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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cook Sets > Past Primitive Deluxe Cook Kit > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

FIELD REPORT :3rd October, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT : 26th November, 2011

                                                                                     kit in container
                                                                                                                   kit in container
Personal Information
Name Ralph Ditton
Age 59
Gender Male
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 74 kg (163 lb)
Email rdassettsAToptusnetDOTcomDOTau
Location Perth, Western Australia. Australia

Backpacking Background
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail, Darling Scarp and Cape to Cape Track. I lead walks for my bushwalking club and they consist of day walks and overnighters. My pack weight for multi day trips including food and water, tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.

Product Information
Past Primitive
Manufacturer's URL
Year of Manufacturer
Listed Weight
340 g (12 oz)
Measured Weight
296 g (10.4 oz)

Kit Contents Measured Weight
Keyhole Classic Stove
16 g (0.56 oz)
Pot Stand
  6 g (0.2 oz)
Aluminium Pot & Lid 631 ml (21 fl oz)
64 g (2.25 oz)
Tough Windscreen
32 g (1.1 oz)
Holding Pad
2 g (0.07 oz)
Microbites Spork & Spatula
20 g (0.7 oz)
10 g (0.35 oz)
Fuel Bottle 236.5 ml (8 fl oz)
34 g (1.2 oz)
4 Cup Mixing Bowl 946 ml (32 fl  oz)
43 g (1.52 oz)
1 Cup Drinking Bowl
13 g (0.45 oz)
Coupling Ring
12 g (0.42 oz)
Aluminium Spondonical aka Billy Grips/Pot Grippers
38 g (1.34 oz)
6 g (0.2 oz)
 296 g (10.36 oz)

Expectations from the web page
There were no surprises when I opened up the package and laid out all of the components. The items were as depicted on the web site.

Product Description
As can be seen from the above table, there are lots of components to this kit. There are 14 components.

                                                                   kit spread out
                                                                                                                 kit spread out
Keyhole Classic Stove
The manufacturer list this stove as being 68 mm (2.7 in) in diameter, 32 mm (1.3 in ) high with the pot stand being 17 mm (0.7 in) tall. My measurements for the stove are 68 mm (2.7 in) x 32 mm (1.3 in) and 19 mm (0.75 in) tall.
The primer pan is attached to the base of the stove and it has a tiny lip to hold the fuel.
The stove is made out of two 355 ml (12 fl oz) soft drink aluminium cans cut down to the above dimensions. It appears that the base of both cans have been pushed together with one being inserted into the other.

In the center of the stove, there is a thumb screw called a fuel screw. By removing this screw, it allows me to fill the stove with fuel through this fuel port by using the syringe. It is just a matter of replacing the screw when I have sufficient fuel in the stove.

The stove holds 45 ml (1.5 fl oz) of fuel. The instructions scream in big red lettering "NEVER OVERFILL".
Around the shoulder of the stove there are 24 tiny jet ports where the flame burns in a circle.

                                                                  classic stove
                                                                                                        classic stove
Pot Stand
This appears to be a strip of galvanized iron with 12 holes punched in a line along the centre of the band. The holes alternate in size from 6 mm (0.2 in) to 4 mm (0.15 in). There is no explanation as to why this is so.

The Pot Stand is bent into a circular shape and the two ends overlap when being fitted into the ridge on top of the stove. The ridge holds the Pot Stand in place.
When in place, the diameter of the stand is 43 mm (1.7 in).

Tough Windscreen
This is a light gauge aluminium sheet with five 6 mm (0.2 in) holes punched out on the bottom of the screen to allow the burning stove to draw air to maintain its flame.
The Windscreen is 100 mm (3.9 in) high.

Holding Pad
This is a rectangular piece of closed cell foam measuring 180 mm x 90 mm (7 in x 3.5 in).
It is just large enough to fit into my hand to grip the aluminium pot that comes with the kit. Ideally, the height of the pad could be a little bit bigger by about 15 mm (0.6 in) as my top and bottom fingers are right on the edge of the pad.
Aluminium Pot and Lid
The pot is a piece of extruded aluminium milled with a thread to accept a lid. This pot has a volume of 631 ml (21 fl oz). The narrow base of 75 mm (3 in) makes it ideal to sit on top of the Pot Stand for stability.
It stands 150 mm (6 in) tall.

Fuel Bottle
The Fuel Bottle has a flip top spout to allow for easy pouring of fuel. It is opaque in colour and holds 236.5 ml (8 fl oz).
The cap screws onto the bottle.

This is a 10 ml (0.33 fl oz) tool with graduations marked on the side in 2 ml (0.06 fl oz) graduations.
It allows for accurate filling of the stove and takes away the guess work.
The nozzle fits neatly over the fuel port of the stove.

