In the mountains with a Kovea Spider Stove, Flat Cat Gear and blueberries

In January I posted my first impressions and tests of the Kovea Spider stove.  I tested it in my backyard with my collection of pots and windscreens to bake bread and make reasonable pancakes.  This summer, the stove has accompanied me on a number of climbs and backpack trips and I have used it with some of Jon Fong’s Flat Cat Gear accessories.  It’s good stuff.

If you spend time in the field, you know that many things must come together for a good kitchen kit.  Weight, of course, is important.  Packing volume also counts.  And you must be able to do the cooking you want in real backcountry and mountain conditions.  My kitchen is built around three pots, the 1 L and .78 L Ti pots of a Snow Peak Multicompact set and a 0.6 L Snow Peak Ti mug.  I need windscreens to match the pots and the stoves I plan to use for any particular trip.  For solo and individual cooking on group trips, I usually stick with the .78 L Snow Peak pot.  For couples backpacking, the 1 L pot does most of the work, and I often take a second pot to have something clean for heating water after cooking.  So any new stove must be properly introduced to these pots and find a way to work and travel efficiently with them.

My first trials with the Kovea Spider were focused on baking and I used the big 1 L Snow Peak pot and its matching Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti windscreen.  It worked well, but the windscreen doesn’t pack into a pot.  On some higher alpine climbs this summer, I took the Spider and my smaller .78 L pot, together with a split cone windscreen I had been using with an alcohol burner.  It worked, sort of.  Then I had a chance to try out some Flat Cat Gear windscreens designed just for the Kovea stove for a much better solution.

For larger pots, the Flat Cat Bobcat Kovea windscreen is a winner.  It rolls up tightly, secures with a snap and will pack into any pot with an inside diameter over about 5-1/4″.  It fits nicely in my 1 L. pot together with the Spider stove, with still room for some miscellaneous stuff.  In use, it fastens in place with two snaps, outside the Spider’s legs, with a slot in the base for the remote canister hose.  The pot sits solidly on the stove’s supports.  The windscreen extends up the sides of the stove providing wind protection for the burner head and good contact time for the combustion gasses and the pot.  For normal cooking with a low flame, the screen is tight around the stove legs.  If you want speed and high output (with more fuel use), open the screen to a second snap position to give the flame more room.  You might also use this position for much larger pots.  I was able to replicate my earlier tests of about 6 g. of fuel to boil 2 cups of water.  The Bobcat windscreen in titanium weighs in at 61 g., just 2.2 oz.

On our most recent trip in Olympic National Park, I packed a couple of additional Flat Cat accessories to make blueberry pancakes for the final day’s breakfast.  Two wire pot holding stakes insert through the upper windscreen holes to support my Ti pot lid/frying pan.  A 10 g., little Ti flame diffusing baking plate sits on the stove pot supports to shield the pan from direct flame and produce even heating.  As you can see from the first photo in this post, it all worked well as the blueberries have been out everywhere in the Olympic alpine country for the past few weeks.

For smaller, mug style pots, Flat Cat Gear offers another windscreen that integrates with the Kovea Spider.  Here is the Snow Leopard Kovea windscreen with my 600 ml Snow Peak Ti mug.  Typically tall, narrow mugs do not work quite as efficiently as broader pots.  This seems to be the case here, but fuel use tests indicate the penalty isn’t much.  The 32 g. windscreen simply is rolled slightly and inserted on the stove’s pot support legs.  It shields the burner from wind and directs heat up the sides of the mug.  Removed from the stove, it stores nicely inside the mug.  The 600 ml. mug is a little small, but works for a minimal solo outing.  Pairing this windscreen with a Toaks Ti 750 ml. mug would be a winning solo combination.  The Toaks mug is large enough to accept a 4 oz. fuel canister as well.  Flat Cat Grar offers an aluminum heat shield to fit under all these windscreens.  It is pretty durable and weighs only 8 g.  I have always used a doubled piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, folded into an octagon shape.  Either way, the shield both protects the cooking surface and reflects heat from the flame up onto the pot.

Check out the rest of Flat Cat Gear’s systems for alcohol and Esbit cooking as well as dry baking.

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