Phut. The last dying breath of a gas canister as it struggles to raise the temperature of your morning cuppa from icy to tepid. If only you’d packed another canister, your Jetboil with all its fancy heat sinks could have stood a fighting chance. But no, so it sits there gasping for breath as all around you dry twigs laugh at your lack of manliness. Step in Kelly Kettle.
We tested the biggest of the Kelly Kettle range, the Base Camp, which holds 1.5L of water – enough for 4 late-night cups of extra-caffeine coffee in order that we could stay up and watch a meteor shower. And what the Kelly Kettle is is essentially a small steel fire pit with a chimney around which water is housed. The chimney takes the form of the Kettle, and the fire pit is the bowl on top of which it sits.
The way it all works is beautifully simple. You just uncork the silicone bung from the spout of the kettle and fill it with water. The bung is used solely to secure water when you’re carrying the kettle, and not during heating when it would build pressure and cause instantaneous death to all mankind when it exploded.
The fire pit is a steel bowl with a hole in the side, in to which you can place twigs, tinder or anything else which burns cleanly and then simply light it. This could be the only sticking point for those of you who either don’t smoke, or can’t do the Ray Mears thing and conjour fire from a handy flint.
Once you’ve proven your manly worth and lit the fire (all contained so it doesn’t scorch the ground!) you then place the kettle over the top and if your heart desires blow a little air in through the hole.
The Kelly Kettle Base Camp, once it has a small fire going in its base, is very quick to boil up water indeed. Speed depends on how hot your fire is burning, but if you can employ a South African cricket player to blow in to the fire pit for you – like we did – then it gets to boiling in under 2 minutes.
The ‘Kit’ version of the Kelly Kettle utilises the top of the chimney (let’s call it the vent) and comprises of two flat pieces of aluminium which slot together to create a cross. These then sit in the vent and create a pan rest. The kit is supplied with two pans, one deep for soups and boil-in-the-bag stuff, and one shallow to use as a lid or for frying.
The Kelly Kettle cannot be used without water in it, but I’m happy to say that within 30 minutes last weekend I had created a fire, got the Kettle working, fried 3 sausages and then made a Sausage Tikka Massala, and poured a cup of tea. All of that without spending a penny on gas or fuel.
Kelly Kettle Base Camp is big enough to be practical to use in large groups. Once you have a fire going, rounds of tea are quicker than with a gas stove and more gratifying too.
The Kit also comes with a grab handle, so you can safely lift off pans from the Kettle, and also a small grill so you can utilise the fire pit for a small barbeque. And the whole lot comes in a drawstring bag.
The Kelly Kettle is a phenomenal piece of kit – rugged and robust, virtually maintenance-free and not that expensive at under £70. When you factor in that, if this is your cooker of choice you never need to pay for fuel, the savings can be understood. For these reasons the Kettle is a favourite for bushcraft and survival lovers, and we can see why.
SUMMARY: A robust steel Kettle which, if you can light a fire, is a very interesting alternative to gas or petrol stoves. It’s big to carry, but the trade-off is that no fuel is needed. They have a 2-year warranty but many people have had these for much longer.