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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Primus EtaExpress > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Primus Logo
logo courtesy of http://www.primus.se


Primus EtaExpress Stove

Test Series by Ryan Christensen

Last Update - September 11, 2008

EtaExpress
image courtesy of http://www.primus.se

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
May 1, 2007
FIELD REPORT
July 7, 2008
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 11, 2008

INITIAL REPORT
May 1, 2008

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 235 lb (102 kg)
Email address: bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA
I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago and began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. For several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round. We vary our experience: desert, forest, meadow, and mountain; spring, summer, fall, and winter; sunshine, rain, wind, or snow. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Primus website and product card.

EtaExpress Stove

Manufacturer:

Primus AB Sweden

Manufacturer website:

http://www.primus.se/

Place of Manufacture:

Estonia

Year Manufactured:

2008

Materials:
Stove
Pot
Lid/Fry Pan
Interior Coating
Windscreen

Stainless Steel / Plastic
Hard Anodized Aluminum
Hard Anodized Aluminum
3-layer Titanium non-stick
Hard Anodized Aluminum

Warranty:

No Warranty Information Available
Recommended Usage:

Summer - above 5 C (41 F)

MSRP:

Not Available

Product Specifications

Manufacturer' Specifications


Listed Weight:

14.7 oz (418 g)

Actual Measurements


Weight:

Complete Cook System
Stove (with tag)
Pot
Lid/Fry Pan
Windscreen
Stove Bag
Mesh Storage Bag
Storage Cloth


16.1 oz (456 g)
3.6 oz (102 g)
7.7 oz (218 g)
2.5 oz (71 g)
1.2 oz (34 g)
0.3 oz (9 g)
0.4 oz (11 g)
0.4 oz (11 g)

Dimensions:

Pot - Inside Diameter
Pot - Height
Lid/Fry Pan - Diameter
Lid/Fry Pan - Height


4 3/8 in (11 cm)
4 3/8 in (11 cm) excl. heat exchanger
4 3/8 in (11 cm)
1 1/8 in (3 cm)

Product Description:

The EtaExpress is one of the new additions to the Eta line of stoves by Primus. Like the other stoves in this line, the EtaExpress is a complete cooking system; however the EtaExpress is sized for one to two people. This cooking system includes a compact, lightweight, auto-ignition (Piezoelectric) stove; a 1.0 L (34 oz) hard anodized aluminum pot (with pour spout); a hard anodized aluminum lid which doubles as a frying pan, a hard-anodized windscreen; a foam-like cloth to protect the inside of the pot; a cloth-like storage bag for the stove itself, and a mesh storage bag for the complete system. The complete system, along with a 230 g (8 oz) fuel canister, may be nested together.

As Received Stove Pot
Lid/Fry Pan Windscreen

The stove is primarily made from stainless steel. However, there is some plastic near the mixing chamber. The valve knob is also plastic. The stove has three, adjustable, pot supports with serrations to help keep pots in place while cooking. There is a small lever on the backside of the stove which operates the Piezoelectric ignition. The burner is full of small openings. The igniter, which is white in color, extends approximately 1/8 in (0.32 cm) above the burner. There are two "wings" from the female adapter. I assume these are to aid in securing the stove to a canister.

The pot has the Primus logo and the name of the stove painted on one side. The windscreen has Primus and EtaExpress painted on its outer side. The lid/fry pan has Primus stamped on the bottom exterior. Both the pot and the lid/fry pan have what Primus calls a triple layer Titanium non-stick coating on their interior. The pot and lid/fry pan have adjustable handles which are coated in a plastic-like material for insulation.

>Primus advertises the EtaExpress as a fast cooking, low fuel consuming, lightweight, eco-friendly stove. Primus touts a 2.5-minute boil time for the EtaExpress, which is fast. The windscreen, the built-in heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot, and an efficiency rating greater than 75% must contribute to this fast boil time. Although Primus does not state what volume can be boiled in 2.5 minutes, I assume it to be one liter (34 oz). Test will prove whether or not my assumption is correct. To achieve the best fuel economy, Primus recommends turning the valve approximately 3/4 open.

The system comes with eight pages of instructions. The instructions are written in English, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Danish - in that order. The instructions cover safety, assembly, operations, changing cartridges, routine maintenance and several warnings. The warnings include a notice that this stove produces Carbon Monoxide, and should not be used in an enclosed space. There are also warnings about using the stove away from combustibles, avoiding obstruction of combustion and ventilation, ensuring flame is steady and shooting upward, and a final warning against storing the stove attached to a fuel canister.

