Separate camping stoves, pots, lids, cups and handles are so very last-year for the gadget-freaks amongst us. All-in-one is the new vogue, and the revolution led by Jetboil has spawned a number of flattering siblings. This one from Primus is the Scandiwegian supermodel cousin, honed from exotic metals and finished in a crisp and clean look which I think leaves its rivals looking a touch bloated in some ways.
The principle here is that, when you use a traditional camping stove and pot, LOADS of the heat from your gas just blows up the sides of the pan and is lost. It’s hideously inefficient and means you waste masses of energy. The heat-exchanger revolution has covered the base of the pot in a ribbed wave of metal, and surrounded it with a wind-shield (seen on the left as holes underneath the fabric cover) to maximise the heat absorbed by the pot, and minimise that which escapes.
The pot and its heat exchanger base are a single part, which are detachable from the stove part via two large red buttons. These buttons are the only part of the ETA which I don’t like. They are fiddly, and require a little “persuasion” to undo properly. When you have a 1L pot of boiling water in your hand, “persuasion” could lead to spillage, which is a problem.
The pot comes with an insulating sleeve made from a thick nylon material. It comes with a webbing handle and is thick enough that you can safely pick up a boiling pot without risk. However, because it has a Velcro closure, you need to make sure that it’s tight to prevent the pot slipping into your lap.
The stove itself has a piezo-electric starter (push button – no matches required), and a simple plastic twist on-0ff valve. The valve could be a bit longer, or feature an extending arm because if your water reaches a hard-boil it does dribble down over the valve and burn your fingers.
If you need to use other pans with your ETA Solo, you can easily do so by dropping in the heat-shield and three pot arms. They sit loose inside the Solo’s pot when not in use, which isn’t exactly the most secure method of transport, but it does keep weight down.
With the proper pot in use and a standard gas can, the ETA Solo is rather top-heavy, which means that you’ll probably need to use the supplied stabilising legs. You need to bend these around the base of the gas pot, which can be an acquired skill on certain gas canisters – really easy on Primus own-brand gas though.
The connection between gas and stove is sound, but in direct comparison to a similar stove made by Jetboil could be considered a little… wobbly. Careful use means that this isn’t a problem though, it’s just a point of interest.
The final feature of the ETA Solo is the quite cunning little pot-hanger, which attaches to the pot via a welded fixture. This could be very useful for circumstances where there is no flat ground, for climbers or where space is at a premium.
The whole package is beautifully made from what appears to be Titanium (I think) and hard plastic. The finish is excellent and the weight is low at 365g (original Jetboil is 60g heavier – Jetboil Flash is the same weight).
I honestly can’t see any compelling reason to buy a Jetboil or ETA Solo over each other. If you’re in the market for a personal cooking system like these then I suggest you go and have a play with both and see which suits your needs best.
SUMMARY: The Primus ETA Solo is a lovely, incredibly useful and adaptable stove. It can make the morning cup of tea, or dinner for 5 weary cyclists. It’s well built and sturdy and has survived many a camping trip with us. It has a few areas for improvement though to minimise burn risk to the user. If you’re careful though, it’s ace.