My Caldera Keg

Kegmods-2016-03-22 My Caldera Keg setup, for use with the Esbit fuel mainly, includes two useful mods:

1) A carbon felt fabric strip that wraps about 3/4 of the way around, held in place by a “beer band” that comes with the Keg. (Carbon felt from Minibulldesign Cult.)

This solves the problem of picking it up out of the cone when it is hot, hot, hot with boiling water. Too hot for the usual bandana trick. It is an aluminum beer can after all.

Now, you could JB- Weld it into place, but I tried it on a test can and it was not much lighter than the beer band. So I use the beer band, which is both adjustable and detachable.

2) A protective bottom sleeve to keep the smudgy residue that Esbit fuel leaves on the bottom of the can from getting onto other things. This is simply a medium size boil-in-bag (from Pack-it Gourmet I think), cut down to fit at the top.

Additional weight of these three components: 17 grams.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Rand Lindsly from Trail Designs for working with through several long emails to help perfect my Keg setup. Terrific customer service!




The Camp Chef Challenge

Bizzare yet delicious camping dessert spontaneously cooked up by my friend Mike.

The base layer was granola, toasted first on the pan, then on top were added and softened up slices of a banana, some peanut butter, and a few pieces of dark chocolate. There was no recipe, he just made this up using some food we had brought for other meals.

And to top the whole thing off, Mike then actually flambeed the dish with a little scotch from the flask.

Reflectix, the miracle substance

Insulated backpacking mug: a Glad small size “Lockware” storage cup with locking lid.


This is a well designed cup.

– It holds two cups / 16 oz. and has graduated measure lines on the side in both cups (½, 1) and milliliters (100, 250).

– There are two small indents on the sides that make it easier to hold without slipping.

– This lid and top are the same size as a Snow Peak Ti 700 mug, which is a nice coincidence :) so you can put them in sack one on top of the other.

– The locking lid is watertight, though not waterproof, of course. But it is designed to hold liquids in your fridge and not leak. I tested it by filling it up with water and turning it upside down for 30 minutes and it didn’t leak, though I wouldn’t count on it.


I built the cozy system out of Reflectix insulation around the sides and on the lid top, with a blue closed cell foam bottom, and duct tape using the same method as earlier

Works well. I tested this at home by using it to brew tea and have some soup. My only field test with it so far was with tea and it performed fine.

Sip Lid

The main downside to it I see is that you lose heat when you take off the lid to sip drinks. I would not want to solve that with a sip hole in the top of the locking lid.

Instead, I have an alternate lid which was the lid from a peanut can. It fits very snugly. I then used paper punch to punch in a single sip hole, which works fine for me. You could make one larger if you prefer.

Unfortunately, you can’t put both this lid and the locking lid on at the same time. So, while not yet the perfect solution, it works fine for sipping.


You can and should use it for storage, of course. You can fit 4 pilot breads in it, with room still in the bottom for something else (I put tea bags.)

Boil in bag eggs

I learned how to cook this way from a camp host out in the Ochoco last summer. This technique works well, is clean and healthier than frying as you need no oil at all. When done, the omelette will simply roll right out of the bag without sticking and leave little or no mess.

TIP 1: Egg-beaters – I always use egg-beaters instead of actual eggs, and that makes it even easier, healthier and cleaner.

TIP 2: The Stir –  It will help speed the cooking if you move the bag around to even out the cooking. I often pull the bag out about half way through (roughly about 5-7 minutes) and stir the ingredients up to mix them.

TIP 3: Ingredients –  Some ingredients may not cook as well as others. Don’t put in raw bacon, for instance; it won’t get done. Raw onions will still be pretty raw, while green onions work well.  I find spinach works very well.


** Be careful to NOT let the zip-loc bag touch the edges of the pot you are boiling it in or it will melt the plastic! **

While the bag will boil without a problem and not even come close to melting, it will melt – and melt quickly – if it touches metal or direct flame. So watch the top where it might come to rest on the side of your pot for more than a couple of seconds and start to melt.

So pick a pot that is wide enough to give it room to flop the top over without touching the pot and pay close attention the entire time while cooking it.

Reflectix, the miracle substance

DIY pot cozy for my Snow Peak 700. This is based on Jim Wood’s great article “Three Mods for your Mug”

I found the Reflectix at my local Home Depot, but it took some doing to get it. Most of the staff there had no idea what I was looking for and sent me to look at plumbing insulation instead. Fortunately, one person did know – and they had two rolls of it tucked away in a unlabeled corner. Anyway, I now have enough for a lifetime of cozy making. 

I should add that in addition to the the Reflectix and duct tape in Jim Wood’s original design, I added some insulation at the bottom of the cozy, a round piece of blue closed cell foam, left over from modding my sleeping pad. That adds a bit of height to the cozy (3/8") but provides a lot more insulating power at the hottest spot, the bottom.

Weight of the cozy: 30 grams.