The Boilerwerk's Backcountry Boiler
The boiler comes with the fire bowl, the boiler, a neoprene insulation sleeve, a silicone stopper and a stuff sack. The entire system weighs 9.7oz (277g) on my scales and is only roughly twice the size of a SnowPeak 600 mug.
Fire bowl, boiler & stopper
Size compared to a SnowPeak 600 mug
So how does it work? Water in the boiler is heated by a small fire in the base of the unit. The heat is transferred to the water via the conical chimney (see illustration below). After getting a fire started, you place the boiler on top and feed the fire through the chimney as needed until you reach a boil. I was able to bring 2 cups of 50F (ish) water to a rolling boil in about 6.5 minutes. The Boilerwerks website states that a skilled operator can get a boil in under 5 minutes.
The design and construction quality of the Backcountry Boiler are very good and far better than you'd expect on a first production run. It includes thoughtful features like hard coat anodization for increased durability. Devin even chose to laser mark his logo and a safety warning on top of the boiler. Nice touch.
A view of the inner surface of the boiler
Laser marking on top of the boiler
Naturally, burning wood creates a coating of creosote on the surfaces exposed to fire. With the boiler's design none of this is on exposed surfaces meaning its unlikely that you'll get the mess on your hands and other gear. It does carry a heavy woodsmoke smell after use so I'd want to carry the boiler on the outside of my pack to prevent soaking my gear (bag, quilt, tent, spare clothes) with that campfire smell.
Fire bowl after a good scouring
The neoprene sleeve does a good job of insulating your hands from the heat of the boiling water. I expected it to offer very limited hold time based on the thin neoprene that Devin used (approximately 2mm). This turned out not to be an issue at all, fortunately. Pouring the boiling water into a typical boil in a bag meal pouch was a learning process for me. If you commit to the pour you won't have problems. Pouring slowly was a little problematic as the water tended to run down the side of the boiler making the process a bit messy.
As mentioned earlier, this is well thought out gear. It works as advertised and will last a lifetime. Getting water to a boil is dead simple and it uses fuel that is typically very easy to find. Devin should have a second round of boilers available soon. You can keep track of his progress on Facebook or Twitter. BackpackingLight.com will let you know when stock is available to ship if you sign up for the notice.
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