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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > LuxuryLite Koozy Kitchen > Test Report by Andre Corterier

LuxuryLite Koozy Kitchen

Test Report by André Corterier
Initial Report 23 May 2008
Field Report 29 July 2008
Long Term Report 23 September 2008


Koozy Kitchen Komponents (image by manufacturer) Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Gender: M
Age: 36
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Email: andreDOTcorterierATfreenetDOTde
Home: Bonn, Germany

Backpacking Background:
I have started out with backpacking slowly – single-day 24 km (15 mi) jaunts by myself or even shorter hikes in the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock or tarp camper. I’ve begun upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water) of less than 9 kg (20 lb) for three-season camping.


The Koozy Kitchen package

Initial Report

23 May 2008

Year of manufacture: 2007 ?
Manufacturer: LuxuryLite Gear
URL: http://www.luxurylite.com/
MSRP: 55 USD

Listed weight: 13 oz (369 g)
Measured weight: 356 g (12.56 oz) total
Click-start stove: 114 g (4.02 oz)
750 ml steel cup: 127 g (4.48 oz)
1 qt plastic cup: 66 g (2.33 oz)
Neoprene cozy: 49 g (1.73 oz)


Introduction:
The Koozy Kitchen is designed as a lightweight cooking system. The general idea is to boil water using the stainless steel cup as a pot, then transfer the boiling water to the plastic cup in its neoprene cozy and cover it with the pot-cum-lid. Apparently the foods I am meant to prepare with this come inside plastic bags. That's fine with me, that's usually the case with the foods I take along. I'm not much of a cook at home, I really can't be bothered to do much more on the trail. The website claims the following advantages over other "camp kitchens":

"1) No dirty dishes to wash,
2) No chance of unsanitary contamination,
3) No water is dumped or wasted, and
4) the Koozy Kitchen uses less fuel to heat a meal than any other portable stove."
While I'm quite taken with the system (I like the neat nesting ability and low weight - for a gas canister stove system), I'm not sure I buy all of that. Not having dirty dishes to wash seems to be an effect of choosing to use only foods that can be boiled inside their bags - I'd think that sticking to such meals would do away with washing dirty dishes no matter what type of camp kitchen I use. The contamination issue, if I understand it correctly, would seem to be similar - not that I worry much about contamination of things that I *boil*. And I don't usually dump or otherwise waste water, either - that would seem to happen only if I boil too much of it, again no matter what camp kitchen I use. Although I admit that using a small pot makes it less likely. The claim of using less fuel to heat remains uncontested so far and will be tested. Although I won't be able to nor intend to do a shoot-out against all other camping stoves. But if I should get the impression that this system conveniently allows me to prepare meals using small amounts of fuel, I think I'll be a happy camper.

The Stove:
The stove is a neat, simple contraption that screws on top of a standard gas canister which it uses as a support. The serrated pot holders fold in for storage and the stove also features a piezo-ignition. I'm aware of similar stoves which weigh a little less and cost well more than this entire cooking system. The stove has three circular openings in its upright, which I assume help to pre-mix the gas with air.

This raises one concern in my mind, which is that the Koozy Kitchen doesn't come with a wind screen. Of course I tend to cook in somewhat sheltered spots (sometimes even in outright shelters), so that may not be a problem. I'm told that gas stoves are generally a little less adversely affected by wind than the alcohol stoves I've mostly been using recently - I'll see about that.

The Pot/Cup:
Looks like a very large coffee mug, with folding handles. It has a diameter of about 10 cm (4 in), and is about as high as it is wide. The top edge turns out just a little.

Koozy Kitchen, unpacked

The Plastic Cup:
The plastic cup easily fits inside the pot/mug and is nearly twice as tall. It's marked with metric and imperial volume measurements which I think is neat (and have confirmed to be accurate).

The Neoprene Cozy:
The cozy is black, just over 3 mm (0.12 in) thick and appears to be both glued and sewn along the edges. Sliding the plastic cup into the cozy takes up some of the neoprene's elasticity. The cozy features a neat hole punched into its bottom to make it easier to extricate the plastic cup from it. The cozy is about as tall as the plastic cup, which makes the latter's top edge just barely peep out over the cozy when inside it.

Fit:
The plastic cup (just) fits into the neoprene cozy, the filled cozy (just) fits into the cup/pot. The stove easily screws onto the small, 110-gram gas canister and then fits into the plastic cup upside down. The bottom rim of the gas canister has a diameter just a mm or two (less than 0.1 in) larger than the inside diameter of the plastic cup, so that the canister-stove combo doesn't plummet into the cup. So I put the plastic cup into the cozy and the stove-canister combo into the cup, then slide the cup/pot over the cozy. I end up with a package roughly 10 cm (4 in) in diameter and 20 cm (8 in) tall. I like it.

Test Plan:
Well, I dayhike a lot these days, particularly with my daughter(s). Which is good, because they (and I) like to cook something under way. So I'll be preparing meals for myself and/or my daughter(s) pretty often. These will run the gamut from original MREs (Meals Refused by Ethiopia, or so I'm told) via outdoor-store type prepackaged foods to run-of-the-mill supermarket instant dinners.

