Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

OR - Caldera Fissure - Ray Estrella

Expand Messages
  • Ray
    OK, time to get writing again (Hopefully the block is gone.) Here is a review of the neatest cooking system I have bought so far. The HTML may be found here:
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 16, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      OK, time to get writing again (Hopefully the block is gone.)

      Here is a review of the neatest cooking system I have bought so far. The HTML may be found here:

      http://tinyurl.com/3orv8oo

      Text below,

      Ray

      Trail Designs Caldera Fissure System
      By Raymond Estrella
      OWNER REVIEW

      August 16, 2011

      TESTER INFORMATION

      NAME: Raymond Estrella
      EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
      AGE: 50
      LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
      WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)
      I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, plus many western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as near to it as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

      The Product


      Manufacturer: Trail Designs
      Web site: www.traildesigns.com
      Product: Caldera Fissure System (for Snow Peak Mini Solo cook set)
      Year manufactured: 2010
      MSRP: Depends on cook set
      Weight listed: N/A
      Stove weight: 0.5 oz (14 g)
      Caldera Cone weight (both sections): 1.4 oz (40 g)
      GramCracker solid fuel kit weight: 0.2 oz (7 g)
      Grate and stand weight: 0.9 oz (25 g)

      Product Description

      The Caldera Fissure 3-Fuel System (hereafter referred to as the Fissure) is the special order two-piece version of Trail Designs' full-size Caldera Ti-Tri 3-Fuel System. The "Ti" in the name refers to the titanium from which this model is made instead of the aluminum of the regular 2-fuel original Caldera Cone system. Making the system from a material that is impervious to heat allows the use of a third heat source, hence the "Tri". Whereas the original could use an alcohol or Esbit stove the Ti-Tri can also be set up to use wood fuel.


      Shown above are the parts and accessories sent with the system. The main items are the two Fissure titanium cone sections custom sized to fit my Snow Peak Mini Solo cook set. Also shown is the titanium GramCracker solid fuel burner, the 12-10 alcohol stove with integrated primer pan, and a honey-comb grate and grate stand for wood burning mode.

      The cone is assembled by sliding together the mating dove-tail joints in the lower and upper cone sections. Placing the wide section down the upper section is placed on top of it with the dove-tails in line. This allows holes in both sections to align that I slide two titanium shepherds-hook stakes through. The stakes (which Trail Designs normally supplies but I told them to withhold as I have many) not only lock the cones together, but also provide a support for my Snow Peak Mini Solo pot. The picture at the top of the review shows this well. Once in place the handle of my pot protrudes through the wide opening in the upper part of the cone. The picture below and to the left is a shot of the Fissure with my Mini Solo pot in place.

      One very cool thing about making it for the Mini Solo cook set is the fact that should I want to heat a smaller amount of water for coffee or tea I can use the cup instead of the pot. It is supported by the lip of the Cone itself, just like is the case with my original Ti-Tri (see review). This may be seen in the right-side picture above.

      One thing I love about the Caldera Cones are that besides holding the pot they also act as a windscreen with just enough engineered slots cut into the cone to allow air for proper fuel burn while still protecting the stove from being blown out, or having its heat wasted. The slots at the top create a draw pulling the heat up.

      Another benefit of the cone shape is that it lets the sides of the pot conduct and transfer the heat that is normally wasted as there is some space between the pot walls and the cone.

      The stove is a 12-10 Pepsi can-style alcohol stove. (Actually mine is a Diet Dr Pepper stove, my second one from them ;-) The cone has been made with the support stakes at a height to make the stove sit at the optimum distance from the bottom of my pot for its most efficient burn. Each Caldera Cone is fine tuned to the pot it is made for in this manner. It should be noted that the Esbit burning GramCracker is used in this same mode.


