Monday, November 14, 2016

The Kovea Hydra – First Look

I'm in the process of reviewing the Hydra stove from Kovea.
The Kovea Hydra
My review will be featured next week on SectionHiker.com, a popular hiking and backpacking blog.  In the mean time, I thought I'd post a sort of "first look" at the Hydra and include some things that will supplement my full review.  When my review is ready, I'll post a link here on my blog.

UPDATE 22 Nov 2016:  My completed review of the Kovea Hydra is now available on SectionHiker.com

The Hydra comes as a nice, complete set that includes a fuel pump, fuel bottle, repair tool, heat reflector, windscreen, spare parts/repair kit, plastic hard case, a canister stand for inverted use, a fuel bottle bag, and of course the burner.  Many stoves are sold without a fuel bottle, so it's a nice feature to have a fuel bottle included with the Hydra.
A Kovea Hydra boxed set.
The bottle bag is a kind of interesting thing.  I haven't seen this with other stoves.  Most people carry the pump in the bottle when out on the trail.  The stove bag protects the pump while in transport.  I think this is a good idea.
The fuel bottle bag of a Kovea Hydra
The bag is sized for the included bottle.  You can put taller bottles in the bag, but they will stick out a bit.  Inasmuch as the pump is what really needs the protection, I suppose one could simply slip the bag on over the top leaving the bottom of the fuel bottle exposed.
The pump will stick out of the bottle bag when used with taller fuel bottles.
The Hydra has three claims to fame:  It's quiet, it's compact, and it works with either canister gas or white gasoline without needing any hardware changes or adjustments.

And compact it is indeed.  There are very few white gasoline type stoves that will fold up this small and fit in my hand.  The Hydra is smaller than a 110g sized canister of gas.
The Kovea Hydra is a study in compactness.
While it is indeed compact when it is folded, the Hydra expands out with impressively wide pot supports that can handle some pretty big pots, up to about 5 L, possibly more.
The Kovea Hydra with the pot supports fully deployed.
It can also support pots down to as small as 500 or so ml.
A 550 ml mug type pot on the Kovea Hydra.  Note how wide the pot supports are.
True to its claims, the Hydra really is a quiet stove.  It's not as quiet as a non-pressurized alcohol stove, but for a canister gas/white gas stove, it's pretty quiet.  The secret is the way that fuel is distributed and dispersed through multiple slits on the burner's periphery.  I don't believe I've seen a burner head like this before.
The very quiet slit burner of the Kovea Hydra.
In my testing, the burner was quiet with both canister and white gas, and the transition between the two required no changes to the burner other than to swap out the fuels.  Both modes, canister gas and white gas, worked very well.

On high, the burner did make more noise, but for a stove that is as powerful as the Hydra, it really is quiet.
The Kovea Hydra on high.
I'm not sure that I would describe the Hydra as a gourmet cook's stove, but I was able to get a workable simmer out of the stove.  The Hydra doesn't have a precisely controlled flame, but if you monkey with it a bit with moderate to low pressure in the tank, you can get a reasonable simmer.
A relatively low boil on the Kovea Hydra
The flame control was sufficient such that I could really simmer my noodles and get them done just the way I like them, with lots of water absorbed.
A ramen noodle dish cooked on the Kovea Hydra.
So, there's a very brief first look at the Kovea Hydra.  There will be more in the full review where I'll go into the results of my testing.  Especially important will be the recommendations I make based on wind testing; pay close attention to those.

I thank you for joining me,


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