TEST SERIES BY THERESA LAWRENCE
INITIAL REPORT - March 27, 2013
FIELD REPORT - June 11, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - August 06, 2013
theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
5' 8" (1.73 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Amundson Outdoor Products Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://kindlecook.ca
MSRP: not available
KINDLE COOK BOX
Listed Weight and Dimensions: none
Measured Weight: 12.7 oz (361 g)
Measured Dimensions: 7.5 in (19 cm) x 5 3/8 in (13.5 cm) x 3 3/8 in (8.75 cm)
Listed Capacity: 850 ml
Measured Capacity: 860 ml
HEAT PACK for Cook Box (MAXPACK)
Listed Weight: 2.1 oz (60 g)
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
KINDLE COOK CAFE
Listed Weight and Dimensions: none
Measured Weight: 7.1 oz (200 g)
Measured Dimensions: 2.75 in (7cm) x 7 5/16 in (18.5 cm)
Listed Capacity: 10.8 fl oz (320 ml)
Measured Capacity: 10 fl oz (300 ml)
HEAT PACK for Cook Cafe (POWERPACK)
Listed Weight: 0.88 oz (25 g)
Measured Weight: 1 oz (28 g)
The Kindle Cook Box and Cafe system heats food and liquid without the use of fire. It relies on the use of a heat pack that when wet, activates and heats up the system. The Kindle Cook Box consists of a stainless steel rectangular bowl that fits into a plastic container, which then fits into a neoprene cover. There is a snap-lock plastic lid with an airtight silicone ring to hold in warmth and prevent leaking. The Kindle Cook Cafe consists of the same system in the shape of a beverage container and the lid comes with a spout for drinking. The heat packs come packaged in 2 layers of plastic. According to the website they are environmentally friendly and once used can be disposed of in the garbage. I was unable to find information on what exactly the heat packs were made of. The heat capability of the Kindle Cook system claims to be 98 C (208 F) when the surrounding temperature is 20 C (68 F) and even higher when the surrounding temperature is higher. The website also claims to boil liquid in under 10 minutes.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions were fairly straight forward. The heat pack needs to be taken out of its double plastic packaging and laid in the bottom of the plastic container. Water is then poured onto the heat pack and the stainless steel bowl or tumbler is placed on top inside. The only issue I had with these instructions was how much water to pour onto the heat pack as the instructions on the heat pack said to pour water up to the 'fill line', but I couldn't find the fill line. Later, I observed the fill line was on the outside of the plastic container hidden under the neoprene sleeve, oops. I figured out that the amount of water needed is about the depth of the heat pack.
My first impression when I received the Kindle Cook shipping box was that the box was quite heavy. But after opening it, I was relieved to find both the Kindle Cook Box and Cafe along with 24 heat packs of each. Needless to say I would never have to pack the whole box anywhere, but it did make me aware that because they are single use packs, I would need to make sure I brought enough packs for each hot meal and beverage for each trip. In which case, my initial thought was that I wouldn't want to pack this for more than one night, maybe two. Longer trips I feel would need too many packs, which is a lot of extra weight and volume and doesn't get lighter once they are used, as they still need to be packed out.
After inspecting the devices I found they more or less resemble plastic food storage containers, very simple and the heat packs look like hand warmers. I was able to fit 4 heat packs into the Cook Box, but none will fit in the Cook Cafe, so they will need to be packed separately.
I'm a bit of a science geek, so naturally, I collected some measurements to get a feel for how it heats up and cools down. The first data collected was at room temperature, 21 C (65 F) and the second was outside at what happened to be -4 C (25 F). In both cases the volume of water heated in the Cook Box was 2 3/4 cups (687.5 ml or 23.3 fl oz) and another 150 ml (5.1 fl oz) of water was used for activating the heat packs. The volume of water heated in the Cook Cafe was 310 ml (10.5 fl oz). The water temperature used was cold tap water, 10 C (50 F).
