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Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Saturday, April 29, 2017

GEAR REVIEW: Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System

By Will Rietveld

This cook kit is made in heaven for backpackers on the lower end of Ultralight, and those who want to break the 5 pound base weight barrier.

Leave it to GVP, aka Glen Van Peski, the UL Master, to come up with the lightest cook kit for one person. The Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System can weigh as little as 3 ounces for a complete cooking kit. That should get your attention.

The Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System is sold as an Esbit fueled cooking system. The specified total weight is 4.2 ounces.

There are zillions of lightweight and ultalight cooking systems out there, available for purchase or hand made, each one with some good testimonials. My review of the Gossamer Gear system will add to that list. This review describes what the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System is and how it performed for me. I don’t make any attempt to compare it with other systems.

Specifications and Features

Manufacturer
Gossamer Gear (www.gossamergear.com)
Product
GVP Ultralight Stove System
Components
Esbit tablets (3 pack)  45g; aluminum heat reflector  3g; Cuben cozy 15g; Esbit Stand 1g; Silicone band  5g; metal pot lid 4g; plastic lid 4g; 22 oz / 650 ml cook pot  20g; windscreen cone 22g
Weight
Total Kit 4.20 oz/120 g
MSRP
$90

Description

Since I’m a gram pincher, I was originally attracted to the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System because of its minimal weight. However functionality and durability are equally important. For me, the important elements of an ultralight stove system are:
  • Minimal weight
  • Compact
  • Sized for one person
  • Wind resistant
  • Burns alcohol fuel
  • Fuel efficient
  • Adequately durable
  • Good lifespan
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Compatible with my cooking and eating techniques
 As you can see from the component list, the GVP Ultralight Stove System uses Esbit fuel tabs. The main advantage of Esbit is its more energy dense, so it will boil water about twice as fast as alcohol fuel. The disadvantages are the fuel tabs are somewhat expensive and hard to find, smell terrible while burning, and coat the cook pot with soot.

I personally dislike Esbit and prefer to use alcohol fuel. Why? Because it’s cheap and easy to find, doesn’t smell (much), and is clean burning so no soot. The disadvantage is it’s slower; it takes about 10 minutes to boil a pint of water. That’s not a problem for me because I can do camp setup or takedown while the water is heating.

I wish the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System were also available in an alcohol version; it would be a simple matter of substituting an alcohol burner and small fuel bottle for the Esbit stand and Esbit tablets. They could even leave out the fuel bottle because the bottle size depends on trip length; I have an assortment of bottle sizes that I use.

When I received the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System I made a few adjustments to meet my criteria (above list). First, I trimmed a little weight by removing the silicone pot band. Then I substituted a Zelph StarLyte alcohol burner (0.45 ounce with its cap) for the Esbit stand. The remaining components are all functional. Overall, the adjustments were minor to make the stove system meet my needs. The weight of that configuration is 3 ounces.

The Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System as tested weighs just 3 ounces. The components are:
  1. Titanium Caldera Cone – sturdy and durable.
  2. Cook pot – Foster’s beer can cut down to 22 ounces, then rimed and ridged to increase durability. Height is 4.25 inches.
  3. Aluminum pot lid with steam vent and lift tab.
  4. Plastic pot cover – this serves a dual purpose: seal the pot to shake a drink to mix it, or add water and shake the pot to clean it.
  5. Soft aluminum heat reflector – to put under the burner.
  6. Zelph StarLyte alcohol burner – available at www.woodgaz-stove.com for $12 plus $4 shipping. It comes with a plastic lid (not shown). I like this burner because it’s very lightweight (0.45 oz with lid), compact (fits perfectly in the packed kit, fuel efficient, and excess fuel can be stored inside the stove without spilling. The burner is packed with fiberglass, which holds the fuel inside.
  7. Plastic fuel measuring cup – this is simply a medicine cup; it’s useful because I can’t see how much fuel I’m adding to the burner, so it’s best to measure it.
  8. Cuben Fiber cozy – for keeping food hot while it’s hydrating, and warm while eating. It also serves as a carry bag.
The spoon is not included in the cooking system.

Testing

I tested the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System on two backpacking trips in the remote backcountry of Canyonlands National ParkUtah.

 
I prefer to place the stove on a flat rock to use it, rather than disturbing the ground. As you can see, it’s very compact when set up.

Even though the cook pot is small, you can still cook fish in it, in this case trout cut into chunks. The technique is to put the fish sections into the pot, fill the pot with water up to within about 1 inch of the top, bring the water + fish to boiling, cover and place the pot in the cozy for 10 minutes, then eat.

