Yesterday was cold and pouring rain, but today is a warm, 40-something degree Sunday in January. A good day for a lunch in the woods, anxious to try out some new gear I bought myself for Christmas.
So, I grabbed my backpack, made a quick stop at the grocery store, and headed into the woods. I have a spot that I am fond of, and being that the weather was questionable about whether rain would hold off, I made a beeline for my spot rather than waste time searching for a new place to have my weekend woods lunch.
As I trudged along the muddy path, I spotted a couple of interesting features. I like to name landmarks when I see them. The first interesting woodland feature I named “The Dancing Tree”.
Not very far off from that, I found another one I named “Broke Back Birch”. I imagine Triple B won’t make it through the winter, but it’s an interesting landmark today.
I reached my spot, and began prepping for lunch.
I wanted to prep my food first, because I was going to have to do some batoning with my knife for cooking.
Once my prep was done, I unpacked my brand new titanium Firebox Nano.
I had grabbed a small dead standing piece of hardwood on the way in for fuel. First, I cut a small piece off of the middle section, an area that seemed to be the most dry, with little or no bark.
Then, I batoned it down into quarters.
Everything still being very wet around me, I dug into my tinder bag for some dry birch bark and cattail, stuffing it all into the Firebox Nano with the bottom raised so that the tin functioned as the base.
A couple of strikes with a ferro rod and we have ignition!
Once it got started, the Nano was roaring in no time at all, and it was time to get the bacon on.
The Nano was very stable, even when I had it on a not perfectly level area. There is enough clearance between the pan and the burn chamber to allow the flames to spread nicely beneath the fry pan, although gust of wind were causing one side of the pan to be hotter than the other….the side with the handles, of course…but nothing too bad, a bandana was fine for grabbing the pan.
I actually had to cut and baton another piece to keep the Nano going long enough to cook all my bacon, but it was no trouble. When the Nano gets going, it definitely burns the wood quicker than I expected, since I was using hardwood.
All in all, the Nano works amazingly well. Whatever little quirks it had have more to do with getting used to the stove than any flaws in the stove itself. For a pocket stove, it’s a gem.
When the bacon was done, I let the stove burn down as I prepped my lunch…a salad with onion, cucumber, bacon, cheese, and creamy Italian dressing.
I had poured some water into my fry pan and left it over the embers on the Nano to loosen the grease and debris, and sat and ate my salad.
After lunch, I did a rudimentary cleaning of my pan and utensils, making use of the paper bag I got from the grocery store and a silicon sponge I keep in my kit, along with some baby wipes, which did pretty well at removing grease from my hands and cook set.
So, how did the Nano look afterward?
As you can see, it burned down very well. Some ashes did scatter out of the pan, due to gusts of wind, I think, but that is something to be aware of when using this stove. The ash pan works well, but I wouldn’t use it on bare, dry ground that could catch flame. The Nano does come with a carbon felt windscreen that I didn’t use.
I dumped the ashes into the nearby water, brushed out the pan with a rotted stick, and packed it away. Was there any warping or deformation? Nope. Fit snug as a bug in a rug back into the tin.
The tin itself was scorched, but no deformation, and it closed up just fine.
Next up, let’s talk about shovels. Not big old digging shovels. I mean backpacking crap-in-the-woods kind of shovels. Something you throw in your backpack in case you have to go to the bathroom, or dig a small hole for a firelay, or something of that nature, a trowel.
Well, a lot of backpackers and preppers use lightweight, plastic garden trowels. I bought a couple of those. They are cheap. They are lightweight. The truth is, they are garden tools, and they should stay in the garden, because if you live in New England, this is what you can expect before long.
Which is why an upgrade was required….my new titanium shovel ordered from some place in Russia, but sold on Ebay and Amazon.
This shovel I am sure I will be very happy with. I bought it without the handle. It has a hole in the neck for a screw, and I put a screw in it wrapped in a ranger band to keep it from getting lost.
I don’t know exactly, but I would guess it weighs around 6 ounces. Not super lightweight, but this thing is TOUGH! It’s not thin titanium, it’s thick, unbendable titanium. It is pry bar strong. Very effective just using the neck as a handle.
But, if you want to, or need to, all that you have to do is find a strong stick, shove it intot he neck, and screw it in.
You can make the handle whatever length you need, obviously, and my brief test worked like a charm. Good leverage, no wobble, plenty comfortable and ergonomic.
With this setup, you not only have a shovel, but a great tool for poking the campfire, or spreading coals from the campfire. The shovel will have no trouble in a campfire at all. It is far too thick to warp from the heat, though I wouldn’t leave it in the fire or put it in water. It would probably be OK, but that would be stupid.
When you no longer need your shovel or coal spreader, you just remove the screw, brush off the dirt, and it’s ready to be put in your backpack and go. Just don’t lose the screw. Put it back in it;s place, and the ranger band back over it, and you’re good to go.
As the sleet and rain began to move in, it was time to pack up and move out, so that’s exactly what I did. Both the Nano stove and the shovel did well. I was pleased to have these two pocket sized, light weight, durable pieces of gear for my 2019 ventures.
Happy New Gear, everybody!