Initial Impression:

I have not owned an all-in-one cooking system, so I was impressed with the compactness and nest-ability of the EtaExpress. The minimal weight also impressed me. Upon removing it from the storage bag, I was impressed with the size and design of the handles on the pot and lid/fry pan. I was also pleased that the pot and lid/fry pan have a non-stick coating. However, I was a bit disappointed in the diameter of the lid/fry pan. As small as it is, I will be able to fry an egg in it, but will probably not use it for much more.

After removing the items, and briefly looking them over, I began to read the information on the box and in the instructions. Even when I submitted my application, I was a bit concerned at the suggested use: summer, above 5 C (41 F). In Idaho, even in July and August, late evening and early morning temperatures are often below that recommendation. It will be interesting to see how well the stove performs at temperatures below 5 C (41 F).

The materials appear to be first class. The workmanship appears to be high quality. The advertised boil times are enticing. I can hardly wait to get the EtaExpress out in the field to put it to the test.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing consisted of a thorough examination. I intended to light the stove as part of my initial testing. Primus states that the EtaExpress "shall be used exclusively with Primus Propane/Butane/Isobutane mix cartridges 2206, 2202, and 2207." I have been unable to find Primus fuel in Idaho Falls. Consequently, I will be using other brands until I can locate actual Primus fuel.

Primus' key marketing points for the EtaExpress are:

  • Very Fast Boiling Times - I plan to test this at home, and at elevation
  • Low Fuel Consumption - I plan to see just how much cooking I can get from a single fuel canister

My goal during this test is to see how well the EtaExpress performs in various weather conditions and at various elevations, with various brands of fuel. I am anxious to test the windproofness of the windscreen; the dependability of the auto-ignition; and overall performance of the EtaExpress

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FIELD REPORT
July 7, 2008

Summary:

Life conspired against me and I was only able to take the EtaExpress stove on two overnighters during the Field-Test Phase. Although I only boiled water, I was very pleased with the performance of the EtaExpress.

Likes Thus Far:

  • lightweight
  • compact
  • easy lighting
  • fast boil time

Dislikes Thus Far:

  • None at this time

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In early May, I took the stove with me on an overnight outing near Idaho Falls, Idaho. The elevation is approximately 4,700 ft (1,433 m) above sea level. The temperatures ranged from the mid 30s to mid 60s (1 - 19 C). Winds were calm.

In late June, I took the stove with me on an overnight outing at the base of the Teton Mountains approximately 10 mi (16 km) east of Driggs, Idaho. The elevation is approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m). The temperature ranged from 28 F to 72 F (-2 to 22 C) and although the skies were clear, there were 3 in (8 cm) of snow on the ground. Winds were calm.

Observations:

I am very pleased with the light weight and compactness of this stove. The nesting of the pot, stove, wind screen, fuel canister and lid is very nice. It takes up very little space in my pack. I also like the handles on the lid and the pot.

I am unable to purchase Primus fuel locally. However, the EtaExpress worked well with another brand of fuel. At home, I did a pre-trip fit-up of the stove to the fuel canister. I had no problem connecting the stove to the fuel canister. Once connected, the stove lit on the first attempt.

In the field, I was extremely impressed with the boil times. Although I did not have a watch (mine is currently broken) I believe the EtaExpress boiled water faster than any stove I own. I look forward to actually timing the boil time on my next few outings to see just how quickly the EtaExpress does its job. I also plan to measure fuel consumption (based on starting and ending weights of the fuel canister) on future outings.

The volume of the pot was more than adequate for my individual needs. With the quick boiling times, I can see using this stove and pot even for small groups (two - four).

I did not notice a stability problem with this cooking system. But, I did find relatively flat areas on which to set up. Not sure whether a strong wind would cause problems. I will note any such problems when I encounter wind.

As I only boiled water for noodles and hot chocolate, I did not use the fry pan/lid. Quite honestly, because of its size, the only use I see for me is to possibly fry an egg. We'll see how that goes on another outing. Additionally, I did not need to use the windscreen. However, I fully expect to get that opportunity on upcoming outings and will report on how well it blocks the wind.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
September 11, 2008

Summary:

The EtaExpress has performed well for the most part during this test. Therefore, there are several things I really like about this stove. However, I have one major concern.

Likes:

  • compact
  • lightweight
  • easy to use
    [my 13yr old son can easily use it]
  • fast boil time
  • works well with larger pots

Dislikes:

  • reliability of piezoelectric ignition

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

During the Long-Term phase of this test, we used the stove on an overnight backpacking trip to Aldous and Hancock Lakes. These lakes are in the Centennial Mountains north of Kilgore, approximately 100 miles (161 km) north of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The trail to Aldous and Hancock Lakes is part of the Continental Divide Trail. There is a 920 ft (280 m) elevation gain to Aldous Lake, which is at an elevation of 7,340 ft (2,237 m). I also used the stove on three outings near Idaho Falls, Idaho at an elevation of approximately 4,700 ft (1,433 m).

