You are here

Hiking

Review: Snowpeak LiteMax Canister Stove

PureOutside - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 07:00

The Snowpeak LiteMax stove is a small canister stove from Snowpeak, a company that makes lightweight backpacking stoves, cookware and other accessories.

The LiteMax is one of the lightest canister stove I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to carry because of that. Pair it up with a small titanium pot to boil water in and you’ve got a very lightweight cooking solution.

The LiteMax is a canister stove and uses iso-butane canisters. You can use any iso-butane canister like Snowpeak or MSR.

Boil time is a little slow at over 4 minutes.  Some other canisters can boil a litre in 3.5. It gets the job done fast enough for me.

I used it on my 6 day West Coast Trail hike and loved it. Lightweight, reliable, hot. Never had any problems with it. We also had an MSR pocket rocket which worked great as well, it’s just a bit heavier.

What I like about the LiteMax

Lightweight – The LiteMax is very lightweight and small. It’s easy to pack up into a pot or throw in it’s little carrying case and tuck somewhere in your pack. Without it’s case it’s only 54 grams (1.9 oz). It’s not the very lightest in canister stoves but it’s close.

Cools quickly – because it’s titanium, the metal arms that hold up the pot cool very quickly. This is a nice “feature” if you want to pack up your stove soon after you are done cooking.

What I don’t like about the LiteMax

Loose Arms – The arms unfold and then rotate around the burner. This makes it easier to fold up and store. Sometimes the arms don’t stay rotated where you put them though, the connections are a bit loose. As soon as a pot is on them they stay put for the most part. Having a bit tighter connections keep them in place would be nice.

Remember to close the valve – The valve handle folds back onto the bottom of the stove for storage to make it smaller. You have to open the valve a bit when folding it. When you unfold it you have to remember to rotate it closed all the way so fuel doesn’t start leaking when screwing it onto the canister. Being able to fold the valve handle in a completely OFF position would be nicer.

Conclusion

I love hiking with the LiteMax. It’s small, light and easy to use. I haven’t had one issue with it yet (knock on wood!). I would be interested in trying out some stoves with a lower boil time, if you’re trying to save space and only have one stove for a group, you want that water to boil as fast as it will go.

Photos of the Snowpeak LiteMax

Other Reviews

Backpacker.com review

Gear Institute review

Camping Stove Cookout review (video)

Backpacking Light forum discussion

Trailspace reviews

Campsaver.com review

REI reviews

AdventureKayaking.org review

HikeLight review

Categories: Hiking

Extension Ridge from Extension Road, Nanaimo [Trip Report]

PureOutside - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 07:00

The Trans Canada Trail sections on Vancouver Island offer so much variety. I’m always keen on new trails that are different than anything I’ve experienced before. Yes, most of the sections around Nanaimo are still dirt single track with trees around. Most trails are like that. But the views and twists and turns and connections to other trails are always different. I get a kick out of all the different trail connections along the way.

I was roaming farther and farther down the island, hiking parts of the Trans Canada Trail but hadn’t seen on section right in my own backyard, in Extension. The Extension Ridge trail connects the Abyss trails off Harewood Mines road south to the Extension Area. From there, it continues to Nanaimo Lakes Road.

Extension Ridge is a beautiful part of the trail with single track winding all the way up and along the ridge. A power line crossing offers some mixed views, nice to see the neighbouring hills but for that you get to see the powerlines and towers as well.

Some photos below are from the last trip I had out there. It was an overcast, wet day, perfect for keeping the heat down while hiking.

Categories: Hiking

Backpacking Stove Glossary

PureOutside - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 07:00

Backpacking stoves can be complicated little beasts. There are many different types each type, each with their own wide variety of specs, pros and cons. You’ll need to know some of the lingo before you go anywhere. Here’s a glossary to get you started.

Alcohol – Alcohol stoves are popular in the lightweight backpacking community. They can be easily made and just require a bit of alcohol to burn which can be purchased at many hardware  or drug stores. Alcohol stoves take longer to boil water than liquid fuel stoves and iso-butane stoves.

CrunchIt – A tool from JetBoil used to punch a hole in iso-butane canisters so they can be recycled. They cannot be recycled if they still have iso-butane in them. You can also do this with a screwdriver through the side of the canister.

Drip-feed – Using a remote iso-butane canister upside down and using the liquid from the canister. The liquid is used to burn instead of the the pressurized gas. When the liquid is used, it’s a lot less temperature dependent. The gas reduces to a liquid at a low temperatures and if you don’t use the liquid from the start then the liquid won’t work in your stove.

Esbit – A brand of Hexamine tablets.

Fuel jets – The jets spray the vaporized fuel out to be burnt. They can get plugged if you are using a dirty kind of fuel. The jets might also have to be changed out if you are using a different type of fuel like iso-butane or kerosene compared to naphtha.

Hexamine – A type of solid fuel that’s often sold in tablets. You place the tablet in a holder under your pot and light it. The tablets were originally used to heat military rations. Can be expensive.

Iso-butane – the mixture of butane that canisters use for canister stoves. It’s pressurized in the stove. It’s a lot less volatile than propane and doesn’t have to be in as thick of containers.

Kerosene – A type of fuel that can be used in some liquid fuel stoves. It’s available widely outside of North America and can be used as an alternative fuel while travelling. The stove jets often have to be changed to use Kerosene and might have to be cleaned more often.

Multi-fuel – Stoves that can use different types of fuel. It used to mean different types of liquid fuel like white gas, kerosene, gasoline or jet fuel. Some new stoves can burn iso-butane canisters as well as liquid fuel.

Naptha – The liquid fuel that comes with a lot of camp stoves these days. It’s often called Coleman gas.

