Esbit CS585HA 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set for Use with Solid Fuel Tablets (Esbit 1300 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for Backpacking, Camping and Hobby – 20 Pieces Each 4g) Included as add on through Amazon.com

I want to start this post off by saying that anytime you buy something that you intend to use on a hike, while camping, or anytime you are going to have to rely on the product whatsoever, you need to be sure to test the product before you’re in a situation where you need to use it. In this review I’ll be talking about my experience with

and
Respectively.
I’d like also like to say that the solid fuel used and pictured here came as an add on to the cook set for $4 on Amazon.com and that I did not have very high hopes for this solid fuel as a standalone heat source, for good reason.
The solid fuel tablets are very small, about 1/3 the size of most that are on the market at a comparable price. The packaging states that a single solid fuel tablet will burn for 8-12 minutes and boil water on its own. Unfortunately this claim is not even close to being true. Had I not tested these and been in a situation where I needed to boil water to drink or cook with in the backwoods I would have been very much out of luck. As it was I set this cook set up in my garage to reduce wind but with the door open and an ambient temperature around 30 degrees. The first tablet burned for about 11 minutes and managed to get a small bit of steam off the top of the water, but little more. I decided that maybe because it was so cold I would try more fuel to see if I could truly get the water to boil. So the next go around I used 2 or the tablets, which burned for approximately 10 minutes, but only got the water up to 155 degrees Fahrenheit before burning out. It’s also worth noting that the solid fuel uses some sort of fish oil as a base and will make an area about 10 feet around where you’re cooking smell like you’re processing salmon. Needless to say, I was less than impressed with the solid fuel, but as an add on I wasn’t too upset about the price.
I did go back later with the cook-set, used the solid fuel as a starter and fed small sticks into the opening at the bottom of the cook set and got water from a semi-frozen stream to boil in about 20 minutes on one of my earlier hikes. So, because of the small size of these fuel tablets and the fact that you get 20 of them, they can be useful to get a bigger fire going in pinch. While I absolutely do not recommend them as a standalone fuel source, they might be work keeping around your fire starting kit, since they start easily and will burn even when wet. However, strong wind will put these out so if you’re using any type of solid fuel source be sure to setup a wind screen or dig a hole about twice the size of your cook stove and about 5-6 inches deep, then use the dirt from the hole to heighten the barrier around the cook stove to keep the wind at bay.
Below are the links to the products on Amazon.com

Rock Shelter Trail 1-31-2016

This past weekend we decided to hike the Rock Shelter trail at Morgan Monroe State Forest. This has quickly become one of my favorite destinations for quick weekend hikes and I’m looking forward to better weather so that I can start doing some overnights on the Low Gap and Three Rivers trails. I hiked about 3 and a half miles into the low gap a few weeks ago and actually went through a portion of the rock shelter trail. Since the smaller loops connect the larger 10+ mile Low Gap trail.
Anyway, the scenery was so striking last time that I knew we should hit this hike together. They call this the rock shelter hike because of the large walk through cave in our pictures. It’s been signed in several places and looks to be a pretty popular destination for anyone hiking in this area. The center of this trail that is in the backwoods area is absolutely phenomenal. It’s well maintained and the scenery is absolutely beautiful, even in mid-winter when everything is dead. We did get lucky this weekend in respects to the weather. It was a balmy 55 degrees and we quickly shucked our cold weather gear as soon as we got to the trailhead. Of course the weight of our AT packs still makes for a sometimes sweaty hike. While we’re accustomed to carrying weighted ruck sacks from our years in the military (4 for me, 20+ for dad) you really can’t control how quickly you heat up when you’re scaling a backwoods will with 50lbs strapped to your back.
When we first started the hike we followed the trail head about an 8th of a mile to a paved road that takes you about a mile into the backwoods of the state forest. This is an underwhelming portion of the hike as it’s paved with rock and tends to be pretty muddy. There is also a lot of logging going on around this particular trail so it’s not exactly what you want to see on your weekend out in nature. But after about a mile the trail turns off into the backwoods where you zigzag down a large hill into a large ravine with a stream meandering through it. The stream crosses the trail in many spots, so if you aren’t wearing waterproof boots like I have been, you have to get a little creative to keep your feet dry. As you follow the trail through the ravine you’ll notice the terrain change from steep hills to rocky cliffs, the whole time you continue to hike though the ravine following the trail towards the caves at the center of this trail. Now this week we decided to take out our GoPro cameras and record the hike, so most of this will be published to our YouTube channel in a few days, I’ll be sure to link to it from here and vice versa so that you can see the real beauty of this trail.
Once you get past the caves you start heading uphill, this will be challenging for those of you who haven’t been hiking in a while as climbing these hills with weighted packs works your legs more than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. The trail then follows a ridge for another ¾ mile or so before you come to a fork in the trail leading to the backwoods or back to the trailhead. Since we were just hiking the rock shelter trail, we took the left fork back to the trailhead. After about 300 yards that direction the forest trail turns back into a paved (rock) vehicle trail that leads you right back to the parking lot at the trailhead. The whole thing takes about an hour, maybe longer if you take a lot of pictures or decide to stop for lunch. All in all this is a beautiful trail and a much better way to spend a Saturday and Sunday afternoon than sitting around the house.

Directions and further information are available in the link below.  https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/indiana/low-gap-trail-loop

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