Primus have brought out a number of new gas stoves for spring/summer 2017. We've taken a look at two models from opposite ends of the range, the compact MicronTrail - a good option for weight conscious climbers and backpackers - and the heavyweight but powerful PrimeTech set, which comes into its own more for car camping or basecamp use.
With folding pan supports, this canister-top burner is a reasonably compact model aimed at backpackers looking to control their pack weight and size. It is best used by one or at most two people. It comes in three options at different prices (and slightly different weights):
Weight and packed size
Primus sent us the full piezo-plus-regulator-valve version for this review. On my kitchen scales I make this 85g, which is fractionally less than the official figure. By the standards of modern mini canister-top burners this may not be the last word in lightness, but with the inbuilt ignition, regulator valve, a wide burner that gives a good well-spread flame, and wide pan supports that take a pretty big pan, you're getting a fair amount of stove for well under 100g. No complaints on the weight, then.
The pan supports do not fold down quite as neat and flush with the body as on some similar stoves. This makes for a larger and slightly ungainly-shaped stove when it's all folded away, and as a result I've been a little worried about damaging protruding bits when packing. The stuff sack supplied with the stove does offer a measure of protection though; and if you stash it in your pan then there's no problem.
In a kitchen trial, out of the wind and with a fresh gas canister, the MicronTrail brought 0.5 litre of cold tap water in a plain pot with a lid to a rolling boil in 3 minutes 25 seconds. For a mini canister-top burner that seems a respectable time.
Though I've not timed it in real life use, out in the hills its performance is still strong. With its 2600w output and its wide burner that gives a nice even flame and helps spread the heat across the bottom of your pot, it boils water plenty quick enough, and with a good healthy roar. For simmering or gentle frying the heat level is easily controlled too. And thanks to the regulator valve, the output doesn't tend to tail off in that disappointing wheezy way that you usually get as the canister empties. Since this is a mini stove there's no attempt at wind shielding though, so in breezy conditions you have to add a foil wind guard to your kit list if you want to get anywhere close to the ideal world boiling time.
In my experience an inbuilt piezo ignition is something of a mixed blessing on a stove. It's nice to have if, like me, you're occasionally prone to forgetting little essentials such as lighters and matches... but I've rarely found them 100% reliable. Typical of my luck with inbuilt ignition, I struggle to get the MicronTrail's to work. While it sparks fine, I usually have to try 10 or 20 times before that spark ignites the gas. As a result, I've had to make double sure to remember a separate lighter, plus a spare backup lighter. With two external flame sources about my person, that piezo looks a bit redundant. But regarding the ignition, it's worth noting that my test stove was a sample model, and that the official version may be more reliable. All Primus stoves are tested in production.
It may be only a wee canister-top burner, but the pan supports are wide enough to securely support even quite a large pot. This is clearly a bonus, both for safety and in terms of general convenience if there's more than one of you, or if you only have a large pan to hand.
Canister-top gas stoves are a good option for simplicity and lightness, and while the MicronTrail is not the last word in compactness you are getting a fair amount of power for its very reasonable weight. If you can afford it, go for the all-inclusive model with its excellent output regulator valve; but don't 100% rely on that piezo ignition.
The new Primus Micron Trail is a powerhouse yet so small and lightweight it fits easily into your pocket.
For more info see primus.eu
The PrimeTech stove is rather a different kettle of fish, arguably better for group use, a basecamp or even car camping than something you'll want to carry with you when lightweight backpacking or mountaineering. This very large remote canister stove places the burner at ground level inside an integrated windshield, to give you a very stable and weatherproof cooker that stacks inside a pair of pots. Two sizes are available: 1.3 litres (£115) and 2.3 litres (£130)
At first glance this may look pricey for a gas stove, but as the PrimeTech comes with pans and one or two extras, it's basically a full cooking set in one ...and yes, it weighs accordingly. You're getting:
Weight and packed size
For this review we went for the smaller 1.3 litre size, but even so the PrimeTech Stove is neither a compact nor a lightweight option. I make the weights as follows:
For the purposes of this review I carried the lot on a two-night backpacking trip around the Mamores, and I have to admit that with the addition of a 230g gas canister the weight and bulk did get a bit tiresome. Obviously the MicronTrail would have been a far more apt choice in that context. The PrimeTech is best saved for times when you can split the load between two or more people. It'd be good in a base camp for instance, if you were off climbing something big. Meanwhile closer to home, for car camping the weight is clearly no issue, and its large size and stability make it ideal in a busy campsite.
For transport the various parts all stack into each other. On my sample model the fuel line prevents the stove nesting really neatly inside the pans; but this has now been sorted, and in the official production version Primus have added a cutout in the windshield through which the valve can be passed in order to get a good snug fit. On the underside of the burner body, a locator clip holds the fuel line in place for storage.
In the windless kitchen time trials the PrimeTech Stove does very well. With 0.5 litre cold tap water, these were the times:
Being so low to the ground and well protected from the wind, the performance of the PrimeTech Stove is excellent in the breezy great outdoors. The heat exchanger pot is particularly impressive, giving a very fast boil time that really helps save fuel. Consumption is about half that of a standard gas canister stove, according to Primus, and while I've no way to test their claim I can certainly say with confidence that in terms of gas stoves the PrimeTech offers the sort of power and efficiency I'd only seen previously in a JetBoil-style compact stove system. Its efficiency means that you can carry less fuel for a given period, which I guess at least in part compensates for the stove's weight. Spending around 24 hours at high level recently, melting snow for all my water, the fuel efficiency was particularly appreciated.
In contrast to your typical compact stove system, where output is either full-on or fully off, actually cooking on the PrimeTech Stove is a more relaxed experience, since the flame can easily be fine-tuned down to a light simmer for times when you don't want to simply boil the living daylights out of something. The wide burner offers a good spread across the base of your pan, while the pan supports can be folded upwards to accommodate a very wide-based frying pan or mass catering cooking pot. The strainer lid is excellent, saving you from the risk of spilling your pasta into the mud when you drain it; and the pan handle and separate piezo lighter (which works) do what they say on the tin. Oh, and the insulated carry case? It's for keeping your noodles/dehydrated meals etc warm while they rehydrate.
Powerful, efficient and very stable in use, the PrimeTech Stove is a great set for groups, car camping and family holidays. It may be way too big and heavy for minimalist backpackers or alpinists, but as a practical stove for camp cusine (and on a fairly large scale too, if you opt for the 2.3 litre version) it's a winner.
Super efficient cooking system for performance-orientated trekkers. Next step up from the Essential Stove Set.
For more info see primus.eu
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