Priming – The process of heating up the tubes on the stove so that the liquid fuel can be turned into a gas and burned in the stove.

Remote – Remote stoves are not attached directly to the fuel canister or bottle their fuel is from. There is a fuel tube that connects the stove to the fuel bottle. Non-remote iso-butane stoves attached directly to the top of the fuel canister. Remote canister stoves can be used upside down with a drip feed attachment that makes them work better in cold temperatures.

Trioxane – A type of solid fuel that’s often solid in tablets. Often cheaper than Hexamine. Gives off many different chemicals when burned so keep away from fumes.

Categories: Hiking

Nanaimo Lakes Road to Whisky Lake

PureOutside - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:27

Being part of hiking groups online is a mixed blessing. On the one hand there’s a constant supply of assistance, inspiration and motivation to get outside. On the the other hand, there’s a steady stream of beautiful trail pictures streaming by making it difficult to focus on anything other than… going outside.

A last minute change to plans this past weekend meant I had some time to hike but not as much as I originally though. Driving a couple hours to hike was out of the question so I quickly searched for some trails closer to home to try. The benefit to having that constant stream of trail information means I’m never without a long list of places near home to see.

Whisky Lake near Nanaimo River Road had come up a few times in my feed and new trails around there. I had never seen the idea and liked it’s likely 5km route out and back from the power lines on Nanaimo Lakes Road.

Off we go.

**

I parked on Nanaimo Lakes Road just before it forks into a dirt road and start hiking along the power lines. I was using one of Phil’s Maps of Nanaimo mountain biking trails to find the ones I was looking for and see what’s there. I knew there might be some new ones around Whisky Lake and possibly some on the way that weren’t mapped yet. Follow along with the map of Nanaimo and you’ll see the route I used.

Trail: Tangerine

A short connector trail from road to road, Tangerine was a better route than rocky logging road.

 

Unnamed trail? to FNG

I’m sure this trail has a name somewhere but it starts just up the road from Tangerine. It’s mostly through reforested clearcut but would be a nice ride or run.

It crosses a logging road, goes through some recent slash and into the woods to start what I think is FNG, or so the sign said.

FNG pops out near the logging roads near Whiskey Lake. This just drops down right beside the lake.

Schadenfreude

Walking around the lake to the west, I bumped into the the end of Riparian and Schadenfreude. I took Schadenfreude until I had to turn around near the south end and then came back up and started Riparian back towards the lake. 

Turning around before Wonderwall starts. The trail continues down to the right of the photo below. Another day.

Riparian and Whisky Lake

Compared to all the other trails in the area Riparian is right around the lake and is thick and green. 

Some of the trail runs the cliffs along the lake. Great views through the trees from the mossy ledges. 

Logging road, and garbage

Riparian spit me out on the logging roads near where FNG ended and I walked down towards the Magic Carpet start and looked for a better view of the lake.

Of course, you give access to a beautiful place by 4×4 and ATV and they leave their garbage everywhere. Clean up your garbage when you go.

Magic Carpet to Hot Tamale to Samba to Black Jade

Next to the lake Magic Carpet leaves the logging road and heads up the ridge back toward the powerless. The trails all blended together and finally spit me out on the logging road near where I started.

Sad to see the trees left on the boundary of a clear cut all being pushed over by the wind and rain with no protection left. A few arbutus knocked down just the same as the others.

 

Trail: Coal Pile

A bit of time to kill before I had to be home, sent me looking for one last short trail near the care. Coal Pile is short but green trail through the woods near the powerlines. It runs over a pile of coal along the way.

 

Della waiting patiently.

 

Categories: Hiking

Albert Inlet Trail north from Franklin River [Trip Report]

PureOutside - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:00

In my ongoing search for sections of the VI Spine Trail to hike, I wanted to find out more about the south end of the Alberni Inlet trail. It’s being built in 3 stages and while all the stages are there for the trail, they aren’t all used the same amount. Some parts are easier to find than others. This weekend I headed out to find the section that heads north from Franklin River.

**

To the Franklin River Alberni Inlet Trail Parking Lot

The trailhead has a brand new parking lot and an information sign about the 3 stages of the trail. Stage 1 ends at China Creek 11 km south of Port Alberni (measured from where Ship Creek Road and Anderson Ave turn into Franklin River Road near the entrance to the Inlet trail).

The turn off to the parking lot down Franklin Creek is 16.2 km from Ship Creek Road, and then another 3.4 km down the spur to the trail parking lot.

Starting the trail

There are two entrances to the Alberni Inlet Trail heading north from this Franklin River parking lot. You can walk 380 m down the road from the parking lot to find the single track start to the trail. Alternatively you can walk 650m up the small logging road that starts beside the parking lot and enter the single track there.

 

The single track is a little rough but will be cleaned up soon I’m sure.

Fork to the logging road entrance to the trail.

A watery crossing on the trail. Had to hop a few rocks to get across this one.

Chain on one of the harder sections to get up.

Serious water coming down onto the trail. The rocks were easy to hop over.

The trail is tucked in the trees and follows the coastline north.

A whole range of ground cover on this one bit of trail.

 

I had lunch on a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the water. When I realized I had cell reception, I couldn’t resist posting something on instagram.

 

 

Exit to the logging road

I started the trail on the single track down the road from the parking lot. To finish, I exited out onto the logging road and walked down from there. I recommend taking the single track. It’s more scenic.

 

With it’s many trailheads and beautiful scenery, the Alberni Inlet trail is going to become a popular destination in the years to come. The China Creek entrance to the trail is already seeing many new visitors. The trailheads further south will undoubtedly see fewer hikers because of the longer drive if you do make the trek, you’ll probably get the trail all to yourself (hopefully not everyone will read this post and go out to hike at the same time!).

Categories: Hiking