      To use in wood burning mode the two titanium shepherds-hook stakes are inserted through the round holes seen near the top of the cone. The stakes form a support for the pot to sit on keeping it high. This allows a wood fire to be started inside; the pot set on top once it is going well. Now the opening that the handles protruded through in the previous mode can be used to feed additional pieces of wood as needed to complete the cooking/boil. Here is a shot of the Fissure in wood burning mode. Note the grate and grate stand in the lower cone section. Trail Designs offers an optional Inferno Insert that makes wood burning more efficient, but as I did not plan to use wood I did not buy it.

      But without a doubt the coolest thing about the Fissure for me is the fact that it will fit inside the Mini Solo pot, as seen above. Not only will the cone sections and stove fit inside there is even room for a (up to) 4 oz (118 ml) fuel bottle.

      Field Conditions


      The Fusion has been used on at least 35 days of backpacking in 2010 alone. I have had it as far south as Lake Morena at the Annual PCTA Kickoff (and on the Pacific Crest Trail heading north right afterwards) in southern California, and as far north as Itasca State Park in Minnesota. In between it has been used in the Sierra Nevada in Yosemite (where the picture above was taken) and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks and the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. Other Wilderness areas used at include, San Gorgonio, Sespe and San Jacinto where the picture below was taken at Law's Camp.





      It has been used in the San Gabriel, Santa Rosa, Sierra Palona, Sierra Madre, Piute, and Tehachapi Mountains at elevations ranging from 1000 ft (305 m) to over 10,000 ft (3050 m). It has been used in temps down to near freezing and in rain twice.
      Observations


      If you, Dear Reader, read the review of my first Caldera Ti-Tri you will know that although I have been backpacking for over three decades and have used many types of stoves for cooking I never wanted to use an alcohol stove. I have watched people fight with their stoves, trying to keep them lit and scrambling to build makeshift (or better) wind blocks. Watched them run out of fuel after spending 10 minutes to try to get ½ L of water to boil. Listened to them talk of making dozens of stoves but not being happy with the final result. Many of them have used my canister stove instead.

      The Caldera Cone Ti-Tri changed my mind in a hurry. After my first few trips I liked the low weight and performance of it so much that I stopped taking any other stove on solo trips. But one thing bothered me about it. Even though the weight was quite low the need to keep the cone protected in a plastic caddy added a lot of volume to my pack. I was used to cooking systems that fit inside my pot of choice.

      A series of emails to Trail Designs led me to purchase a Ti-Tri ULC (watch for a review down the trail) which was a step in the right direction but I wanted the efficiency of my original system. The guys told me about the then in development Fissure and asked if I would like to buy one. I asked them if they could make one to fit the Mini Solo, and when they said yes I ordered the system and purchased the cook set. (This can't be made for as many pots as their other products, hence the need to verify first and special order.)

      Eureka! This is the system I have been waiting for. I love the way it fits into, and is protected by, the Mini Solo pot. I have everything needed for cooking for as long as a 5-day trip in a package that is smaller than a 1L Nalgene bottle. The total weight of the whole works (less fuel) is 7.7 oz (218 g) and leaving the cup at home when not desired saves another 1.7 oz (48 g).


      The Fissure is just as efficient as my original Ti-Tri averaging 6-7 minutes to boil 2 cups (0.5 l) water. I use it just for heating water for freeze-dried meals and drinks. Even with my largest meals that take 2.5 cups of water the Fissure boils under 7 minutes and has never taken more than 0.8 fl oz (24 ml) of alcohol to do so. I only use Everclear 190 (95% ethanol) with it, but did use Yellow HEET on one Minnesota trip, seen in the picture above.

      While not an UltraLight backpacker the extremely compact size of the system helped me to use a Black Diamond Octane day-pack that I tested (see review) as a multi-day pack instead. And in bear-canister required areas as my food level goes down I can easily fit the Fissure system inside my Bearikade. Below is a shot of it at Register Creek in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, during a 6-day hike through Yosemite National Park. Note small alcohol bottle in the bear canister that I was all I needed for the trip. (The Platy bottle of alcohol was for, um, medicinal purposes;-)


      Like my first Ti-Tri rain does not seem to faze it much. The stove is very well protected by the cone and I do not even see any drop in speed or efficiency in the light rain that this one has been in. While this system has only been used to around freezing two of my other Caldera Cone systems have been used a lot in snow and down to 2 F (-17 C).

