PRIMUS ETA POWER STOVE
TEST SERIES BY TIM TESSIER
June 30, 2007
6' 2" (1.88 m)
221 lb (100.00 kg)
Backpacking Background: I hiked as a child with my father and started hiking with my now 16 year old son 8 years ago. We now routinely take 20 mile weekend hikes (2 nights) approximately once a month year round. Additionally, we take one, 5 - 7 day extended trip each summer. Most of our hiking is done in North Carolina, southern Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. We go regardless of weather so we have experience in all types of conditions. We do not tend to travel very light, with a typical pack weight of 25 lb (11.3 kg) exclusive of food.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Primus AB, Sweden
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.primus.se
MSRP: Not listed. Not Listed
Listed Weight: 29 oz (822 g)
Measured Weight: 37.5 oz (1063 g) See below
The ETA Stove consists of several key components. These include a stove burner with base and attached hose, a wind-screen that attaches to the base, the ETA Power Pot with built in heat exchanger, a frying pan that doubles as a lid, and a pot gripper, as well as a multi-tool repair tool. All of this comes contained in an insulated carrying case that, according to the manufacturer, doubles as a cozy that will allow me to keep one part of my dinner hot, while preparing the balance of my meal.
One aspect of the ETAPower Stove that startled me was the size and weight. The carrying case I measured to be 5.12 " (140 mm) high and roughly 9" (229 mm) in diameter. This will be larger than my tent and will represent a good chunk of my pack's capacity. Additionally, though the literature lists the weight at 29 oz. (830 g), I measured it at a whopping 37.5 oz (1063 g). In order to understand the difference I weighed and measured the components separately.
Measured Wt. Ht./Diameter
Stove Burner and Base 8.5 oz (241 g) 2.3" (58 mm)/ 6" (152 mm)
ETAPower Pot 9 oz (255 g) 4.25" (108 mm)/ 7.5" (191 mm)
Frying Pan/Lid 4.5 oz (128 g) 1.4" (35.5 mm)/ 8.5 " (216 mm)
Wind Deflector 4.5 oz (128 g) 2.25" (57 mm)/ 8.25 " (210 mm ) top
6.5" (165 mm) bottom (bowl shape)
Pot Grabbers, multi-tool, cloth add approx. 2.5 oz (71 g) for a grand total of 29 oz (822 g), the stated weight of the product. However, a key element of the system is the insulated carrying case which weighs an additional 8.5 oz (241 g). Primus describes the value of the insulated carrying case in both their literature and the promotional video on their website. Since Primus makes it very clear that the insulated case is a significant part of the value of the product it seems disingenuous to then NOT include the weight of the case in the stated weight of the product.
That aside the stove itself is a canister fuel stove which fits into a base which has foldable pot supports. The burner assembly has a bracket that clips into the base, providing a stable platform. The burner is approximately 1 " (25 mm) in diameter. It connects to the gas canister via a metal hose approximately 12" (305 mm) in length. One excellent feature of this stove is the Piezo lighter which is designed to eliminate the need to use a match or lighter to light the stove.
The burner and pot supports are manufactured of steel, with copper tubing and fittings. The base, pot, pan and wind deflector are all constructed of anodized aluminum. The pot and pan are both lined with a non-stick coating of titanium.
The insulated case appears to be made of nylon and has a zippered lid. There is also a zippered compartment in the lid which will hold the multi-tool.
My initial impression of this product is quite favorable. The product comes packed in a simple four-color corrugated box. Each component is enclosed in a plastic bag within the case.
The first thing you see is, of course, the insulated case. The Primus logo is imprinted on the top of the black case, creating an attractive first impression. As you unpack you find the pan on top. Lifting this out you find the burner, base, potgrabbers, multi-tool contained within the ETA pot. On the bottom is the windscreen with the ETA pot inside. This nesting arrangement allows everything to fit neatly into one case. The promotional video produced by Primus shows that this arrangement will also allow a small canister of fuel to stored in the case as well. As I only have a large canister on hand I have not had an opportunity to test this.
|The full ETA Power system|
Assembly is straightforward. Simply clip the burner onto the bottom of the base, fold down the pot holders, attach the gas canister and you are good to go. To light you simply turn on the gas via the black knob on the gas canister connector, and press the trigger on the Piezo lighter. On my initial test it took exactly one click of the Piezo lighter to light the stove. The stove immediately produced a hot flame and a nice roaring sound.
