I recently posted about an easy to make alcohol stove. Alcohol stoves are great in that they are cheap to make, easy to use, employ a relatively safe fuel, and work pretty well. However, if you need a stove that will boil water more quickly then there are better alternatives. One such type of stove is the canister stove, fueled by disposable canisters filled with liquified gas fuel. A nice overview of the different types of fuels used in these canisters is available at Zen Stoves.
I had some credit in my Amazon account, so I decided to add a Kovea Spider backpacking stove to my toolkit. Here’s the stove, piezo electric igniter, instruction flier, and carry sack. It weighs less than 6 oz. sans fuel. I chose the Kovea after reading a couple reviews, here and here. Both reviews have some good detail pictures, along with performance data.
A closeup of the stove. The copper tube next to the burner is part of the fuel line. By running it close to the burner, it can be used to gasify liquid fuel before it gets to the burner itself. This is useful in very cold temperatures when you need to run the canister upside to get liquid fuel out.
Butane canister stoves are attached to the fuel canister in one of two ways. The most common is screwing directly to the top of the can. An example of this is the MSR Pocket Rocket. The other method, employed by the Kovea Spider, is a remote connection using a tube.
The direct connect stoves are a bit lighter and more compact. The remote connect stoves give you a lower center of gravity, allow you to place a windscreen tighter around the stove and pot when in use, and some can be used with the canister inverted, which may be necessary in cold weather. For these reasons I chose a remote connect design.
The butane/isobutane/propane canisters are widely available at sporting goods stores, Walmart, etc. I picked a few up at REI while I was waiting for the Kovea to arrive.
Along with the stove, I ordered a windscreen. Since it’s a remote unit and I don’t have to worry about overheating the canister, the I got a 12” tall windscreen by Solo. This screen can be used with canister, alcohol, or wood stoves. There are wire stakes on both ends which allow you to anchor it to the ground. It’s made from aluminum so it’s very light, and packs into a nice carry case.
To test the Kovea Spider I took it out back while the temperature was in the lower 30s F. I used it to boil 12 oz. of water to reconstitute a Mountain House Pro Pak freeze dried spaghetti and meat sauce dinner.
To use the stove, first make sure that the valve is completely closed by turning it clockwise. (The valve handle is the rectangular wire thing.) Then screw it to the canister. Unfold the stove and set it down away from the canister. Turn the stove on by opening the valve, then light the gas.
I first tried to light the stove using the supplied piezo electric igniter. Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t get the miniscule spark to light the stove. So, I turned off the gas flow and got a ferrocerium rod out of my bag, then tried again. After a couple strikes the stove lit.
Here’s my test setup, showing how closely you can wrap the windscreen around the stove and pot.
The 1.5 cups of water in my Walmart grease pot took about 3 minutes to come to a rolling boil on the Kovea. Impressive.
To extinguish the stove simply close the valve again. The canisters can be disconnected from the stove and reused until empty.
As for dinner, the Mountain House Pro Pak spaghetti and meat sauce was pretty good. The package was for a 16 oz. serving. After opening it and discarding the dessicant pack, add 1.5 cups (12 oz.) of boiling water, mix it up, and reseal the bag. Wait 8 or 9 minutes, mix it again, and dig in.
Kovea is a Korean company and fairly new to the US market. The reasonably-priced Spider is well made from good materials and as shown above, offers good performance. Because it can be used with the fuel canister inverted, it will be useful to lower temperatures than stove not supporting that mode of operation. It’s lightweight and compact. In fact, it will nest inside a Walmart grease pot along with a fuel canister. The one item I wasn’t happy with was the piezo igniter, which doesn’t make much of a spark. So, I plan to keep a ferrocerium rod and striker, and/or some matches along with the stove.
The combination of a liquid fuel canister stove and dehydrated food is very convenient. It’s a good combination for day hikes, camping, or keeping in your bugout bag.