The trend in lighter, more efficient, backpacking and camping gear has paid dividends in all kinds of different equipment over the past few years. Everything from tents and backpacks to sleeping bags and hiking boots have shed excess kilos while improving performance and durability.
This same formula has also been applied to camp stoves, which were once of the heaviest and bulkiest pieces of gear in our packs. Now, outdoor enthusiasts have a number of great personal cooking options, which seem to get more useful and efficient each year.
Take for example the Eta Solo cooking system from Primus. Designed to support one or two hikers while on the trail, the Eta Solo is impressively compact and lightweight. The stove tips the scales at just 12.9 ounces and even with a fuel canister, it barely weighs more than a pound. When not in use, that same canister stores neatly inside the included .9 L pot, keeping everything well organized for when you need it to cook your next meal.
When you are ready to play the part of camp chef, you’ll find the Eta Solo to be a solid performer. In my tests, it was consistently able to boil a pot of water in just over two minutes, although admittedly those tests didn’t take place under conditions what would be deemed extreme.
The stove did resist the wind very well, but I wasn’t able to put it through its paces in temperatures below 50ºF/10ºC. I was especially impressive in how efficiently the Eta uses its fuel, which helps to stretch the lifespan of the canister and allows you to carry less gas when you’re on the trail.
Other great features include solid burner control, good build quality and a locking mechanism that securely holds the pot in place and keeps the entire system very stable. The stove also comes with optional support for larger pots, which brings a nice level of versatility to the entire system, and a removable wrap for the pot allows you to hold it even when it’s very hot. The included hanging kit was a nice touch as well.
The Eta Solo isn’t without room for improvement however. The placement of the controls seemed a bit close to the burner at times and I found myself having to watch where I put my fingers. The stove’s support legs also didn’t fit neatly inside the pot while the fuel canister is inside, which took away from the compact nature of the product as well.
Those few nit-picks aside however, Primus has put together an excellent, efficient stove that is on par with any of its competitors. Aspiring backcountry gourmets looking for a compact cooking system at an affordable price (MSRP is $120) will find that the Eta Solo is a great choice for their culinary needs while on the trail.
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