Primus Eta Lite
Test Series by Amanda Tikkanen
August 11, 2014
amanda at uberpest dot com
Southwest Ohio, USA
5' 4" (1.63 m)
159 lb (72.10 kg)
I have been hiking and backpacking since 2000. Always with a dog by my side, my current trail companions Ranger and Halo (both Louisiana Catahoulas) are helping me cover ground in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. I've previously tramped around the upper Midwest, mostly in Michigan and Indiana.
My base pack weight runs around 16 lbs (7.3 kg). I try to carry as little weight as possible without sacrificing comfort. My trips are typically 10-15 miles (16-24 km) per day, and range from day hikes to week-long treks. Lately I've been doing mostly day hikes, squeezing in longer trips as possible.
|Primus Eta Lite
Product Information and Specifications
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://primuscamping.com/
Listed Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
Measured Weight: 15.0 oz (425 g)
Advertised dimensions: 6 in x 4 in (15 cm x 10 cm)
Meausred dimensions: 5.5 in x 3.5 in (14 cm x 9 cm) when nested for travel, not including handle.
Measured weights of individual components:
Lid: 1.65 oz (47 g)
Tripod: 0.85 oz (24 g)
Stove burner: 5.35 oz (152 g)
Pot: 4.95 oz (140 g)
Cozy: 2.1 oz (60 g)
Cord: 0.15 oz (5 g)
Optional coffee press: 1.75 oz (150 g) (not included in total weight above)
The Primus Eta Lite is an all-in-one solo cooking system that is built around a heat exchanger. It consists of a burner with optional pot supports, a pot with a heat exchanger, plastic lid, and cozy, a plastic tripod for stability on surfaces, and a cord to hang the cook system when there is no stable surface to use. Also available, but not included with the cook set, is a coffee press. The coffee press was not included in the test by the manufacturer. I purchased this as I love a good cup of coffee on the trail.
The burner itself is triangular shaped. The top has a circular center with a piezo ignition wire and three holes around the edge. These holes accept small metal pegs to support flat bottomed pots. The bottom of the burner attaches to a propane-butane fuel canister and houses both the piezo ignition button and the output adjustment knob. A note with the cook system states the burner was tested by the manufacturer to ensure it would light and burn correctly.
|Note the minor imperfections from manufacturer quality tests|
The pot is made of anodized aluminum. It holds 24 oz (0.7 L). The safety line for boiling is marked at 16.9 oz (0.5 L). The bottom of the pot has a heat exchanger and a triangular hole to couple with the burner.
The plastic lid fits securely in the top of the pot. It's clear to monitor cooking and has three holes to vent steam while cooking and to drain water from food when cooking is done.
The cozy around the pot is made of a material that feels like felt and secures with a hook and loop fastener. It has a webbing handle that, when clipped vertically along the side of the pot, works like a mug handle. It can loop over the top of the pot to allow it to be suspended from an overhead branch or pole. The handle has an attachment point for three pot support pegs. The e-shaped hook on the handle is made of metal.
|The pot support pegs are stored in the handle.|
The plastic tripod snaps onto the bottom of 3.5 oz (100 g) or 8 oz (230 g) stove canisters to assist with stability.
|The pot support pegs allow the stove to be used with flat bottom pots. |
The plastic tripod aids stability.
The optional coffee press is a standard French press. It has a rubbery lid that fits snugly on the top of the pot with the handle for the plunger passing through the middle.
Trying It Out
The Eta Lite assembles and disassembles quickly and easily. The triangular stove head twists into the bottom of the pot smoothly. The lid fits snugly.
The advertised boil time for 16.9 oz (0.5 L) is 2 minutes 45 seconds. Using filtered tap water at room temperature I was able to bring water to a boil in 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Steam appeared at 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
One of the flaws I noticed in my boiling water test is that once the water is boiling it splashes through the lid in a spray that burned my hands as I held the cook system to turn off the burner. For me this is a safety issue, not an annoyance.
Another thing I immediately noticed was that when the handle is clipped over the lid in order to suspend the cooking system, the lid cannot be removed. This is probably fine if I'm only heating water, but if I want to stir the contents of the pot while cooking I can only do so if the lid is off, which both reduces heating efficiency as well as leaves the potential for foreign objects to fall into the pot.
Another issue with the handle is the three metal pot supports stored on the handle. The idea of them is great: I can install these on the burner and use it with my other pots. The problem I noticed in my test at home is that the metal on the handle strap becomes extremely hot very quickly. This includes the hook on the strap as well as the pegs and the metal used to secure them to the webbing handle. I bumped the hot pegs with my hand and while I didn't get a burn, it was definitely not something I wish to repeat. While testing I'm going to try to adjust things to prevent this from happening again.
While trying to light the stove I discovered two things:
The stove has a tag saying that it has been tested to ensure it will light. It doesn't. I had to try about a dozen times before I realized the gap for the piezo was way too big and wouldn't spark enough to light the fuel when using either Jetboil Jetpower or Snowpeak Gigapower fuel, so I had to use a lighter. Once I got the gap adjusted (I assume it got bumped in transit) it would light. I tried to light with a Primus fuel canister and had no problems. After I got the stove lit the flame wouldn't adjust and it felt as if the valve would not turn off all the way.
After boiling and letting the burner cool I went to twist off the lid and heard a hiss that sounded like a fuel leak. I confirmed the leak from the smell of fuel in the air. I tried this with three different brands of fuel--Primus, Snowpeak, and Jetboil. All three have the same fittings and all three had the fuel leak. I have noted this issue with the BackpackGearTest moderators and am waiting for further instructions on how to address this.
A note: I contacted Primus once I found out that I was selected for the test and they said any isobutane with a compatible connection should work, so I thought I'd use up my stack of canisters during testing. I currently have on hand canisters from Jetboil, Snowpeak, MSR, and Primus.
The Primus Eta Lite is a compact all-in-one soloist cooking system. It has what I feel are serious flaws that makes me concerned about its safety.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
- Options for use (surface or hanging).
- Heats water quickly.
- Fuel valve does not close, resulting in a fuel leak.
- Hot water splashes out while cooking.
- Metallic hardware on the handle gets extremely hot while water is boiling.
- Handle prevents removing the lid while hanging.
I thank Primus and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Primus Eta Lite cooking system.
Read more reviews of Primus gear
Read more gear reviews by Amanda Tikkanen