|The FeatherFire alcohol stove from PackaFeather.com|
OK, so what's the FeatherFire's claim to fame? It simmers. In fact, it simmers really well. And not only does it simmer well, it does so on-the-fly without having to remove the pot or adding any simmer rings or other separate pieces. Nice.
Let's have a look. The FeatherFire is a chimney type stove, similar to a BrassLite stove or a 12-10 stove from TrailDesigns.com. If you look closely at the photo below, you can just see the ventilation ports underneath the silver colored band of metal.
|The ventilation ports on a FeatherFire stove|
|Every bend in the pot supports is precisely done.|
|The pot supports, rotated underneath the body of the stove.|
|A FeatherFire stove, packed into a 1000ml pot with a Sierra Cup and a windscreen|
|A sliver colored metal band is situated directly over the ventilation ports. Note also the position of the pot support, locked into cooking position.|
|Detail of metal band and pot supports.|
|The "worm gear" on a FeatherFire stove|
|A FeatherFire stove with the metal band tightly closed (simmering mode)|
|A FeatherFire stove with the metal band in the fully open position (maximum flame)|
|The control cable on a FeatherFire stove|
That's it? That's all you have to do?
Yep, that's it. Turn the knob left to increase the flame. Turn the knob right to reduce the flame. And the best part? The cable sticks out past your windscreen. You can adjust the flame "on-the-fly," and you never have to burn your hand trying to drop a simmer ring into place. You never even have to take the pot off the stove. SWEET!
|The control cable and knob on a FeatherFire extend out past the windscreen.|
|A FeatherFire stove on maximum.|
|A FeatherFire stove with the flame turned down as far as it will go (simmering mode)|
|A full roiling boil with a FeatherFire on maximum flame.|
|A very nice, low simmer with a FeatherFire stove on lowest flame|
Well, boiling water is all well and fine, but can it cook?
Fair question. Hmm. Now, let's see. What would be a good test? How about my favorite, an omelet? If an alcohol stove can cook an omelet, then that's a pretty good cooking stove in my opinion. Let's give it a try.
|A small backpacking type pan on a FeatherFire|
|Cooking the eggs|
|Adding salmon and shredded cheese|
|A delicious omelet!|
|Minor sticking occurred|
OK, so nice stove, but how's the weight?
On my scale, it weighs 45g/1.6oz. Maybe a little heavy compared to something like a Trail Designs 12-10 stove at 16g/0.6oz, which is about 1/3 the weight, but the FeatherFire's weight includes the pot supports and the little snuffer cap, features not included in the 12-10 stove, and the FeatherFire simmers. On the other hand, compared to the 112g/4.0oz Trangia burner, the 45g/1.6oz FeatherFire seems as light as, well, a feather.
Downsides? Well, maybe a couple, both in the durability category. First, the pot supports are perhaps a little spindly. I think they could become bent with use. They're surprisingly strong, and I haven't had any problems so far, but I've been careful. Second, will the simmering apparatus stand up to the rigors of the trail? I can't say for sure, but there are more small parts on this stove than on other stoves. No blatant "red flags" here, but something to bear in mind as one uses the stove. Of course, if the band were to fail somehow, you could still use the stove as a non-adjustable chimney stove, so you wouldn't be completely stuck out on the trail. You'd just lose some of the precise simmer control. I haven't had the stove for long, but I actually think the simmering apparatus will be OK. It's those pot supports I worry about. I notice that PackaFeather has a second stove, the XL. The XL is not an "eXtra Large" version of the FeatherFire but rather appears to be in the same class as the FeatherFire. The XL appears to have improved pot supports of a type that will last well, so it appears that PackaFeather may be well aware of the limitations of the pot supports of a FeatherFire. I have not had a chance to review an XL as of this writing.
One other item of note. Sometimes a FeatherFire "burps." What do I mean by "burp?" Well sometimes you'll hear a pop and there will be a flash of flame. It seems to happen most when you turn up the stove. It doesn't seem to happen at all on fully open or fully closed. But if you're somewhere in between, sometimes the stove just plain burps. I'm not completely sure what's causing it although I suspect vaporized alcohol is escaping out the ventilation ports, building up, and then "flashing" from the heat of the flame when sufficient build up occurs. It doesn't seem to hurt anything although it is a little bit weird. I found that by playing with the flame control setting, I could find "burp free" settings.
I was able to capture what the flame from a burp looks like with my camera.
|The flame from a "burp" on a FeatherFire|
The little snuffer cap (0.07oz/2g) that comes with the FeatherFire is kind of handy.
|The snuffer cap of a FeatherFire only weighs two grams!|
I didn't have a PackaFeather windscreen and heat reflector to test at the time of this writing, so I cannot comment on those items.
The FeatherFire stove: Highly Recommended except maybe for the pot supports. Time will tell on the pot supports.
Thanks for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,
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