I have weighed the gas canister I'll be using at a gross weight of 192 g (6.77 oz). It's listed as containing 110 g (3.88 oz) of an unspecified isobutane/propane mix. The stove has been screwed on to the canister and taken off again (for weighing of the individual pieces). A small amount of gas audibly escaped the canister when I removed the stove from it. Good thing I'll be able to leave it on from now on.


Field Report

29 July 2008

Field Experience:
I've used the stove when backpacking, both for coffee in the mornings and lunch or dinner later through the day. I've used it on a total of six days so far. Temperatures and humidity were moderate (so between 15 and 25 C / 60 and 80 F). There was no precipitation encountered during its use, nor noticeable wind. Elevation was between 100 and 500 m (330 and 1650 ft). Boring conditions, really. But the scenery was nice.

Setup:
Well, setting this one up really came down to unpacking it. And I invariably unpacked it pretty quickly, there being very little to do. As I carried it screwed onto the gas cartridge (as suggested by the manufacturer), there was no assembly involved. I just pulled the metal cup from the neoprene cozy and the plastic cup it contained, took the cartridge/stove combo it contained out, unfolded the pot supports and regulator handle and was done with my setup. Once I'd put water into the pot, I just turned the gas on and pressed the ignition, which turned on the stove. Very, very simple. I really liked that.

Heating:
On my first use of the stove, it took about five minutes for the water to come to a boil. I was a little miffed about that, which is odd. The alcohol stoves and wood stoves I've been using tended to take much longer. Of course, that meant that I was usually busy with some other activity while the water was heating up on my alcohol stoves, while heating water with the wood stove was an activity in itself. And I've often said that record boil times don't do much for me, as I usually have something else to while the water boils, and I'm usually not in a hurry when hiking. With this stove, because I was trying it out for the first time on a day hike (no camp chores to do), I spent those five minutes waiting for the water to come to a boil.

While I was thinking about how to phrase this in my test report, it occurred to me that maybe I just hadn't turned the stove up far enough. What I had done was to turn it up more and more until the flames seemed about to point past the bottom of the cup, rather than hitting it, so that the pot would appear to sit on a ring of fire. So on my next use of the stove I turned it up considerably further, so that the (much stronger) flames seemed to graze the outer bottom edge of the pot on their inside. The water boiled in two minutes, which I have to say is fast.

On subsequent uses, my boil times were more in the three minute range, because I didn't turn the stove up quite so much. I wasn't in a hurry, and having the flame point mostly past the pot seemed like a profligate waste of energy. I get the impression that this stove would work very well with a somewhat larger pot as well, which is good to know. However, as I'm testing this cook system, I likely won't be trying it out with a larger pot.

Sitting around the Koozy Kitchen I did put it on full burn one other time, when I (and another) wanted coffee to be ready quickly in the morning. And it delivered. Which was appreciated by both of us (and my daughters always like it when I'm not grumpy in the morning).

Convenience:
I have found this stove system (and in particular, this stove) to be very easy and convenient to work with. As unpacking it is a breeze and getting a boil is fast (and packing it again is easy as well), I've enjoyed having less to fiddle with. While I enjoy fiddling with a wood stove in the evening (provided I am not yet too hungry), I do not enjoy fiddling (with anything) before I've had my morning coffee. It's not just the lack of caffeine (I'm not a heavy user) - in the mornings I want to get going, because there are places I want to go to. In the evening, I'm not going anywhere, so I'm not keeping myself from anything (except maybe sleep). Anyway, while the convenience was nice, it was most appreciated in the mornings.

The convenience I appreciated consisted mostly of the fast, easy and certain delivery of hot water. I guess this may be on the "plus" list of any gas canister stove, but it certainly is true for this one. The remainder of the "system" is nice because of the cozy and the way it all nests together. My Koozy Kitchen now also has two sporks stuck into the top of the pot from the outside so that the curved part gives the neoprene cozy a convex bump, with the prongs lying rather flat against it. The fact that the cozy fits the pot tightly keeps the sporks in position even if the package gets bounced around some. I like this - my daughter and I share our food and share our pot, but prefer to eat from our own sporks.

The cozy works well, for which I am happy. I have begun using a cozy years ago and find the method of bringing pasta (or whatever) to a boil and then letting it steep in a cozy to be far superior to any other form of cooking, simply because it uses a lot less fuel and presents me with food that I no longer burn myself with.

I am less enamored with the freezer bag style cooking. I have found it a little difficult to get sauces or other ingredients well stirred inside a freezer bag (maybe I should have zipped it closed and shaken it). Also, the plastic cup is tall and narrow, and the freezer bag inside it further reduces its useful inside diameter. Once I opened the bag properly and had its top rolled out of the way and pulled down over the edge of the cup, it was fine. But it seemed to add a fiddle factor where every other aspect of the system seemed geared towards doing away with fiddly things.