      Because the areas I hike in usually have burning restrictions I have never used, or even planned to, the Fissure in wood mode. I do like the idea that if something were to cause me to spend more time afield than planned I can always fall back on wood as a secondary fuel source.

      The durability of the system has been great. There is nothing wrong with it to date. And think as hard as I can, I still do not have anything to complain about the Caldera Fissure. It is hands-down my favorite cooking system.

      Ray Estrella
      I measure happiness with an altimeter.
    • Jerry Goller
      Just out of curiosity, why don t you burn wood? I use a TiTri Jerry http://www.backpackgeartest.org/: the most comprehensive interactive gear reviews on the
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 16, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        Just out of curiosity, why don't you burn wood? I use a TiTri

        Jerry

        http://www.backpackgeartest.org/: the most comprehensive interactive gear
        reviews on the planet.

        -----Original Message-----
        From: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ray
        Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 13:35
        To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [BackpackGearTest] OR - Caldera Fissure - Ray Estrella
      • Jerry Goller
        I guess I should clarify that. I use a Sidewinder. I mostly burn wood or, sometimes, Esbit. The weight or heat numbers just aren t there for alcohol, at least
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 16, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          I guess I should clarify that. I use a Sidewinder. I mostly burn wood or,
          sometimes, Esbit.

          The weight or heat numbers just aren't there for alcohol, at least not in
          the many bench tests I've run.

          Jerry

          http://www.backpackgeartest.org/: the most comprehensive interactive gear
          reviews on the planet.


          -----Original Message-----
          From: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jerry Goller
          Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 15:50
          To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: [BackpackGearTest] OR - Caldera Fissure - Ray Estrella

          Just out of curiosity, why don't you burn wood? I use a TiTri

          Jerry

          http://www.backpackgeartest.org/: the most comprehensive interactive gear
          reviews on the planet.

          -----Original Message-----
          From: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ray
          Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 13:35
          To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [BackpackGearTest] OR - Caldera Fissure - Ray Estrella




          ------------------------------------

          To read our reviews, please visit http://www.backpackgeartest.org/Yahoo!
          Groups Links
        • Ray
          In CA most of the places I hike have burn restrictions. Sometimes they actually ban STOVES at times! Here in MN I can burn away, but it rains so much that I
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 17, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            In CA most of the places I hike have burn restrictions. Sometimes they actually ban STOVES at times!

            Here in MN I can burn away, but it rains so much that I never mess with fires unless the kids are with me.

            When I first started hiking (1974) I only knew to cook over a fire (like camping) so used to make a fire morning and night.

            I suppose I should give the fire burning ability of the Ti-Tri Cones a shot some day, I have 3 different models now, good grief... (I am going to sell a couple now that I have consolidated all my gear to one location. I've got no room!))

            Ray

            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Jerry Goller" <ChiefModerator@...> wrote:
            >
            > Just out of curiosity, why don't you burn wood?
          • Ray
            I can dump 3/4 oz of Everclear in the stove and have 2.5 cups of boiling water in 7 minutes. As I only use the Calderas when solo the little weight of the alc
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 17, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              I can dump 3/4 oz of Everclear in the stove and have 2.5 cups of boiling water in 7 minutes. As I only use the Calderas when solo the little weight of the alc is not a bother. For family trips I take a WindPro. If Dave and I share a stove we take an EtaExpress for the speed and fuel sipping ability.

              I have Esbit but don't like the smell and soot.

              Wood has a heat output (depending on moisture content) of around 4700 to 7000 btu per lb. Everclear has 12,800 btu per lb (just to keep the comparisons the same). The nice thing about the wood is not having to carry it, as it is a found resource.

