Keep me anonymous on this. I've really enjoyed your more recent praxis articles and they have provided much food for thought. Please keep em coming.
Just so happens I've been looking into small packable stoves (among other field items). There are a couple of well-regarded little wood burning stoves that are considerably smaller than the kelly kettle, thus making them packable nearly as well as a canteen cup stove, but burning wood very efficiently.
One is the Littlbug, which burns wood and also alcohol (for when you want a low smoke, low signature, fast and easy fire to heat up a meal or a hot beverage):
It comes in two sizes, the Littlbug Sr. and the Littlbug Jr.
Here is a video review of the Littlbug Jr.:
Another, that burns only wood, is the Bush Buddy.
And here is a video review of the Bush Buddy:
And here is a video showing the Bush Buddy fitting right down inside of a Snowpeak titanium 900 cup/cookpot:
The video reviews really give you a good sense of how well they work. My pick for versatility is the Littlebug since it can burn alcohol or wood. It's also just a bit over half the price of the Bush Buddy. However, the Bush Buddy is reportedly very efficient since it has a built in draft/secondary combustion system which helps it burn all the fuel more completely. I think it's referred to as a wood-gas system. I'll likely order one of each and will do a comparison once they both get here. I'll also look into the smaller of the Kelly Kettles too, with an eye toward packability.
Here's an interesting forum discussion on the merits of each, and other stoves, over at the Kifaru forums (which are a pretty good source of info on extended stay camping and hunting, and they also have a military/tactical section):
I know many guys love their multi-fuel stoves, but one can still run out of fuel, such as when out in the brush for extended time, and then what? There are few places on earth where you can't find something to burn in a wood burner, such as grass, leaves, twigs, pine cones, fences, debris from buildings, or even dung. That's why hobos have been building their own improvised wood burners out of old coffee cans for generations. I figure that even as a stove for post-disaster relief, to purify water and heat up scrounged chow, a wood burner makes sense. For a home or car kit, wear bulk is not an issue, that is where that Kelly Kettle is going to kick butt.
One other thing to consider, as a supplement to a wood burner, is the Esbit stove, which burns the small Esbit tabs.
here is one commercial light camping version:
more common are the military style square folding Esbit stoves. Both the stove and extra fuel are available on Amazon.com or at http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___81290
An Esbit and enough fuel to last you several days of heating water can fit in your pants cargo pockets and makes a great emergency backup (in case you lose your ruck) or a low profile alternative when you don't want to risk burning wood, just like the old military trioxane fuel tabs I used to use when in the Army (and you can burn those too, in such a small stove, which is really just a stand for your canteen cup). And both the Esbit and the Trioxane tabs are great little fire starting aids, for when you are tying to get wet wood going (but so are ordinary cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly - burn for about five minutes straight!).
Still, in the reconnaissance unit I was in, we rarely ever used any fire or heat source whatsoever, and just ate our food cold (MRE or freeze dry). We would very rarely even risk the heat/smell/light signature of half a Trioxane tab under a poncho lean to, in the daylight, down at the bottom of a ravine or gully or down in a dug out scout fire-hole. Maybe that was being overcautious, but when you are out and about in a five man team trying to be undetected, we figured it is better safe, and cold, than sorry.
And on the topic of field gear, at that time back in the early 80s we rarely had the luxury of sleeping bags - just took up too much room in our rucks, what with radio batteries, water, food, binos, ammo, and other mission essential gear for a week or more in the bush. Instead we relied on Polypro long underwear, a lightweight nylon field jacket liner under our standard BDU shirt (never the field jacket, which was too heavy and bulky) wool cap, wool glove liners, wool scarf, wool socks, and then our trusty poncho liner and poncho, and that was really it! I used that setup in the forests of North Carolina at Ft. Bragg and up in the mountains and also in the woods of Western Washington State year round, rain or shine (and in Washington state, it was usually rain).
I can count on one hand the number of times we took our sleeping bags when we were going into known snow conditions. Yes, I occasionally built a debris hut stuffed with leaves and grass when we were staying put for a few days, especially when caught by unexpected snow, but most of the time we just bundled up somewhere out of the wind, preferably deep in a thicket, piled up some grass or leaves to sit or lay on, and at the most had a poncho set up as a low hooch to keep out the rain. Like the Rangers say, travel light, freeze at night. We would hole up and not move at all during the day, and then travel or go out and recon/patrol at night, and the worse the weather, the better when it came to that, as we knew the OPFOR leg pogues would tend to puss out and hide in their tents and fart sacks when the weather was foul, and even the ones out on forced guard duty would suck ass at it, hiding their faces from the weather as they went through the motions of pretending to watch. We rarely ever even brought our rain jackets and pants, since they were too noisy (you can't hear a damn thing while walking in them) and they made us sweat too much on the move, making us wet anyway. At most, we used our ponchos over ourselves and over our rucks, but those were also noisy, and so we'd usually just suck it up and get wet while moving and then change into dry cloths when we holed up again before dawn.
But now I would give serious consideration to the light weight synthetic bag systems and the gortex bivvy sacks (which cover your sleeping bag to keep the rain out, rather than using a tent or poncho hooch). Still, that bivvy sack may take up too much room when you are trying to travel light or are carrying buckoo supplies. I'd be curious to hear from guys who have used them real deal.
I also like the new improved poncho liners, such as from Wiggys:
I think the Trainer already mentioned those in response to your post on poncho liners. I have used Wiggy's sleeping bags and clothing for years and consider his gear top shelf stuff for the money.
One item to check out is his "sweater" which is really a great soft-shell insulated jacket.
I know, at $140.00 it seems expensive, but when you compare it to the prices many of the other outdoor companies charge for comparable warmth at such a light weight, it is a steal. It uses the same great insulation as his bags.
The most I ever wore while kicking around in Montana, even down to zero, was my normal shirt, long john bottoms under my normal pants, and then that Wiggys sweater and at most a windproof/waterproof shell of some kind, gloves and hat. It was like wearing an arctic parka. Often times, I was too warm.
The el cheapo version of that is to do what I did back in the Army and wear a field jacket liner under something else. There are new-style black field jacket liners out now that are made out of Polartec and they are very warm and cheap (though a bunch heavier than the liner I wore under my BDU). I picked up a few of those at the last gun show for $15.00 each. Not quite as warm as my Wiggys sweater, but close, and for the money can't be beat. And they have pit zippers so you can vent when you get hot from humping your ruck and rifle around. Or if a a guy wants something lighter, he can still find the old style green quilted nylon liner like I used, for under $20.00.
Gortex rain gear has come a long way since then, but it still makes a hell of a racket when you are trying to be quiet on the move and want to be able to hear well, so perhaps one can wear some kind of a loose fitting cotton cover over it to muffle the damn noise - I don't know.
Anyway, just some thoughts on gear. I am updating my camping gear to be more lightweight than in the past, and if I come across anything else that is worth considering, I'll pass it on.
What I'd enjoy reading a praxis on is infrared resistant clothing/covers. And also a post on what is the most effective hunting cammo for general field use.