Microbites Spork and Spatula
These two tools interlock along the length of the handles. The Spork fits inside the handle of the Spatula.
There is a sharp serrated edge on the Spatula.
They are made out of reclaimable nylon 6/6.
The Spork has a nice deep bowl shape.

4 Cup Mixing Bowl
On the base of this Ziploc container there is stamped, "4 cup, 32 oz, 946 ml. Microwavable, Dishwasher Safe. Up one side are graduations of 250 ml, 500 ml and 750 ml. Opposite these are other measurements. 1 cup, 2 cup and 3 cup. The tapered container still goes above these graduations but still widens out so I guess there is room for the extra cup and take the volume to 1 litre.
The container is transparent and has a thread around the rim.

1 Cup Drinking Bowl
Hidden under the label there is stamped 1 cup, 8 fl oz and 236 ml. The cup is also Microwave and Dishwasher Safe.
This cup sits on top of the 4 Cup Mixing Bowl when stored away. It is locked into place by way of a Coupling Ring. The thread of the Coupling Ring screws onto the thread of the Mixing Bowl. The collar of the Coupling Ring sits inside the upturned lip of the Cup locking it into position.

Also known as Billy Grips/Pot Lifter.
This is just the standard tool available at camping stores. It is hinged just behind the front trailing edge of the bottom handle and in front of the flanged top handle. It does feel sloppy and loose at the hinged area. The notch formed in the jaws of the head is designed to fit over folded rims on billies, pots, bowls, pans and frying pans and grip them when I squeeze the handles together.This lets me hold the object  to stir food or lift off a stove. 

There are two holes in the top handle but I doubt that they would be of much use in preventing heat conduction along its length unlike other Spondonicals that I own.

Initial Impressions
I have had very limited experience of alcohol stoves but at first glance I was impressed and intrigued with the stove, especially the screw in the top. I had never seen that before.
My first action was to take everything out, spread them out to have a good look at them, read the instructions, and then I tried to repack it all back into the 4 Cup Mixing Bowl. It took me many trial and error attempts to fit it all back in and be able to screw down the Coupling Ring. I still don't think that I got it quite right but hey, I got the lid closed.

                                                            stove in action
                                                                                                          stove in action

The next step was
to fire the stove up to see how it performed. I used Methylated Spirits which is an Ethanol solution. Its common name is Metho.
For my first firing I only used 10 ml (0.3 fl oz) of Metho which was two syringes full. I attempted to heat up 600 ml (20.2 fl oz) of water in a bowl.
The water out of the tap had a temperature of 16 C (61 F). I lit the fuel in the priming pan with my Firesteel. After a short time the fuel in the stove caught alight and I was in business. As I only had a small amount of fuel to start with it lasted only 4 minutes. The water reached a temperature of 46 C (115 F) which was very warm.
My next attempt the following day I used 20 ml (0.67 fl oz) of Metho with the same volume of water. Again I lit the priming pan fuel with my Firesteel.
This time the fuel burnt for nine minutes. Bubbles started to appear after seven minutes then steam at nine minutes just as the fuel ran out. The water reached a temperature of 72 C (162 F) which was quite hot.

I did another test run some hours later using 30 ml (1 fl oz) of metho. After 5 minutes I got bubbles and steam. At the 11 minute mark I achieved a boil then the fuel ran out 15 seconds later.

                                                                                  using the windshield
                                                                                                using the windshield

Much later, using the supplied Aluminium Pot, I measured out 600 ml (20.2 fl oz) of water and 30 ml (1 fl oz) of metho. I started off without using the windshield. However, the wind blew the flame out after around three minutes. I had to reprime the pan and then relight the stove. It started immediately. I then placed the windshield around it.
This burn only lasted a total of around 10 minutes and the water did not reach a boil but got darn close.

Judging by my burn times at home I think that I will need to place around 35 ml (1.2 fl oz) of metho into the stove to achieve a rolling boil. All that I can put the shorter time for burning 30 ml (1 fl oz) of fuel is the wind prior to me installing the windshield after the flame blew out. Wind does tend to help with evaporation of metho. When we were children we put metho on our skin, then blew on it. This caused the metho to evaporate and make the skin very cold.
The priming pan in my opinion would be better served if it had a bigger lip. When trying to place fuel into it, the fuel spilt onto the ground and caught alight when I lit the pan.
The components of the kit appear to be well thought out so as to produce an integrated cook system.

