Trail designs Sidewinder cook system review

ErichFromm

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Recently I decided to seriously look at how I could lighten my pack. One of the areas I looked at was my cook set. I’ve been using a Jetboil for the past few years and I loved its ease of use but realised it wasn’t the most efficient or lightest way to cook.

The sidewinder (http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/caldera-sidewinder) can be bought as individual parts or a complete cook system. Basically it is a sheet of titanium that you curl into a tube and use as a base to rest your cook pot. It’s called a “Tri” system because by using the pegs you can change how high your pot is from the heat source and this allows you to use multiple fuels: alcohol, solid fuel or wood. There are many different cook systems you can buy or make yourself, but I chose this one because of the different fuel options: in an emergency I wouldn’t be limited to the fuel I brought with me.

loose.jpgopen.jpgsetuo.jpg

Each system is custom made for a certain pot size – dictating how large the titanium sheet needs to be.

A quick comparison:

JETBOIL
jetboil.jpg
Pros
- Easy to put together, light and use – meaning it was easy to take a quick break on the side of the path and heat up a hot drink.
- Fast at heating up water
- Nice and compact

Cons
- Self ignite broke after 6 months (a common flaw based on other reviews). You can still light using a lighter or ferro rod.
- Once gas tank is empty the system is useless
- As it’s difficult to know how much gas is left you always end up carrying spares.
- Non adjustable heat (I had original jetboil) – so good to heat up water but not for cooking.
- Only works as system – cannot use pot to cook direct over fire (at least not in normal use)

SIDEWINDER
sidewinder.jpg
Pros
- Lightweight
- Allows multiple fuels
- Duel use: Alcohol can be used as a back-up for fire starting.
- Options - separate cook pot can be used direct over fire


Cons
- The burner system comes with (made from coke can) is very light but very fragile. If you stepped on it your evening meal would need to be eaten cold. Which is why I replaced with a Trangia burner – heavier but very strong.
- Burner has no sealable lid – you must burn all the fuel before refilling.
- Expensive for what it is
- Slower cooking than gas (but who is in a hurry?)

I took the system out for a test a few weeks ago and was very impressed. The whole system (sans pegs) fits within the cookpot and is easy to put together. The titanium sheet is strong, but could be bent easily so a little care is required. Protection from wind was good.

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My only complaint is cost. Maybe titanium is expensive, but USD$80 seems like a lot for a small sheet of metal. All the extra bits in the system (sold fuels cells, plastic bottle to hold fuel) are things you can buy anywhere and seem to be added to justify the price. As an example, an attachment that improves wood burning capability is an additional USD$45. It all seems a little pricey for what it is. I’m still happy with purchase though.

Comparison between Trangia and Coke can burner that came with the system. If you wanted to go UL the coke can burner would be a good, but fragile, option as the burn is probably even better than the Trangia.
trangia.jpg
 

pap11y

Richard Proenneke
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I agree with your comments here and its a good review.. I have both a jetboil zip and a trangia.. I wanted to add some other thoughts..

I brought the zip without the in built ignition and after your review am glad I did.

Jetboil zip pros
- can be used in a shelter (with ventillation)
- Can be refuelled safely (you can swap the cannister half way though a meal if it runs out
- can adjust flame
- comes with pot stand so multiple sized pots and pans can be used

Jetboil cons
- is always the cannister / fuel limitation
- weight

Trangia pros
- much cheaper fuel

Tragia cons
- potentally dangerous if knocked over
- dangerous to refill when hot
- not adjustable flame

I have both and an emberlit ultralight. The good thing is the burner fits into the emberlit so they work well together...

I'll have the jetboil there this weekend (at the bushcraftoz meet) and anyone there is welcome to put it through its paces..
 

ErichFromm

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pap11y: I'm going to ignore your comments about the jetboil zip to avoid the risk of buyers remorse. Good additions to the Pros/Cons though and I agree with all except the non adjustable flame bit as with the Trangia you can close the cover to reduce temp.

I'm still a big fan of the jetboil - but in trying to go a bit more UL I think alcohol stoves are a good option. Another pro of alocohol stoves is the cold weather benefit - anything relying on a gas tank needs to be heated in extreme cold else it won't work (even BIC lighters).

The sidewinder is not a replacement for the jetboil - just another option. I'll still use the jetboil when car camping (my friends would yell if I didn't) , just maybe not when hiking long distances.

P.S. - When are we going to have a VIC bushcraft meet?
 

Howling Dingo

Richard Proenneke
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I like that Caldera Cone design ,looks like a really useful bit of kit...
 
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