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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > Past Primitive Deluxe Cook Kit > Test Report by Michael Williams

PAST PRIMITIVE DELUX COOK KIT
TEST SERIES BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
FIELD REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - July 07, 2011
FIELD REPORT - October 03, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Michael Williams
EMAIL: mlebwill@yahoo.com
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Milliken, Colorado, United States
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)
TORSO 19 in (48 cm)

I was introduced to backpacking as a teenager through scouts in Colorado Springs, Colorado and fell in love with it. I continued to actively backpack through college and took a break to start a career and family. A few years ago we decided as a family to become very active in hiking, backpacking and camping. Currently my wife, son and I hike and backpack extensively in Colorado and South Dakota as a family. We continually look for the right balance of lightweight, durable, comfortable and safe gear for our family to enhance our outdoor experiences.


INITIAL REPORT

Product Information

Manufacturer: Past Primitive
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.pastprimitive.com/
MSRP: US$ 75.99
Listed Weight: 12 oz (340 g)
Measured Weight: 9.9 oz (280 g)

Kit Contents:
Keyhole Classic Stove
21 fl oz (620 ml) Aluminum Pot and Lid
Aluminum Windscreen
Holding Pad
Aluminum Pot Gripper
Micro Bites Spork & Spatula
8 fl oz (240 ml) Fuel Bottle
Efficiency Syringe
4 C (945 ml) Mixing Bowl
1C (235 ml) Drinking Bowl

IMAGE 1
The Kit Packaged, Unpacked and Setup.

Product Details

The Past Primitive Deluxe Cook Kit is a light weight personal kitchen / cooking kit based on an alcohol stove. The kit, which is a nested / self contained system is stored in a Ziploc Twist n' Loc container that multi-tasks as a mixing bowl and drinking cup. All of the components nest inside of the container and they include the stove, pot with lid, windscreen, pot gripper, holding pad, spork and spatula and the fuel bottle with syringe.

IMAGE 2
The Keyhole Classic Stove
The Keyhole Classic Stove, which is a variation of the classic Pepsi Can alcohol stove, is what I would call a standard "Do It Yourself" (DIY) alcohol stove. The stove itself is actually made from a Pepsi can (boo I'm a Coke guy) and it has 24 jet ports where the alcohol burns that are spaced concentrically around the stove. I have made very similar (DIY) stoves from instructions I have found online, but this stove has a few more professional features such as an integrated primer pan, a stowable pot stand as well as a threaded fuel port with a closing screw.

The Windscreen is a fairly standard piece of aluminum flashing that has 5 ventilation ports at the base of the screen. The screen fits around the stove with plenty of room to place and access the aluminum pot. The pot, which is a tall cylinder of extruded aluminum, then sits on the pot stand: which is a section of metal strapping that is curved and inserted into the top of the stove. The pot is threaded at the top to allow for the lid to be secured if needed. The Deluxe Kits come with two methods for handling the pot; a standard pot grabber as well as a foam holding pad.

The kit also includes a fuel bottle that has a flip top spout for easy dispensing of fuel as well as a syringe for precise fill-ups into the fuel port and priming pan. The syringe is graduated with milliliter (ml) increments and has a volume of 10 ml (0.34 fl oz). Finally the kit includes the Guyot Designs Microbites spork and spatula. This is a compact, locking utensil kit that is made of recycled nylon and contains a spork as well as a spatula that has a fairly sharp serrated edge.

Initial Impressions

IMAGE 3
I put volume marks on the pot itself.
I'm a big fan of fully contained cooking systems and by the looks of it; this one has everything I would need inside of the Ziploc container. The kit came packed and ready to go; I immediately unpacked it and started to test it out in the kitchen. Assembly was easy and the stove went together very quickly. I spent a few minutes reading the instruction manual and safety warning documents that came with the stove.

I'm going to mention a little disclaimer here. Always read the product instructions and safety warnings for new stoves, there is important information there. Remember that an alcohol stove does not have an "off switch" and many stoves, such as the Keyhole are under pressure and combustible fuel that is under pressure and exposed to heat can become very dangerous. So it is important to know your gear before you take it out into the wilderness. Also know your wilderness, many areas do not allow alcohol stoves permanently or under specific circumstances, check with your local ranger district before you venture out.