KINDLE COOK - TEST #1 ROOM TEMPERATURE, 21 C (65 F)
Time and Temperature Recorded:
- 0 min, 10 C (50 F)
- 5 min, 50 C (122 F)
- 10 min, 73 C (163 F)
- 13 min, 79 C (174 F)
- 17 min, 82 C (180 F)
- 20 min, 82 C (180 F)
- 22 min, 83 C (181 F)
- 27 min, 82 C (180 F)
- 30 min, 80.5 C (177 F)
- 35 min, 80 C (177 F)
- 40 min, 78 C (172 F)
- 45 min, 76 C (169 F)
- 50 min, 74 C (166 F)
Final weight of used heat pack: 5.35 oz (152 g).
KINDLE COOK CAFE TEST #1 ROOM TEMPERATURE, 21 C (65 F)
Time and Temperature Recorded:
- 0 min, 10 C (50 F)
- 5 min, 56 C (132 F)
- 10 min, 78 C (172 F)
- 13 min, 79 C (174 F)
- 14 min, 80 C (177 F)
- 17 min, 79 C (174 F)
- 20 min, 77 C (170 F)
- 25 min, 76 C (169 F)
- 30 min, 73 C (163 F)
- 50 min, 68 C (155 F)
Final weight of used heat pack: 2.25 oz (64 g)
KINDLE COOK TEST #2 OUTSIDE -4 C (*F)
- 0 min, 10 C (50 F)
- 5 min, 32 C (89 F)
- 10 min, 50 C (132 F)
- 15 min, 61 C (141 F)
-20 min, 70 C (159 F)
- 25 min, 70 C (159 F)
- 30 min, 72 C (161 F)
- 35 min, 72 C (161 F)
- 40 min, 71 C (160 F)
- 45 min, 69 C (156 F)
KINDLE COOK CAFE TEST #2 OUTSIDE - 4 C (25 F)
- 0 min, 10 C (50 C F)
- 5 min, 58 C (137 F)
- 10 min, 70 C (159 F)
- 15 min, 72 C (161 F)
- 20 min, 70 C (159 F)
- 25 min, 67 C (153 F)
- 30 min, 64 C (148 F)
- 35 min, 60 C (140 F)
SUMMARY OF TEST OBSERVATIONS:
I found this little test to be fun and very interesting. I wasn't able to arrive at the claimed maximum temperature of 98 C (208 F) when at a 20 C (68 F) surrounding temperature. I was also not able to gain the maximum temperature in under 10 minutes. It took about 15-20 minutes to gain maximum temperatures and as expected in below freezing temperatures it was slower to heat up and had lower maximum temperatures.
Also interesting, the used heat packs were significantly heavier than when they started. In all cases they more than doubled their weight, meaning the pack-out weight will actually be heavier than the pack-in weight on a backpacking trip! Yikes!
Rather alarmingly, the water used for activation after about 20 seconds spewed water outside the cooker. So, I've made a note to stand clear, as it spewed straight out at me. I'll have to play around with the amount of water, perhaps not as much water is required to activate it and then hopefully the less it will spew.
I am wondering also how safe the water is that came in contact with the heat pack. When it was spewing out I was reluctant to come in contact with it. Mostly because I had just read that if contact is made with the chemical pack (i.e. it is torn open accidentally) wash the area and treat as a chemical injury.
So here was a lesson I learned: when I went to drink out of the beverage container, the left over water in the outer plastic container used for activating the heat pack leaked out all over me, so it is important to empty this container of any left over water before proceeding to drink.
At the last minute before heading out on a SAR call, I threw the Cook Cafe into my SAR pack with water in it in case I wasn't able to find a water source. I placed it in a Ziploc bag in case it leaked. We were stood down and so I didn't need to use it. But, when I unpacked my bag after the 4 hours it sat on its side, there were a few droplets in the bag, but the neoprene was completely soaked. It had apparently soaked up whatever water had leaked. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't water tight, but good to know before setting out on any trips and glad I put it in a plastic bag.
