FR - Kindle Cook - Andrea Murland
- Hi Nancy,
Here's my FR for the Kindle Cook. A rocky start in the snow but the warmer weather is more friendly.
Thanks in advance for the edits.
Kindle Cook Box & Café
Field Report – June 11, 2013
I have used the Kindle Cook Box on two overnight trips in the Field Testing phase. The first was in March, on an overnight backcountry skiing and tenting trip. The temperature got down to about -15 C (5 F) overnight with some wind and light snow falling, and the days were sunny and up to almost freezing. The second trip was a short overnight hike with temperatures falling to about 5 C (40 F). Otherwise, the Cook Box has resided in my Search & Rescue pack, but I have not had to use it in an emergency.
The Kindle Café came along on the same two overnight trips, and also 2 day hikes in the snow. In addition, I used it on a week-long hut-based backcountry skiing trip. The day hikes and ski trip all saw temperatures hovering on either side of freezing.
Cold Weather & Snow:
The first test of the Cook Box and Café were conducted under the toughest conditions so far. I was anxious to test out the ability to start the heat packs with snow, so on the first overnight skiing trip I tried it with the Café. I found that I was unable to melt enough snow in my hand to get much water, so I ended up melting snow in my mouth to start the heat pack. I did get steam as the reaction started and I put some more snow on top and some in the tumbler and closed it all up. At first it seemed like it was working well, but slowly, and I had to keep taking off the lid to put more snow into the plastic container. Eventually, the heat pack exhausted itself and I was left with some water and an ice block in the tumbler. In conclusion, at around -10 C (14 F), I can’t melt snow while also starting the heat pack with snow. Later that evening I successfully made tea while starting the heat pack with water and also putting water in the tumbler. I tested the insulating properties of the neoprene sleeve and discovered that when left overnight at -15 C (5 F) my leftover warm tea froze solid...no surprise. The following morning, while using a gas stove to make oatmeal, I melted snow in the Cook Box by starting the heat pack on water. I kept adding more snow as space appeared, so I never got hot water, but I did get a full bowl of water which went into my water bottle.
On the two warm but snowy day hikes and the backcountry ski days, the Kindle Café was useful at lunch. I carried the tumbler full of water and just added water to the heat pack when we stopped for a break. The Café would steam away and I would end up with a tumbler full of very hot water, before the heat pack was exhausted. I could then make my tea, but found that the water was a bit on the hot side for drinking, actually. Although it was great to have a hot drink at lunch (I usually carry an insulated vacuum bottle for this function, but it’s not that hot), there was one downside. By the time I had a cup of tea, I was done eating my lunch and so was everyone else, so I rarely had time to actually drink much of it. About four hours later, with temperatures around freezing, I found that the tea would be only slightly warm.
On the other overnight hike that I did, I used the Kindle Cook Box to warm up a pre-made rice dinner that just needed to be heated – no cooking or water absorption required. The Cook Box did a pretty good job of that, and it was nice not to have any burnt pots to clean up later.
I noted in the Initial Report that the two units leaked if turned on their sides with water in the plastic containers. In addition, during heating water actually sprays from around the top of the plastic containers. I realize that steam needs to escape, but the reaction is violent enough to eject water from the container as well. I got into the practice of setting the Kindle quite a distance away from me so that I don’t get splashed.
The water in the plastic container turns a murky white colour during the heating process. I’m not sure exactly what the reaction is that occurs and what the by-products are, but given the emphasis on the packaging of not touching the inside of the heat packs, I would be curious to know. A white residue is left on the plastic container after use.
After use, the heat packs actually weigh more than before use. For example, one of my fully-dried used POWERPACKs weighs 45 g (1.4 oz). That seems less than ideal for needing to pack them back out of the backcountry. In addition, when fully dried I have noticed that the outer covering of the heat packs can crack, which again poses a concern regarding touching the contents.
The Kindle Cook Box and Café test has been very interesting so far. Although I am curious about some of the reaction by-products, the product does work as described. I am looking forward to further testing the warmer weather capabilities of the Cook Box, as I still think that it’s a good option for my Search & Rescue pack, at least in some seasons.
Thanks to Amundson Outdoor Products Ltd. and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the Kindle Cook Box and Café! Check back in approximately 2 months (August 2013) for my Long Term Report to see how it’s done in the warmer summer weather.