The wind screen is placed onto the base and is rotated approx. 30 degrees to lock into place. The wind screen is designed to use only with the ETA pot which features an aluminum heat exchanger which vaguely resembles a strip of corrugated cardboard around the outer rim of the pot. The pot features measures on the side at .2 liter (6.76 oz.) intervals. The pan will fit neatly over the top of the ETA pot as a lid. However, when put upside down, which would seem normal for a lid, there is no way to lift it with the pot grabbers. On my initial test run I found it was better to use it right side up so that you can easily lift it off.
The fit and finish of every element of this product is beyond reproach. It is visually attractive, each part fits neatly together as intended. Upon careful examination I was not able to find one flaw in the finish of any part of it. The titanium surface on the interior surfaces of the pot and pan is flawless in every respect. The potgrabbers have small black rubber pads so that you will not take a chance on scratching the interior surfaces of the pot when using them. This attention to detail is evident throughout this product.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions come on plain white newsprint, printed in black. Printed in eleven different languages, they are very straightforward and easy to follow. I was pleased to find that the instructions were specifically for this product. Many times manufacturers cut costs by making one set of instructions for multiple products. It is much easier to follow instructions made for one and only one model.
The instructions come in three basic parts. The first is the standard safety warnings. The second covers usage and assembly of the stove. The third covers maintenance, service, and repair of the product.
I found the assembly instructions to be straightforward and that the illustrations were both illuminating and accurate. I will test the accuracy of the maintenance and repair section during the course of the test series.
TRYING IT OUT
Initially we set the stove up on our back porch and simply put a liter of water on it to test it out. I set the stove up per the instructions, poured one liter of water in the ETA pot, and ignited the stove. As I set the pot on the stove I checked my watch. The weather outside was 80 F (27 C), and the water was cold tap water, estimated at 70 F (21 C). 2 minutes, 15 seconds later the water was at a rolling boil. Impressive, to say the least.
To truly test the stove we took it on a picnic to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone North Carolina, approximately 3500 feet (1067 m) elevation. We planned a meal of Pasta with Salmon and Sundried Tomatoes. This would give me an opportunity to test the boil time as well as a low temperature simmer.
First, I set the stove up. I had intentionally left the instructions at home. Without a hitch I connected the gas, installed the windscreen, and in very short order had the stove up and running. First step, boil the pasta. I turned the stove all the way up to full jet mode and, again, in just over two minutes had 1.5 liters of water at a rolling boil. Adding the pasta I reduced the heat slightly and kept it boiling for the requisite 16 minutes. We had also brought some bread and olive oil. I chopped some garlic and rosemary and added it to a bit of the olive oil in the frying pan. I placed this on top of the pan of boiling water and in no time had warm dipping sauce for the bread.
When the pasta was cooked I took it off the stove using the pot grabbers and placed it in the carrying case, using it as a cozy as advertised. The cozy has a notch approximately 1" (25 mm) deep in the front. When I first saw it I was curious as to its function. However, as I started to place the pot in the cozy it became clear. The notch perfectly fits the pot grabbers when they are holding the pot so that you can easily and neatly set the pot into the cozy. This is another example of the attention to detail evident throughout this product.
The directions clearly say (in bold print) not to attempt to use the windscreen with anything but the ETA pot. So, in order to remove it I turned the gas off. I gently touched the base of the stove with my knuckle in order to see if it was still too hot to handle. To my surprise it was cool to the touch. I tested the windscreen and found the same to be true. I removed the windscreen and again, with one touch of the button, relit the stove.
I turned the stove down to a low simmer and placed the pan on it with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and sundried tomatoes. After heating these ingredients I added salmon to the mix and continued to stir it together. The stove maintained an even, steady, low heat for several minutes while I prepared this portion of the meal. I had absolutely no indication that it would not keep up this simmer all day if required.
