Camping stoves are prime targets for space and weight saving as they are only used for a few minutes a day when backpacking. So what a backpacker ideally needs is a super-efficient stove that uses the minimal amount of fuel to cook up an evening meal. Better still, the stove needs to be lightweight and compact enough to pack down into an unobtrusive corner of a rucksack.
The new Primus ETA Express looks like it could challenge the best around, thanks to its unique design. The stove has been developed from the brand’s
bigger ETA Power stove, which was released in 2007. Its radical new design includes the in-built, rapid heat exchange ripples under the pan. The key objective of this feature is to improve efficiency, to save on fuel – helping to save the planet – and to allow you to carry less fuel, which means a lighter pack weight.
To improve efficiency, the ETA Express stove has windshield and dedicated pan system. This all comes neatly packed into a stuffsack with space inside for a gas canister too. Well ready for a brew on the mountainside, I found the kit assembled very easily in a workmanlike way, but it was not perhaps as slick as some of its competitors. The piezo-electric ignition system folds out neatly to make lighting very simple and saves the weight of taking a lighter or matches. The integral windshield helps trap the warmth around the stove on one side, and protects against cold winds. The pans have a corrugated heat exchanger built into their bases that traps pockets of warm air, which add to the efficiency and a close-fitting lid completes the set-up. The pan and lid have neat folding grips with rubber coatings to prevent the user burning their hands. They are non-stick too, for a quick, easy hillside clean-out.
On the fell the stove produced a healthy roar, boiling half a litre of water in around three minutes on a part-used gas canister. Removing the lid and pan was easy enough, and the whole process was pretty much effortless on my part. The original Primus ETA Power is admittedly a more stable design than the ETA Express, but then the ETA Express is smaller and about half the weight of its bigger brother, making it a much better option for one person, or lightweight trips with two people. There are lighter stoves around, but their performance is not so good, and at just £60 for a burner and pan-set this product represents excellent value.
I found that the ETA Express worked really well, and with the promise of being able to carry less fuel across the hills there are plenty of reasons to choose this stove over and above the competition. One thing is for sure: the introduction of the ETA Express means the competition to make the ultimate backpacking stove is really hotting up.
Also included: pan, lid, stuffsack
Time to boil: 0.5 litre of water 3 minutes
Weight: 544g (including, pans, pan grips, stuff bag but not fuel)
Made in: Estonia
Verdict: An ideal backpacking stove for one, where performance and efficiency are the priorities.
First published in Trail magazine, May 2008