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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > Mons Peak 123 UL HE Cook set > Test Report by joe schaffer
Mons Peak - 123 UL HE Cook Set
Test Report by Joe Schaffer
INITIAL REPORT - September 9, 2018
FIELD REPORT -January 6, 2019
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HOME: Bay Area, California USA
I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.
Product: 123 UL HE Cook Set
Manufacturer: Mons Peak IX
Specifications: from website
Materials: Hard anodized aluminum alloy, stainless steel, elastomers
Boil times: 1 liter (qt) at 2 min 40 sec; 1/2 liter (pint) at 1 min 20 sec
Small pot: 25.4 fl oz (0.75 L), weight: 5.4 oz (154 g)
Pan/cover: 14.0 fl oz (0.4 L), weight: 3.3 oz (94 g)
Large pot: 43.9 fl oz (1.3 L), weight: 6.6 oz (188 g)
Pan/cover: 20.6 fl oz (0.6 L), weight: 4 oz (114 g)
Stove output: 10,200 BTU / 3,000 watt max
Stove weight: 3.6 oz (103 g)
Flame control: simmer to maximum
Size, in use: 4.8 x 3.15 in (123 x 80 mm)
Size, stowed: 2.8 x 3.75 in (70 x 96 mm)
Est. burn times: 4 oz (110 g) canister = 31 minutes
8 oz (230 g) canister = 65 minutes
16 oz (450 g) canister = 127 minutes
Fuel (not included): Standard canister, isobutane/propane mix
Manufacturer description: "Trail 123 is High Efficiency Ultra-Light Cook Set with High Performance and Breeze Resistant Stove for Backpacking and Camping use. Ultra-compact modular, stackable system allows for minimalist, solo 1P, 2P or 3P use depending on configuration. Fuel canister and stove packs neatly inside the system for ease of carry."
Weight & (maximum packed) dimension:
Set: 22.9 oz (649 g), 7 1/2 in (19 cm) H; 5 1/4 in (13.3 cm) diameter
Sm pot: 5 3/8 oz (152 g); 4 in (10.2 cm) H; 5 1/6 (12.9 cm) diameter
Sm pan/cover: 3 1/4 oz (93 g); 2 5/8 in (6.7 cm) H; 4 7/8 in (12.4 cm) diameter
Lg pot: 6 5/8 oz (186 g); 5 1/8 in (13 cm) H; 5 7/8 in (14.9 cm) diameter
Lg pan/cover: 3 7/8 oz (110 g); 2 11/16 in (6.8 cm) diameter
Stove: 3 5/8 oz (103 g); 3 11/16 (9.4 cm) H; 2 3/8 in (6 cm) diameter
Stove diameter with extended pot supports: 4 3/8 in (11.1 cm)
MSRP: US $119.95
The key feature of this cooking system is the heat exchanger built into the bottom of both the small and large pots. The 123 is a nesting set of five pieces, being a small pot with a pan/lid; a large pot with a pan/lid; and the stove. The lids can be used as pans or as pot covers. Wire handles hinge separately to wrap around the sides of the cookware and have insulating elastomer coating. The cookware pieces are hard anodized aluminum. The stove's flame adjuster and pot supports hinge to make a smaller package for packing. An 8 oz (220 g) canister will nest in the set, along with the stove when the stove is not in the included hard plastic box. The set also includes a mesh bag and an instruction sheet for the stove. The pieces were protected in transit with packing paper and a foam sheet.
A stove becomes an essential piece of gear for me in winter and whenever/wherever campfire is not allowed. I could survive on what I carry without 'cooking', but the purpose of being out there is to enjoy the ride. The 123 set appears to be everything I would need to keep my gastronomic requirements fully met; with the option of carrying a larger pot if I'm with other folks.
I am definitely partial to the heat exchanger pots as my experience with this type of pot causes me to believe the technology heats water faster and uses less fuel. Whether the 123 is more fuel efficient will depend on the stove. I typically heat 20 oz (0.6 L) of water at a time and may be able to compare heating times, though I suspect that unless the stove is dramatically efficient or inefficient I won't be able to make any substantive conclusions of difference given the high number of variables in field use.
