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Posts tagged “Backpacking

A Study in Flame: Solo Stove Titan Review and Giveaway!

*To the readership. This is a rare event on PotP. Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a free Solo Stove Titan in our first ever giveaway. All you need to do is leave a comment below, then go to this link, Titan Giveaway – Patrons of the Pit, and it will guide you from there. Another way you can enter the giveaway is to like our Facebook page, and again, just go through the link above, and it will direct you to Facebook from there. If you can’t do either of those, an Email address will enter you into the contest also.  Regardless, use the link if you want to participate in the giveaway. Think of the link as a conduit for getting things done. The widget needs the attention so it can keep track of who has entered the giveaway. Oh, and if you have previously liked our Facebook page, sorry, those likes do not count in this giveaway. Anyways, now let’s get on with this review already!

img_1281Not too long ago, last week in point of fact, I was backpacking through the hinter regions of northern Minnesota. Was on one of my usual haunts there, afoot with a pack on my back, enjoying some of the swiftly vanishing perks of wilderness travel. Solitude. Clean rushing rivers. Pure air in which to breathe, ushered on a breeze that which murmurs like poetry through the long-standing pines. It was October, and the tamarack along the way were turning golden there, kissed in an autumnal sunbeam. It was just plain lovely. So much so and in fact, it rather demanded a spot of tea.

Solo Stove Titan – Larger Version of Original Solo Stove. Lightweight Wood Burning Stove. Compact Kit for Backpacking, Camping, Survival. Burns Twigs – No Batteries or Liquid Fuel Canisters Needed.

Enter The Titan

solo_titan_nocookingring__69207-1445351399-95-95I had along a new piece of gear this hike, one sponsored to us by the kindly folks at Solo Stove. It’s a backpacking stove, good for car camping too, that runs completely off wood, or what ever other forest debris, or bio fuel, you might find laying about. It’s pretty slick. And I don’t think I have ever had a more poetic, scientifically satisfying, trail-side cup of tea in my life, than I had with this ingeniously designed cooker. The Solo Stove Titan. The glory is in the flame. So grab yourself a cup of tea likewise, and let’s disect this thing, shall we.

Natural Convection Inverted Down Gas Gasifer

What???

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solo_titan_top__35990-1445351431-95-95Here’s how it works. You build your fire on the nichrome wire grate down in the stove. Air comes in through the holes at the bottom of the stove, feeding oxygen to the fire there. With me so far? Simple enough. Here is where it gets interesting tho. The stove is double walled, and so warm air also travels upwards, heating up as it goes, between in the inner wall and the outer one. Once it reaches the top of the stove, it is expelled through another set of slightly smaller holes there. The oxygen coming out these holes, as mentioned, has been preheated in its ascent, and when it dumps back into the firebox, a literal secondary combustion occurs. And that, my friends, is the magic of the Solo Stove.

So What Does It Mean?

What it means is efficiency. This additional act of combustion assists the fire in burning more complete, they say. In point of fact, when the fire is going at full tilt, there is very little smoke produced at all, because it is so efficient. In theory, the stove will cook the smoke right out of the wood. Least wise that’s what the flame wizards at Solo Stove say. The efficient burn also means you will use less wood to cook with, when compared to cooking over an open camp fire. Not only that, when the fuel burns out, there is nothing but a fine, powdery ash remaining. No glowing embers to deal with, courtesy of that efficient burn. Needless to say, I was intrigued. So let’s get after that cup of tea, shall we.

img_1275It comes with a nicely crafted pot support, that nests inside the stove for travel. Anyways, I had a fire quickly kindled in its steel bosom, and set my old, blackened kettle on to boil. Enough for two cups of tea, I should wager. I sat back and watched the river gurgle by and admired this piece of cooking technology before me. Occasionally I fed it a small twig or stick to keep it happy. As the fire established, I must say, I was smitten by the results.

Solo Stove Titan – Larger Version of Original Solo Stove. Lightweight Wood Burning Stove. Compact Kit for Backpacking, Camping, Survival. Burns Twigs – No Batteries or Liquid Fuel Canisters Needed.

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It didn’t take the fire long at all to stabilize, and the initial plumes of smoke on start-up, to dissolve into distant memories. There is an opening on the pot support, or cooking ring, as you can see, in which to further feed the fire as needed. We had to do a little of that. I’d wager the amount of wood used for two cups of water was something like two large handful’s of sticks broken into finger length pieces. Thicker hardwoods, of course, burn better and longer than the soft balsam fir sticks that I used, but I had about one million square acres of forest and wood to play with, so it didn’t really matter. That’s another joy of a wood burning backpacking stove, I discovered. You will never run out of fuel. Leastwise in the north woods of Minnesota, you sure won’t.

