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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > Primus ETA Power Stove > Test Report by Jason Boyle
Primus EtaPower EF Stove
Initial Report - June 23, 2007
Field Report - September 6, 2007
Long Term Report - October 23, 2007
Stated Boil Time: 2.5 m for 1 liter of water
MSRP: None listed on Manufacturers website
Country of Manufacture: Made in Estonia
The stove burner consists of two parts; the burner and a pot support ring. The burner slips into the middle of the pot support ring via folded metal tabs that hold the burner in place. The pot support ring has folding pot supports with serrated edges and a piezoelectric lighter.
The windscreen looks like a tall walled bowl that has a large hole cut in the middle. The center hole is designed to fit over the stove burner with the pot supports folded in then to be turned just slightly clockwise. This locks the windscreen in place over the burner. Then the pot supports can be folder out. The windscreen is about 8Ē (20 cm) in diameter at the opening and the pot is about 6 ľĒ (16 cm) in diameter at the bottom so there is a small gap between the windscreen and the pot. The windscreen is tall enough that it covers the heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot but not much more.
The pot is similar to any other pot except for the integrated heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot. I cannot tell exactly how the heat exchanger is attached to the pot. There are no apparent welds that I can see, or they are really cleaned up very well. I know from experience that thin aluminum is very hard to weld cleanly. The pot is completely smooth except for a rolled lip. There are no handles on the pot which is why Primus included a lightweight pot gripper that securely attaches to the lip of the pot. There is a Primus graphic on the side wall of the pot and on the opposite side of the graphic there are stamped measurement lines in .4 l (qt) increments starting with .2 l (qt) and ending at 1.8 l (qt) just below the lip of the pot. The frying pan/lid is made in the same fashion as the pot, smooth with no handles only a rolled lip. It slides securely over the pot the depth of the frying pan, 1 ľĒ (3.2 cm). The pot grippers are similar to other lightweight pot grippers except that they have two small rubber disks on the side that touches the inner pot so the gripper doesnít scratch the non stick surface. What attention to detail!
The insulated carrying case appears to be made of non-coated ripstop nylon inside and out. There is a YKK zipper that runs the circumference of the top of the case and a smaller zipper inside of top of the case that opens into a small top pocket. Both zippers have a small piece of bungee attached to a rubber pull tab. I am not sure what is between the inner and outer pieces of nylon but it feels like there is another material that may help with the insulating properties of the case. There is a large Primus EtaPower graphic on the very top of the case and a webbing carrying strap on the side.
I took the stove out for a trial run in the shop and found that the piezoelectric lighter's electrode was not close enough to the burner head to actually make a spark. I gently pushed the electrode closer to the burner head which immediately solved that problem. I used an old canister I had laying around to do some trials with the stove. The first time I lit the stove I was surprised by the 12Ē (30.5 cm) cone of flame that shot up. Wow! The stove immediately seemed to put out a lot of heat. Next, I filled the pot to the 1 l (qt) mark with tap water. I placed everything on the stove and restarted the stove and my stop watch to see how long it would take to boil the water. Ambient air temperature was 68 F (20 C). It took 4 minutes to bring the water to a rolling boil, but at 2 min and 30 seconds there were bubbles on the bottom of the pot and some were floating to the top of the pot. I did notice a change in the sound of the stove about a minute into the trial run. I think I was using a canister that had very little fuel in it and that might have contributed to the slower time. I will try the test again with a new canister to see if the time is closer to what Primus claims. Regardless I am pretty happy to boil a liter (qt) of water in 4 minutes. I normally only need to heat 2 cups of water at a time when I hike solo so heating water wonít be a problem for the stove.