The type of handles on the set are not my favorite design as they require 'attention': The handles must be aligned reasonably well and held tightly, especially on larger pots with much weight in them. That they fold out of the way for packing is certainly an asset; but I don't like how they feel in my grubby little hand.
I expect to be slaving in my outdoor kitchen heating water in the morning; and possibly boiling pasta and rice on occasions where campfire is not available.
The admonition to avoid extended use on low flame--which apparently can damage the diffuser--causes me some confusion, especially without the benefit of any suggestion as to a recommended minimum flame adjuster setting; i.e., half-turn, full-turn, etc. First, what is meant by extended time--rice can take 20 mins, for example. Second, canister stoves burn so hot that everything except boiling happens on a 'simmer' flame, so if it's not going to tolerate that, its use would be rated much lower for me. I know I'm not all that versed in stove parts, but is the diffuser part of the stove or part of the pot; and how would I know if it has suffered damage? The set nests ingeniously enough I can only figure it out while looking at the exploded depiction on the package. I like the versatility of four different pot sizes. At the moment I'm not so enamored of using a pot for a lid. This strategy essentially demands carrying two pots, but only one has a cover and the cover adds an awful lot of not-usable volume to heat.
For the amount of stuff involved the weight is not that much. If I'm going to get into that much cooking, I'll want a fry pan. Neither of the lids is big enough for that. On the other hand, my experience suggests that campset fry pan/lids are not worth their weight for frying anything. This set seems to understand that gearing up with a usable fry pan involves a different attitude about cooking needs; and would likely double the set's weight.
1. Oct 5-12, 2018: Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, California. Eight days backpacking 15 mi (24 km) inc. 4 mi (6 km) cross-country. Camping at 8,300-10,000 ft (2,500-3,000 m); 29-65 F (-2-18 C). Half the days mostly sunny; rest of days partly or all cloudy with brief snow showers one day. Overnight freezing.
2. Oct 20-25, 2018: Emigrant Wilderness, California. Six days backpacking 12 mi (20 km) inc. 3 mi (5 km) cross-country. Camping at 7,200 and 7,700 ft (2200 & 2300 m); 32-60 F (0-16 C). Sunny, no-to-light breeze. Overnight freezing three nights.
3. Nov 14-16, 2018. Lake Alpine, California. Car camping two nights. 7,400 ft (2,300 m). 32-60 F (0-16 C).
4. Dec 29-Jan 2. Dodge Ridge, California. Backpacking four nights; four mi (6 km) towing sled. 7,100 ft (2,200 m). 20-45 F (-7 to 7 C).
1. Dinkey Lakes: I carried the stove, large pot and lid; using that part of the set to boil up 20 oz (0.6 L) of water for 12 mugs of tea and chocolate, most often in the morning. (For evening hot water I used campfire to heat my pot. I did not and wouldn't recommend putting the flux-ringed, coated-handle pot in the fire.) My first observation, made at home, is that the stove and fuel canister required packing material to keep from rattling around inside the pot. The stove points are sharp enough to poke through packing material easily, so it takes a number of wraps to find the security desired. Secondly, I found the set does not slip easily into my pack as the lid/pan won't stay put and the handles flip out. The grip coating on the handles causes them to snag against the inside coated nylon of the pack. I resolved both issues by wrapping the set in a plastic grocery bag and securing the package with rubber bands. Next time out I may take the provided mesh bag; and the stove case, which will nest with a fuel canister in the large pot.
The lid/pan works fine to keep bugs and such out of the pot. It leaves a lot of dead space in the pot, and tends to squirm out of place rather easily. The lid/pan does not have a lid for itself.
The flame adjuster feels solid and keeps flame steady at any setting. The pot supports do not flop--they remain where put, as does the flame adjuster handle. I don't care for the 'sharp' points on the supports and I'm not satisfied with the support or traction gained from three 'pin points' of contact. I had to be very careful to get the pot balanced before letting go of the handles.
