When Kevin Bailey is organizing his backpacking gear before a trip, he doesn’t have to worry about the stove. He takes an ultralight Vertex stove. It’s the stove he created himself and funded with Kickstarter.
Vertex stoves weigh a mere 1.8 ounces and fold almost completely flat, down to 2.5 mm thick. It’s so thin you could easily slip it into your pants pocket. Yes, you read that right, this is a backpacking stove that’s smaller, and definitely lighter, than most wallets.
A few years ago Kevin was backpacking in central Texas when he decided he wanted to change his style. He wanted a more minimalist approach and a way to keep things simple, while still safely enjoying the outdoors.
“It’s always a balance between comfort and weight,” Kevin said. “For me, it’s always about having the best experience. So for me, that’s about minimizing weight so I have the best experience on the trail and I also have a good experience at camp.”
When he returned home, he started thinking about the skills he possessed. With a background in mechanical engineering he honed in on stoves. Too often stoves are heavy, complicated and take up too much space. He wanted a stove that was not only light, but compact.
A lot of people focus entirely on weight, which is important for those who are ultralight backpackers.
“But volume is often overlooked,” Kevin said.
Smaller gear means you can take a smaller pack, which gives you additional savings in the pounds department.
“I wanted to be able to decide if I wanted to go out of my way while on a hike to see a waterfall and not be complexly exhausted,” he said. “To me the hike is the focus. It’s not just being on the trail and making good time.”
The challenge was to push the envelope of simplicity. He designed the Vertex ultralight backpacking stove wanting to keep the number of pieces in the design as low as possible, while still allowing for a stable cooking spot.
He spent hours optimizing the stove’s geometry and created several rounds of prototypes before finding the final simple, elegant and functional design. He stands by the craftsmanship and offers a lifetime warranty.
The stainless steel stove has three parts that piece together to create an oval shape. It uses the side walls for ventilation and is fueled by Esbit tablets or a Trangia Spirit alcohol burner (both sold separately).
Kevin launched Vertex stoves with a Kickstarter in January 2014 that successfully raised more than $20,000.
Kevin recently moved from Texas to Seattle, where’s he spending his time exploring the trails in the area and plotting what Vertex might release next. He could potentially add a new stove line, or there are plenty of other pieces of gear he could simplify.
He’s cautious about the next step. He wants it to be the right product, one he would use and that will allow him to focus on the hike, not on the gear he’s hauling. It’s about seeing more by carrying less, he said. Who knows what he’ll pull out of his pocket next.
Watch the vid below or click here to learn more about Vertex ultralight backpacking stoves.