Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cooking with the Kovea Spider

The Kovea Spider (KB-1109) is a relatively new remote canister stove.  I recently wrote a review of the Spider.  The Spider has a relatively small burner head, which is good in that it makes the stove compact, but apparently there's some concern out there that the small burner head might make the Spider a poor cooking stove (perhaps small head = small flame = a burned spot in your food?).

Now the fact of the matter is that the burner head angles the flames outward which gives a well distributed flame.  No "hot spotting" here.
The flame on a Kovea Spider is well distributed.
But the "proof of the pudding is in the eating" as they say, so let's do some actual cooking.  It's Saturday morning, so how about a delicious breakfast omelette?  Yum!  Let's get started.

First, the ingredients.
The makings of a nice omelette
For today's omelette, I've brought along:
  • Boxed milk of the type that needs no refrigeration.
  • Some leftover bacon and ham
  • Five eggs
  • Some shredded cheese
  • A bit of olive oil (to grease the pan)
And for the cooking, we'll need the proper tools.
The tools needed for cooking an omelette
For today's cooking, I'll be using the following:
  • MSR Blacklite pan (aluminum, not titanium or stainless steel)
  • A Jetboil spatula
  • A set of Open Country pot grippers
Note that I'll be using an aluminum pan.  For real cooking, I have a strong preference for aluminum cookware.  Aluminum conducts heat far better than stainless steel or titanium and does a really good job with foods that need low, even heat -- like an omelette.  I suppose one could use cast iron as well, but shall we say that cast iron is none too light to carry.

Well, then, let's crack the eggs.
Our eggs, laid out nicely in a bowl
And add our milk.
Milk makes for a really good omellete
I like to add about 25ml of milk per egg.  Milk gives an omellete a rich, creamy taste.

Next, beat the eggs and milk with a fork until well blended.
Beat the eggs and milk to as reasonably uniform a consistency as you can
There are those who say that the whites should be "beaten until stiff" and then the yolks should be "folded" in.  What a lot of unnecessary faffing about!  You want everything blended together in the end.  Go there directly.  "Beating the egg whites until stiff" is the province of those who sit at home and have no appetite!  I like to roam about the countryside in the out-of-doors.  "I'm hungry, let's get on with it!" is my philosophy.

I then pour the blended eggs and milk into my pan which I have already greased with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle in the cheese.
Eggs in our pan with the cheese sprinkled on.
Yes, I add the cheese before I start cooking.  I like my cheese well melted, and I like all my ingredients good and hot out on the trail.

Next, I break up a bit of bacon.  Today I brought bacon cooked earlier that day, but a package of bacon bits from the market works quite well and is generally more practical for the trail.
Bacon, added to the mix
Lastly, a special treat for today, I add some ham.
Ham, added to the mix
There we are!  Now, we're ready to start cooking, so let's set up our little Spider.
The Kovea Spider, legs deployed.
Now, I know what you're thinking:  "How are you going to cook a proper omelette on that little thing?"  Ah, skeptical reader, bear with me, and you shall see.

I like to add a little disc of aluminum underneath.  The aluminum disc will reflect heat upwards and also prevent any scorching of the picnic table I'm set up on.  The disc doesn't come with the stove, but it's easy enough to buy or make one.  The disc I have is from Flat Cat Gear and has a small hole punched out in the very center where the disk folds.  This hole prevents tearing at the crease, which is a nice feature.
An aluminum disk reflects heat up to your pot and protects the surface you're working on.
Next, I enclose the stove in a windscreen.  Here, I'm using a standard MSR windscreen, but any windscreen will do.  Whereas the aluminum disk is pretty much an optional extra, a windscreen is not.  A windscreen will allow you to use less fuel and give you greater control over your cooking, particularly at low flame.  I recommend using a windscreen any time you cook.

Recall also that one of the benefits of using a remote canister stove as opposed to the more typical upright canister stove is that you can use a fully enclosing windscreen.  Use a full windscreen with an upright canister stove and your canister might just overheat and explode.