I don't like the handles. They are convenient and fold out of the way, but feel unstable. When allowed to slip against one another the balance of the pot in hand changes--the pot can rotate enough to cause swear words. Even with the pot only about half-full it felt at risk of dumping contents.
2. Emigrant: I switched to the smaller pot and pan/lid; and also used the included stuff sack and stove carry case. A mid-size fuel canister nests perfectly in the small pot, though I felt compelled to use the packing material to prevent rattles and scratches. The stove carry case provides excellent protection for the stove as well as preventing the stove from poking other gear. The case is too bulky to fit in the small pot, with or without a fuel canister. The case lid comes off rather easily, which I mitigated with a rubber band. The stove (sans case) and fuel canister (sans cap) will nest in the small pot.
The stuff sack is a little large for only the small pot and pan/lid (as opposed to being a little tight for the large pot set). The pan/lid slips very easily out of the nesting position, as do the handles. The mesh sack resolves the issues of keeping pots together; holding handles stowed in place; and getting the pill to slide in and out of the backpack without snagging.
Both the pot and pan/lid have developed a few small scratches from being set on granite.
BOIL TIMES AND FUEL CONSUMPTION FOR BOTH POTS/OUTINGS:
totals and averages
# of mins each elev water air
boils to boil boil ft m temp C temp C
22 101 04:35 8600 2800 49 9 53 12
total fuel consumption: 178 gm 6.28 oz
average per boil 8.1 gm 0.29 oz
(Boil-by-boil results shown at bottom.)
For my own consideration, the test provides a satisfactory estimation that either MPIX (Mons Peak IX) pot (with flux ring) will heat my 20 oz / 0.6 L ration of water to boiling with about 8 g (1/4 oz) of fuel in about 4 1/2 minutes. My pot takes about 12 g (0.4 oz) of fuel per boil. Where I might stove-heat a pot 20 times, fuel usage would be about 160 g (5 1/2 oz) with the MPIX pot, which would leave plenty of room for error in a medium (220 g / 7 3/4 oz) canister. My pot would empty the canister in 17 or 18 times, suggesting the need for either a large canister or a medium plus a small.
3. Lake Alpine: I used the stove and small pot to heat lake water for tea and hot chocolate. I found no issues using the stove or pot, though the pan/lid does not stay in place very well. I had concerns that occasional gusts of wind might even blow the lid completely off, but that never happened. The stove feels made to industrial specifications. The flame adjuster performed well and offered a stable flame across the range of adjustment. It simmered well and without need of attention. I did not use a windscreen and only once did gusts manage to blow the flame out at simmer; and that was on an almost-empty canister.
4. Dodge Ridge: I had the full set, expecting to use it for melting snow. The smaller pot is just too small for that. With adequate attention to keeping the large pot filled with snow it works well enough. That the pan/lid occupies a lot of space came more to my attention. A clump of snow would stick above the pot, and the space of the lid would still close over it. That was good. However, I would prefer having that space in the pot to hold more water as the snow melts. I used the pot over a liquid fuel stove and that seemed to work fine. The pot also melted snow, though very slowly, being set near (not in) the fire.
One night was a bean dinner which took my campfire pot out of hot water production for 2 1/2 hours, during which time the MPIX pot and lid were very useful for replenishing tea drinks. That night was cold and I ate the dinner out of the MPIX pot in order to keep the meal hot enough with frequent visits to the stove. The handles did a good enough job holding the pot steady as I did not want to set it on my leg right after removing it from the stove. I don't particularly like the feel of the handles, but in several trips from stove to lap-level and back I never lost control.
The large pot was plenty large enough for my solo dinner, and I see room to accommodate another person's portion as well. I wouldn't try for a third as I don't want bubbles of dinner making a mess on the lid bottom. I managed not to scorch the pot and it scrubbed clean with a few handfuls of snow/ice.
My feeling is that the set needs actual lids to be fully useful. As it is, the set is four pots with no lids, or two pots with over-size lids that don't stay put very well.
