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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > GSI Glacier Stainless Tea Kettle > Test Report by Kerri Larkin
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
The Glacier is marketed as an "Ultra-rugged kettle for campfire fans", and the website lists it as suitable for "Ultralight Backpacking, Gourmet Backpacking." To be honest, I've never considered carrying a kettle before. I usually just boil water in my pot, but I can see there are advantages to having a dedicated kettle in terms of ease of pouring boiling liquids, the volume of water which it holds, and ease of use. I'll be looking forward to seeing how the kettle performs in these areas, and whether it does justify the weight. Although I'm not a true ultralight backpacker, I'd class myself as lightweight and am particular about what finds its way into my pack.
My GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kettle (hereafter called the kettle or the Glacier) arrived in a very smart cardboard presentation box. This looks like a quality item from the clean modern design of the packaging. Opening the box revealed the kettle was nestled in the box with a protective plastic bag covering it, and another covering the lid. I'm not sure why something the marketing says can be cleaned with sand should need a protective plastic bag, especially in these environmentally aware days, but it did arrive in first class condition.
When I extracted the kettle from from its plastic wrap, I immediately loved the shape and feel of the thing. It looks gorgeous, but it also looks like it's meant for business. The lid fitted perfectly without the need for a crowbar to open it, and the handle sits exactly where I'd expect; nicely against the sides with minimal protrusion when folded, and can be removed completely if needed. I love that GSI has found an easy solution to the perennial problem of burnt hands when using almost any cookware. The Glacier's handle locks in an upright position, keeping it as far removed from the heat as possible. Thank you GSI.
The kettle spout is a funny looking thing - squat and a bit roughly cut - but it works. So often kettles and teapots dribble or send fluid sideways and, rather than aiding the pouring process, appear to be designed to deposit the kettle contents anywhere but the cup. Not so with the Glacier; this kettle pours beautifully without fuss, drips, or drama. The spout is, as I said, squat, but this means there's less poking out to snag in a pack or tear a hole in gear crammed next to it in my pack.
There were no instructions included with the kettle, but it really is obvious how it fits together. The packaging showed some great information on the fact that the Glacier is uncoated. Nothing to chip, get in my food, or give me cancer here. Because the kettle is uncoated, GSI says it can be scraped, scoured with sand or thrown in the dishwasher without concern. The reason for choosing stainless steel is so the kettle can be used with wood fires and still be easily cleaned. I'll be looking with interest as to how that works.
The box detail also shows the kettle is big enough to nest a 110 gram (3.9 oz) gas cartridge internally. While that's great, it's probably not a feature I will use as I think I can use the kettle volume more efficiently by storing other items inside.
Although the manufacturer states this is a 1 quart (946 ml) kettle I was able to squeeze 1.06 quarts, (one litre) into it. However, I don't believe that is a true reflection of a usable capacity. Even when filled with one quart, the water is half way up the spout, meaning hot fluid is going to be shooting out the spout once it comes to a boil. To me, a more realistic capacity would be to expect about 0.9 quarts (850 ml), which takes the fluid level to the base of the spout.
For an initial tryout I used the burner of my gas stove to see how long it would take to boil 0.5 quarts (500ml) of water. The kettle sat nicely on the burner ring and the wide, flat, base made it very stable. It took a full five minutes to reach a rolling boil, but the beautiful thing was that the handle was completely cool. I was able to pick up the kettle without burning my fingers. I love that! I'm looking forward to trying the kettle on a wood fire to see if that remains true.
That concludes my Initial Term Report on the GSI Outdoors Glacier kettle. I'd like to thank both GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
The GSI Stainless Kettle has seen a fair bit of use in the last two months. Firstly, there was a fourteen day trip to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, during which it was used a minimum of three times a day to boil water. It rained one night on the trip but otherwise conditions were fine and mild. This trip was mostly at, or near, sea level with the highest camp being at about 335 mtres (1100 feet). Temperatures varied from overnight lows around 5 C (41 F) to highs of 32 C (90 F). Most nights were very damp with lots of condensation, but the days were warm and dry.
My second trip with the GSI Stainless was to Bongil Bongil State Forest, just outside Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, for an overnight camp. Again, there was plenty of condensation and dew in the morning. The overnight low was 5 C (41 F) and the high during the day was 26 C (79 F).
On both trips, the GSI Stainless Kettle was carried in my High Sierra Titan 65 backpack. Normally, I keep it in the depths of the pack and stuffed with clothing to minimise the volume the kettle demands. I also put it in a small stuff sack to keep the soot out of my pack.
So far, I've been very impressed with the kettle; it does exactly what it claims to do, which is to boil water with the minimum of fuss. I'm really impressed with the design that's gone into this item and it is probably the best pot I own now. When I first started this test, I wasn't sure if having a kettle with me would really add very much to my experience of camping. After all, I tend to boil water, rehydrate food, or simply cook in my pot and eat out of it. Would having a kettle still allow me to do those things or was it a one-trick pony? I'm delighted to say I've found the answers provide a resounding victory for the kettle. Yes it boils water, but it does it with so much more grace than a standard cook pot. The spout is a wonder - it doesn't shoot water all over the place, it simply pours (without dripping) exactly where I aim it. In my books, that feature alone makes it worthwhile. Yet, as the TV commercial says, "But wait, there's more..."