Observations:

The stove performed well on the trip to Aldous Lake and the outings near Idaho Falls. This stove is lightweight and packs easily. The torch-like flame is efficient and quickly does its job of heating whatever is atop the stove. Equally impressive is how quickly the stove, pot, and lid/frypan cool off after use. The non-stick coating in the pot cleans easily. Although I have only boiled water in it, I easily wipe out the residue left behind. This, along with how quickly the pot cools makes for speedy cleanup.

On the trip to Aldous Lake, the stove did an excellent job supporting a larger anodized aluminum pot which I used to specifically test the overall stability of the pot supports and stove. Cooking on slightly uneven, hard-packed dirt, I was pleased with the stability of this stove.

At Aldous Lake, there was no wind at dinner time and it took only one strike to light the stove. The stove was used to warm-up a pre-cooked sirloin-tip noodle meal for dinner. With the lid on, it took about two minutes or so to warm the meat and noodles through. It was easy to adjust the flame to a simmer so that nothing burned. At breakfast, there was a very slight wind and it took three strikes to ignite the flame. With the stove's valve wide open, it took about 2 minutes to bring 3 cups (0.7 L) of lake water to a rolling boil.

On the outings near Idaho Falls, I boiled water for noodles and a dehydrated meal. Each time it took slightly more than 2.5 minutes to bring 34 oz (1 L) of water to boil. Unfortunately, my timing was not exact.

In an attempt to collect empirical data, I conducted a semi-controlled experiment. I say semi controlled because I was unable to control the wind and the number of times it extinguished the flame during each test; I had no way of verifying that the valve was opened the exact same amount for each test; and I was also unable to measure the temperature of the water [our thermometer was broken]. Nevertheless, I did my best to test the boil time for 32 oz (0.95 L) of water straight from my garden hose and the corresponding fuel consumption using five different brands of fuel. Primus Power Gas is a Propane / Isobutane / Butane mix whereas the other four are Isobutane / Butane blends. My results are shown in the following table:

COMPARISON OF TEST FUELS
@ 4,700 ft (1,433 m) / 5 - 10 mph winds (8 - 16 km/h) / Temp 69 F (21 C)

BRAND
MIXTURE
BOIL TIME
CONSUMPTION
Primus Power Gas
Propane / Isobutane / Butane
2 min 45 sec
0.5 oz (14 g)
Brunton Bruntane

Isobutane / Propane

2 min 45 sec

0.4 oz (11 g)

JetBoil Jetpower

Isobutane / Propane

2 min 45 sec

0.4 (11 g)

MSR IsoPro

Isobutane / Propane

2 min 45 sec

0.4 oz (11 g)

Snowpeak Giga Power

Isobutane / Propane

2 min 45 sec

0.3 oz (9 g)

For each of the five fuel tests, I opened the stove's fuel valve approximately 3/4 so that I could see the progress, I did not cover the pot with its lid. As shown in the table above, the time to bring 32 oz (0.95 L) of water to a rolling boil was identical regardless of the fuel used. Although these boil times vary slightly from the 2.5 minutes advertised by Primus, I believe with the lid in place, my boil times would be similar to what Primus claims.

Also shown in the table above is the fuel consumption. Note that it varied slightly for a couple of the fuels. I determined fuel consumption by weighing each canister before and after the testing. I used the scale at my local post office for this.

While testing the five fuels, I was disappointed in the windscreen's ability to block what I would call calm winds from the SW at 5 - 10 mph (8 - 16 km/h). During each of the five tests, the wind blew out the flame more than once even though the windscreen was facing directly into the wind. Based on this experience, I believe to successfully use this stove in higher winds one would need to place it behind a large rock, tree, or other windscreen. This is not unlike other stoves, but I expected the EtaExpress windscreen would do a better job of blocking the wind.

The performance of the piezoelectric ignition was the biggest disappointment I experienced while testing boil times with this stove. Not once did the igniter light the fuel on the first strike. Granted there was wind, but I placed a cardboard box on the windward-side to provide additional shelter while trying to light the stove. Even with the cardboard windbreak, it took as many as 15 strikes to light. This was particularly disappointing for two reasons. First, during the Field Test, and on other trips without wind, the igniter worked very well. I only needed a few strikes to light the flame. And, the winds during this particular test were only 5 - 10 mph (8 - 16 kmh). The second reason this was so disappointing was because I had only used the stove about six times prior to conducting the boil-time test. Consequently, I decided then and there that I would not take this particular stove into the backcountry without matches or butane lighter as backup.

I have not had the opportunity to test this stove at high elevation or in rainy or snowy weather. Therefore, I can not comment on how well this stove performs in such circumstances. All in all, I like the EtaExpress stove.

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This concludes my test series.
Thanks to Primus and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test.




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