Friday, March 27, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Initial Impressions of the $6 Canister Stove

As a life-long car camper who is branching out into backpacking, I find myself fairly obsessively seeking interesting and inexpensive pieces of gear. I've spent a lot of time educating myself by poring over various outdoor-related subreddits and backpacking related websites. One of the things I had seen mentioned a number of times were the inexpensive "Pocket Rocket" clones. MSR and a number of other gear manufacturers offer a series of $30-80 gas stoves, some of them just a burner with legs, on up to systems like the JetBoils that have an integrated meal mug. For the most part though, the majority of these are just a burner and some legs that screw onto a gas fuel cannister. I was reluctant to drop $40 on a pocket rocket, or $60 on the upgraded "Micro Rocket"and even the primus stoves I saw for $30 seemed a bit more pricy than I wanted to go in for. At least, that is, when I already own the BioLite woodburning stove and knew there were sub-$10 knock-offs available.

So, roughly a month ago, I decided to go for it. Went on Amazon, and I found this stove for just over $6. I figured that if it didn't pan out, I wasn't out much money. Jumped on it and ordered. Shipped from China, so I'm actually somewhat surprised it arrived so fast. 5 days ahead of schedule even! I wasn't supposed to see this until April. Arrived today, the 27th.  So, of course, I had to go and test it out. Bought a canister of Coleman butane/propane mixture that cost almost as much as the stove itsself ($5) and set out to make myself a batch of hot cider. Filled up my Snow Peak Titanium Pot with some water, grabbed a couple old packets of hot cider and went out on the porch to try it out.

My initial impression of this stove is pretty positive. Turned the gas on and the built-in piezo igniter lit it up on the first push, the flame wooshing to life. I didn't take any particular care to shield it from the wind and it stayed lit the entire time. More extreme conditions might make me wish for some manner of wind shielding, but for $6, I'm not going to count that against the stove. the piezo igniter prong does stick right into the flame and heat up as you burn, glowing bright orange. I worry a little about that eventually burning away, but if I get THAT much use out of a stove that cost me less than a bag of mountain house, I don't think I can really complain. The water boiled faster than it would have in the BioLite and without the ten minutes spent beforehand, gathering and busting up firewood.

I intend to put this stove through its paces, but for what I paid, I'm already quite happy. This is definitely coming on the trail with me.

Edit: Forgot to include pictures of the stove! Banana for scale (Also for eating.)

In the box, next to fuel canister:

Box open:

Out of the box:

Out of the box, Upright:


With Snow Peak 900 Titanium Pot:

With Titanium Pot:

All packed up, with the BioLite for size comparison:

Want to get one? They're dirt cheap on amazon!

Update: I found one in the wild! See my update here!

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