              To me the time involved with finding suitable material, starting and feeding the fire, and cleaning the pot (I did put my Fissure into a nylon stuff sack just to avoid the last when I thought I may use Esbit) needs to be factored into the whole process.

              As you may have noticed I am not really the kick-back-enjoy-the-day type of backpacker. When not with the kids I tend to want to go-go-go. It was a big step just to try alcohol stoves in the first place, but now that I did I love 'em.

              Wait till you see the OR for the system I used all winter. The pictures are pretty cool.

              Ray

              --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Jerry Goller" <ChiefModerator@...> wrote:
              >
              > I guess I should clarify that. I use a Sidewinder. I mostly burn wood > or, sometimes, Esbit.
              >
              > The weight or heat numbers just aren't there for alcohol, at least not
              > in the many bench tests I've run.
            • Jerry Goller
              I m definitely a kick back kinda guy.... ;o) I like wood because I can have as much as I want, whenever I want. Tea in the morning...no problem. Simmer
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 17, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                I'm definitely a kick back kinda guy.... ;o)

                I like wood because I can have as much as I want, whenever I want. Tea in
                the morning...no problem. Simmer something for awhile....no problem.

                I never get in a hurry. I'm *walking*. If I was in a hurry I'd take a
                plane.... ;o)

                I'm lucky in that the mountains I backpack in are literally covered in
                suitable wood. To search all I have to do is look down.

                Jerry

                http://www.backpackgeartest.org/: the most comprehensive interactive gear
                reviews on the planet.


                -----Original Message-----
                From: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
                [mailto:BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ray
                Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 06:26
                To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [BackpackGearTest] Re: OR - Caldera Fissure - Ray Estrella

                I can dump 3/4 oz of Everclear in the stove and have 2.5 cups of boiling
                water in 7 minutes. As I only use the Calderas when solo the little weight
                of the alc is not a bother. For family trips I take a WindPro. If Dave and I
                share a stove we take an EtaExpress for the speed and fuel sipping ability.

                I have Esbit but don't like the smell and soot.

                Wood has a heat output (depending on moisture content) of around 4700 to
                7000 btu per lb. Everclear has 12,800 btu per lb (just to keep the
                comparisons the same). The nice thing about the wood is not having to carry
                it, as it is a found resource.

                To me the time involved with finding suitable material, starting and feeding
                the fire, and cleaning the pot (I did put my Fissure into a nylon stuff sack
                just to avoid the last when I thought I may use Esbit) needs to be factored
                into the whole process.

                As you may have noticed I am not really the kick-back-enjoy-the-day type of
                backpacker. When not with the kids I tend to want to go-go-go. It was a big
                step just to try alcohol stoves in the first place, but now that I did I
                love 'em.

                Wait till you see the OR for the system I used all winter. The pictures are
                pretty cool.

                Ray

                --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Jerry Goller" <ChiefModerator@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > I guess I should clarify that. I use a Sidewinder. I mostly burn wood >
                or, sometimes, Esbit.
                >
                > The weight or heat numbers just aren't there for alcohol, at least not
                > in the many bench tests I've run.




                ------------------------------------

                To read our reviews, please visit http://www.backpackgeartest.org/Yahoo!
                Groups Links
              • Jamie D.
                PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 19, 2011
                • 0 Attachment
                  PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

                  Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. If you are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community! The Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints, to get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely manner. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben(at)hotmail.com

                  To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
                  yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.

                  Once your first two Owner Reviews have been approved and you have submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to start applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance with the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to Jenn K., the mentor coordinator, at mentor (at) backpackgeartest.org.

                  You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group. These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
                  will usually result in a better review, as well as making things easier for the official Editor. Please put REVISED in the subject line of your re-submitted review if you take this route or make any
                  changes to your review BEFORE the review has been taken by an Edit Moderator.

