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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Primus ETA PackLite Stove > Primus Eta PackLite Stove > Test Report by Don Taylor

PRIMUS ETAPACKLITE STOVE
TEST SERIES BY DON TAYLOR

IMAGE 1


LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 28, 2010
FIELD REPORT - January 04, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - February 28, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Don Taylor
EMAIL: anfhiker AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 33
LOCATION: Youngstown, Ohio USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 185 lb (83.90 kg)

For the past 13 years I have been camping/backpacking primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia with the Allegheny National Forest as the most frequented location. My trips are generally long weekends and I try to camp or hike at least once in all 4 seasons with the fall being my favorite. My backpacking trips usually consist of 15 mile (24 km) days and a group of 2-3 other hikers in forested, moderately hilly areas. I consider myself a lightweight, slow and steady hiker. The winter hikes often involve heavy snow and freezing temperatures.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Primus
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All Included Parts

Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.primus.eu
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: 21 oz (596 g)
Measured Weight: 25.6 oz (726 g)
Pot Size: 1.2 L (40 oz)

Other Features Listed on the Manufacturer's Website Include:

  • Output: 2000 W (7150 BTU/h)

  • Boiling Time: 2.5 Minutes

  • Burn Time: 119 Minutes on 230 g/8.1 oz LP gas cartridge

  • Dimensions: 170 x 125 mm/6.7 in x 4.9 in

  • Ignition: Piezoelectric

  • Suitable for: 1-2 People


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

When I received the stove it was pretty much what I was expecting from checking it out on the Primus website. The EtaPackLite came with a burner/base, collapsing windscreen, 1.2 L (41 oz) pot with a lid that also serves as a strainer, plastic bowl that also protects the non-stick coating of the pot during storage, a plastic piece that covers the bottom of the pot where the heat exchanger is located which also serves as a plate and a piezo igniter. The stove system is designed so that all of the pieces can fit inside of the pot along with a 100 g (3.5 oz) LP gas cartridge and spork. The materials and construction appear to be of good quality and I did not notice any obvious defects.

When I weighed the stove I was surprised to see that my scale showed it weighed 4.6 oz (130 g) more than what was listed on the manufacturer's website. Even so, I feel that the stove is lighter than I expected considering what all is included with it.

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Cooking Pot
The plastic bowl that also serves as protection for the non-stick pot surface is a great idea even though I doubt I will actually use it as a serving bowl because I tend to eat directly from the pot or a freezer bag meal. When the stove is stored in the pot there are many sharp spots on the burner, base and windscreen that could easily scratch the coating.

There is a plastic cover for the bottom of the pot that also serves as a plate. Like the plastic bowl, while I do not see myself using it to eat from, it is necessary because the heat exchanger does have some sharp edges that could cause problems while jiggling around inside of my pack.

The lid is also plastic and it includes several holes that can be used as a strainer. The lid locks onto the pot with a simple twist and it feels very secure when it is locked in place. A sticker on the lid states that the product is BPA free which is good to know since it will be heated and in contact with my food.

The pot handle is made of metal and it collapses down along the side and bottom of the pot.

The burner is secured to the base by a cotter pin which makes it completely removable for cleaning and maintenance. This setup should make the stove ease to maintain in the field.

No extra parts, "O" rings or tools were included with the stove.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions are written in many languages and are very simple to follow. They include four diagrams that clearly show the major steps to using the stove. They also include the standard "don't blow yourself up" warnings and a list of spare parts.

I found that the instructions guided me into using the stove within minutes of opening the box.
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Action Shot

TRYING IT OUT

As soon as the stove arrived, like with any new piece of gear I get, I had to try it out. Following the simple instructions, I had the stove fired up to full roar within minutes. I took a little too much time reaching and pressing the piezo igniter after turning on the gas which caused a bang loud enough for my wife to look out the window to see what I had done now. After the initial shock from the ignition, I found that the flame looked and sounded very impressive. I poured a little water into the pot and I was amazed at how quickly it turned into an all out rolling boil. It is worth noting that the igniter worked on the very first push. I have used many stoves in the past that took several pushes to get ignition however the Packlite's igniter has worked the first time every time that I have tried it to this point. It can be a little tricky to reach the igniter because it is located on the bottom of the base and it is tucked in behind the windscreen.