Apart from pouring perfectly, the handle locks easily into the vertical position keeping it far enough away from the flames that it remains cool. Picking up the boiling lettle is now no longer an exercise in courage and pain management. I've used the GSI Stainless on a variety of stoves and found this to be true for all of them, whether they be fuelled by denatured alcohol, gas, or wood. As an example, my BioLite woodstove burns so hot that I burned my hand just stoking it with wood, yet I was able to lift the kettle off without feeling any warmth at all in the handle. Now, obviously, if the flames were licking up the kettle, like from an open wood fire, it may be a different story but I tend to use small, contained fires for cooking, especially during periods of high fire danger.
I've found the GSI Stainless is very easy to clean. Perhaps the dirtiest type of fire for cooking over is a wood fire. As you can see from the photos, the base of the kettle was pretty sooty and black after use but a standard "Scotch-Brite" type nylon scourer was enough to get 90% of the black off with a minimum of scrubbing. I'm not overly fussy about keeping my pots sparkling, but I'm sure a steel wool type scourer would return the pot to its original brilliance. I'll do that before the end of the test period just to confirm it.
One of the other things I like about this kettle is that it's sturdy. It appears to handle knocks and bumps a lot more easily than an equivalent aluminium pot, and so far hasn't dented.
So far, the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kettle has exceeded my expectations. It's light, sturdy, pours beautifully, and boils water with a minimum of fuss. Atlthough I find the term "Stainless" a bit misleading, it certainly is easy to keep clean. Initially, I was skeptical about the role of a kettle in my kit, but I'm more than convinced now.
That concludes my field report on the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kettle. As always, my thanks to GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to be part of this test. Please check back in about two months for my final Long Term Report.
Since my field report, I've used the GSI on four day trips (car-based) to make a roadside cup of tea, and one more overnight trip.
The car-based trips were within the hinterland of my local area, during four-wheel driving expeditions. Conditions were sunny and hot for three of the trips, and cool and wet for one.
The overnight camping trip was to Grey Cliff camping area - a part of the Yuragir National Park coastal walk. Frequent showers were met, and overnight the minimum temp dropped to 19 C (66 F) while the day time temp was 26 C (79 F). Humidity was around the 70-80% mark.
Wow! I'm converted; I love using a kettle to boil water now. It seems so much more civilized, and safer, than using a pot of some kind. The GSI Stainless has performed flawlessly and while it's really only a one-trick pony, it does that job beautifully.
Due to severe weather over this summer, there have been long periods of total fire bans, and plenty of wildfires in my region. Conversely, when we haven't been on fire, we've had flooding, with major floods occuring accross the State. All this weather has made it a bit tricky to test the GSI Stainless over open fires, so I've used it on my gas canister stove mostly.
Despite being used over some very sooty fires, the GSI Stainless has polished up to look near new. Most soot is easily removed with soap, water and a nylon scouring pad, which I always have in my kitchen kit. That makes the kettle very easy to store and transport without getting soot right through my pack. There are a few permanent stains, and some discolouration of the steel from heat, but otherwise it seems pretty darn clean to me, especially when compared to my other cook pots which are permanently blackened. That, by itself, is reason enough for me to carry the minimal extra weight of a stainless steel pot. After all, to transport the kettle, I just put it in my pack; there's no need to have a separate stuff sack for it (which adds weight).
I have noticed a bit of a rattle has developed when transporting the kettle loose, so I've found it to be easiest to stuff a pair of socks (clean) inside the kettle and stretch a rubber band across the kettle and lid. Problem solved. Of course, when the kettle is in my pack there's no room for it to rattle anyway.
I've still found the GSI Stainless handle to remain cool when used over any type of stove. In fact, I've gotten so used to the handle remaining cool I burned myself picking up another pot handle which doesn't remain cool. That's a real safety bonus for me; when I'm tired and not thinking clearly, the kettle doesn't attack me.
Initially I was concerned the spout might get bashed about a bit, but it's remained sturdy and true, and pours beautifully. There's no need for guessing where the stream will go, as I have to for a couple of pots, and I know I'll get hot water in my mug every time. Way better than getting it down my legs! I also don't have to carry anything to lift it with as the lifter is integrated (another weight saving).
In short, the GSI Stainless works exactly as advertised, and although I never saw a reason to carry a kettle before, I'm hooked now.
The GSI Glacier Stainless Kettle is brilliant! It has a large enough base to be more stable than a lot of my pots, cleans very easily, and pours beautifully. When all I need to do is boil water on the trail, this is now my 'go-to' piece of kit. I don't have to carry an extra pot lifter or worry about burning my hands or feet, and it pours directly where I point it every time. The mouth of the kettle is even wide enough to put a cook-in-the-pouch meal inside for heating. One could cook inside the kettle, but it still remains easier to use a pot for that chore.
So will I keep using the GSI Stainless? You betcha! It's light, versatile, and has a great meeting of form and function. In short, I love it!
This concludes my Long Term Report on the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kettle and I'd like to thank both GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to be a part of this test series.
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