We then drained the pasta and added the mixture from the pan. Bon Appetit!
This stove is incredible. It seamlessly goes from a full out boil to a low simmer. It is easy to reconfigure and is designed in such a way that the base and the windscreen don't get hot so they can be handled almost immediately after use. Every element of the system seems to work perfectly.
I will be using this stove over the next several months in every conceivable weather condition and in preparing a wide variety of meals. We will be using this stove many times and will fully test its durability. It's one thing to work perfectly when first out of the box, it's quite another to work properly several months later with dozens, possibly hundreds of hours on it.
I will make a point to repair and clean the stove per the instructions in the enclosed documentation.
Field Report - August 26, 2007
Over the last two months we have used the ETAPower Stove for seven days exclusively. We took it on a 4 day trip to West Virginia to the Dolly Sods Wilderness and also on a 3 day trip to the Shining Rock Wilderness in western North Carolina. In both cases we carried the ETAPower Stove as our exclusive cooking appartatus.
In general, I have found that the Primus stove is an excellent product. The Piezo lighter has worked perfectly. I have never, not once, had to click more than one time to light the stove. The wide base makes it very stable, and the stove operates at any required temperature very consistently.
In all cases I have found the ETAPower Stove to be an outstanding cooking device. In the Dolly Sods I primarily boiled water, as I was testing some meal packs, and also doing some long miles. I found that at elevations in the 3,500 - 4,000 ft. range (1,067 m - 1,219 m), the stove would boil two cups of water in under two minutes. For morning coffee/hot chocolate/oatmeal with ambient air temperature around 50 F (10 C), I can heat a full pot of water to a rolling boil in approximately 4 minutes.
On our second night in Dolly Sods we prepared a meal that included a sauce that required two cups of boiling water, then a pancake-like crust. This was a good test of the entire cooking system. First, I boiled the water and, predictably, the stove boiled the water more quickly than I could stir the batter for the crust. As soon as I got the batter ready I re-configured the stove, removing the windscreen so I could use the frying pan. I did learn one hard lesson... while the base of the burner assembly remains cool, the bottom of the burner (underneath the base) does not. A minor burn on the finger seared that detail into my memory.
To use the frying pan I re-lit the stove with one push of the Piezo lighter and quickly brought the frying pan up to proper cooking temperature. A small dab of olive oil in the pan and the two crusts were quickly fried up. The non-stick coating worked perfectly and they turned easily.
In the Shining Rock area I cooked Red Beans and Rice one night for dinner. This requires that the water with the rice and beans be brought to a boil, then the termperature lowered and the mixture simmered for 18 minutes. The stove again worked perfectly, however, I did not turn the fire quite low enough. Consequently the rice began to stick to the bottom of the pot. When the meal was done we set the pot in the cozy/carrying case to keep it warm. Grabbing our spoons we sat down to share the meal straight out of the pot. As we ate we began to get to the bottom of the pot where the rice was sticking. However, due to the excellent non-stick titanium coating on the pot the rice simply came loose with our spoons. When we were finished I simply had to wash the pot with camp soap and hot water and I was good to go.
I must say, the performance of the stove is exemplary in every respect. However, the size and weight of this product is something I still need to get used to.
One thing I've noticed is that the frying pan/ lid has started to warp. I am not sure if this comes from being used as a lid or as a frying pan, but it is definitely something I will have to keep an eye on.
This stove is one of the most impressive pieces of backpacking gear I have ever seen. The performance is nothing short of startling. Water is boiling before you're ready for it, and it will hold a low simmer for as long as necessary. Every detail from the soft rubber pads on the pot grabbers, to the notch in the pot cozy that allows me to easily set the pot in, to the titanium coating in the frying pan and pot, every detail in this cooking system is exemplary.
The weight and bulk of this system is something to contend with. I will also be keeping an eye on the warping situation on the frying pan.
