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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Kovea Camp 5 Remote Canister Stove

Introduction
If it's cold out and your remote canister stove has a generator (a pre-heat mechanism), then you can invert (turn upside down) the canister.  Inverting the canister means that you're sucking liquid off the bottom of the canister instead of sucking vapor off the top.  Now, liquid fuel goes to the burner where the heat of the flame vaporizes fuel.

If the heat of the flame is doing the vaporization, you're far less dependent on the weather.  In fact, all you need from the weather is just enough warmth to keep a little pressure in the canister, just enough pressure to get some liquefied gas to the burner where the heat of the flame will take care of the rest.

And that pressure should be pretty easy to come by.  Unlike upright operation, the propane content of your canister does not burn off faster.  With inverted operation (liquid feed gas), your gas mix -- and thus your canister pressure for a given outside temperature -- stays fairly constant.  As a practical matter, you can run your stove inverted in weather that's about 20F/10C colder than if your ran your stove upright.

Wow, gas in colder weather? All the simmering, none of the priming, how sweet is that?  Um, but what's the catch?

Well, the "catch" is that remote canister stoves that can handle inverted operation usually weigh two or three times what an upright stove weighs.  But we're making progress. Today, we feature a guest post by Geoff R from Australia.  Geoff reviews the Kovea Camp 5 (KB-1006).  The Camp 5 weighs 142g/5.5oz.  Which, while not as light as an upright stove, is a step in the right direction, particularly when you compare the Camp 5 to other remote canister stoves like the MSR WindPro (227g/8oz) and the Primus Express Spider (198g/7oz).

The selection of lightweight remote stoves in the US is pretty limited, so I am particularly happy to welcome Geoff's contribution to Adventures In Stoving.  So, without further ado, I turn things over to Geoff...



Since I acquired my MSR Dragonfly in 1998, I have been a firm believer in liquid-fuelled stoves.  Partly that was because of the underwhelming performance of gas stoves I had used before that – such as the Bleuet 206, especially in the wind.  Gas stoves have however advanced a lot in the intervening 14 years.  Hence I decided to investigate getting a gas stove again to enjoy benefits such as lower weight and simplicity of use again.

My criteria were to find a second stove which would be useful when two stoves are required to cook a meal, for taking with on day walks when I just want a quick cuppa, or as a more lightweight solution for longer overnight walks.  After some research I decided to take the plunge and order the Kovea Camp 5.
The Camp 5 comes in a nifty-looking plastic container
  
The Camp 5, which weighs in at 156g/5.5oz, comes with a separate piezo-igniter and is packaged in a nifty-looking brown plastic container.  I initially struggled to pack the stove back into its container.  With practise, I have now worked out how to fit everything back together properly.  The separate igniter weighs in at 14g/0.49oz and the container weighs another 60g/2.12oz, bringing the total package to 230g/8.11oz.  While not the lightest stove on the market, it is still probably one of the lightest remote canister stoves, and is a featherweight compared a packed weight of 502g/17.71oz for my Dragonfly.
The Camp 5 comes with a separate piezo-igniter.  Editor's note:  The AA sized battery is shown for scale only.  The stove does not run on batteries!

While some may take issue with the separate igniter, I prefer not to have the igniter continually being cooked all the time while the stove is on.  Also, if it breaks, I won’t have a piece of ballast attached to the stove.  In addition to the stove itself, I also purchased an adaptor from Kovea to permit the use of cheap long butane cans with the stove, as a fuel source in warm weather.  (This kind of adaptor has already been reviewed in Butane Adapter WARNING.)  Editor's note:  One must be very careful with this type of adapter.  If the canister rolls, the stove can go into liquid feed mode unexpectedly.  However, since the Camp 5 has a generator/pre-heat mechanism, use of such an adapter should be fairly safe with this stove if reasonable care is exercised.  

