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IR - Makaira Metalworks S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove - Pam

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  • pamwyant
    IR - Makaira Metalworks S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove - Pam HTML version here: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/Makira%20SPS%20IR% 20-%20Pam/
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2007
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      IR - Makaira Metalworks S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove - Pam

      HTML version here:


      OR: http://tinyurl.com/2ojecv

      *Note: The weight is preliminary on a kitchen scale. I hope to get
      to the post office later today for a more accurate weight on the
      postal scales.

      Makaira Metalworks S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove
      Initial Report - August 2007

      Tester Information:

      Name: Pam Wyant
      Age: 49
      Gender: Female
      Height: 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
      Weight: 165 lb (77 kg)
      E-mail address: pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
      Location: Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

      Backpacking Background:

      Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago,
      beginning with day-hiking and single overnights. Currently I'm
      mostly a `weekend warrior' and mainly hike and backpack in the hills
      and valleys of West Virginia, but have section hiked longer parts of
      the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) the past two
      years. My usual shelter is a hammock but I am currently testing a
      Tarptent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and
      minimalist, and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without
      sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.

      Initial Report - August 2007

      Product Information:
      Manufacturer: Makaira Metalworks
      Year of manufacture: 2007
      Model: S.P.S. (Stainless Pack Stove)

      Advertised weight: 6.3 oz (179 g)
      Actual Weight: 6 oz (170 g) *preliminary*

      Advertised and actual measurements:
      Width: 4 1/4 in (11 cm)
      Height: 4 7/8 in (12.5 cm)
      Packed thickness: 3/16 in (.5 cm)

      Website: www.makairametal.com
      MSRP: $50

      Photo: Makaira Metalworks SPS stove ready to fire

      Product Description:
      The Makaira Metalworks S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove consists of five
      plates of stainless steel that interlock to form a firebox with
      vented floor and walls and a pot support. The S.P.S. can be used to
      burn wood or other foraged materials, Esbit or similar solid fuel, or
      used in conjunction with an alcohol burner. The stove came with a
      two page set of diagrams and instructions, and a cream colored cloth
      storage sack with a drawcord top. One page of instructions consists
      of step by step diagrams of assembling the stove. The second page
      has a diagram showing where to place the bottom plate to use the
      stove for various types of fuel, instructions on using the stove with
      wood, and tips and tricks to start fires.

      The stove is art-like in appearance, with symmetrical vents on the
      four sides, small rectangular vents on the top and bottom corners,
      and a grid of square and rectangular vents on the bottom. Although I
      looked at the diagram as I assembled the stove for the first time,
      assembly was fairly intuitive and simple. The stove is assembled by
      sliding the tabbed slots on the side pieces together to connect three
      sides, then sliding three tabs on the floor piece into the sides at
      the appropriate level for the type of fuel being used. The fourth
      side of the floor does not have a tab, which allows the fourth side
      piece of the S.P.S. to slide in place once the rest of the stove is
      assembled. I assembled the stove several times, and the only thing I
      have trouble with is keeping all four sides of the final piece lined
      up correctly as I slide it in place. This usually takes me a couple
      of tries, as invariably I miss properly aligning one of the tabs and
      end up having to take the last piece off and re-do it to make sure it
      is properly seated.

      The stove has 3/4 in (2 cm) tabs at the top and bottom that serve as
      legs and pot support and allows air to flow both under the stove and
      under the pot. In wood burning mode, the pot sits approximately 3
      3/4 in (9.5 cm) from the bottom of the stove floor; about 2 3/4 in
      (7cm) from the floor in alcohol stove mode; and about 1 3/4 in (4.5
      cm) from the floor in Esbit mode.

      Preliminary use:

      Photo - First firing

      The stove arrived the day before I was leaving for a weekend trip to
      Dolly Sods (in the eastern West Virginia mountains), so after quickly
      reading the instructions as I packed for my trip, I tossed it in a
      quart size Zip-lock freezer bag in my pack and headed out the next
      morning without a chance to fire the stove up at home. (The
      manufacturer does recommend testing the stove out several times
      before using it on a hike.) I did not feel a need to carry the
      instructions, as they are simple and intuitive. The stove packed up
      easily and could be stuffed anywhere in my pack since it is so thin
      and small. I ended up sliding it down the back of the pack in front
      of my water bladder.

      I normally carry a few Spark-Lite Tinder-Quik Firestarting Tabs, a
      couple of small boxes of wooden matches (including a few
      waterproof/windproof storm matches) in small zip top plastic bags,
      and a small lighter in my kitchen and emergency kits, and did not add
      more fire starting materials to my pack.

      Camp the first night was made in a red spruce thicket. The spruce
      needles are tiny, and were damp. I gathered a few of them, some
      small spruce cones, a few blades of dried grass, some small twigs
      from dead branches off blueberry bushes, and some other small dead
      wood I found. All were gathered from the ground, except the dried
      grass and dead branches from the blueberries, which I broke off the
      dead areas of the plants. The largest pieces were approximately the
      same diameter as a pencil. I packed the stove about 2/3 full of the
      smallest pieces (the manufacturer recommends 3/4 full) and added the
      larger pieces to fill the stove near the top of the main firebox (see
      photo at top of this report). I had a bit of trouble getting a match
      into the side openings of the stove to reach the tinder without
      putting the match out in the process. I had not added any fire
      starter at this stage. After a few unsuccessful attempts at lighting
      the tinder, I pulled the larger sticks out of the stove, removed some
      of the tinder, and added a fire starting tab, lit it with a lighter,
      and then added the rest of the tinder and the larger sticks once the
      blaze was going. The photos in this section shows the resulting fire
      and my pot of water as it is being heated. The water took several
      minutes to boil (unfortunately I started timing the process once the
      fire was started but forgot to check the final result, so I will have
      to report later field results for boil times).