I filled the pot with 17 oz (500 ml) and then 34 oz (1 L) of water to record the boil times. The ambient air temperature was 60 F (16 C) and my elevation was 1100 ft (335 m) above sea level.

  • 500 ml boil time- 1 minute 15 seconds

  • 1 L boil time- 2 minutes 50 seconds

After I shutdown the stove it cooled fairly quickly allowing me to pack it back up within 5 minutes of use.

SUMMARY

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Size Comparison
To this point I have found the stove to be extremely easy to set up and operate. The igniter has worked on the first click every time that I have lit the stove. All the components of the system work very well with each other and the design also allows for the use of different pots if desired. The windscreen simply drops into place and its rigid design is much easier to use over the aluminum foil type screens I have used in the past. The boil times were very impressive and the materials appear to be of good quality.

My only concern for future use is with the igniter. It is precariously placed directly above the burner which may leave it very vulnerable to bending or breaking while the stove is packed away in the pot. This is compounded if a fuel cartridge is also stored in the pot as the instructions indicate.

Overall I am looking forward to using this stove in the field. Please check back in a few months to see my progress.

Thank you to Primus and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this stove.



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have had the opportunity to use the stove on two long weekend hikes and a car camping trip. My first long weekend hike was spent on a portion of the Quehanna Trail in Central Pennsylvania. It was a 20 mile (32 km) hike over rolling terrain that included a few steep ascents and descents. The trail was mostly wet and muddy after several rains but it was well traveled and easy to navigate. We spent a total of 3 nights on the trail for this hike which provided a good opportunity to put the stove to work. The temperatures ranged from the 20's F (-7 C) in the mornings to around 30 F (-1 C) in the afternoons.

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Snow Covered Trail
My second long weekend hike was taken in the Allegheny National Forest in mid-December. We camped at a spot several miles from the trailhead on the first night. We woke up to temperatures below 10 F (-12 C) and a few inches of snow. That morning as we drove the short distance to the trailhead we began to notice that the snow accumulation was drastically increasing as we gained altitude. After some treacherous four-wheel driving along unplowed forest service roads, we reached the trailhead to find the trail covered with two feet (61 cm) of snow with much higher drifts along the way. This hike was intended to be a short hike with low mile days and a lot of camp time as we had a first time backpacker with us. It turned out to be one of the longest 12 mile (19 km) hikes I ever took and probably the first and only hike our new backpacking friend will do. The trail generally rolled gradually but there were a few quick, slippery, steep climbs and descents. The two nights we spent on the trail for this hike were enjoyed in constant knee deep snow and temperatures down to 5 F (-15 C) while the days were spent hiking in balmy 15 F (-9 C) degree, sunshine filled forests. These conditions proved to be a great way to test the stove in adverse conditions.

I also used the stove for a car camping trip in Cook Forest State Park. The temperatures were in the 40s F (4's C) with high winds as we camped on a high ridge overlooking the Clarion River.

During my trips I used the stove to boil water for a group of 2-3 hikers which increased the stove's use over what I would normally use it for. In total I have boiled 4.75 gallons (18 L) of water during this test period.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This has been my first experience with a canister stove as I normally backpack with a liquid fuel stove which if you are familiar with those, lighting them can be a tricky and somewhat scary process at times. The ETA PackLite lights up quickly and with less fear of causing a forest fire. The flame roars from the beginning and I have been very impressed with how fast it boils water at most air temperatures.

Using the stove on my car camping trip was a breeze. It lit easily and boils like an afterburner kicking in. It makes hot water for coffee in no time which was a group pleaser. I made a few freezer bag meals just to try out some new recipes and the stove worked flawlessly. The conditions were very windy but the windscreen did a great job of protecting the burner.

