Grab-and-go overland stove kit cooks dinner for camping or survival
The founder of Trayvax wallets and Kimbo campers, Mark King, brings together the worlds of everyday carry (EDC) and overland adventure with his latest product, the Trayvax Ration. Something of a vehicle-adventure survival tool, the Ration packs a single-burner cooking kit next to an organizer for supplies like food, bottled water, utensils and multitools. It's like a modern-day mess kit for the adventure-pickup and off-road trailer crowd, ready to fire up essential calories, whether it's just a leisurely evening at camp or a backcountry roadside emergency.
Larger and more capable than a traditional mess kit or MRE but smaller and more portable than the usual dual-burner overland-camper stove, the Ration looks for a niche somewhere between every-trip cooking gear and emergency survival kit. Its compact front compartment houses an included backpacking stove secured to a 3.5-oz gas canister. The 20-oz stainless steel cup with collapsible handle works as the pot, sitting comfortably atop the stove to boil water and cook up freeze-dried backpacking meals. When stored, the steel cup slides into a mesh storage bag, flips over and nests over top the gas canister inside the cooker compartment.
The remainder of the Ration is dedicated to storage and organization for whatever is most important to the owner. Drop a bottle or two of water and a couple packs of freeze-dried meals in, and it's a survival food kit stocked for cooking meals in vehicular or at-home emergencies. There's also a small three-compartment leather holster for storing things like a multitool, portable utensils, a lighter and the packed ultralight stove burner. The design of the powder-coated aluminum body reminds us of the jerry can holders often secured to pickup trucks and adventure rigs.
In addition to being a nice emergency cooking set for storing in a vehicle during road trips, day adventures and pretty much any and all other times, the Ration is also ideally suited for use as a primary cooking solution for lighter, faster (but not too light or fast) adventures, such as multi-day canoeing or e-bike trailer camping. Thanks to the adjustable-length carry handle/load strap on top, it's also easy to grab out of the trunk and carry on foot to a picnic area or overlook for a relaxing, scenic mini-cookout. It could also prove useful for boiling collected water to kill parasites for drinking.
Being something of coffee addicts ourselves, we can't help but think the Ration would make an awesome grab-and-go camp coffee kit. Rather than storing coffee and brewing tools away in cavernous cargo boxes filled with other food and gear, and having to set up a large stove to prepare the coffee, road-trippers could keep everything they need for a quick cup all together in an easy-access package. Store a bag of ground coffee, bottle of water, sugar and maybe a couple of restaurant-size creamer packs in the Ration cargo compartment, put a coffee measuring spoon, stirrer and lighter into the leather holster, and you're always ready to brew a cup at a moment's notice.
Trayvax shows how its cup works seamlessly with a portable coffee press plunger, providing an easy way of filtering out grounds. The Trayvax cup becomes the pot, brewer and mug, though users could always carry a separate travel mug, collapsible cup or even JoGo coffee straw inside the Ration storage compartment. And if they prefer freshly ground coffee, something like the VSSL Java grinder would store nicely. Whatever specific equipment with which it's stocked, the Ration coffee edition could make the perfect solution for a fast coffee break, from a quick pullover to lighten heavy eyelids on a long road trip, to a coffee break farther afield on a leisurely side hike.
While the Ration's design is intriguing and quite unlike the average camping stove or cooking kit, we're not sure it's worth the US$170 retail price. That just seems exorbitant for what amounts to a simple backpacking stove and cup thrown into a handy but entirely inessential organizer. Trayvax does do its manufacturing in the US, so that's certainly built into the price, but it still seems like a lot to pay for something you could probably approximate far more affordably. But if there was ever a market that proved people willing to spend a small fortune on exactly the right gear, it would be the overland market, where buyers drop millions on overbuilt motorhomes and thousands on portable kitchens.
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Leveraging US manufacturing is excellent - but it should be done where it can be accomplished in an efficient enough manner to yield a rational price premium, a premium many folks would pay.