Monday, 3 May 2010

Caldera ULC Fusion first look.

On Friday, when I got back from a somewhat stressfull day at work there was a very light box with a customs label on it sitting in my hall. My new Caldera cone had finally arrived.
Here's what had happened. When I finally made the switch from a gas cannister stove, the caldera was the obvious choice. I only wanted to boil water and popular opinion was that there wasn't a better meths stove available in terms of quick boil time, stability and efficiency. I got the stove and cone and was instanly convinced. I enjoyed the fact that I could light up, walk away and know I'd come back to a pot that was still upright and not boiled dry. The only drawback was not really a problem for me-that of the size of the cone. I just inserted it into my pot, put a disposable pint glass on the top and filled it with my hot drinks kit. After a time, however, I got a new smaller (lighter) food bag, and I began to find it hard to get all my food in it. This was a stupid reason to get a new stove and so I had to think a bit harder. Despite the fact that I had marked up the pint glass with measurements, I still never used it for anything. I don't like things in my bag I don't use. Plus my old cone was getting bit bashed up. What's more, I had seen a new compact cone that fitted inside the mug. I had a good reason to at least consider a new piece of gear. So I made the fatal mistake of emailing Trail Designs about the Caldera ULC for my Snowpeak mini solo. Rand wrote back saying that they were currently playing around with ideas for a two part Caldera, they were about to make one for the mini solo and might as well make two if I was interested. I was interested.
So what did I get in my box? This: Clockwise from top left-The two halves of the cone, stand and grate for a wood fire, a gram cracker esbit stove, a pepsi can stmeths stove, two titanium tent pegs and a titanium floor to protect the ground. I also got a new fuel bottle, a measuring cup and three esbit tabs.
First up, I don't think I'll ever use the gram cracker. I love the simplicity of the idea, but the esbit stinks and it messes up pots really badly.
The wood stove I am interested in. Here's the grate on the stand inside the lower half of the cone and the picture at the top of the post is the grate on the stand by itself. Build your fire on the grate, fire it up and drop on the top half of the cone. There's a titanium floor to use so that you don't scorch the grass. I'll not use it regularly, but occasionally I fancy the idea. I assume the chimney effect will draw air up through the base of the fire and make it burn faster- The Grate sits above the lower vents. It's a nice simple solution to the woodfire concept.
The main reason I wanted this is so that it fits inside my pot but there are a few other advantages. First, although it only weighs a tiny bit less than my old cone, I don't have to use that pint pot. That saves me a whole ten grams(!) which is 25% of my rain chaps or almost 10% of my Z-pack (hey every little helps!). I can use my smaller food bag which also saves me (another tiny bit of!) weight. I used to have to fold up my foil lid for my pot, but I can keep it whole. Whats more, Titanium is a much nicer metal that aluminium. It looks nicer and it springs open rather than having to be moved into shape. It's got a real quality feel and the set up works perfectly.
The cone is slightly shorter than my old cone (on the left), but the pot sits on two tent pegs so that there is the same distance between the stove and the pot- I assume it will work in exactly the same way. You can put the pegs into holes at the very top of the cone when you're burning wood or you can just use the top half of the cone by itself as a windshield and potstand combined.
There are a few important things to point out. Firstly, this cone is not generally available.More importantly it's only suitable for a limited amount of pots at the moment. This is what Rand says:
"It is a system thats only for a limited amount of pots. The SPMSolo, the MLDesign 850 and the Evernew stacking set are the only ones we've figured out a basic system for" I'm figuring that they're getting the height/diameter/position of the split ratios sorted out.
This is certainly a work in progress. In the last email i got from them, they mentioned lower vents in the upper pot, which mine doesn't have. They did say as well that it was the best thing they've come up with. Based on my first impressions, I'd put a reasonable amount of money on them being right.

8 comments:

Hendrik Morkel said...

Good looking piece of kit, and top notch quality, as you said. I use the regular size one with a TT 1100 pot (heavy ;) and have been pondering about a smaller pot & stove system. I just might have a look again, this seems to be a good solution!

mcalisterium said...

You're not going to soil it by actually using it are you!? It looks too good to be covered in soot!

minimalgear said...

It is really nice looking and it fits together beautifully- there's a nice sheen to the titanium. Maybe I'll just keep it under a cover and get it out to polish it occasionally....

Roger said...

Looks very nice. And titanium is always good :-).
Will be interesting to read abt it when you have used it out there.
Bring some Autosol for daily care and finish...

baz carter said...

The next step for TD. Looks good and it does away with that plastic cup thing that has no use in my mind.

minimalgear said...

I've never used the 'caddy'-it's too heavy compared to the weight of the rest of it, but no matter how you protect it it's a bodge.

Emrys Eustace, hygt Broom said...

How tall is the cone? Looks a lot taller than I expected...

minimalgear said...

The cone is actually a little bit shorter than my original Mini solo cone when it is assembled-you need to get a certain height above the burner to get the maximum benefit. When it's split in two, each section is a little bit shorter than my mini solo pot. Sorry I can't be more specific, but I'm at work and haven't measured it yet!