User Review: Primus EtaSolo
Price Paid: Demo from Primus
The Primus EtaSolo is the latest in a long line of highly fuel-efficient integrated camp stoves from Primus that make boiling water and cooking food fast and easy.
It cranks out 5120 BTUs per hour but at 13.9 ounces, it’s the perfect size for schlepping around in a backpack (I schlepped it in a daypack on a hike to Eagle Mountain on Minnesota’s North Shore). It comes with a 0.9 liter pot that has a removable wrap-around heat resistant cover and handle and a lid with an opening that is designed to sip hot beverages from. It also comes with its own stand and suspension kit for hanging. I think this is a nice add-on, but the only situation where I could see hanging this stove is when you’re tent-bound.
Note: This could be the demons from my past talking, but I would never use a stove inside a tent no matter how hard the winds blew or the rain came down in sheets.
At first glance, the EtaSolo looks like a JetBoil in a Primus package. It does look like a JetBoil, it acts like a JetBoil, but once you use the EtaSolo, you’ll see that it’s not a JetBoil.
First the similarities. Both have an insulated mug that is connected to a heat exchanger that is attached to the stove. Both are compact and easy to use and lightweight to stash in your pack. Both bring water to a rapid boil fast and both work great in windy conditions.
Now the differences. The JetBoil does in fact boil water faster—but we’re talking like 10 to 15 seconds, not minutes. The showdown between my JetBoil and the EtaSolo occurred on my patio when the air temperature was about 45 degrees. The JetBoil boiled two cups of water in about one minute, twenty seconds; the Primus boiled water in about one minute, thirty-two seconds.
The JetBoil can also store any fuel cartridge inside the mug; the Primus EtaSolo only stores a Primus fuel cartridge. This isn’t a big deal to me. I can still carry a non-Primus fuel cartridge in my pack and store other items inside the mug where the fuel cartridge would go. This was my only semi-disappointment in the EtaSolo but hardly a show-stopper. I can live with the few extra seconds to boil water.
What I like about the EtaSolo, over the JetBoil, though, is its versatility. It comes with a set of three metal supports so that you can use different sized pots if you find yourself cooking for more than just you (these supports fit inside the mug). A heat reflector plate sits on top of the stove to generate greater heat for non-mug cooking. I experimented using my Primus PowerPot and it heated two cans of chili with no problems and no delays. You will need to make sure that you set the stove up on a flat and stable surface though.
I also like how the mug clips into the stove, as this feature is clearly more secure than the twist-off design of the JetBoil, which, if you’re not careful, you can scald yourself. The downside is that you have to make sure the mug is empty before dismantling or you will get scalded.