      Photo - Residue after first burn

      Quite a bit of unburnt residue was left in the stove after the fire
      went out, as shown in the photo to the right.

      With the stove being made of substantial stainless steel plating, I
      was somewhat apprehensive that it might take a long time to cool down
      so I could pack it away, but this proved to be a needless worry. The
      stove was fully cool by the time I finished eating my meal. Since I
      needed to boil water for breakfast the next morning and rain was
      threatening, I left it assembled and gathered enough foraged
      materials for another fire, placing it in my Tarptent vestibule so I
      would have dry fire materials for the next morning.

      Sure enough this worked well in spite of heavy rain that night, and I
      prepared to fire up the S.P.S. the next morning for boiling water for
      a cup of instant cappuccino and freeze dried egg meal.
      Unfortunately, the stove wasn't sitting exactly level when I added my
      pot of water to the top of the stove to test for levelness before
      lighting the fire. The pot slid off the stove, spilling a cup or so
      of water onto my nice dry fire materials. I'm not really a very good
      morning person, so after a couple of half-hearted tries at lighting
      the soggy materials, I just gave up and borrowed a canister stove
      from one of my hiking companions. I learned a valuable lesson
      though - if testing levelness, make sure the pot is empty at first
      (or hold it in place and make sure it's level before letting go).

      This was the soggiest trip I've experienced so far, with rain most of
      the next morning, a short dry spell in the early afternoon, followed
      by a threatening thunderstorm and more rain before we reached the
      second evenings camp. The trail was rocky, and where it wasn't rocky
      it was muddy, with water streaming down the trail in areas. After a
      rough nine miles (15 km) or so of hiking, including some semi-
      bushwhacking to a lovely vista, I was too tired to hassle with trying
      to find dry materials in the soggy landscape. Fortunately I had
      packed a couple of tabs of FireLite solid fuel tablets (similar to
      Esbit) and used that to boil water for dinner and the next mornings
      breakfast. The design of the stove meant the solid fuel had plenty
      of air for combustion and it burned well, bringing two cups of cool
      stream water to a full boil well before the 14 gram size tablets were
      consumed. Below is a photo of the stove being used to burn a solid
      fuel tablet.

      Photo - Burning a solid fuel tablet

      Preliminary impressions:
      So far, I find the stove very easy to assemble and carry. It packs
      compactly enough in my pack that I can store it almost anywhere; due
      to its weight it does have a tendency to slide down to the bottom of
      the pack. After firing, the stove has a sooty residue, as I
      expected. Some of this comes off on my fingers during stove
      assembly/disassembly, so it will be necessary for me to carry a few
      wipes or other means to clean my hands after using the stove, and
      pack it in a separate plastic bag to keep my other pack items clean,
      as expected. It also leaves a sooty residue on the bottom of my
      pot. In the early firing, I found that once I had used the pot and
      then set it on the ground, small bits of evergreen needles or leaf
      litter tend to stick to the bottom of the pot and catch fire the next
      time I use it, which has not proven to be a problem. Not all of the
      residue cleaned off the pot when I scrubbed it with a nylon scrubby
      at home, but the majority did.

      The stove is too large to support my Foster can pot, but works
      perfectly with my 5 3/8 x 2 5/8 in (14 x 6.5 cm) AntiGravityGear 3
      cup (.7 L) cook pot, which I plan to use with the stove for the
      duration of the test period.

      Most of my preliminary concerns about this stove relate to skill. I
      find I will need to hone my fire building skills. I plan to test
      whether I can actually fill the stove with tinder and fuel and fire
      it up that way in the future, which will involve learning if I can
      actually light the stove from the bottom through the small vent
      holes, or whether I will need to start a small tinder fire which I
      can light from the top, and add fuel later each time. I also will
      need to learn whether I need to carry some dry tinder along, or
      whether I can find the energy to forage for dry fuel in a soggy
      setting on rainier trips. Having the option to use Esbit type solid
      fuel is nice, but there are lighter Esbit type stoves out there if
      this ends up being my only solution.

      In the early wood burning test, I was slightly unhappy with the
      amount of partially burned residue left in the stove, and hope to
      find out whether this is typical or whether adding more tinder and
      using better, drier sources will result in less residue.

      Finally, since small ash and tiny coals drop through the bottom of
      the stove, unless I am firing the stove in a pre-existing fire area,
      it may be necessary to carry some sort of fire plan or heavy foil to
      use in areas that are not already charred, since I try to leave
      minimal impact on areas I camp. I'll be testing a few materials to
      see what works best for this and hope to have a good solution by the
      time of my field report.

      More to Come:

      Please check back for my Field Report on the Makaira Metalworks
      S.P.S. Stainless Pack Stove in early October.

      Thanks to Makaira Metalworks and BackpackGearTest.org for the
      opportunity to test the S.P.S. stove.
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