On my first long weekend trip on the Quehanna Trail we boiled 8 L (2 gallons) of water. We all traveled with freezer bag meals so we only used the pot to boil water rather than cooking. The temperature was in the 20's F (-6's C) most of the time with very light wind. I measured the average boiling time at 3 minutes and 10 seconds for 1 L (34 oz) of water. I was unable to find a Primus fuel canister near my home so I was using a 7.76 oz (220 g) canister of a different brand of fuel. After the hike I estimate that we burned just over half of the canister. The stove lit off on the very first try every time I used it.

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Hoping for Ignition
The long weekend trip to the Allegheny National Forest was a different story because of the conditions we were hiking in. We boiled a similar amount of water on the trip however the fuel burn was much higher. Using the same size canister as the last trip, I estimate we used up to 7/8 of the fuel. Temperatures were in the 5 to 10 F (-15 to -12 C) range and there seemed to be a constant wind blowing. The windscreen is very effective at blocking the wind once the stove is lit but lighting it proved to be very difficult. It should be noted again that I was not using a Primus fuel canister as I could not purchase one locally. I do not have a lot of experience with using a canister stove so I cannot explain what scientifically happens to the fuel at those temperatures but I do know it was very hard to get the stove lit off and it seemed to burn a much greater quantity of fuel. On the coldest morning I had to put the canister in my coat while we packed up camp to warm it up. Even then, after the stove lit off, I had to shake the canister and hold it upside down to keep the stove burning. I believe this is an issue with the fuel rather than the stove but I was worried about eating cold macaroni and cheese on the last day. On the coldest part of the trip I measure the boil time for 1 L (34 oz) of water at 8 minutes and 15 seconds, over 5 minutes longer than the previous trip.

On all trips the stove was easy to pack up and store in my backpack. It is a little larger than what I'm used to carrying but the 1 L (34 oz) pot is great for cooking for more than one person. The stove is ideal for my hikes when I go with a few other people and we split up gear.

One thing that I am slightly concerned about at this point is the igniter. I always check for spark before I light the stove and I have had to bend it closer to the burner a few times to ensure a good spark. It has not caused an igniting issue yet however I notice that it appears to be moving around while it's packed.


SUMMARY

IMAGE 4Overall I have been impressed with the stove. It boils extremely fast and packs into a nice packable container that also serves as a 1 L (34 oz) pot. The included plastic bowl serves as a pot liner while the stove is packed so there has been virtually no wear and tear to the inside of the pot to this point. The stove has been great on group trips where we have shared gear because it is large enough to boil water to cook for a 2-3 person group.

The only concern I have to this point is the igniter. It seems to rattle around while it is packed which requires some minor tweaking before ignition. This has not been a problem to this point but I will be watching it closely to ensure the metal does not begin to crack.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have had the opportunity to use the stove on one more weekend trip. The conditions this time around were much better than my last adventure. The temperatures stayed in the 20's F (-7's C) with overcast and gloomy skies with brief snow showers and a constant wind. Exactly the kind weather I would expect while hiking in the Allegheny National Forest in February.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The stove continued to perform well. On this trip we boiled a total of approximately 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water in 33 oz (1 L) increments. The average boiling time was around 3 minutes each time. I started with a fresh 7.76 oz (220 g) fuel canister and I would estimate that we used just over a quarter of the fuel.

The stove lit off without any trouble although I did have to adjust the igniter closer to the burner each time. It seems to move around a little while it is packed.

The EtaPackLite has held up very well. The plastic pot that also serves as a liner for the cooking pot while the stove is stored is a great idea. The cooking pot barely looks used.

SUMMARY

Overall I am happy with the EtaPackLite. I have found that for me, the best use of the stove is for groups of 2 to 4 people and in temperatures above 20 F (-7 C). The stove is usable in colder conditions however I will plan on brining more fuel when my trips involve colder temps.
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Stove in Stuff Sack


The stove is still in great condition with minimal signs of wear and tear. I am still slightly concerned about the igniter as it seems to move while the stove is packed however it adjusts back into position without issue. I will continue to watch this component for signs of wear.

The stove packs conveniently and boils water extremely fast during most conditions. It has held up very well to some tough conditions over the past few months.

CONTINUED USE

I definitely plan on using the EtaPackLite stove in the future for my trips that include a small group. I am happy to add this stove to my gear collection.

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

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