Things I like
  • Neat looking stove
  • Windshield is stable and protects the flame
  • All components pack away into a small package
Things I dislike
  • Spondonical hinge feels sloppy and loose
  • Priming Pan not deep enough to prevent spilt fuel
Field Report
During this phase I spent two nights out camping in the Melaleuca Park north of Perth.
Although it is winter, temperatures have been unusually very mild. The minimum temperature was 5 C (41 F) ranging up to a maximum of 29 C (84 F).
Now into spring, I spent four days and three nights at Gelcoat Campsite in the Wellington Dam reserve. Daytime temperatures reached a maximum of 25 C (77 F) and a minimum of 3 C (37 F). Rain fell on the last day. Wind was approximately blowing at 6 km/h (3.7 mph) during the day.

The meals in the Melaleuca Park prepared over the course of the stay was two breakfasts, two lunches and two evening meals as I left after breakfast on the last day.
My evening meals were Babotjie and Beef Curry and Rice. Breakfast consisted of another packet labeled "Cooked Breakfast" which contained beef bacon and scrambled egg in hash brown potato mix, served with baked beans. They are freeze dried package meals that require to be re hydrated with boiling water.
At Gelcoat, I boiled water for a dehydrated meal, cups of tea and boiled eggs.

                                                                            cooking a meal
                                                                                                                         cooking a meal
Lunch was a bread roll with sausage washed down with tea. In fact, I had cups of tea with every meal but usually after I had eaten the breakfast and evening meal as I had to boil up the water whilst eating my meals. It was a time management thing to eat my food hot. I did not want it to cool down whilst waiting for the water to boil for my cup of tea.

                                                                            cup of tea
                                                                                                                         cup of tea

I took some measurements to indicate boil times and fuel required to boil water and then rehydrate the food whilst still on heat from the stove.
The fuel used for all of my cooking/boiling was methylated spirits.
Vol of fuel
Wind Speed
Vol of water
Boiling Time
30 ml (1 fl oz)
29 C (84 F)
2.2 - 6.1 km/h
(1.36 - 3.8 mph)
1 cup
11 mins
Windshield used.
34 ml (1.2 fl oz)
19 C (66 F)
3.1 - 7.3 km/h
(1.9 - 4.5 mph)
2 cups

Did not boil after 13 mins 18 sec. Fuel ran out. Lots of bubbles on bottom of pot. refueled the stove when cool enough.
Windshield used.
30 ml (1 fl oz)
19 C (66 F)
2 cups
2 min 47 sec
It took the 2 cups 16 mis 05 sec to boil on actual heat.Dry food was added to the boiled water and heated through on the flame for 9 mins. Fuel ran out after 11 mins 04 sec. Windshield not used because of wide pot.

I used the 1 cup drinking bowl for my cups of tea and the 4 cup mixing bowl to measure out the water to boil.
When drinking from the cup I found that the lip of the cup was very user friendly. The flanged edge rested nicely on my bottom lip and as it is away from the cup it was not hot to rest against  my lip whilst sipping.

When boiling water I used the pot stand sometimes with a windshield depending on the wind. On still occasions I did without it. To assist with a quicker boil I rested the lid on it upside down so that I could remove it easily with the spondonical.

                                                                            bolinig water
                                                                                                                          boiling water
The Holding Pad I found was just a tad short. My hands are not large but I had to be very careful as to how far my fingers spread ever so slightly. Invariably either my index or little finger got a touch up from the hot side of the pot as they overlapped the pad. In the end, I just used the spondonical to lift the pot off.

I carried the fuel in the bottle supplied along with a reserve as I was away for two days. To fill the stove, I used the supplied syringe and just for comparison I also used a syringe with a curved spout which was excellent for putting fuel into the priming pan. (See photo below. It is next to the bowl). It also worked well to inject fuel into the stove. Perhaps the manufacturer could swap the style of syringe. I did find that trying to place fuel in the priming pan with the supplied syringe was a tad awkward as the spout is extremely short and stubby. There appears to be an internal thread in the barrel. Perhaps this model syringe has an optional spout that can be screwed into it?

Both cutlery items were used. The spork for eating and the spatula was very good at spreading butter on bread rolls.
                                                                           buttering a bread roll
                                                                                                             buttering a bread roll
I did not do anything fancy at Gelcoat. It was basic stuff of just boiling water for tea to drink, a cup of soup and boiled some eggs for the day walks.
Boiling water using the supplied container and windshield was trouble free. I managed to boil the water with the 30 ml (1 fl oz) of metho.
When boiling the eggs using a different pot without a wind shield, I had to refill the stove as the water only just got to a boil with the first lot of 30 ml (1 fl oz) fuel. I like my boiled eggs hard so I added another 20 ml (0.67 fl oz) of metho. After that fuel ran out, I dutch ovened the rest of the time, i.e. let the eggs sit in the boiled water for a time.