Initial impressions
On unpacking the stove, the overall impression is that it feels quite solid for something that weighs only 156g/5.5oz.  The legs feel quite sturdy.  My only concern was with the pot supports, which look quite flimsy, and which rotate loosely on the ends of the arms coming out of the stove body.  I don’t think the pot supports would stand up to rough handling or very heavy cookware.
The pot supports rotate loosely on the ends of arms coming from the stove body
The stove legs and the arms which run up to the pot supports feel quite securely attached to the stove body, and are articulated together by sets of teeth which ensure that the legs and stove supports lock securely in position when the stove is unfolded.
The legs and stove support arms are articulated together by sets of teeth

Another feature, which was a major in my decision to choose the Camp 5, is the fact that it has a small generator tube.  Based on my initial research on the stove it is capable of running in liquid feed mode, with an inverted gas canister.  More on this later.  The canister hose itself feels very flexible, and it rotates freely at the point where it is attached to the stove.

The burner, visually appears to be the same as that on the Kovea Flame Tornado, which is widely believed to be the same stove as the MSR MicroRocket, bar some cosmetic changes.  (One of those cosmetic changes between the MicroRocket and Flame Tornado is the burner itself.)

In Action
The first impression on firing up the stove is that it seems more like a flame-thrower than a stove.  The flame is very concentrated.  This does raise some questions about its ability to cook omelettes!
The first impression on firing the stove up is more flame-thrower than stove
After getting the stove running, one of the first tests I performed, with both a butane can and a propane-butane-isobutane mix was to invert the canister.  All the documentation I received with the stove was in Korean, so I have no idea whether inverted canister operation is officially sanctioned by Kovea.  Try this yourself at your own risk.


It is definitely advisable to turn the stove right down before inverting the canister.  The rate of fuel delivery does increase considerably on inverting the canister, especially with a propane/butane mix.  Apart from the fact that you need to be cautious of the much higher flame output, I had no issues with inverted canister operation.  I was not able to turn the valve open all the way, since the stove quickly got to a point where it could no longer suck in enough air for the amount of gas being delivered.
Inverted canister operation was no problem apart from the much higher output
Kovea seems to have erred on the conservative side when stating that the time taken to boil 1l of water is 30m30s.  During my tests, I was able to achieve a good deal less than this using a full 230g canister of propane/butane/isobutane mix from Primus.  I used the Dragonfly as a control to compare with a relatively well-known stove.

Stove
Fuel
Feed
Boil time
Fuel used
Camp 5
Butane
Vapour
4:36
16g
Camp 5
Butane
Liquid
3:47
16g
Camp 5
Propane/Butane
Vapour
3:19
14g
Camp 5
Propane/Butane
Liquid
3:18
18g
Dragonfly
Shellite
n/a
3:54
22g

Editor's note:  "Shellite" is a brand of white gas available in Australia.  Shellite is similar to Coleman Fuel.

It would appear that with a propane/butane mix, in liquid feed mode, the stove is no longer operating efficiently.  Turning the stove down a little would probably help on the efficiency front.  While I did not perform enough tests to build a statistically relevant sample, it appears that butane may be a little less efficient than a propane/butane mix.  The time quoted for the Dragonfly only includes the time from the point when the stove had reached full output and the billy of water was put on it, until the time when the water boiled.  The fuel used by the Dragonfly includes the fuel used for priming.  This test once again verifies the fact that gas stoves use less fuel than liquid-fuelled stoves.


The tests were performed at an ambient temperature of 22°C/72°F and 24°C/75°F at an altitude of approximately 7m/23ft above sea level.

Getting Out
Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get out on the trail with the Camp 5 yet, so a few tests on the gravel path in the back yard would have to do.  The small feet of the stove do have a tendency to bury themselves in a loose or soft surface.   That is however a problem I would expect any stove with small feet to have.  I didn’t have the expectation for this stove to have the same level of stability as the Dragonfly anyhow.
The feet of the Camp 5 have a tendency to bury themselves in loose gravel
While I was outside there was a nice sea breeze blowing.  The breeze was “nice” enough to blow over a potted yellowwood tree, which I have in the most sheltered corner of my back yard.  A windshield was definitely advisable under these conditions.  With the windshield, cut from a piece of aluminium flashing, in place I was still able to turn the gas right down to a low simmer.  As I turned the gas down, however, the circle of bubbles on the base of the billy became smaller and smaller – an indication that this stove may not be good at evenly cooking your simmering bolognaise.