I learned a couple of other things on this initial trial run that I want to point out. The first is that the stove is really loud. I had the radio playing in the shop and I had to crank it to eleven while the stove was going to hear it. The second lesson I learned was with the lid. As I said in the product description the lid is smooth with no handles. Water boils more quickly with a lid so it is natural to use it, but it took some thought about how to get it off. Most lids have handles that donít get hot while in use, but this lid with no handles does get hot and since the pot gripper goes over the lip of the lid it cannot be used to take the lid on and off. I ended up using a bandana which I normally take backpacking but with all the attention detail that they put into the rest of the set, I would have expected a connection point to allow me to use the pot gripper to put on and remove the lid.
The only real negative I see is the size and weight. I am not sure what parts of the system Primus used to determine their listed weight, but the weight of everything that they shipped is 260 g (9.2 oz) heavier than their listed weight. I could get away with carrying just the stove burner and the pot, but would lose the efficiency of the windscreen and lid. Also the entire size of the system is rather large, and takes up a lot of space in my smaller summer packs which range around 3000 cu in (49 L).
Field Report - September 6, 2007
I decided to test this theory during my peak bagging day trip to Silver Peak. I brought the Eta Power along and made a pot of Zataranís Black Beans and Rice on the rocky summit. The package calls for the ingredients to be brought to a boil and then simmered for 25 minutes. I brought the ingredients to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes and then placed them inside of the insulated case with the lid on the pot and zipped the case up. The case was left sitting in the sun and the outside temperature was in the 60ís F (18 C). I basked in the sun and enjoyed the views for 15-20 minutes before I checked on my lunch. The food was still hot and tasty but some of the beans and rice could have been softer. My hunger got the best of me and I ate the whole pot of mostly soft rice and beans. I probably could have simmered the beans and rice for another 3-5 minutes and it would have been perfect. Regardless it was still better than simmering for 25 minutes and using all the fuel that simmering would have required.
On my two Rainier trips, I continued my trend of cooking large meals for dinner. On the skills trip, I combined a package of Lipton Chicken and Rice, some dehydrated veggies, and a pouch of chicken. I was able to easily fit all the ingredients in the pot and this meal easily fed the two of us. Once the water was hot I put the veggies in to rehydrate and then added the rice and chicken to mix. I simmered everything for about five minutes, then poured in the chicken, stirred it up and placed it in the cozy. I waited 5 or so minutes and then dug in. The Lipton Rice cooks much faster than the Zatarans and was completely soft and the veggies had rehydrated perfectly. My hiking partner and I had no problems finishing off the food!
On my summit attempt, I was cooking for three. On the first night at Glacier Basin campground, I used the stove and a small Teflon frying pan to cook quesadillas. I was able to keep the pan hot but not over heated with the flame control knob that is attached to the canister. For dinner on the second night at Camp Schurman, I cooked a hodgepodge of food. I started the cooking with some real pasta that required cooking. I also added in the dehydrated veggies at this time. Once the pasta started to get soft I added some mashed potato flakes and a pouch of chicken. All of the ingredients had the pot full to the brim. After stirring the potatoes in I pulled the pot of the heat and let it sit in the cozy for a few minutes to thicken up. The result was a very filling meal that provided good energy for the climb!
In addition to all the cooking at Camp Schurman, I used the stove to melt snow for water. I was very impressed at how well the stove accomplished this task. The stove was able to melt snow almost as quickly as the white gas stove we were also using to melt snow. My only concern is that I felt that I used a lot of fuel to melt the snow. I was able to cook two dinners, a breakfast, and melt 4 pots of snow on a large 220 g (7.8 oz) canister. The canister didnít go as far as I had wanted but I felt that it did pretty well.
I am very happy with the ease of use of the stove and with how well everything fits into the pot. In addition to the items include from Primus, I can store my eating utensils and smaller cooking utensils in the pot. The carrying case helps keep the stove from rattling and making lots of noise in my pack while hiking. The wide base of the stove keeps it stable on uneven ground and the wind screen seems to do a good job blocking wind. However, with the wind blowing on Rainier I made sure to get as close as possible to the rock wall for protection.