                                                                          boiling eggs
                                                                                                                         boiling eggs
Cooking my dehydrated meal of Beef Curry and rice, I had a lengthy cook time of ten minutes cooking the meat (rehydrating) then a further five minutes for the rice. In all, I had to refill the stove twice. Luckily I brought a pair of gardening gloves along to handle the hot stove for the refills.

One problem that I ran into was the dropping level of metho in the bottle. The syringe would not reach into the fluid as the level had dropped too far. So I ended up pouring the metho into the cup that came with the set and I drew the metho by syringe from the cup.

                                                                          syringe in cup
                                                                                                                           syringe in cup

When priming the stove with the supplied syringe, the metho spills all  over the place because the end of the syringe is too big for the priming tray. It really needs a fine tapered end. What happened when I lit the fuel with my fire steel, the spilt fuel also caught fire and burned on top of the camp table leaving a distinctive ring.

                                                                          distinctive burnt ring
                                                                                                                    distinctive burnt ring

Likes & Dislikes
No changes from the Initial Report.


Overall the stove works well. It does the job of what it is designed for, namely boiling water. It uses a lot of fuel when trying to reconstitute a dehydrated meal from scratch. I do not have the luxury of presoaking my meals. It is more of a situation where I pour the contents into boiling water and heat through for at least then minutes to give a semblance of tenderness. Ideally, I would love to cook the meat for a longer period to achieve a much more tender dish so that I do not suffer from indigestion when laying down to sleep hours after eating the meal. This would entail the burning of a greater volume of fuel.

Long Term Report
This phase of the testing period only allowed for two nights and three days due to a combination of work commitments and fire bans.
I was back at the
Melaleuca Park north of Perth.
Temperatures of an evening ranged from a high of 16 C (61 F) to a low of 7 C (45 C). Daytime temperatures were in the low 20's C (70's F).
It is our spring time but fire bans came into affect about a month ago due to the dry conditions. This has been borne out by the loss of 39 homes to bushfire this week caused by an escaped prescribed burn by the relevant Government Department not too far from Perth.

I was not terribly inventive with my cooking. I just used the pot to boil water for my cups of tea and to rehydrate my evening meals.
For one breakfast I used the spatula to help turn over my eggs and tomato that I was cooking in a pan. I also used the serrated edge to separate the two egg whites that had merged together whilst cooking. It did the job admirably.
Consuming the breakfast I used the spork and spatula as a knife and fork set up.

The Drinking Bowl was my cup for tea.
I used the Mixing Bowl only to measure out the recommended volume of water that was required for my dehydrated "Freeze Dri Back Country Cuisine".
In the photo above showing "cup of tea" on the table is where I did my heating of water in this phase. I had to use the windshield as there was a gentle constant wind of approximately 3 knots.

The stove performed very well and I had no issues with it. The only slight criticism that I have is with the size of the priming pan and the supplied syringe. They really do not fit together very well as the pan is very narrow and the syringe nozzle is too big which causes spilled fuel. This fuel is then ignited when  I start up the stove. Fortunately it did not cause any damage to the weathered table.
I would encourage the manufacturer to use a syringe similar to the one pictured below as the long curved narrow spout allows easy access to the narrow priming pan.

When I returned home from my camping trip, I was cleaning up my gear the following day and I could not find the spatula. I searched all of the possible spots where it could be with my gear, but to no avail.
I came to the conclusion that I must have left it at the campsite although I did check that I had left nothing behind in the hut or on the tables.
Back I went. After hunting around the area I found it resting up against a small tree. I concluded that my friend who washed up, threw it out with the washing up water and did not notice it. I was very relieved to be reunited with the spatula which I like immensely as it is very functional.

All up it was a four hour round trip.

 Overall I am impressed with the stove and ancillary items. I have covered the main areas of concern in the Field Report, namely the Holding Pad being a bit small as my fingers got burnt. It needs to be longer and especially wider by at least 3 cm (1.2 in) and the redesign of the syringe or priming pan to prevent the spilling of fuel when priming the pan.
The components have stood up well to the use and the galvanized pot stand shows no sign of rusting.
The supplied fuel bottle was just barely adequate for three days and two nights of cooking. It did not allow for extra cups of tea during the day.
On my longer camping trip in the Field Report I used a bigger bottle.
The stove and utensils will be a part of my regular backpacking trips as I really enjoyed using them.

Thank you to Past Primitive and BackPackGearTest for allowing me to test this product.

Read more reviews of Past Primitive gear
Read more gear reviews by Ralph Ditton

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