I’m out for a post lunch walk in Landour, Musoorie. Its good exercise, an opportunity to breathe the fresh mountain air and walk through the misty monsoon clouds enjoying the sound of the rain drumming away on my new leaky Tumi umbrella. I’ve always loved the rain and am making the most of it this year. It also takes my mind temporarily off the futile software deployment exercise that has been going on for more than 3 weeks at Landour Community Hospital and the list of 100 plus (and rising) unfixed bugs in the software. Walking back, I notice an Oak branch lying on the ground. It had the same bright green moss on it that covered every tree in sight. It looked very fresh -as though it had just dropped from the tree. I trod on the fallen branch and it gave way like a sponge. Surprised, I picked it up and was able to separate the woody fibers with my fingers. It no longer resembled the solid branch that it seemed to be. The bearded Kumaoni gentleman walking alongside me said, “Its useless -you can’t even burn it”. What do people do then? -those who still use firewood to cook? I asked. “Store it in the dry season” came the reply.
This uncertainty of finding firewood in the monsoons seems to come back to haunt me repeatedly -as if it is an important lesson I must learn. Time and again I keep reading that you can find dry wood on the lower branches of trees which are protected from the rain by the upper branches, but it just doesn’t exist in a urban/semi urban/rural setting where a percentage of people still cook on wood. This rings truer in a cold place, where it snows in winter and where firewood is in big demand (big money too). No gas or electric heater can ever beat the cheery crackling of a fire in the fireplace or bukhari or Tandoor as it is called in Himachal pradesh and lift your spirits in the gloom of winter. Landour looks nice and green, but when you look closer, you can see that there are no reachable branches along the roads that you can reach out and touch. Quite often I have come across stumps on a tree where a branch should have been, and axe/sickle marks on it or a neat saw cut in locations where the sound of an axe would alert patrolling forest officials or the owner. Check this post for a picture of a common but extreme way of pruning a tree for firewood. Conclusion: Finding wood for my Bushbuddy stove is not going to be as easy as it first appeared -especially in the monsoons or the damp foggy winters.
A few encounters like this and I decided that I needed some other options for times like these for my bug out bag, I would additionally need trioxane/hexamine fuel tablets as well. The Trangia burner got selected to fill one of these vacancies, but the whole kit was way too bulky for me. I already had a Bushbuddy and Titanium cooking utensils like my Snowpeak Trek 900 and Vargo Ti-lite, and Montbell 1.9 liter 3D titanium cookpot. so I ended up buying a burner from a vendor selling Trangia spares in the UK. This meant I now needed a third party stand, windshield and pot support. Searching through the Internet, I came across the Clikstand manufactured by Ursa Design. They had both Stainless Steel and Titanium Clikstands/Windshields for sale. Although I am partial towards Titanium, in this case the cost for the Titanium models was more than double that of the stainless steel ones and were thus beyond my budget. I also secretly planned to ditch the whole Clikstand assembly if I managed to successfully use my Trangia inside my Bushbuddy -less weight to carry around. I therefore ended up buying a stainless steel Clikstand and wind shield. Some time later, I also bought the solid fuel adapter to use with Esbit fuel tablets for my bug out bag. Now for the pictures 🙂
The Clickstand and windshield came safely packed in a strong cardboard box filled with Styrofoam beads accompanied by a single sheet user guide. The quality of the parts was very good. Having worked in the sheet steel industry for about 8 years, I could see in my minds eye how it had been manufactured. There were no burrs or rough/sharp edges and I was immensely satisfied with Ursa’s attention to detail. The international shipping charges also were quite low compared to the usual $36 USD. It dismantles readily and packs small. That is its greatest plus point. I used it for a couple of weeks on an outstation trip which is documented in this post. The Clikstand weighs 94 grams ( Ti = 57 grams) and the Windshield weighs 37 grams ( Ti = 20 grams) Actually the difference between the Stainless steel and Titanium windshields is just $5, so it is a better idea to go for the Titanium windshield and shave of those extra 17 grams. I failed to notice this when I purchased and am regretting it now.
I found the Clikstand to be very effective at what it did. However, one of the reasons I bought the Clikstand was that I had a soot problem on using the Trangia inside my Bushbuddy. I read on the Net that the distance between the burner and the bottom of the cook pot was critical for the flame to burn without the soot. Unfortunately in my case, it made no difference to the amount of soot put out, it probably has something to do with the meths available in India. You can check this post for some experiments that I did in trying to reduce the amount of soot. I don’t think it has anything to do with the Clikstand.
On the down side for the Clickstand, there are only two things that come to mind. Firstly the part of the Clikstand that acts as the pot support ends like three mountain peaks, so each pot support touches the pot at three points which does not grip the pot with as much surface area as it would if it were flat, I’m also not sure whether it would contribute to any scratching of soft aluminium pots. Secondly, you can’t put any size of pot onto the Clikstand (Maybe you can’t on the original Trangia kit too). If you do so and the pot is bigger, you might not be able to use the windshield. Even if the pot is smaller, the handles on the pot might interfere with the windshield. For smaller pots, -smaller than the pot supports can hold, Ursa suggests a workaround documented on their website. Unfortunately, if like me you are using the Snowpeak Trek 900, you will soon learn that the pot fits exactly on the pot supports and makes it very difficult to stir without it sliding off the supports. Even if you don’t move the pot around, my pot still falls off one of the pot supports as the Clikstand heats and expands, so an appropriate sized pot is essential. I suppose the originals from Trangia work very well and so do the ones that Ursa design sells.
All said and done, a very innovative stand for the Trangia which I will try to use on travel… try because in India, inflammable items are not allowed in either train or bus… The windshield is good too and the burner stayed lit even after I pointed a pedestal fan at full speed at it. I must try to find a way to use the windshield with my Bushbuddy too as it packs in snugly between my Trek 900 cook-pot and the Bushbuddy. The Trangia fits inside the Bushbuddy and makes for a very compact unit in transit. The Clikstand, windshield and the solid fuel adapter are excellent items to have in your bugout bag. As far as recommendations go, I highly recommend these products from Ursa Design whatever way I look at it, cost, quality, shipping charges etc…
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