I am looking forward to getting out in the field with this. I've made some interesting observations so far and hope to continue to do so. The website indicates snow can be used to activate the heat pack, so I will look into how well this works in the field.
Thanks to Amundson Outdoor Products Ltd. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the field test I took the Kindle Cook Box and Cafe with me on the following adventures:
- 1 backcountry ski-touring overnight to Akimina Pass in Waterton Park, Alberta: temperatures as low as -11 C (12 F), mostly clear skies and some light snow
- 1 day snow shoe trip near Sparwood, BC: temperature around 5 C (41 F), cloudy skies
- 7 days, 6 nights cycling/ hiking/ car camping trip to Moab, Utah: temperatures ranged from 7 C (44 F) to 38 C (100 F), mostly clear skies, windy
- Carried in SAR pack during SAR training practices and call outs in case of emergency, but have not been in a situation to require using it
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
First of all, I was indeed curious as to whether I could use snow to activate the heat pack and proceed to melt snow. I wasn't successful with this. The heat pack appears to require at least enough water to cover it before it will activate and I wasn't able to melt enough snow by the heat of my hand to do this. I was able to melt snow using water to activate the heat pack. In below freezing temperatures I was able to melt snow and obtain lukewarm water; in slightly warmer temperatures above freezing I was able to get a nice hot beverage after about 15 minutes. I did not try to get a hot meal in below freezing after not achieving a hot beverage. Admittedly, I used a fire burning stove to gain boiled water and cook my dehydrated food, after all who could blame me it was well below freezing and I was getting cold and very hungry. I suppose this would allow me to say I would not bother bringing this cooking system into this type of backcountry setting. I was able to get a hot meal when temperatures were above freezing; I had to wait about 15-20 minutes.
In the warm and hot temperatures of Moab, Utah, I was far more successful in getting hot meals and drinks in under 15 minutes and sometimes closer to 10 minutes. Mind you I perhaps didn't feel as much need for them as I was roasting coming from my much colder conditions north of the border. But, I was pleased as much to see this cook system come alive.
|Water spew stains|
As an example of things that cook well in the Kindle Cook Box are Mountain House Meals and Mr. Noodle type Asian meals and ready to eat prepackaged Indian food. The Kindle appears to cook anything that just requires hot water to reconstitute and not necessarily cook. I plan to broaden the horizon on types of meals that can be cooked in the long term testing period.
Other observations: I still get the water spewing from the heat pack compartment, which turned white and discolored the neoprene and container, making it a bit messy. Meaning I wouldn't want to do this inside a tent for example, which I had hoped was going to be an advantage over fire and fuel cook stoves for those miserable rainy, windy moments where I could just hide in the tent and cook my meal a la Kindle. I also found carrying out the leftover used packs a bit of a nuisance. They are heavier and take up more space than when they were packed in. And I have also noted that I'm running out of heat packs, which will need to be replaced eventually. No prices are listed for the cook set or their heat packs, so can't say whether this is an affordable situation or not.
The Kindle set is easy enough to pack; I put all the heat packs for both in the cook box. They don't appear to weigh much or take up much room and even fit in my SAR pack, which I plan to use in an emergency situation. The Kindle has proven very easy to use and doesn't require your attention once it's activated and going. It has also been easy to clean, which is important in the backcountry.
So far this test has been rather interesting and I have learned much about the Kindle's use. The Cook Box and Cafe have been easy to pack, easy to use and easy to clean, although not without a little mess with the activation water spewing everywhere. I have found limited use in below freezing and winter temperatures, but they were increasingly more effective and efficient in warmer conditions. As the summer temperatures heighten in the long term testing phase I plan to broaden the horizon on types of meals I can cook with the Kindle.
