Three years ago the JetBoil Personal Cooking System made its debut at Outdoor Retailer. The stove’s unique design – an integrated system of stove, heat exchanger, and insulated pot – was the first major advance in stove technology since the advent of the canister stove. While others had gotten lighter, stronger, and more specialized, the basic design of most backpacking stoves – a small, open burner with pot supports – has been unchanged for decades. The JetBoil was, and is, a category-changing product.
It was only a matter of time before JetBoil’s competitors introduced their own integrated stove systems, and two of them made their debuts this week:
Primus introduced the new EtaPower stove, which is essentially a remote-mounted canister stove with an integrated windscreen and pot. The EtaPower pot features an integrated heat exchanger that mates with the EtaPower stove. But where JetBoil locks users into a single system, Primus allows you to mix and match. There will be several different sizes of EtaPower pots, which can be used interchangeably with any backpacking stove. The EtaPower will be available in late March 2007.
Of all the new products introduced at Outdoor Retail, the biggest buzz has been about the MSR Reactor. MSR has carried the integrated stove concept to a whole new level. On the surface it has many of the same features as the JetBoil: integrated burner, heat exchanger, and pot. However, the MSR team took the opportunity to engineer a completely new type of burner. It looks different, it heats differently, and it may shake up the stove world once again. Click here for more detailed coverage of the Reactor.
Several other stove manufacturers we spoke with also have new stoves in development, though all were mum on the details.
Beyond the integrated canister stove revolution, stovemakers continue to make incremental improvements in safety, usability, and weight (though not usually all in the same stove). Standouts for 2007 include:
The Coleman Exponent Fyrestorm Ti is a flexible multi-fuel stove capable of burning either compressed fuel from a remote-mounted canister, or light liquid fuels (white gas, unleaded, etc.). The Fyrestorm has a couple of unique features that allow for easier operation and greater efficiency than other stoves. When using compressed fuel, the canister is mounted remotely with the valve pointed down instead of up. According to Coleman stove engineer Richard Long this allows the stove to draw liquid instead of vapor from the canister, avoiding vaporization and maintaining a more constant pressure from full to empty. When burning liquid fuel, Coleman’s Reflex technology eliminates the need for priming (an often sooty and occasionally hazardous process). A valve inside the pump automatically regulates the mix of fuel and air to provide proper vaporization during stove startup. The Fyrestorm is available in stores now.
Optimus is taking a new approach to safety and ease-of-use by relocating the controls on several stoves. The fuel valve on the Nova+ expedition stove is located at the burner – where the most precise and efficient adjustments can be made – but the control is integrated into the fuel hose, allowing the user to keep his or her fingers far from the hot stove. Similarly, the Stella+ remote canister stove can be started via a piezo igniter switch built into the remote canister connector. Both stoves will be available in January, 2007.
On the lightweight end of the spectrum, Primus is introducing the MicronStove Ti2.5, a $65, two-and-a-half ounce canister stove. This extremely compact stove is made mostly of titanium and will boil 17 to 18 liters of water on an 8 ounce canister, according to the manufacturer. The MicronStove Ti2.5 should be available in time for Christmas, 2006.
Stamped on the burner of the MSR Reactor are two words that sum up the stove market’s newfound spirit of innovation: “respect fire.” Indeed.