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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Primus Eta Lite Stove > Test Report by Mike Curry

PRIMUS ETA LITE STOVE
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
LONG-TERM REPORT
January 27, 2015

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Curry
EMAIL: thefishguy hotmail com
AGE: 44
LOCATION: Aberdeen, WA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86.20 kg)

I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for over 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, and enjoy everything from casual hikes with my children to mountaineering and alpine rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Primus
IMAGE 1
Photo courtesy of manufacturer

Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://primuscamping.com/
MSRP: US $104.95
Listed Weight: None provided
Measured Weight: 13.9 oz. (395 g) for pot, stove, cozy and lid (not including cord or legs)

Component Weights:

Stove - 5.2 oz (150 g)
Pot - 5.1 oz (144 g)
Cozy - 2 oz (59 g)
Lid - 1.7 oz (47 g)
Legs - 0.9 oz (24 g)
Cord - 0.1 oz (4 g)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My initial impressions of the stove were mostly positive. The stove itself seems robustly constructed, mostly metal (with some plastic, such as the gas flow control knob and a surround of the base), and very compact.

What first caught my eye, however, was the pot. The pot is lightweight, appears well constructed, and the attached insulating cozy seems well designed, with an integrated handle, the handle includes a metal clip that holds three screws so that the stove can be used with other pots (the screws elevate the pot above the burner). I found this a bit ironic, since you'd only need the screws if you weren't using the pot (so why attach them to the pot?), but it can be removed without much trouble. The pot connects to the burner by twisting, and a spring loop (shaped like a rounded triangle to match the cutout in the bottom of the pot assembly) holds the pot securely to the burner.

IMAGE 2
Detail of pot/stove connection
The cozy seems a bit small (closing with a hook-and-loop closure around the pot), but this will allow for any stretching that may occur. The handle can be released at its bottom end, but can't be fully removed from the cozy. The lid has a vent and a red grippy rubber strap around it, and fits rather loosely in the pot. It took me a few minutes to realize that I could flip the lid over, and the rubber strap made it fit nicely in the pot to where it would stay put. The drawings and instructions all appear to show it with the lid the other way, but I'll experiment with stowing it in my pack that way if there are problems (but not using it that way . . . more on that in the "trying it out" section).

Fold-up tripod plastic legs are included to add to the fuel canister for additional stability, and a cord is included that can be used to suspend the stove.

Overall, the stove seems well made, but a bit on the heavy size compared to the more minimalist stoves I'm used to using. The piezo-electric igniter is of the "little metal wire above the burner" type and is easily bent. The good news about that is it can be easily adjusted; the bad news is it can be easily bent out of place.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

IMAGE 3
Included componets (lid upper center)
The instructions are given in multiple languages. The first page includes 8 photos that largely explain the operations and maintenance of the stove. The only one that didn't seem self-explanatory to me was the 7th, which (upon reading the narrative section) I discovered described maintenance, specifically cleaning the burner.

Basic operations are also explained in the narrative section, along with the standard safety stuff.

The only part that wasn't clear to me was the lid question, addressed in the previous section.

TRYING IT OUT

The first thing I tried, before even connecting it to a fuel canister, was connecting the pot to the burner. I've had friends with stoves of this style that have had great difficulty in mating or disconnecting their pots from their stoves. The hole in the base of the pot matches a wire surrounding the burner, and a simple twist locks them together securely. Releasing it was equally easy. I was impressed.

My next step was to check the piezo igniter. Pressing the button repeatedly, I always got a spark, but the spark varied in intensity from a bright blue arc, to a barely visible one. I've had lots of igniter problems with stoves of this type, so I'm anxious to see how this one performs.

After the initial messing around, I decided to try the stove out with some cold tap water. The stove fired up easily, and I was able to bring a half-liter (approx. 2 cups) of cold tap water a simmer in 2 minutes, 15 seconds, and a full, rolling boil in 2 minutes, 45 seconds. The lid, which had been loose, had expanded, and now fit the pot quite nicely . . . cooking with it inverted I'm sure would get it stuck.

After turning the stove off, I disconnected the pot, and noticed a small blue flame remaining. I blew it out and went to remove the canister, and noticed it still had a bit of fuel coming out of the burner. I'm hoping it's just the canister, but I will have to see.

In playing around with the stoves features (hanging cord, pot support screws, etc.), everything seemed to work as designed.

The pot easily stowed a 110 g (3.88 oz) fuel canister, and the stove.

SUMMARY

Overall, the Primus ETA Lite stove seems to be a well-designed and well-built unit. While small, it is more than adequate for my usual use. Two things I will be watching over the coming months are if the loose-fitting lid causes any problems, and if the igniter gives me any difficulties.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
Small diameter canister with legs
Testing to date has included 2 nights (4 days) in the Olympic Mountains of Washington state and 1 night (2 days) in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State near Mt. Rainier. Conditions varied from light rain to overcast, with temperatures ranging from overnight lows near freezing to highs around 55 F (13 C). Winds were light on all days, not exceeding 10 mph (16 kph).