After fully reading the instructions, I noticed a contradicting statement between the safety warnings and the lighting instructions in the supplied documentation. The safety warning states to "Not overfill Stove - Maximum 1 fl oz (30 ml) of fuel." while the lighting instructions indicate "NEVER OVERFILL! - Holds 1.5 fl oz (45 ml) of fuel". I believe that this discrepancy is due to the two different stoves that Past Primitive offers; the Keyhole Classic Stove (large) and the Pocket Stove (smaller), however a call to Past Primitive is in order for clarification.

As I mentioned before, the stove is a fairly standard DIY stove, but it is nicer than anything I would have made and I was eager to experiment once I got it. Even though I had fully read the instructions and I am very familiar with alcohol stoves; I filled the stove up with two syringes of fuel, primed it, lit it and then realized I forgot to put the fuel port screw back in. So I let it burn knowing that the fuel would not be under as much pressure as it was designed to burn at. On the next burn, after I let the stove cool off adequately, I forgot to put the pot stand on. This reminded me why I get to know my gear at home.

The third time was the charm; I assembled the stove correctly with the windscreen in place, lit it and boiled two cups of water in my kitchen under a controlled environment. I loaded 3 syringes of denatured alcohol (the preferred fuel for this stove) and used a few drops to fill the primmer pan and lit the stove to boil 2 C (470 ml) of 50 F (10 C) tap water.

  • 50 Seconds - priming completed and the stove was burning efficiently

  • 1:05 minutes - placed full pot of water on stove

  • 6:30 minutes - water was at strong simmer - lots of small bubbles

  • 7:30 minutes - water was begging to boil - lots of small bubbles with a few large ones

  • 8:05 minutes - water was at a rolling boil and the pot was removed from the stove

  • 10:00 minutes - remaining fuel burnt off and the stove extinguished itself

So overall it seems like a good kit and a well made stove. Putting all of the pieces back was a bit of challenge, every available bit of space is taken up in the Ziploc container.

Testing Strategy

The test results from my kitchen environment were fairly standard compared to similar alcohol stoves I have used in the past. I plan on using this kit in the Rocky Mountains at elevations around 8,000 ft to 12,000 ft (2.4 - 3.6 km) so the efficiency of the stove will be put to the test. At this point I only see myself using this kit to boil water for hot drinks and to re-hydrate backpacking meals. There are a few things that I plan on focusing on during the initial phases of the test.

  • The pot is fairly narrow and the pot stand is even smaller, will this stove have any stability issues?

  • How secure, leak proof, is the fuel bottle since it is designed to be stored in the kit, will that be an issue?

  • How durable will the Ziploc Container be?

  • Are the two pot holding devices necessary or is one of them redundant?

  • Will I loose the fuel port screw? It is very small and how will the stove operate without the screw?

Summary

Overall I'm pretty excited to be testing this product. So far I think it is a well made, well thought out compact cooking kit that has everything I need (and more) for quick lightweight cooking. Those are my initial thoughts on the Past Primitive Deluxe Cook Kit; check back in two months (approximately September) for a more detailed account of my use with this kit. I would like to thank to Past Primitive and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this cooking kit, I plan to use it well.


FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions & Performance

IMAGE 1
We made it to Camp
During the Field Report phase of the test series I was able to use the Past Primitive Deluxe Cook Set on three weekend trips totaling 9 days and 6 nights of use. Two of the trips were in the Comanche Peaks Wilderness Area at an elevation of approximately 11,000 ft (3,350 m) and both were "Blue Bird" days with average night time temperatures in the mid 40's F (7.2 C). The other trip was in the Roosevelt National Forest at an elevation of 10,500 ft (3,200 m). While the temperatures were favorable with nighttime temps in the 40's F (7.2 C) again, there was a decent breeze during this trip. I would estimate that the sustained winds averaged 10 mph (16 kph), so it was fairly windy for a summer trip.

I would like to point out that I made 4 other trips during the testing process that I was not able to take this cooking kit. All trips were in Designated Travel Zones in the Indian Peaks and Comanche Peaks Wilderness Areas and open flames were prohibited.

On the three trips that I was able to take the cook kit on, I cooked re-hydrated meals exclusively, so I only boiled water. This included commercial freeze dried meals that required 2 C (0.47 L) or less of water as well as homemade dehydrated meals with oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. When cooking, the meals were for two; myself and either my son or my wife. In all cases I re-hydrated the meals in their own bag, or poured water into a cup to mix the oatmeal, no food was prepared in the pot. I used standard denatured alcohol as my fuel and the water temperature was cold. The water was so cold I could only keep my feet in it for about 10 seconds, it was mostly glacial runoff and there was still a lot of snow around in July and August.