|The aftermath of the spew|
- Small, light, easy to pack
- Easy to use, no fuel or fire required
- Easy to clean
- Having heavier used material to pack out
- Not knowing what the chemical activation material that is being thrown away is or how it affects the environment makes it feel not so eco-friendly
- Messy, water spews everywhere and discolors the container
- Cafe leaked when packed with water
- Limited use in winter conditions
Thanks again to Amundson Outdoor Products Ltd. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this very interesting test series. I'm looking forward to the next 2 months in warmer conditions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since the field test, I've taken the Kindle Cook Set on the following trips:
- 2 nights car camping in Castle, Alberta (whitewater kayaking trip)
- 1 night car camping in Elko, BC (SAR training exercise)
- 2 nights backcountry camping in Banff National Park, Alberta (35 km [22 mi] hiking trip)
- 2 nights backcountry camping in Height of The Rockies Provincial Park, BC (24 km [15 mi] hiking trip)
- 4 nights backcountry camping in Skoki Valley, Banff National Park, Alberta (65 km [40 mi] hiking trip)
- 2 nights car camping in Sundre, Alberta (whitewater kayaking trip)
Weather and temperatures encountered ranged from about 6 C (43 F) to 38 C (100 F) and everything from dry happy sun to cloudy miserable raging storm.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Well, I definitely preferred using the Kindle in warmer conditions. A couple of times I found this more useful than my fuel stove. Such as, when I was surrounded by annoying relentless mosquitoes and when I was caught in a storm. I just put everything in the Kindle Cook Box as fast as I could, which takes such minimal time. Then I would hide in the tent until it was finished doing its thing (heating and bubbling). Then I would resurface to a hot meal, without having to tend it. Not that cooking a Mountain House Meal with a fuel stove requires any tending once the water has been added. However, for cooking oatmeal (from scratch) and food that requires stirring to keep from burning to the bottom of the pot, it was a treat. The great thing about the Kindle is that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, so cleaning is quick and easy.
|Palak Paneer With Cous Cous|
Some examples of successful gourmet food that I was able to make a la Kindle: non-instant oatmeal, couscous with ready to eat Indian food, Mountain House Meals, Mr. Noodle, Instant Asian meals and Lipton Side Kicks. I found it was easiest to make Mountain House Meals or the like just because they were light and easy to carry for backpacking. Though, the oatmeal and Indian food were absolutely delicious, cooked to perfection.
With the warmer weather, the Kindle Cook Set worked great. My only complaint was how long it took to make my hot beverage. My backpacking partner always had his hot water boiled with his fuel stove and ready to drink in less than 5 minutes. It always took me much longer ... over 10-15 minutes to heat, then a few minutes to cool off as it was then too hot to drink ... after almost 20 minutes I was ready to relax with my beverage and my partner was long done and ready to move on. So, I gave up after a couple days and took his hot water so I could share the experience at the same time. With the hot pack waste added each time I wanted to drink a beverage, it just seemed like a waste of time and wastage. If I was by myself I don't think I would have noticed as much.
Here's an important detail, I miscalculated how many hot packs were needed to cook the amount of meals I brought. So of course I ran out of hot packs, but since I stopped heating up beverages I had extra beverage packs. So I used 2 beverage packs to cook 1 meal and that worked. I suppose this would be akin to underestimating the amount of fuel required for a trip with a fuel stove, a mistake I would only make once. I must say the weight of packs and wastage for a 4 night trip was more than I would wish to repeat again.
The Kindle Cook and Cafe do indeed work well in warm weather. It is a convenient idea, but does take longer to obtain hot meals and beverages than what I am used to, a minor issue. But, the major downside that prevents me from continuing to use the Kindle Cook Set backpacking is having to replace the hot packs, running out of hot packs, and finally the amount of packaging and wastage for a trip longer than 2 nights just is impractical. In future, I may continue to bring the Kindle Cook Set in my SAR pack during the warm seasons for emergency use and perhaps leave it in my car in case of an emergency situation.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
LIKES and DISLIKES - remain the same as above.
Thank you to Amundson Outdoor Products Ltd. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in testing such an innovative concept.
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