The Primus Eta Express is the one-person version of the two-person Eta Power stove, and both are superbly efficient due to the use of heat exchangers on the base of the pans. The burner on the Eta Express is identical to the Primus Express with Ignition burner. So it is the pans and the windshield that are the key features here as they alone deliver the improvement in the performance.
The Eta Express is the most compact cooking system on test. The burner is the smallest too, and it can easily be stowed in its pot, which is the shortest pot we looked at. The pan has a heat exchanger on the base, and there is a windshield that can be stowed inside the pot, which is fitted to the burner to improve performance in the wind. The pan has a lid, and both have fold-out handles with rubber grips so they can be moved around without burning fingers. Compared to the other stoves on test the Eta Express is the least radical in terms of its design. But the 412g weight of this system makes it the lightest here. Add in the low price tag, and the Eta Express looks particularly appealing to lightweight backpackers on a budget.
On the hill
The Primus Eta Express is a little more fiddly to set up than the others. The windshield slots onto the burner then the pan is placed on top and the assembly feels like it will collapse into the ground if knocked. However as it is not as a tall as the other stoves, its lower centre of gravity is a bonus. The burner has piezo ignition so lighting is very easy, but it does not have the same level of wind protection as others (the windshield only fends off wind from one direction so it is not a lot of use in swirling conditions). Best of all is that the lid and the pan both have handles that fold out and these have rubber grips – so using this stove is a little easier than the others as you can handle the pan and lid without the likelihood of burning your hands. The broad, shallow pot is also far more useful than some others for cooking in, rather than just heating water.
In the lab
The Primus Eta Express had one of the fastest boil times at 18 deg C and average performance at 0 deg C. But it used the most gas at 18 deg C and could not compete with the Jetboil’s longer overall burn times. The MSR was also better at lower temperatures. We have no specific test data, but I suspect this stove would be the most affected by wind. So its low weight and low price are countered by less efficient performance in the long term.
Fuel type gas
Also included dedicated pot and windshield
Packed size 16x11cm
Pan internal diameter 12cm
Pan internal depth 11cm
Weight 98g stove + 314g pan set (+gas)
Made in Estonia
Stockist details (023) 9252 8711; www.rosker.co.uk
Verdict: The Primus Eta Express has the fastest boil time at 18 deg C; lightest on test; piezo ignition; compact design; pans have good handles; pan size is good. But it used most gas at 18 deg C; others were more efficient; others were better at 0 deg C; not very stable. In summary, the Primus Eta Express is a low-priced stove that competes well with higher-priced options in warm weather in the short term, making it ideal for occasional users on a budget. It thus won our ‘Best Value’ award.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine September 2009