 I typically only cook at dinnertime. I fill the pot about half full with water, bring it to a boil, dump in my dinner (about 5 ounces dry weight fills the pot when cooked), bring it back to a boil, then put the pot into the cozy to hydrate. I eat directly out of the pot with the short handled spoon shown; no long handled spoon required. For desert I eat a protein bar.

For breakfast I drink a cold mocha consisting of a powdered nutritional shake mix plus a teaspoon of instant coffee, shaken in the cook pot, followed by a cereal or granola concoction hydrated with cold water.

Performance

With the routine described above, I use less than 0.5 ounce of fuel a day, which is a small bottle for a typical trip. For someone who enjoys a hot beverage or two every day, the amount of fuel will double or triple.

I really like the shortened Foster’s can cook pot; it’s easy to reach the bottom with a short handled spoon which also fits neatly into the kit for packing. And it’s easy to clean. A full-height Foster’s can has enough volume to cook for two people, and can be used on the cone provided in this kit, but it requires a long-handled spoon to reach the bottom and is harder to clean. I usually only boil water in it and hydrate in another container.

The titanium caldera cone is also a big plus. It’s strong, durable, and works for a long time. I have tested the aluminum version and find it easily bends out of shape and the connection doesn’t work very well after some use.

The Zelph StarLyte alcohol burner is a good match for this cooking system, but most any small/compact alcohol burner will work.

The Cuben Fiber cozy is very nice; it also serves as a carry sack to contain and protect the kit.

Assessment

In my 17 years of gear testing and reviewing, including several years as Backpacking Light Magazine’s cooking systems editor, I have tested a lot of cooking gear of all types. I can say unequivocally, for a solo cooking system, the Gossamer Gear GVP Ultralight Stove System can’t be beat. After all, it was created by the UL Master himself – Glen Van Peski – so you know it’s very refined and as lightweight as it gets.

Glen prefers Esbit, I prefer alcohol, but that’s a personal preference thing. The system works equally well with either fuel, and it would be nice if Gossamer Gear would offer that choice.

The $90 price tag is a bit steep, but the main components are custom made for Gossamer gear and sold in limited quantities. Once you make the purchase, you will have the lightest, most compact complete solo cook kit currently available. It will last many years with reasonable care. This cook kit is made in heaven for backpackers on the lower end of Ultralight, and those who want to break the 5 pound base weight barrier.


Another reason for getting it is its simply ultralight elegance, a key component in a well thought out ultralight kit, and something that really makes you feel content – like owning a Tesla.

5 comments:

  1. Will, thanks for the review!

    I have this kit and have found that 4 grams esbit tabs are much better than 14 grams with regards to smell. And, when it comes to soot, using the BGET stove burns esbit better, decreasing soot quite a bit. Using them with this kit has worked great for me.

    Regards

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  2. Great review. I have a stove just to heat water for my one hot meal a day. I've been using the Trail Designs Keg H (Heineken) and for seven years. Really like it a lot. I don't use all the items included but my config weighs 4.97 Oz w/out fuel. The GVP kit weighs just 2.61 Oz. without fuel. Wow, nice and light for sure! BTW, I use the 14 gram Esbit tabs and can get two one-cup boils off one tab. Sometimes it takes a bit more so I usually carry an extra tab, but at just half an ounce, it is cheap insurance.

    Question(s): my setup uses a plastic cup to protect the more robust Heineken can. How do you feel about the ridged Fosters can without any other protection in your pack? Since you don't use the band, what are you using to shield your hand from the heat of the can? Finally, what size Esbit tab will the included stove hold?

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    Replies
    1. The plastic carry case is pretty heavy so I don't carry it. However, the Heiniken can is pretty tall, so its hard to eat out of and clean. So I cut the carry case down to make a cup about 4" tall and I hydrate my food in that and eat it with a short handled spoon. I pack the kit carefully in my pack so it doesn't get smashed. The ridged Foster's cans are stronger and I prefer them. I use a cloth to grab the pot off the cone, especially if its full of water. If its only partially full the top is cool enough to grab it with my hand. I'm not familiar with Esbit sizes since I don't use Esbit. Thanks for your comments.

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  4. GG must have been listening because the stove system now comes with a StarLyte alcohol burner. I currently use a Caldera Cone system and like it, but it does weigh more than this.

    Do you have experience with the Caldera 12-10 stove vs the StarLyte one?

    ReplyDelete