SUMMATION: Versatile set for boiling stuff; clever nesting of pots and pan/lids; no lids for either pan/lid.
a) lots of pots for the weight
b) fuel-efficient flux ring
c) floppy handles
d) squirmy pan/lid
e) not much pot traction on stove
Thank you Mons Peak IX and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Long Term Report to follow in two months.
Many variables challenge the outdoor test. Fuel temperature and pressure can vary widely. The flame adjuster could easily be slightly at variance. The amount of water was close to the same each time, but not exact. There would be differences in the number of times and length of time I lifted the lid to check for boil; and of course precision eludes clocking the exact point of boil the same each time. The following attempts to account for measured variables on 14 boils. Twelve were with the MPIX large pot. Mixed in were two boils using my standard 40 oz (1.2 L) aluminum coffee pot in an effort to determine the relative effectiveness of the flux ring pot. Those two tests each followed a test of the MPIX pot by about a half-hour, hoping to keep environmental differences to a minimum. Note that I was not fully up to the task of recording all data each time. In some cases water temp exceeds air temp due to solar heating; and sometimes the water is much colder as the overnight ice in the source bottle hadn't fully melted yet.
Dinkey trip, large pot
# mins valve water air
to boil turn elev m temp C temp C conditions
1 03:40 ½ 8340 2500 65 18 60 16 sunny, light puffs of wind
2 04:15 ½ 8340 2500 65 18 60 16 sunny, light puffs of wind
3 03:30 5/8 8340 2500 68 20 50 10
4 03:00 5/8 9960 3000
5* 02:50 5/8 9960 3000 40 4 52 11 sunny, no wind
7**05:00 5/8 9960 3000 52 11 50 10 cloudy, light breeze
9 04:00 5/8 9960 3000 34 1 29 -2 sunny, no wind
10 03:30 5/8 9960 3000 34 1 50 10 sunny, no wind
11 06:00 5/8 8430 2500 40 4 60 16 sunny, no wind
12 04:30 5/8 8430 2500 48 9 52 11 shade, light puffs of wind
13 04:30 5/8 8430 2500 74 23 65 18 sunny, light puffs of wind
14 06:20 5/8 8430 2500 33 1 55 13 sunny, no wind
My 40 oz (1.2 L) pot
6* 05:00 5/8 9960 3000 38 3 52 11 sunny, light puffs of wind
8**06:50 5/8 9960 3000 38 3 51 11 shade, light puffs of wind
Beginning canister wt: 330 gm / 11.6 oz (78% full to start test)
total fuel consumption 115 gm / 4.1 oz (includes 2x my pot)
average per heat 8.2 gm / 0.3 oz (includes 2x my pot)
12-time avg to heat MPIX: 4.25 mins
2-time avg my pot: 5.90 mins
MPIX to mine 72%
*#6 was my pot, following #5 by 1/2 hr
**#8 was my pot, following #7 by 1/2 hr
Emigrant trip, small pot
Beginning canister weight: 7.6 oz / 215 gm
# mins valve water air
to boil turn elev m temp C temp C conditions
15 02:15 5/8 7200 2200 50 10 60 16 sunny, no wind
16 10:40 5/8 7650 2300 41 5 50 10 sunny, no wind
17 10:00 5/8 7650 2300 60 16 50 10 sunny, light puffs of wind
18 04:30 ¾ 7650 2300 45 7 51 11 sunny, light puffs of wind
19 02:35 ¾ 7650 2300 66 19 52 11 sunny, light puffs of wind
20 04:45 ¾ 7650 2300 48 9 50 10 cloudy, light breeze
21 03:05 ¾ 7650 2300 54 12 60 16 sunny, no wind
22* 02:30 full 7200 2200 42 5 50 10 sunny, light breeze
*Fuel exhausted before boil, but water hot enough for tea.
total fuel consumption 63 g 2.2 oz
average per boil 7.9 g 0.3 oz
avg time to boil: 5.00 mins
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