I was very pleased with the fuel efficiency of the set up. We carried five 220 g (7.8 oz) canisters on the trip but only had to use three and I only completely emptied one of the canisters. That is pretty good considering in addition to cooking breakfast and dinner each night, we also made pots of water for cleaning dishes as well as hot chocolate and tea. As the fuel canister empties, there is a noticeable time increase in the amount of time it takes to boil water. One of the ways I combated this was to tilt the canister on its side. This allowed some of the fuel to drain out as a liquid and since there is a preheat loop over the burner the fuel was atomized and burned. I canít quantify how much hotter or quicker it made the stove, but I was able to hear an increase in the sound of the stove. It sounded like it did when the canister was fuller.
Clean up of the system was a breeze too. The youth on my trip had never been outdoors before but they embraced the skills we taught them and even did the dishes most nights. Usually this just required a little scraping with a plastic spoon or finger to eat any leftovers, a quick rinse with some water that was then drunk by the person cleaning the pot and then the pots were sterilized with boiling water. Not that I tried, but I did not burn anything to the bottom of the pot. My guess is that the non stick works pretty well, because I have burned a few meals in my time. I have also not noticed any durability issues with the pots. No dents or scrapes, they still look new even after having teenagers use them.
One new issue arose this time that I had not experienced before Ė the frying pan/lid smothers the flame if used with the wind screen. On Rainier, I used my partnerís smaller frying pan for quesadillas. This time I used the Primus frying pan/lid and was very surprised when the stove went out on me. I was completely caught off guard so I relit the stove and put the pan on and it went out again. I believe the issue is that the pan sits too closely to the windscreen cutting off air to the burner. Once I removed the windscreen the stove worked fine with the frying pan. Upon further review of the instructions that came with the stove, they say not to use the frying pan with the windscreen. Go figure. Guess it pays to read all the directions!
I have continued to have some issues with the piezo lighter. The issue stems from the clips that hold the stove to the pot support ring. The clips donít hold the stove very tightly so it allows the stove to shift. Sometimes the piezo will end up being too close to the preheat tube on the stove and spark there instead of on the burner head. Sometimes the piezo gets moved too far from the burner head and wonít spark. I have gotten to where I check it every time, but I would like to just put my pot of water on the stove, hit the lighter and have it work properly.
Though it doesnít bother me, I have not been able to replicate the boil times stated by Primus. I did another ďcontrolĒ test in my garage to see how long it took to boil one liter/quart of water. The temperature was a cool 48 F (9 C) and the water I used was tap water from inside the house. The stove, pots, and canister were all sitting in my garage at the same temperature. I used a brand new Primus canister for my fuel. At two minutes and thirty seconds there were bubbles on the bottom of the pot, but they were not coming to the surface. They didnít start breaking the surface vigorously until four minutes and forty five seconds. Like I said it doesnít bother me because I am not sitting around waiting for my water to boil. I did an even better real world test at Snow Lake. It was 38 F (3 C) and there was a slight breeze coming off of the lake. I used cold water from the inlet stream to the lake and filled the pot with about a liter/quart of water. It took 12 minutes for the water to come to a boil. Like I said I donít sit and watch my stove. While it was heating, I packed up my gear, took down my tent and started getting my pack ready to go. When it was ready, I was able to sit down and enjoy my coffee and oatmeal watching the sun rise over the lake.
I have found that I donít use the included pot holder as much as I thought I would. I find that the included Primus fabric square is more useful. I use it to remove the lid from the pot and as a place to lay utensils. It is thicker than a normal cotton bandana and has protected my hands from the hot lid. I do use the pot grips to move the pot from the stove to the cozy. The cozy has worked well. I was initially concerned with the pot burning the cozy but I have moved the stove directly to the cozy numerous times with no ill effects. The cozy is dirty but otherwise looks new.
This ends my Long Term Report. Thanks to Primus and Backpackgeartest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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