find at my local Home Depot in the paint department since denatured alcohol is used as a paint stripping agent. Here are more detailed pictures.
Initial Test: Took it out to the back porch to try. It was very easy to set up the stove, but the fuel bottle is a bit tricky to fill from the can of denatured alcohol I got from the store. Fortunately alcohol evaporates so quickly it really didn’t stay a mess for long. I put the stove toegther and then filled the measuring cup AGG provided as a part of the kit. The fuel bottle is really well designed to work with the primer pan which instructs you to use 15-20 drops of alcohol in it. Alcohol comes out of the fuel bottle in drops unless squeezed making it really simple to not only fill the measuring cup but to also prime the pan.
I set the pot with water on top of the stove, then lit the primer pan with a lighter. It was easier to hear the stove light than to see it as everyone who has used an alcohol stove will tell you the flame is nearly invisible, in fact I never did see it on a backdrop of concrete. The fuel makes a fairly noticeable pop when lit so it was not too hard to hear the primer pan light. There were a few pops that followed and when those subsided to a hiss the stove was lit. As advertized on the website it took about 30-45 seconds to light but it lit every time with no tempermental behaviour at all.
I used refrigerated water that was about the same chilled temp as the water we were getting out of the stream the first week of April. I put approximately 1 cup of water in the pot and .5oz of fuel in the stove. While I waited for boiling I put the fuel I wasn’t using back into the can for safe storage and when I turned around the water was rolling! I don’t think I had my back turned for more than a minute or two. This leads me to believe that a two cup boil in 4-5 minutes is quite reasonable since I was using rather chilly water. I can see us lighting the stove then taking the few minutes it takes to prep our food and having boiling water with no real waiting! That will be a big improvement over the Esbit stove we were using.
My last comment I want to make is about the cozy. The two we have, one for pot and one for mug, weigh in at around 3oz and some people trying to save every single ounce may feel them to be useless. I can respect that but I will say if you’re really looking to save weight I’d take them. The water I had in the pot had cooled off from the boil significantly by the time i stuck the pot back into the cozy and I left it there with pot and cozy lid on top. I came back about 5 minutes later and the water was actually hotter to the touch than it was when it went into the cozy! If you do dehydrated food like Richard and I do, this would be a huge bonus. We are planning on putting our own dehydrated meals together from now on and these cozies will be able to do what the mountain house type bags do for dehydrated meals by reflecting the heat back into the food, but without all the extra and heavy trash.
We got out of town a little late but made it to the state park and got our backcountry passes and got dropped off at the trail head after leaving our car where we were planning to come out. It was a bit chilly so I started off with my light fleece on but it didn’t take long for that to go back in the pack because we warmed up really quickly.
We didn’t go far before we reached our first sign and you can tell it was early because Richard’s smile still looks like he means it. As time went on the smiles, though still fully meant look quite forced since we were working hard for our fun! The first part of the trail was very easy and followed a valley for the first mile or two which was full of small waterfalls that were not that spectacular but beautiful all the same.
The first real “sight” we came to was this little natural bridge it was hard to spot in the pictures but it was really obvious when you were on it! 🙂
This was a branch that Richard called back to me as a low overhead because he almost hit it. As you can see it gave me no such trouble. We had a lot of moments like this where Richard would warn me about something that had bothered him and then I just missed it completely.
We went 6.2 miles the first day and there was probably five or six little waterfalls along the way and even more creek crossings and the whole area was just gorgeous!
The biggest waterfall we did come to was called cascade falls and there is a path that you can take that lets you stand next to the top of the falls and it was a really nice place to stop and eat some trail mix lunch. I have to say that we really enjoyed the trail mix a lot more than we thought we would. We actually ate the trail mix as a walking lunch more than the lunch that I had packed. Speaking of food in general, we ate a LOT less than we thought we would. The breakfasts were perfect and by the second morning we got pretty good at making it without measuring the water ammounts. Trail mix as lunch worked really great and we brought home the lunches I had packed. We also brought way too much for dinners and I brought home a whole dehydrated meal and never finished the meals we did make.
We also had some issues with the water tablets. The tablets worked great but they took too long to work and we ran out of drinkable water the second day. We have decided that we would like to go with a gravity filter system after seeing another hiker rock one. The ammount of water Richard drinks we could never carry enough water resivours for a tablet system to work and a gravity filter weighs much less than a average pump filter, especially when you stop and think that the grav filter weight includes a 4 liter dirty and a 4 liter clean resivour and the clean side can be used to store water as well eliminating the need for extra storage containers.
One of the things that worked really well was our packs. Neither of us ever felt the pain we have heard described by new backpackers on similar trips. Of course that might also have something to do with our packs topping out at 25 pounds and that’s without any truly lightweight gear.
We arrived at camp an hour earlier than I had planned both days and had ample time to set up camp, make dinner, and hang our bear bag before sunset. We had access to fire rings, but we honestly didn’t really use them. Partially because there really wasn’t enough useable firewood but a lot of it was because we really didn’t have time and energy. I was truly worried that sleep was going to be a problem since I have really bad insomnia but after a full day of hiking I was asleep by 9 every night and awake with Richard with no real grogginess like I was afraid would happen.
Here we are leaving from camp the morning of the second day.
This was a bit of forest that reminded me of a fairy tale.
Just some more pictures of the view from the trail.
The best view of the day though was on top of the highest point in the trail (duh I know) at a place called Dowdell Knob it was a 2.5 hour long climb to get to it and it was worth every step!
All in all it was an amazing trip and we had a great time. It was a very educational trip, we learned a lot about what works for us and what we’d like to try in the future. We are in the process of tweaking our set up to fix the problems we had and of course go lighter than before and we are really excited to get back out there soon!