The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Stove and Pot Cosy Testing

On Tuesday, Husband refused to weigh one of the pot cosies that he had made to compare with my previous effort at such a device. He opined that such an activity was just too sad.

Yesterday, however, Husband undertook completely of his own accord some highly unscientific experiments. It’s amazing what a bit of new hardware will do to motivate a man.

Out he went onto the patio with the Triad stove and some of that lightweight foil windshield stuff (another item from backpackinglight that I forgot to mention yesterday).

He heated a cup of water. Then, for testing purposes, he measured out an amount of meths and heated a pint of water, timing it to boiling point. Then he measured out another pint of water and heated it using a different windshield configuration.

Then (whilst I was busy with the sewing machine again) he did lots of complicated mathematics.

The outcome was that a) it takes about 12 minutes and about 30ml of meths to heat enough water for two cups of tea; but b) we don’t care too much about how long it takes as long as it’s not an outrageously long time; and c) in terms of weight and fuel economy, for a trip of 5 days or more, gas wins (even taking the metal of the canister into account) but d) for a trip of a few days the meths would win for having the ability to measure out the right amount of fuel rather than having to shake a canister and take a wild guess, or take more gas than needed. Finally, from a land-fill point of view it seems that meths wins. I’ve not looked in depth into gas canisters but I know that the local council will collect plastic and allegedly they even recycle it. I’m led to believe that gas canisters end up in land fill.

Unscientific Triad stove experiments weren’t enough for one day, however. I then decided to undertake some even less scientific pot-cosy tests (not trying to step on Weird Darren’s toes here – I can assure you that my tests were far less scientific than his will be).

I put 400ml of boiling water into each MSR Kettley Thing. On one Kettley Thing was my previously made and used foam-backed-foil pot cosy, on the other was some of BPL’s bubble-wrap-foil-sandwich material.

The flaw in the experiment was not having a thermometer that will measure above 42 degrees Celcius, so the first test, after half an hour was the highly technical ‘fingers on the outside of the cosy’ test.

Sadly, we both went ‘oooh’ as we agreed that the bubble-wrap-foil-sandwich material was much hotter to the touch than the foam (the foil backing the foam being on the inside). We agreed that that would seem to suggest that the double-skin was losing heat faster.

The next highly unscientific test came an hour and a half in, when I opened the lids and stuck a finger into each. Another ‘ooh’ was uttered, for the water in the dual-skin bubble-wrap-foil-sandwich enclosed pot was most decidedly hotter than the single-skin foam backed. Both were still hot enough to count as being a hot drink.

Two and a half hours in and the water was cool enough to use the thermometer. The dual-skin bubble-wrap was winning at 38.5 degrees. The single-skin foam was losing at 33.5 degrees.

Three and a quarter hours in and the dual-skin bubble-wrap was down at 33.5 degrees. The single-skin had become disqualified by operator error (I forgotten to put the lid back on. Oops).

With the lack of a third Kettley Thing, I didn’t do the control test of an un-cosied pot of water (but that’s not to say that I won’t do that another time, just out of interest).

The outcome of all of that was to confirm that the double-skin bubble-wrap was more efficient. I resisted doing any sums to try and work out whether it was sufficiently more efficient to warrant the extra 15g in weight…

Whilst all that was going on, slaving away at the sewing machine, I very un-neatly edged the promotional panel that will sit on the back of my rucksack and also finally sewed up the unravelled finger of my Extremities glove that came adrift on Valentine morning; it took me a while to get around to it, but finally it is as good as new.


  1. Nicely done Gayle; Fits well into an article I wrote only yesterday.


    Good to see that your £2000 target has been met. Time to increase it?

  2. You believe me now then ? ;-D

    I told it was good stuff. Good reading about the Traid, have you timed boiling speed using the new combination I suggested yet?

    Even more curious .....