For the first trip I took everything in the kit with me and I packed everything (with the exception of the fuel bottle and syringe) inside the Ziploc container. I have learned from past experiences not to carry denatured alcohol inside of my cooking vessel, it leaks easy and stinks very much. Instead I carried my fuel in a 1 L Ziploc freezer bag (double bagged) outside of my pack in a side water bottle pocket. I didn't experience any leakage with the supplied bottle, but I don't like to take chances. In addition, I wrapped the threads of the bottle top with Teflon pluming tape and sealed the flip top cap with a piece of duct tape.

On my second and third trip I left a few items at home (the spatula and the aluminum pot gripper) and I also substituted the supplied fuel bottle with a smaller 4 oz (120 ml) fuel bottle I had from another alcohol stove kit. I did this because 8 oz (240 ml) is slightly more fuel capacity than I needed and typically if I have a bit of extra fuel I put too much in the stove and then the stove burns longer than needed. The spatula was not needed since my meals were re-hydrated in a bag and I chose to use the foam pad as a pot gripper. The foam pad works really well even though it melted just a bit where my fingertips applied pressure.

IMAGE 2
Sunet and Moose, our view
For my evening meals, I heated 2 C (0.47 L) of water using 25 ml (0.85 fl oz) of fuel and to be honest I didn't time the burn, I just let the fuel run its course. While the stove burned I watched some moose and some sunsets while the stove burned silently; it was nice not having a jet blast noise in the background while relaxing. I'm guessing the stove burned for 8 - 10 minutes; it did achieve a boil and was hot enough to re-hydrate my meals (great with pasta and ground meat but the carrots were a little hard). In the morning I only needed hot water, not a full boil, so I only used 15 ml of fuel and I would heat 2 C (0.47 L) for oatmeal and then refill the fuel for another 2 C (0.47 L) for hot chocolate. So I used 30 ml (1.0 fl oz) for breakfast twice and two dinners that used 25 ml (0.85 fl oz) each for a total fuel consumption of 110 ml for a weekend trip.

In general, I think the stove worked for me as designed, but I did add a little bit of extra fuel on the windy trip and I built up some extra wind breaks to help. I also noticed that with such a narrow base and stove stand that it is crucial to set the stove up on a firm and level ground. And finally, I wanted to test the durability of the Ziploc container so I jammed it in the pack and was really rough with it (more so than I would normally be). While the container didn't crack, the lid did crumple enough for me to want to replace it. Fortunately those containers are cheaper than heck and available nearly everywhere, so I picked another one up.

Observations

I thought the cooking kit did very well on the 3 trips that I had experience with. I'm a big fan of fully contained cooking kits and with the exception of my preference to keep the fuel separated this one has a lot of features. The wind screen really helps contain and maximize the heat produced, but I really do feel that the kit is rather fuel inefficient. I think this is due to the narrow base of the cooking vessel since I see a lot of the flames wrap up the sides of the pot. My un-scientific guess is that what would normally take 20 ml (0.68 fl oz) of fuel in another cooking kit I have takes 25 ml (0.85 fl oz) of fuel in the Past Primitive Kit. While 5 ml isn't much, that is around 25% more fuel. Having said that I still like the kit and will continue to use it. It is lighter than my fully contained canister system, cooks incredibly quietly and I can adjust and adapt it for how I want to use it by leaving pieces at home or taking an additional piece.

There are two pieces to the kit that I could call fragile or easily damaged / disposable. One is the Ziploc container that was previously discussed; the other is the foam pad that did melt just a little bit. Melting might be an overstatement, there is permanent depressions where my fingertips applied pressure and the pot was warm and the foam compressed. Even with that, I found it very useful and wanted to get some foam pads for other cooking kits and we found foam sheets at a craft store for under $1. So the pieces that I found to be delicate can be replaced easily and very inexpensively.

IMAGE 3
the set up in wind

Things I Like…

  • Light weight

  • Fully contained cooking kit

  • Easy to fill with the syringe

  • Sturdy windscreen

Things That I Would Change…

  • Fuel efficiency and the narrow pot base

  • Narrow pot stand, I haven't knocked a full pot over.... yet

Summary

Overall I like it; if I needed more from a cook kit I would take a canister set up. I'm not sure how much more I will be able to use this kit in the up coming months. With winter conditions on their way, I'm getting ready to switch over to my winter gear and that doesn't include alcohol stoves. But I'll give it a shot in the snow within the next two months, check back in December to see how it did.

I would like to thank to Past Primitive and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this cooking kit, it is working well so far.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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