So!  Eggs on, let's get cooking.
Cooking the omelette
To start, I use a medium heat.  I want the eggs to start bubbling.  Recall that you want the milk to boil.  It is the boiling milk that puts all those little bubbles into your omelette, giving it that light, fluffy texture.
Eggs, just starting to bubble.
However, just as soon as things start to bubble, you want to turn the heat down to very low.  I've got five eggs here in a relatively small pan.  In order to cook things all the way through evenly without having a burnt bottom, I'm going to have to use a very low heat.  Now, this ought to be a good test of the Spider.  Will that little burner head give me a burnt bottom?  Will it give me a ring of blackened eggs in the center of my pan?  Or will it be able to give me a nice, even heat and cook all parts of the omelette properly?  Let's see.

Looks like things are coming along nicely.  The toughest part of the omelette to get to cook properly is the very top.  Here, I've pushed the edge of the omelette in a bit on the left hand side and allowed any remaining liquid eggs to flow into the resultant gap.  Perhaps that's "cheating," but I look at that as being strictly a practical measure to ensure full cooking of that last little bit of liquid egg that always remains on top -- even when I cook omelettes at home.
Almost done now.
There!  Done at last.  And how did we do?  Let's pull it out of the pan and have a look.
The completed omelette.
Looks good!  Let's pull it out of the pan and have a closer look.
Looking at the omelette, edge on.
The omelette is fairly easy to pick up and move, which shows good cohesion -- meaning that it's cooked all the way through.  The edges look good, showing a nice bit of golden brown.  They're done just exactly right.  The eggs have fluffed up nicely; the omelette is a good bit thicker than my thumb.  I'd say our little Spider has passed with flying colors, but let's continue to examine our omelette.

Looking inside, I see that the eggs are fluffy and still moist but are definitely fully cooked.  All of the cheese is fully melted and has made a nice topping.
A very nice omelette indeed!
The omelette slices cleanly yet easily indicating that while it is fully cooked, it is not overdone.
Sliced, the omelette holds a good ege and reveals it's fluffy inner texture.
Let's flip over a piece and have a look at the under side.  Looks nice and golden brown.  No burning on the bottom.  Nice.
Flipping over a section of the bottom, we see a light browning.  Looks good!
And our pan?  Not that there was any question, but:  no burning.
No burnt on food on the pan.
Well, I for one am fully satisfied with the cooking capabilities of the little Kovea Spider.  I've been able to whip up a number of tasty dishes.  I hope this will dispel an idea that the Spider's diminutive size will somehow prevent it from being a good cooking stove.  I find that though the burner head is small, it's well designed and does a proper job on cooking tasks.

Personally, I find that a remote canister stove is a cook's stove, far more than any upright canister stove that I've used, including ones with larger burner heads.  A remote canister stove permits the use of a full windscreen which allows me to use a very low flame without worrying about the flame being blown out.  The windscreen also creates a very hot environment under that pan, and environment that allows me to have a lot more control over the heat of cooking than I would have with a typical upright set up which is open on the sides.  A remote canister set up also gives me a very stable cooking platform with a lower center of gravity than an upright setup.  I really like a remote canister set up if I want to do some real cooking.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some eating to do.

I thank you for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,

Time to eat.  (it was most delicious, I assure you)


  1. Kovea Spider is one of the best Kovea products I have seen. The omelette looks really delicious!

    1. It really is a nice stove. I have 3 different Kovea stoves, all of which are good, but this is the one I'll probably use the most.


  2. I just finished breakfast and you made me hungry again.I'll never lose weight like this!

  3. How does it compare with the kovea camp 5?

    1. I much prefer the Spider over the Camp 5. The Camp 5 is tall and spindly which makes it less stable than the Spider. The Spider is very stable. The Spider also has a more dispersed flame which makes for better cooking.


  4. Great blog - fantastic information.

    I'm currently weighing up the MSR Microrocket and Kovea Spider as replacements for our current stove. Do you have any thoughts on the relative efficiencies of the two in terms of burn time etc?


