Trail Designs (Review) Sidewinder Cook System

  After using the Trail Designs Sidewinder for one year, felt it was time for a review.  It was my primary method to boil water last summer and every trip since then.    Great to venture into using wood as a fuel source.  Prior to this have only used canister stoves, esbit and denatured alcohol.  Love the concept of grabbing a handful of  twigs in forest and making a meal.  The greatest benefits is that you never have to resupply fuel and it weighs nothing, because you gather it around camp.  Also don't have to worry about rationing for things like; boiling water for groups, hot showers or personal entertainment on a lonely nights while backpacking the Olympic National Park.  Yes, I admittedly stare at the flame for hours, trickle feeding my Inferno.

Trail Designs Sidewinder Inferno
Trail Designs Sidewinder Inferno boiling water

Weather Conditions Tested:

  • Rain
  • Wind
  • Winter
  • Snow Camping
  • Fair Weather

Water Boil Times

  This is something that never will be addressed in any of my reviews.  Should you really ever be in that much of a hurry in the wilderness?  I found that more time and preparation is involved when preparing food, the better it tastes.

Sidewinder Inferno Insert

  This is the most common method that I've used of the system.  Nothing says, Mountain Man; like the smell of wood smoke on your clothes (laugh).

  Using your stove in this mode will require putting together lots of parts.  9 pieces total; including the pot and lid.  Not a fan of the lack of simplicity when it comes dinner time.  I actually keep losing one of the pieces and keep making a new one for a replacement.  Maybe its just my curse.
   Long day of hiking, the last thing you want to do is put together lots of little parts.  Admittedly like pitching your shelter; the more you do it, the better at it you become.  Becomes less of a task with time and repetitiveness.

The tent stakes should be in the top holes of the 2 height levels.  Be careful not to push them all the way through the cone when putting your pot on the stove, which handle should be turned away from fuel feeding opening.

  Starting the fire inside the Inferno is generally easy.  Gather a large handful of little twigs.  I use a little piece of toilet paper to be the main fuel aid.  Teepee dry tender on top and light.  Keep adding fuel for about 1 minute to achieve a nice base fire.  At this time; I put on the pot to start the boil process.  It is important you don't neglect your stove, by not trickle feeding it with wood; one piece every 15 seconds is a general rule.  The stove doesn't like the size to be bigger than a pencil roughly.  I feel that it clogs the airflow on the bottom of the grate, causing a weak flame.

  Soot is the other issue some backpackers might have with burning wood.  Handling the stove after a burn, you will tend to get this all over your hands.  I personally don't mind it and generally just rinse my hands after use.   I'm sure it had numerous uses by the natives that once walked this land.

Trail Designs Inferno
Inferno (tent stakes not shown in cone)

Trail Designs Sidewinder
Keep losing this piece.  A spacer grate that allows are underneath the fire.   Used little rocks in the past; as an in the field replacement. 

Trail Designs Sidewinder storage
The first day I ripped the Tyvek sleeve provided to store the cones, thinking it was just for shipment.  I should be more careful and not just rip into things.  Cut the ends off a little bottled water.  Using that as a more durable storage replacement. 

Esbit GramCracker Stove Tray

  This is the second most common method of using this system.   Great for wet season or winter camps; when dry fuels are hard to come by.  You can also bring along less of the parts when going on a shorter trip, resulting in a lighter weight and easy setup.  Tent stakes are not required to use this method, so leaving them at home is an option.  All you need is the the floor, esbit tray, main cone and pot.

Trail Designs Esbit Gramcracker
Ti floor, Caldera Cone and Esbit Stove Fuel GramCracker

12-10 Denatured Alcohol Stove

  This is my least used form of boiling water.  Even tho, denatured alcohol is easier to come by; over esbit.  I just choose to burn wood as a primary fuel, so its not an issue I've had to address.

  The system works well and is a reliable form of using the stove.  Tent stakes must be on the bottom level of hole options on the cone.  I can see myself using this more in the future, its just not my current preference.

Trail Desings Sidewinder Review
Sidewinder 12-10 Denatured Alcohol Stove. (Tent Stakes not shown in cone)


  • Sustainability
  • Lightweight
  • Fuel Options
  • Quality Construction
  • Great Pot


  • Lots of parts
  • Tent Stakes
  • Soot (for some)

Overall Thoughts on Camping Stove System

I will continue to use the Trail Designs Sidewinder when type of trip and conditions apply. It has been a dependable part of my gear items. I would suggest this product to my hiking friends. I am happy that I went with the Evernew .9 liter titanium pot, it is the perfect size for a solo hiker that loves cooking real food.

Updated March 2016 by Barefoot Jake

Note:  This system was provided to me to use, but not review.  I do so from my own free will and opinion.