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After a fashion, I also noticed the secondary combustion thing kicking in. It actually worked! Of course I failed to capture it in a photo for you, but if you were to peer down into the fire chamber a little more, you would see the fire seemingly coming out of that higher set of holes that we talked about earlier. Indeed, the main fire down on the grate was blazing away, but it was also shooting out of the holes up near the top. And the smoke was curiously absent, just like they said. I gotta say, I was impressed. Even my wife, who is not often impressed by scientific stuff, was suitably awed. We were sipping tea in no time, enjoying the warmth of a hot mug in our hands, and further admiring this little stove .

Later on in camp, we fired it up again.

SAMSUNG CSC

The inner pyromaniac in me couldn’t get enough play time with this stove. I discovered its engineering went other ways too. Subtle ways. For example, I discovered that even when the stove is fiercely hot, that I could still move it around if I had to by gripping it below the lowest set of holes. It wasn’t exactly cool down there, but not hot enough either that you couldn’t hang onto it for a while if you had to move it for some reason. The reason that impressed us was because if it’s not hot down there, then that means you could set it on a picnic table, perhaps, and not have to worry about burning a nice 5.1 inch circle into your table top. Always a nice thing.

Here are some specs on the Solo Stove Titan, if you’re curious

Specs for the Sole Stove Titan

Packed size: Height 5.6 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Assembled size: Height 7.9 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Weight: 16.5 oz
Materials: 304 stainless steel, nichrome wire
Fuel: sticks, twigs, pine cones and other biomass
Boil time: 4-6 mins (32 fl oz of water)
To read more on the Solo Stove Titan, do check out their website at:

Bonus Thoughts

It’s a lovely piece of kit. Just holding it in your hand, you’ll notice the quality and the craftsmanship are very nice. No moving parts, simple, and robust. The thing is built to last, and more over, do what it was designed to do. Burn wood. As old bush master, Horace Kephart once said, “A sourdough is known by the fitness and simplicity of his equipment“. Well, we think the solo stove passes the grade in that respect. It’s also rather nice to romp through the woodlands on a multi-day trip afield, and know that you can’t run out of fuel for your stove. That if you should get stuck out in the hinter lands for a few extra days, that at least you will have a way to boil water for as long as you need to. Say what you will, but there is a certain comfort in that.
But I hate camping! Roughing it to me is when my furnace dips below 70 degrees!“, some of you might croak. Well first of all, you’re kind of a wimp then, but even so, we still love you, and such a stove in your supplies could still prove useful someday. It is always well to be prepared, say, for power outages, off-grid work, natural disasters, or the inevitable zombie invasion. You never know. As long as you can find yourself a small pile of sticks, and you possess the primitive “know-how” to light a fire, well, then you can cook on this stove. I suppose you could even light up a few charcoal briquettes, if you had to, toss them into the stove, and manage to cook over it. The beauty tho is burning things you have lying around. We highly recommend starting with the political section.
What are the short comings of the stove?
Well, the biggest one is probably soot. Your cooking pot will no doubt get caked in the stuff after a couple of cooks. But this is how it is, and how it always has been when you cook over real fire. Your stuff gets sooty. It just does. If you can’t accept that, then I guess cooking over fire just isn’t for you. You can try the old bush trick of wiping your pots down in soap before each cook, if you want. That’s supposed to help. But I find it’s much simpler to just dedicate an old sack or bag for your cook pot, thus containing the soot at least to its own little quarantine of funk when in travel mode. The technique works fine, and of course, it’s simple. We adore simple.
We also found the Titan to be a little large for the backpacking we like to do. Now mind you, this isn’t the stove’s fault. It was designed to be able to cook for 2 to 4 people, and not necessarily be the size of the petite solo gas stoves I normally pack. But I wanted to try it backpacking anyhow, you know how it goes. Considering the savings in fuel bulk and weight, well, it sort of makes the size of the stove acceptable. If you’re a car camper, or a canoe camper or something along those lines, then the size of the Titan is of no issue at all. Off-hand, Solo Stove solved this problem anyways, as they have other sizes of stoves in their line up. The Solo Stove Lite, for example, is a good deal smaller than the Titan, and is designed with the backpacker in mind. Judging from how much fun I’ve been having with the Titan, I might have to put the smaller Solo Stove on my Christmas list.
The last knock we could give it is it’s kind of pricey at $90.00. Boy there are cheaper ways to fry your bacon. But again, from what we can tell of it, it looks like something that will last a long time. And best of all,  when you consider you’ll never need to buy fuel for the stove, like ever, well, then it’s only a matter of time before the Titan should pay for itself. And in the long run, be cheaper to operate than cheaper gas camping stoves which must always be refilled. The more you use it, the more affordable it gets! (Price doesn’t matter anyways if you win our free giveaway!)
Final Thoughts
Anyways, and in closing, we really enjoyed field testing this one. Not exactly a BBQ thing, but if you’ve been in our readership for long, you’ll know we do tend to take to the hither lands with some frequency, and further more, love to cook there. It all falls under the flag of outdoor cooking, a particular joy of which resides at the heart of this blog. So we were excited to do this review. Privileged in fact.  Anyways, if you’re in the market for a new camping stove, you may want to consider this wood burning alternative. Just come up with a system to deal with the soot and you’re good to go!
A kindly thanks also to the good people at Solo Stove for setting us up. Great folks. Wonderful gear. And lots of clever ideas circulating around over there. Do check them out some time if you’re into this sort of thing.
Or check them out on amazon.