Things I like:
1. The extraordinarily fast boil time.
2. The way that it will hold a steady low flame for as long as necessary.
3. The obvious quality and attention to detail evident throughout the cooking system.
Things I don't like:
1. The bulk of the cooking system. The entire system, including the case, eats about half my pack capacity.
2. This is the second heaviest item I carry, second only to my tent.
3. A warped frying pan will be a problem if it worsens.
This concludes the field report phase of the test. Thanks to Primus and to BGT for the opportunity to test this excellent product.
Long Term Report - October 27, 2007
I have continued to use the Primus AB through the late summer months, using it approximately 5 more days on the trail. The performance of the stove has been exemplary in every respect. We used it on a three day backpacking trip in the Roan Highlands in Tennessee on the Appalachian Trail. The first night we arrived in camp late, meeting some friends on a bald at about 5,200 ft (1,585 M) elevation. The 50 F (10 C) temperatures, fog, and wind discouraged long campfire chats. Greg and I set up our tent and I set the stove up in the lee of the tent to boil water for hot chocolate. The windscreen did a wonderful job of keeping the flame lit and the heat concentrated under the pot and the chocolate was ready in minutes.
The next night we were in much more benign weather conditions. It was a beautiful evening with no wind and temperatures around 64 F (18 C). I fixed a much more ambitious dinner for three folks, myself, my friend Tarp, and my son Greg. First I configured the stove with the windscreen and boiled water for pasta. The water was boiling in approximately 5 minutes and I added the pasta. This cooked for 18 minutes after which I took the pot off the stove and set it in the carrying case/cozy. I then removed the windscreen and re-lit the stove, setting it for medium heat. I put sliced Kielbasa in the frying pan to brown it and added chopped onions and green peppers. When this was all browned I removed the pan and added this to the drained pasta. I then turned the burner on a low heat and wiping out the frying pan returned it to the burner. I added water, powdered milk, and a Three-Cheese Sauce mix. I simmered this on low heat for several minutes stirring continuously. The sauce thickened up and was added to the pasta, sausage and veggies for hearty, delicious, and satisfying dinner. The stove was asked to boil water in full jet mode, brown on a medium heat, and run at a low simmer for several minutes. It did each of these tasks perfectly.
The entire cooking system shows no signs of wear and tear, due in large part to the padded carrying case. The titanium lining in the pot and frying pan does not have a mark on it, despite our eating straight out of it with metal forks and spoons on a number of occasions. The stove has lit easily and burned well in all conditions. The slight warping of the frying pan, reported earlier, has gotten no worse and is not a problem at all.
The Primus logo on the lid of the carrying case is applied by a heat-transfer method. I found this out one morning when cooking pancakes. I had a hot frying pan with a pancake inside that I needed to set down for just a minute. The case was right beside me and I set it down on top of the case. When I picked it up I had a neat, red, Primus logo on the bottom of the frying pan. The hot pan had re-melted the transfer and it had partly stuck to the pan. This has not in any way affected the performance of the case or the frying pan.
As detailed in my test plan, following the directions I dismantled the burner assembly for cleaning. I found that the directions are very clear and well illustrated. The multi-tool is extremely useful and makes this process convenient and easy.
|The Multi-tool and Jet|
The Primus AB cooking system is extremely well thought-out, engineered, and manufactured. The combination of the hot stove burner, windscreen, and heat exchanger pot make for the fastest hot water I've ever seen. The use of titanium instead of Teflon for a non-stick coating is genius. I simply can not say enough good things about the performance of the cooking system.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
All that being said there is one serious drawback. The excessive size and weight of this set is really something to think about. I carry a 5600 cubic inch (92 L) pack and the size of this stove takes a very significant chunk out of the large main pocket of my pack. It weighs just over 2.0 lbs (.91 kg), not counting fuel, which is a lot of weight to carry for a cookset and stove. To my mind, the difference is whether my intention is to just boil water or if I truly intend to cook. If I'm just going to boil water and rely on dehydrated "pouch meals" then this stove is significant overkill. If, however, I am carrying real food and intend to prepare more complicated entree's then this stove will certainly handle whatever I throw at it.
This concludes my report on the Primus AB cooking system. I would like to thank Primus for providing me this excellent product to test, and to thank backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to do so.
Read more reviews of Primus gear
Read more gear reviews by Tim Tessier