Sunday, 14 November 2010

New Stove System II (Winter): The Primus Express Spider

Some time ago, I considered my cooking system largely after problems I experienced with the Evernew DX System. I went through various issues in that post and one of them was to look at canister stoves in general when compared, utilising a variety of criteria, with other cooking system such as alcohol, esbit and wood-burning stoves. I still, for 3-Season use, would like an alcohol/wood-burning stove but for winter use, I do not want to use that system. I have in mind a system for 3-Season use, but that is a different post for 2011.




I recently purchased the Primus Express Spider for several reasons - largely based around the fact that it is a far more suitable stove for winter use:


  1. it has a pre-heat tube meaning that, at cold temperatures, the butane in canisters will still become vaporised and therefore continue to fuel the stove;
  2. it is a tube-fed stove which has two benefits - the canister can be inverted to assist vaporisation and the stove is more stable which permits use within the porch of a shelter in inclement weather;
  3. it is lightweight, packable and comes with several decent reviews under its belt which indicate that it is likely to be an effective winter cooking system.


On opening the box, you can immediately descry a superbly manufactured stove. Once the various, annoyingly obstreperous, tags are removed, the stove can be played with. At 193g, alongside a stuffsack which weighs an additional 12g and with which I shall dispense, placing instead the Spider inside my Titan Kettle, it is sufficiently lightweight. A canister top stove (the Gosystem Fly-Ti or Monatauk Gnat, for example) would be lighter but for the reasons I have espoused previously when considering my winter overnight system, it is impractical for cooking inside a tent and it does not have pre-heat advantages. There is also a small, flat, circular disc of metal which is a heat shield. This is a superfluous bit of gimmickry as far as I can see and my intention is to shelve it until I see the need for it. 


Boil time is billed at 4.5mins for 1 litre of water going from 20C to 100C and power output is 2000W/7150 BTU/h. Dimensions are 105 x 85 x 55 mm. I did not do my own tests as this will change in real-world conditions anyway which are impossible to recreate at home.




The stove has three legs, with broad, teethy grips, which unfurl reassuringly smoothly into solid stantion points and provide a very stable tripod base. They do not clip into place, they simply slide in, but the whole system is still very well-balanced. The pre-heat tube, fashioned in an agreeable and efficacious brass, curves around the perimeter of the stoves fire-pit flame system. The tube from the gas canister to the stove itself is a woven, steel mesh measuring 28cm and culminating in a solid and elementary flow-adjustment system to be screwed into a canister.






Initially, I was quite concerned about stability - because the hose of the system is so robustly substantial, as is the gas-inflow tube (also crafted from brass) the stove lists backwards if there is nothing on it. This did not seem particularly stable to me, but the simple weight of the empty box placed on the legs (perhaps as little as 50g) was enough to stabilise it. A Titan Kettle with 500ml (600g or so) will keep it stable. The footprint of the stove, when unfurled, is sufficiently diminutive to permit cooking within the porch of the Akto - perhaps (heaven forbid) the Fly Creek UL1...



The Spider does not have a Peizo ignitor which features on most canister stoves. The attractions of this simpler setup however are both a consequential weight saving and improved reliability (there are fewer complicated parts to malfunction in wintry freezing conditions). Most of us carry a lighter or matches anyway, so why have an piezo? It becomes redundant.


I am looking forward to testing this stove on a 3-day trip in Snowdonia, or the Lakes (destination to be determined) in January 2011 when the temperatures will likely be very low indeed. I have some confidence it will perform admirably on the evidence so far.

15 comments:

  1. Maz- my intial couple of trips with this, one in the Southern Uplands (down to 2C) and Kinder (5C) have proved the worth of this stove. With my Pocket Rocket I would have had trouble lighting the stove at those temps. Not an issue at all with the Spider and my experiment putting the canister in the freezer and lighting it, proves the worth of this system. The stability of the stove is reassuring. Good post as always, I trust little M and Mrs M are doing well.
    Mark

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  2. Thanks Mark for that - good mini-review there! Mark has done a great review of his which can be found here, along with all his other observations: http://markswalkingblog.wordpress.com/tag/primus-express-spider/

    As for M and Mrs M - we're segueing gently into the chaos that is the first month of his life... ;-)

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  3. Mine is in the post Maz so your write up has got me salivating!

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  4. a detailed overview, as always with your kit posts. Stability in a shelter, and low temp reliability are the clinchers here for me. I think the Gnat has come off the wish list, and this has gone on! cheers

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  5. James and David - I like the feel of it and it comes with some decent reviews so I am optimistic. I only need to boil water so it should do that easily. 193g + 114g for the Titan Kettle is not bad at all.

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  6. Perfect timing Maz (and Mark) a mate was asking me about stoves and had mentioned that he liked the idea of a remote cannister stove. I'll point him in your direction.

    Richard

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  7. I had to laugh when I read 'obstreperous'. My dear late Mum used to tell me to stop being obstreperous when I was young. I didn't know what it meant but I was pretty sure I shouldn't be doing it! :-)

    I have a Spider to use this winter. I'm glad it hasn't got a peizo lighter. Prone to failure and as you point out we all carry other means of ignition anyway. Redundant indeed. The boil times too are of little concern to me but fuel efficiency is, especially on longer trips.

    Looking forward to using mine soon. Should be good for melting snow.

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  8. Mac: good stuff!

    Joe: I think I was obstreperous when young too. Perhaps I still am... I am not that concerned about boil times - perhaps I am not that fussed about them because I am relaxing too much!

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  9. I like this stove a lot. Talked to James about it the other day. I also am interested in the Edelrid epilio stove. The spider has what looks a better flame spread but inverting a canister looks a bit more tricky due to the control knob. Small detail. Decisions decisions. I have other Primus stoves and the Eta Packlite which is not light. Right now the Spider is looking good due to the flame spread.

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  10. I'm not worried about the inverting to be honest - the boil time is so short, I am convinced that inverting will be easily done, even when you need to adjust the flame. It's just a case of concentrating on the stove rather than letting it boil while doing something else - I can live with it. I'll post when I've used it three nights on the trot in freezing temps.

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  11. I am sold on it and pulling the trigger on an order. It is superb.

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  12. I liked the article. But I mostly prefer gas stove.

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  13. a detailed overview, as always with your kit posts. Stability in a shelter, and low temp reliability are the clinchers here for me. I think the Gnat has come off the wish list, and this has gone on! cheers

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  14. Maz- my intial couple of trips with this, one in the Southern Uplands (down to 2C) and Kinder (5C) have proved the worth of this stove. With my Pocket Rocket I would have had trouble lighting the stove at those temps. Not an issue at all with the Spider and my experiment putting the canister in the freezer and lighting it, proves the worth of this system. The stability of the stove is reassuring. Good post as always, I trust little M and Mrs M are doing well.
    Mark

    ReplyDelete