Now, I understand that there are more ways to cook one's food on the trail than there are ways to skin a cat, so I am willing to believe that this style of cooking presents a phenomenal advantage to some hikers (I talked to a few who thought the idea was great). But compared to my usual way of cooking so far, it doesn't seem so hot. It actually adds waste (one freezer bag per meal). So I'll be certain to try it out with my more usual cooking style as well.

Summary so Far:
Very convenient system. Fast, reliable boil. Verdict still out on efficiency (I'm counting). Hasn't converted me to freezer bag cooking, but I still like it.


Long Term Report

23 September 2008

Field Experience:
My field experience during the Long Term Report phase has, unfortunately, been limited. I have used it for only three more meals (and coffee). Temperature, elevation and precipitation weren't notable. The cook set has generally fared as before, though my move from freezer bag cooking back to my "old school" cooking has afforded me an additional perspective.

Convenience:
The convenience of this cook set remains the feature which has made me take it on a few trips even though I have (slightly) lighter alternatives at my disposal (though, unfortunately, I didn't get to use it on these trips - I don't tell my mother "no, sorry, I'd rather cook my own food on this camping stove, you see"). My bad. But when I did use it, it's been great, for a number of reasons:

The nesting of the components in a way which makes them stay together securely yet allows unpacking quickly (10 seconds or thereabouts, if in a hurry), turn up, click and go. That's nice. Other cook sets come in a little sack with a drawstring or a zipper. Now it may seem stupid to even discuss the few seconds spent fiddling with a zipper or a drawcord, and I don't mean to lament the (many, in total) seconds I have spent unpacking other cook sets in the past. What I like about this system is less the time saved than the fiddlyness done away with. It's just clean and simple, and I appreciate that.

The convenience of the setup is enhanced by the fast boil times. I now no longer have a few minutes in which to putter about camp taking care of odds and ends while the stove heats up. Of course, this just means that I have to decide whether to take care of these things before or after making lunch or dinner. But when I decide to make dinner first because I'm hungry (and that is not unusual), this cook set just about brings Fast Food to the backcountry.

I have become even more enamored with the set now that I've stopped my forays into freezer bag cooking and have gone back to my usual style, which is to add the food to the boiling water (though in this instance, I've tended to put the food into the plastic cup and add the boiling water to it). With the ability to use a different cover (like a cardboard coaster, with a locally found stone on top) comes the ability to heat a second pot of water while the food in the cozy hydrates. This can be coffee or tea, or soup. I consider the ability to cook soup while the main course cooks to be particularly good when making food for more than one person - my daughters like to come along these days - and/or making food that takes a long time to cook in the cozy, like rice.

I have not found the convenience of freezer bags (no dirty dishes to wash) something that made me wish to go back. I don't wash dishes anyway. I scrub them clean with dirt from the ground. Earth and forest duff work particularly well - the fatty residue sticks to that stuff perfectly and just gets thrown out (notice I don't hike in bear country, and anyway usually cook away from camp, prefering a leisurely evening stroll along the trail after dinner). Once I've scrubbed it two or three times (which takes about an equal amount of minutes), nothing but dust is left in either the plastic cup or the pot. A small sip of water, sluiced around, takes care of that if I am so inclined, leaving me with pot and cup which look as though they came fresh out of the dishwasher. And I don't even have to heat water for that. Usually, I don't even wash out the dust. I *cook* my food, after all, so I'm not worried about what may be in that remaining dust. It may seem odd that the few seconds saved by the neatness of the system when unpacking are appreciated by me while the few minutes saved not doing any dishes (even with dirt) are not - but, I guess, to each their own. I'm happy, anyway.

Durability:
The system has held up very well so far. Even though it's been on more trips than it's been used on, I have to admit that it hasn't seen enough action to make this an especially high compliment. However, I'm convinced that it will last a long time. The reason for this is the way it packs up - nothing bangs against anything else, it's packed as a solid (and padded!) package. When setting up and breaking down, the items easily slip out of and back into each other, so not only has there been no noticeable wear and tear so far (except for some hard to spot scratches I put into the steel cup with my titanium spork), I don't expect any either.

Fuel Use:
Unfortunately, I've lost count of the number of times I've heated roughly half a litre (about a pint) of water to boiling. If I've got it right, the stove seems to use about 6 g (a fifth of an ounce) of fuel to do this. The water was generally cool (though not frigid) to begin with and I managed to cook out of the wind. From what information I have readily available, that seems to be at the frugal end of the consumption spectrum for gas canister stoves, about which I'm happy.

Summary:
Pros: Fast and convenient. Efficient, too. Seems perfect for a week's trip. And attractively priced, as well.
Cons: For short trips, one can go much lighter with a simple alcohol stove - though on longer distances the alcohol weight begins to approach the canister weight.
I'll be going back to my ultralight alcohol stove for fast overnight and weekend excursions - but for extended weekends or week hikes, the simplicity of this system (and not having to worry about fuel resupply) will mean that I'll cook in the Koozy Kitchen.

This concludes my test report on the LuxuryLite Koozy Kitchen. I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and LuxuryLite Gear for allowing me to participate in this test.



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Read more gear reviews by Andre Corterier

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