Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting in Trail Shape

Check out our Training page! We posted our training program that we developed to get into trail shape. We both are pretty sore after the first week, but we'll keep you updated with our progress.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Home Cookin'

Well it was a busy weekend for us as we decided to set out and decide the best stove option for our thru hike of the PCT.  We had done some research previously and decided that an alcohol stove would be best for us, so now all we needed to do was to sit down and come up with some designs to try out here at home.

Before I talk too much about how our various designs and tests came out, we would like to put out a BIG thank you to the #1 reference for us during this process, Zen Backpacking Stoves!  You can visit the site here. If you are looking for a great place to learn how to construct an alcohol stove for your next backpacking trip you can poke around and find a HUGE selection of templates and explanations of the different designs out there.  It was a great resource for us, and we're going to use their template for a windscreen/pot holder once our order of titanium foil arrives.

So after a lot of research, we decided to sit down and start to construct 5 to 6 variations of the classic Pepsi Can stove (using Miller Light cans we decided to utilize since we HAPPENED to have a 20 pack in the fridge).  These stoves are lightweight, dependable and you can find fuel for them in pretty much any store along the way.  For our purposes we used 90% isopropyl (not recommended as it does not burn very clean) and  95% Denatured Alcohol which worked great for our at home tests.  Here are some pics of the construction process:

Needless to say, Kristin wasn't too happy I set up shop on her Christmas themed dining room table.

This is an extremely high tech can cutting machine (razor blade/ cook book) and should not be operated without a license.

 Again, I am a certified technician.

 Ah, the push pin drill bit....a tool no stove maker should be without!

 As you can see, each cutting tool has its place.

Because we've already settled on a pot to use (a $7 grease strainer from Wal-Mart) we came up with the following versions of stoves to try and boil water and cook simple noodle meals on.

After multiple tests, we narrowed it down to (from left to right), stove #1, #3 and #4.  Stoves #1 and #4 are basically the same design, however instead of using a push pin for the jets as we did on #1, we used a #9 sewing needle on stove #4.  We haven't narrowed it down any further from there as the stoves are all comparable with their boil times, fuel efficiency, etc. so we will decide on which design we will take on our hike as we begin to try more trail recipes in the coming weeks.  We chose these designs because they were the best fit for us, and it will be that way for every hiker I imagine.  We liked that we could design a simmer adapter for these stoves to control heat output and create longer burn times, and they just worked really well with the size of our pot.

Here's some pics of one of the versions we like in action, pay no attention to the temporary pot holder, as it is a candle holder that just happen to hold our pot 1.75" from our stove, which is the distance that seems to work the best.  Once our shipment of aluminum foil arrives we will ditch the candle holder and build a windscreen/pot holder for our system.

 Jets firing right up!

Note the uncontrollable boil, and the addition of a simmer adapter (not pictured).

This last picture is a modification/addition to the pot lid that came with our stove.  We are still playing around with it, but basically it acts as a frying pan that can sit on top of the pot while other food cooks, or can sit directly over the stove.  Again, still playing with this "invention" and seeing what works and what doesn't.

We ate off our stove and temporary pot holder all weekend cooking Ramen Noodles, Mac & Cheese and some Knorr Noodle meals.  All worked GREAT!  Needless to say we are getting more excited by the day for our thru hike!