Soto Amicus, my new favorite stove.

First off I am stoked about this stove, the Soto Amicus. I have been getting great boil times, and effect from this little guy, and it’s super windproof for a standalone canister stove.

But I’m sorry for not posting for a while but with the coming of the holidays and work, I am pretty busy this time of year. I’ll begin posting more after the new year. Until then I’ll just do a couple more.

OK back to the stove. The craftsmanship on this stove is amazing. I have a few things I like very much about the Amicus.

Soto Amicus

First is the spring hinge that the pot stands use. They are little barrels riveted to the underside of the burner. In the barrels is a spring that allows the stand arm to swing out and latch onto the hook that holds it up.

Soto Amicus
The stealth ignition on the Amicus works so reliability that I have moved my lighter into my food bag and out of my cook kit. I have NEVER had a piezio ignition that is this reliable.

Soto AmicusI attribute the reliability of the stealth ignition to the fact that the electrode is in the middle of the burner above, and to the thickness of the thing. The Amicus is the only stove I have seen that uses such a stout ignitor and it’s this thickness that makes it so able to handle the heat from the stove. All the other ignitors I have used are thin and warp, and when they warp they break the wire that causes the spark.

Soto Amicus

The third and probably most favorite thing is the concave burner. The lip around the burner is a small windscreen that makes this the most windproof solo stove I have ever used. I can blow it out but I need to be close and blow hard directly into the burner.

As for burn tests, I have gone through a 100-gram canister and recorded a couple of tests. The stove does pretty well, here are the numbers.

  • The Soto Amicus used an average of 6.8 grams of fuel per boil.
  • Average boil time was 3:45
  • I got 15 boils from the 100-gram canister of MSR four Season fuel.

The first test I did was at 34F, and it did pretty well, here is the video.

The second that I recorded was at 11F and I was very surprised at the performance.

My final thoughts

 

Best DIY $7 Bladder Dryer

I recently got a new to me running pack for my as yet budding trail running fun, and it has a unique feature: a bladder sewn to the waist belt. Now I need a bladder dryer.

Bladder Dryer

Innov8 gave it a wordy title: The RacePro X Extreme 4. The whole thing weighs 6.7 oz and is a blast to run with. But after I used it the first time, I realized I had an issue. How do I dry the bladder? My inner DIY came out and I made this bladder dryer setup. Now it’s not pretty, but it works.bladder dryerbladder dryer

Here’s what you will need:

  • A pack with a bladder attached, or just a bladder.
  • A child’s cup from a restaurant. I used a PF Chang’s cup. Any small cup or thing you can make into an air funnel will work, but it needs to have two wide openings.
  • A razor blade. You probably have these just lying around.
  • A small fan, to provide the drying action. I bought this one because the USB will run off a battery pack, meaning I can leave it anywhere there is room.
  • A thick book. I used The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.
bladder dryer
The Way of Kings is a very cutting commentary on war.

I placed the razor 1/4″ up, and began to cut the bottom of the kid’s cup off to make the exit of the funnel to the bladder dryer.bladder dryerbladder dryerbladder dryerFrom there insert the cup into the bladder like so:bladder dryer

Then set up the fan in front, and maybe use an old GoPro to prop up the funnel.bladder dryer

It will take a few hours to completely dry, but it’s pretty fast. A better fan would be faster. You want to have the fan a few inches away in order to maximize the air flow by the bladder dryer. Having it a few inches away allows the funnel to utilize the Bernoulli Principle. This is the same principle behind the Thermarest Speed Valve, that pulls more air from the surrounding atmosphere into the funnel as the air from the fan goes into the funnel. I have no way of testing this other than to put my hand by the side of the fan to feel the airflow, but it felt like it was working. After a couple of hours the bladder will be dry.

Merrell Boots With Vibrams New Arctic Grip Sole: First Experience

Recently Merrell announced that they are teaming up with Vibram and using their new soles called Arctic Grip. These soles are interesting because they purportedly offer unparalleled grip on even wet ice, ideally reducing slips and falls in the backcountry to nothing.

I caught up with a Merrell rep at my local REI, and tried on the shoes in question. Here are my impressions.

Arctic Grip Bottom
The bottom of the Merrel Overlook 6 ICE+ at my local REI. the blue specked lugs are the Arctic Grip.
Arctic Grip Top
The top of the Men’s Overlook 6 ICE+.

First, the shoe is Merrell’s typical quality, no sewn seams, good looking toe guard, a gaiter hook at the very front of the laces,  and all of the waterproof/breathable membranes in use are the Merrell proprietary M-Select Dry. My experience with the tech hasn’t been that great, but Merrel claims that it will retain 80% of its waterproofness up to 20 washes. The exact shoe I was looking at was the Overlook 6 ICE+ Waterproof. As the caption says, the blue specked lugs are the Arctic Grip lugs and they feel like a rubbery pumice stone. This immediately made me question their durability. The Merrel rep told me that the lugs have been tested to maintain traction for up to 250 miles. That’s the entire sole, Arctic Grip included. Now REI is carrying the shoes I mentioned and a few other models but I found that Amazon has more selection and a better price. I would recommend buying from there unless you want REI’s famous warranty. Anything Merrell that has the ICE+ designator on it is going to use the Arctic Grip sole. Further, a REI employee has told me that they don’t recommend wearing any hiking boot on concrete as the soles aren’t meant to be on such a hard and rough surface. I have never had an issue with this and regularly wear mine around town but I don’t know, and couldn’t find out how the new Arctic Grip lugs would perform on the surface, or how durable they would be.

In terms of performance, you can definitely feel that the new Arctic Grip soles work well. They are not a substitute for Cramp-Ons though. The promo video Merrell has out is a good example, but I feel that the slanting of the ice in it resulted in the melt water running off and thus a more even wear than what you might find in the wild. The video below has me trying on a pair of the Merrell Winter Moc’s. Note that I can MAKE them slip. I wouldn’t be able to do that with Cramp-On’s, but that in no way invalidates the grip that these soles have. I will be getting a pair for my deep winter hikes.

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