                  Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups list to keep track of the progress of your Owner Review. Once an Editor has taken your OR and made the necessary edits they will post their comments to the list with EDIT in the subject line. Once you have incorporated these edits into your review please use REPOST in the subject line. When your OR has been approved by the Editor they will use APPROVED in the subject line.

                  If you'd like to keep track of the progress of your OR while it's in the edit queue, the entire Owner Review Queue is posted to this yahoo group list on either Thursdays or Fridays.

                  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via the list or contact me directly.

                  Regards
                  Jamie DeBenedetto
                  Edit Administration Manager
                • Michael
                  Ray, Great in-depth OR with excellent pictures. A couple of minor edits and then you can load away, however I will ask that you create your own folder since I
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 22, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Ray,

                    Great in-depth OR with excellent pictures. A couple of minor edits and then you can load away, however I will ask that you create your own folder since I haven't been granted that ability yet.

                    Mike

                    General Comment: It might be a good idea to identify in the product details that this is a custom product not listed on the website and to contact Trail Designs directly to purchase.


                    >> Tester Bio

                    Comment / Edit: I can't believe that I'll be the one to call out the most active tester on the site, but your bio has 100+ words in it. I counted it myself (4 times to make sure) and the word count function in Word shows it also.


                    >> MSRP: Depends on cook set

                    EDIT: Could you identify that it is a special order. Something like "MSRP: Special Order - Depends on cook set"


                    >> It is supported by the lip of the Cone itself, just like is the case with my original Ti-Tri (see review).

                    EDIT: I think you have an extra "is" or a missing "it" in the sentence.


                    >> Note small alcohol bottle in the bear canister that I was all I needed for the trip.

                    EDIT: I think you have an extra "I" in the sentence.



                    >> I do like the idea that if something were to cause me to spend more time afield than planned I can always fall back on wood as a secondary fuel source.

                    EDIT: Change afield to "in the field"
                  • Michael
                    Ahhh shoot - I forgot to put APPROVED in the header - sorry, Mike
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 22, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Ahhh shoot - I forgot to put APPROVED in the header - sorry,

                      Mike

                      --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Michael" <mlebwill@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Ray,
                      >
                      > Great in-depth OR with excellent pictures. A couple of minor edits and then you can load away, however I will ask that you create your own folder since I haven't been granted that ability yet.
                      >
                      > Mike
                      >
                      > General Comment: It might be a good idea to identify in the product details that this is a custom product not listed on the website and to contact Trail Designs directly to purchase.
                      >
                      >
                      > >> Tester Bio
                      >
                      > Comment / Edit: I can't believe that I'll be the one to call out the most active tester on the site, but your bio has 100+ words in it. I counted it myself (4 times to make sure) and the word count function in Word shows it also.
                      >
                      >
                      > >> MSRP: Depends on cook set
                      >
                      > EDIT: Could you identify that it is a special order. Something like "MSRP: Special Order - Depends on cook set"
                      >
                      >
                      > >> It is supported by the lip of the Cone itself, just like is the case with my original Ti-Tri (see review).
                      >
                      > EDIT: I think you have an extra "is" or a missing "it" in the sentence.
                      >
                      >
                      > >> Note small alcohol bottle in the bear canister that I was all I needed for the trip.
                      >
                      > EDIT: I think you have an extra "I" in the sentence.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > >> I do like the idea that if something were to cause me to spend more time afield than planned I can always fall back on wood as a secondary fuel source.
                      >
                      > EDIT: Change afield to "in the field"
                      >
                    • Ray
                      ... Ha! It must have grown over the years. Much like my waist... Thanks for the edits. All made and uploaded. See you on the next one. Ray
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 23, 2011
                      • 0 Attachment
                        --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Michael" <mlebwill@...> wrote:

                        > Comment / Edit: I can't believe that I'll be the one to call out the most active tester on the site, but your bio has 100+ words in it.

                        Ha! It must have grown over the years. Much like my waist...

                        Thanks for the edits. All made and uploaded.

                        See you on the next one.

                        Ray
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.