REVIEW: Primus PrimeTech and MicronTrail Stoves

£115 or £130, added Apr/2017, see all Primus news & reviews
Reviewed by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
This review has been read 5,816 times

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.

Melting snow for a brew with the Prime Tech stove and heat exchanger pot, 166 kbMelting snow for a brew with the Prime Tech stove and heat exchanger pot
© Dan Bailey

Dawn coffee with the MicronTrail. Those wide pan supports will take a much bigger pot, 209 kbDawn coffee with the MicronTrail. Those wide pan supports will take a much bigger pot
© Dan Bailey

MicronTrail Stove £35, £40 or £60

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):

  • The basic model, which is as light and simple as possible, and also the most affordable at £35
  • With an inbuilt piezo ignition for convenience, at £40
  • And with piezo plus a regulator valve that gives a more consistent output as the gas level in your canister goes down, for £60

It's fairly compact, and robustly built (100g canister for scale), 242 kbIt's fairly compact, and robustly built (100g canister for scale)
© Dan Bailey

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.

Folded down, it's not quite as neat or compact as the very smallest stoves... but it's not bad, 163 kbFolded down, it's not quite as neat or compact as the very smallest stoves... but it's not bad
© Dan Bailey

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.

Boiling time

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.

Using the inbuilt ignition..., 227 kbUsing the inbuilt ignition...
© Dan Bailey

Quick boiling time, but not so great in the wind..., 185 kbQuick boiling time, but not so great in the wind...
© Dan Bailey

In use

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.

You can fine tune the output on the MicronTrail - useful for real cooking, as well as just boiling water, 229 kbYou can fine tune the output on the MicronTrail - useful for real cooking, as well as just boiling water
© Dan Bailey

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.

Summary

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.

Primus say:

The new Primus Micron Trail is a powerhouse yet so small and lightweight it fits easily into your pocket.

  • Suitable for 1-2 people
  • 1 L of water to the boil in just 2:30 minutes (when using a Primus PrimeTech Pot; 3:30 minutes with a conventional pot)
  • Three models: with Piezo and Regulator (£60, 94g) for maximum levels of performance, with Piezo (£40, 90g) for convenience or without Piezo if needing to keep weight to the minimum (£35, 80g).
  • When teamed with the innovative regulator valve the Micron Trail provides consistent power output and greatly improves the performance of the stove when the gas canister is low on fuel or operating in cold conditions.
  • Although it weighs under 100g the Micron Trail is perfect for big pots
  • Use the valve for precise simmering control
  • Folding pot supports

For more info see primus.eu

Micron Trail prod shot, 108 kb


PrimeTech Stove £115 or £130

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)

Early morning brew in a frosty Glen Nevis, 217 kbEarly morning brew in a frosty Glen Nevis
© Dan Bailey

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:

  • Burner with integrated windguard
  • Plain pan in hard anodised aluminium
  • Heat exchanger pot with ceramic non-stick coating
  • Clear plastic lid with heatproof handle and straining holes (for draining your pasta etc)
  • Chunky metal pan grab
  • Separate piezo lighter
  • Insulated carry case

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:

  • 295g stove alone
  • 552g stove plus heat exchanger pot and lid
  • 860g stove plus two pots, lid, pan grab, separate ignition and insulated carry case

Broad base and plenty of volume - this is not a small stove (230g canister for scale), 197 kbBroad base and plenty of volume - this is not a small stove (230g canister for scale)
© Dan Bailey

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.

Stove, two pans, strainer lid, pan handle, lighter and insulated carry case, 157 kbStove, two pans, strainer lid, pan handle, lighter and insulated carry case
© Dan Bailey

Boiling time

In the windless kitchen time trials the PrimeTech Stove does very well. With 0.5 litre cold tap water, these were the times:

  • 0.5 litre cold tap water, plain pot with lid: 2min 53sec
  • 0.5 litre cold tap water, heat exchanger pot with lid: 1min 57sec

In use

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.

Firing it up with the Piezo igniter (included), 175 kbFiring it up with the Piezo igniter (included)
© Dan Bailey

The pot with inbuilt heat exchanger helps cut fuel use , 167 kbThe pot with inbuilt heat exchanger helps cut fuel use
© Dan Bailey

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.

Summary

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.

Primus say:

Super efficient cooking system for performance-orientated trekkers. Next step up from the Essential Stove Set.

  • The windscreen and burner design reduces the total height compared to previous models - so compact and stable.
  • Comes with a boiling pot with heat exchanger on the bottom (cuts fuel consumption in half) and ceramic non-stick so no need for a separate frying pan.
  • A regulated valve provides consistent power output and improves performance of the gas canister when low on fuel or in cold conditions.
  • The patented burner features a design that prevents accidental flare-ups.
  • Comes with a lid with integrated colander and a smart pot gripper that keeps the pot lid secure when pouring.
  • Comes with an insulated storage bag. Place heated meals in the bag to keep them warm or use to continue to simmer food, like rice, to conserve energy.
  • Sizes: 1.3L (£115) and 2.3L (£130)

For more info see primus.eu

Primus Prime Tech prod shot, 91 kb

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