CUSTOMER SERVICE

After completion of my initial report, it became evident that the valve originally provided was leaking fuel. Thankfully I discovered this while tinkering with the stove in the back yard, not out on a trip. The valve continued to leak fuel, and I was barely able to extinguish it by turning the control knob all the way off, then blowing out the flame.

I contacted customer service by telephone and explained the situation. The representative on the phone, after listening to my description of the problem said, "well, that's not very good. Let me get some basic information from you and we'll ship you out a new burner unit right away. Don't use the old one anymore." The representative asked for my name, shipping address, and phone number, and told me it would be shipped right away. I receive the replacement burner unit 5 business days later. I have to say I couldn't have asked for a more pleasant customer service experience.
IMAGE 2
Large diameter canister without legs


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

After resolving the initial problems by contacting the customer service department, I must say the stove had performed very well.

I have found the stove very easy to use so far. It boils water quickly and efficiently, even under damp and somewhat breezy conditions. The igniter has been reliable so far, though generally it takes 3-4 depressions for it to successfully ignite the burner. I generally ignite the burner without the pot attached, as it is a bit easier to tell when it's successfully lit. I've used both the supplied pot and a larger titanium pot (using the screw-in pot supports supplied), and have found it to work well both ways, though the supplied pot seems significantly more efficient in terms of boil times, and more stable (given that the pot is attached). The twist lock system for attaching the pot is easy to use, even in low light conditions.

One thing I have noted is that there seems to be more fuel leakage when attaching a fuel canister with this stove than other canister stoves I have used. That hasn't posed a problem, but I hear the fuel leakage whenever attaching or detaching the fuel.

IMAGE 3
Optional pot supports with larger pot
The support legs work well with both large and small diameter fuel canisters (both configurations can be seen in my photos). While I prefer to use the legs for stability with smaller canisters when possible, the larger diameter canisters seem quite stable without using the legs.

The pot insulator is wonderful. It effectively insulates me from burns, the integrated handle functions well, and can be flipped over to lock the lid in place (and keep everything tucked together in my pack). The lid expands to a perfect fit when heated, and overall the stove performs its duties admirably.

One thing I have noticed is that I've had to re-adjust the piezo-electric igniter twice as it got bent down at some point. While this hasn't been difficult or posed a problem, it does make me wonder how many times I can bend it back before it will break.

The only drawbacks I have found to the stove/pot combination so far are its cooking volume given its relative weight (the pot is fairly small given the overall weight of the stove-and-pot system). That said, as I ponder my winter stove options, I look forward to trying this for solo winter use. It is a reasonable size for me on solo trips, and may be a superior choice to other pot options I have in this size range for cold and inclement-weather use.

I have not had the opportunity to try the stove using the suspension cord, and have not cooked food in the pot (it has only been used for boiling water and hot beverages), but I look forward to trying both during long-term testing. I also haven't had the opportunity to see how the stove performs as it runs low on fuel, which I hope to assess during further testing.

SUMMARY

Overall, the Primus ETA Lite stove has proven to be a reliable, effective small stove after receiving a replacement for my initially defective unit. I have grown to like its versatility and features, though I still find it somewhat heavy given its pot size.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Long term testing has included an additional 3 nights of testing, two in Mt. Rainier National Park, and one in Olympic National Park. Temperatures ranged from 25 F (-4 C) to 45 F (7 C), with winds light and no precipitation.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Primus ETA Lite Stove has continued to perform well. I haven't encountered any problems with the stove. It has continued to function well for its intended purpose.

While I still haven't had the opportunity to cook with the pot suspended, I have had it run out of fuel while in use, and I didn't notice a significant difference in performance until within a minute or so of the canister running out (when it began to sputter somewhat).

I only attempted to cook in the pot once, which was less "cooking" than it was "mixing" (ramen noodles). I boiled water, added the noodles and seasoning, let it sit, and ate. This worked fine, and I found cleanup to be pretty easy.

SUMMARY

Overall, the Primus ETA Lite stove has performed well. The stove boils water quickly and efficiently, and seems robust in construction and well-designed, with some pretty cool features. It's greatest limiting factor for me has been its size . . . while it works fine for me for solo use, I have other options that are lighter, or larger without much added weight.

CONTINUED USE

I don't think the Primus ETA Lite stove will see a lot of use on my part in the future. In most cases, I would opt for a lighter stove/pot combo in the same size range, or one with greater pot volume as the same basic weight point. Where I could see myself using it is in those situations where I want a compact canister stove for foul weather or winter use (like winter camping with my kids, where overall volume of gear is more of an issue than weight or cooking volume, and I want the convenience of a canister stove). It's pretty compact compared to my other options, but that's its primary advantage for me.

I would like to thank Primus and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the ETA Lite stove. This concludes my report.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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