Solo Stove Titan Giveaway!

 Sorry, you missed it!
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And finally, the part you’ve been waiting for. As mentioned, Solo Stove has offered to do a giveaway for one lucky subscriber of Patrons of the Pit. We’ve never done a giveaway before, but you guys deserve it, and well, it might be fun. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are three ways to enter.

Three Ways to Enter!

1. Leave us a comment below, then click on the Titan Giveaway link to finish the formalities.
Or
2. Click on the Titan Giveaway link and like our Facebook page from there.
Or
3.Click on the Titan Giveaway link and enter an Email address
Think of the link as a conduit to make things happen. The Giveaway lasts for 14 days from the time this post goes live. Then a program called Gleam will randomly select the winner, and Solo Stove themselves will ship the stove to your doorstep. Now you can’t beat that! And it really is an amazing little stove. You will like it! Good luck, people!!
 Blessings,
-PotP

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Every Now And Then : Keeping it Simple

A couple of weekends ago, deep in hither lands, and way up north in the Superior National Forest, of which precise coordinates I shall not utter here, 20130607_193312_edit0my bride and I for a time, lingered in paradise.  Balsam Firs and Black Capped Chickadees abounded.  Downy woodpeckers pecking. Endless blue skies aloft.  And our hammocks strung in a peaceful respite. Backpacking into the remote areas like this at once ushers an inherent quietude and tranquility not soon privy the city dweller. A stillness of earth and soul, and the waters there, oh how they run so delightful and clean. Tumbling through the mossy, forest crags, as if just to be lovely that way, and to nourish the fevered palates of those weary foot travelers who happen upon it. Folks like us. We liked it so much in point of fact, we set up our camp, and we stayed there a while, as patrons to paradise.

A lovely place. A place I couldn’t help but to recollect some, whilst tending to old kettle grill this evening last, on our home patio back in the city. I get like that every now and then. Reminiscent if you will, with pit-side reflections. And I can’t help it. Lighting the grill, and seeing the fire cordially lick for the sky, and tasting the aroma of the rising wood smoke,  well, in a flip of a heartbeat, I am harkened back to other campfires in other places of enduring beauty. Places that I have once pressed a tent stake in, upon which earthy soils I have slept so soundly. I am smitten I guess, for the prettier places

Places where the star fields glitter, suspended in the blackness above, and the lonesome wail20130607_213730_edit0 of the Timber Wolves echoed through the forest hollows. Places amid the whispering pines, where if you want a good dinner, you had better have packed it in, or barring that,  possess an adeptness of procuring sustenance from the field and stream.  For to live simply, and deliberately, and not to be bothered by much else is the goal here. To reduce life’s endless complexities to a few scant items, and stow them neatly away in our backpacks. And for a while at least, to be gone with everything else. To flex our muscles up the cardiac switchbacks, and breathe in that freshened air. To catch fish, climb rocks, and build campfires. To be 10 again, in the Sherwood Forest, and sport a quiver with but one crooked arrow.

Back in the city again, tending supper over this old pit, I leaned back in the BBQ chair, watching the smoke curl some. Still reminiscing whilst crescent moon dallied over the Spruce, and a growing family of mallards floated serenely out on the pond. It’s kind of pretty here too, I thought.  Tongs in my hand, the aroma of Cheddar stuffed Polish sausages and hickory wafting from the pit. Glory! But I think of the hammock I strung up recently, in my quaint, northern sanctum – my Shangri-la in the woods. Hung nicely between two fluttering Aspen 20130607_135927_edit0trees. A location I became much acquainted with in my stay up there. For I took not one, nor two, but three lengthy naps there, in dappled sunbeams,  and beside burbling streams. Whiled away most of the afternoon in such fashion, harboring not a morsel of guilt. It was a lifestyle, by and far, that I could get used to. If only I could get my Weber Grill out there, I thought, in this land so remote. I think I should never again return.

The aromas of supper snapped me back to the present. Back to the city. I rolled the sausages about on the old grate. Onions were already diced. Ketchup and mustard at the ready. I toasted up a couple buns for my bride and I, and assembled this most basic of grilling endeavors. Grilling Polish sausage is about as simple as they come I guess, and yet, satisfying in a round about way. They taste good, but more over, it gives us pit keepers another excuse to play with fire. To smell that smoke wafting. And I guess just to be outside. And to this cook anyways, a porthole to a bevy of memories wrought over the open flame. Reminders which rise with the wood smoke,  of good times,  in pretty places, where the breeze blew sweetly through the trees. Something we like do every now and then. Keeping it simple. Like a good Polish Sausage. Amen.

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