Conclusion
I’m looking forward to getting out into the bush with this little stove.  I would hardly say it is perfect, but so far it is pretty much living up to my expectations.  I believe that every stove is a compromise of some sort.  For my purposes, I think the Camp 5 will be the right one.  It still isn’t without its disadvantages though.  In summary, here is a short list of the  Camp 5’s pros and cons from my point of view:

Pros:
·      Light weight (for a remote canister stove)
·      Ability to use cheap butane cans with an adapter
·      High power output
·      Ability to turn output down to a light simmer
·      Overall build quality feels solid
·      Generator tube makes it possible to operate the stove in liquid feed mode (I am not sure if this is officially sanctioned by Kovea.)

Cons:
·      Flimsy-looking pot supports
·      Very concentrated flame – possibly not great for simmering
·      Difficult to get the stove back into its container
·      Small feet bury themselves in loose or soft substrates

Note: I do not have any affiliation to Kovea.  All images in this post are © GM Rehmet 2012 and have been licensed to Adventures in Stoving.  No images may be reproduced without permission.  For licensing details, please refer to http://www.rehmet.alt.za/copyright/


A big thank you to Geoff for his contribution to Adventures In Stoving!

HJ


Other Kovea Related Posts
Kovea MoonWalker vs. MSR WindPro II -- Packability

9 comments:

  1. Good knowledge... especially the part about the rate of fuel changing upon inversion of the bottle.

    /saved from burning face... for now

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think stoves like this have real potential for colder weather use. Stoves like this one should be usable in temperatures 20F/10C degrees lower than regular canister stoves if you use the right fuel and know what you're doing.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete
  3. Geoff & Jim,

    Thanks for the review. In a few moments of weakness I bought both a Jetboil Sol and a Kovea Camp 5 on Ebay. Of course the Jetboil coming from just a few states away and the Kovea coming from Korea, I've already played with the Jetboil but am waiting with excitement for the Kovea.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, Jim,

    I'm particularly interested in hearing how it goes with that little Kovea stove.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kovea Camp 5 arrived Friday. Played with it in the kitchen to make some coffee.

    Tiny and potentially tippy were my first thoughts. Once folded open the pot supports seem fine, but the light weight and fairly narrow stance of the legs seem rather tippy.

    It definitely throws a lot of heat in a narrow spot. Should be good for winter if I can figure a good windscreen and snow base (so it doesn't do a China-syndrome type meltdown)

    I love the sparker and predict that they will become quite popular. If I sell the stove I'm keepin' the sparker!

    Thinking of a windscreen idea that would let me use my Jetboil PCS pot. Stay tuned.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I got mine (from ebay) this weekend and agree with the review and JimQPublic's points. The stove packs a wallop, especially in liquid feed.

    I have two main "cons" after kitchen playing:
    1. Floppy pot supports. One of the three has nice resistance and stays unfurled, but the other two have looser rivets and fold themselves pack down if the stove moves too much (see #2).
    2. The stove is finicky to get standing straight without a pot on it. Looks like a combination of the small footprint, light weight, and the way the fuel line runs away from the burner. The fuel line "torques" the stove over unless some well planned bends are made.

    Hopefully some work with pliers can fix #1 and experience will fix #2. I'm worried about lifting a pot off while the stove is on and having it tip over.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, Guys,

    Thanks for the first hand remarks. Much appreciated.

    It does seem like they've made the stove a little bit "skinny and tall." Maybe that's so it will pack small? But I think they'd have done better by having things open up more for better pot and overall stability.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete
  8. KOVEA MOONWALKER it is better Kovea gas stove.

    New Camp 5 I do not liked.

    Purchased one more Kovea Moonwalker for my travels. Also love my old KOVEA GAS STOVE, comes with red zippered pouch.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Camp 5 is a bit limited in that it's a very narrow stove and pot stability as well as overall stability can be lacking.

    I have a Moonwalker, and it's very, very stable, but it's also quite heavy.

    HJ

    ReplyDelete