    1. Hi, Nic,

      Why, thank you.

      The efficiencies will depend far more on the user than on the stove. If a person who understands the basics of fuel economy (turn the stove down, use a windscreen, use a lid) uses a less efficient stove, it will probably still be more efficient than a person who does not.

      That said, the MicroRocket and Spider are really different classes of stove. The MicroRocket is lighter and more packable but will suffer in wind and is not as good for real cooking. The Spider is better in wind (assuming you use a windscreen of course!) and is better for real cooking, but weighs roughly two times what the MicroRocket weighs. The Spider is very packable for a stove of it's type. The Spider wins hands down in weather below 50F/10C.


  5. Jim, thanks for the comprehensive reviews. I like the look of that omelet. Could you tell me if you prefer the Kovea over the MSR Windpro II forthis type of (more delicate) cooking?

    Knoxville tn

    1. Neal,

      In terms of the quality of cooking, the Windpro might be slightly better, but the Spider does a good job and is my pick overall because it is so compact.


    2. Well, if its just a matter of "slightly" better for quality cooking, then the Kovea really does seem to be the far better choice, as you said, overall.

      Jim, I had only recently found your review site, and I am truly impressed with the quality of the reviews. You answer most of the questions I would ask without me having to do so. Then, if I do arrive at a question you answer in a very promptly.

      Thanks very much,
      Knoxville tn

    3. Hi, Neal,

      I'm glad you find the site helpful. I try to stay on top of the site as much as I can if for no other reason than to keep the spammers at bay. :) (but also to answer questions of course)


  6. or,...you answer promptly. Ah, typos.

    BTW, if I am going to use an 8 or a 10 inch GSI pinnacle fry pan, will the Kovea support them?

    Thanks again,

    Knoxville tn

    1. I use a 7 5/8" pan all the time (MSR Blacklite). Absolutely no problem with something in that range (like an 8" pan). The 10" pan should be fine. You'd have to be a little more careful but I don't think it would be a big deal. Certainly weight wise it's not going to be a problem. If you consistently use a 10" pan, then maybe the Windpro would be the better choice since it's pot supports have a bit wider span and it's burner head is wider.


  7. Thanks for the reply, Jim.

    I do have the decision to make between the 8" and 10" frypans. I had thought I would have to get the 10", but when I saw what you were able to do with the smaller pan, I began looking at both sizes. Since I would likely be using a 10" only for 3 or more, and I would usually be backpacking with 2, then the 8" might be sufficient for the majority of hikes.

    At this point i am looking primarily for a stove to use with a GSI Pinnacle Dualist. If that goes well I will be adding a fry pan. I hope to do much more than simply rehydrate food.

    As you might have deduced, I am just now returning to backpacking, which I haven't done since I was a Boy Scout in the 70's. (my, has the technology changed things) As a father of 3 daughters I have taken my family car camping quite a bit, but now with the older two grown and out of the nest, my youngest (age 12) and I are getting a serious itch for backpacking. (My wife may end up being the third, but she is a bit hesitant, understandably. Still, I believe she will end up getting out with us.) Your advice will help us save money and weight, space and frustration.

    Thanks again,

    Knoxville tn

  8. Neal,

    For eggs, an 8" pan is fine for three people. You just have to use low heat. For pancakes for three people, definitely the 10". If you'll go with three people only occasionally, I'd say you could probably get by with an 8" pan and the Spider is a good choice.


  9. Thanks again, Jim!

    I was contemplating trying the 8" to see how well it would work. Your advice sealed it. I will get the 8" and see if it will not suffice for both sets of circumstances. If not, I can get a 10" for the larger groups. Any way you slice it, I can get the 8" knowing it will be right for the majority of my trips, at least as far as I am planning for now.

    Thanks so much,

    Knoxville tn

  10. How would this stove compare to optimus Crux for cooking not just heating water? thanks.


My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!