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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: the BRS-3000T – the World's Lightest Gas Stove


At just 25 grams (0.9 oz), the BRS-3000T is unquestionably the world's lightest canister gas stove.  But is it any good?  I thought I'd see for myself.

UPDATE 02 March 2017:  Failure #2 of the BRS-3000T
UPDATE 05 March 2017:  Failure #3 and #4 of the BRS-3000T
The tiny BRS-3000T – only 25 grams!!
Classification
I think that it's fair to say that the BRS-3000T is the worlds first true super ultralight (SUL) canister stove.  What do I mean by "super ultralight?"  Well, take a look at the below chart.  The BRS-3000T is the first known canister stove to come in under one ounce (about 28 g) in weight.
Canister Gas Stove Weight Classes
(Less Than or Equal To)
Ounces Grams
Heavy
 4+
113+
Moderate < 4 < 113
Light < 3 < 85
Ultralight (UL) < 2 < 57
Super Ultralight (SUL) < 1 < 28

Basically:
  • If an upright canister stove weighs less than or equal to an ounce (28 g), that's SUL in my book.
  • If it weighs less than or equal to two ounces (57 g) but more than one ounce, then it's UL.  
  • If it weighs less than or equal to three ounces (85 g) but more than two ounces, then it's light.  
  • If it weighs less than or equal to four ounces (113 g) but more than three ounces , then it's moderate.  
  • If it weighs more than a quarter pound (113 g), then it's heavy.  
I think that's a reasonable categorization, given the state of the art and the stoves commonly used.

Size
So, just how small is this thing, anyway?  Well, for comparative purposes, I thought I'd put it side-by-side with some other stoves.
  • On the far left is an MSR Pocket Rocket, a moderate weight stove at 3.1 oz/87 g.
  • Next to the right with the red base is an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, a light weight stove at 2.6 oz/73g.  
  • Next with the yellow base is a FMS-116T (also sold as the Monatauk Gnat and the Olicamp Kinetic Ultra), an ultralight stove at 1.7 oz/48 g.  
  • Last on the right is the BRS-3000T, a super ultralight stove at 0.9 oz/25 g.
Left to right: an MSR Pocket Rocket, an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, a Fire Maple FMS-116T, and a BRS-3000T.

"Bench" Testing
Adventures in Stoving is all about testing, ideally in the field.  I do typically test at home before taking a stove out into the field.  To that end, I fired it up at home.  Right away,  I noticed that there was a lot impingement of the flame by the pot supports.  The pot supports had a fairly dramatic impact on the flame, as shown by the color change in the flame in the photo, below.  Put this into the back of your mind.  We'll come back to this later.
The flame of the BRS-3000T hits the pot supports, transmitting a great deal of heat to them.
Note how the far pot support glows in the heat
Other stoves did not affect the flame as much even though their pot supports were also in contact with the flame.
The pot supports of an FMS-116T stove have no where near the impact on the flame as do those of the BRS-3000T.
Pot Stability
I was also interested in pot stability.  The BRS-3000T is a tiny little stove and of all the stoves I've got has the smallest span to its pot supports.
Top row:  An MSR Pocket Rocket 2, left, and an MSR Pocket Rocket, right.
Bottom row:  A Fire Maple FMS-116T, left, and a BRS-3000T, right.
The BRS-3000T has the smallest span to its pot supports by far.

Field Testing
Intrigued by the odd flame pattern I had seen at home, I moved immediately to field testing.  I had heard that the BRS-3000T did not perform well in wind.  I therefore chose a day with moderate winds for testing.

Arriving in the field, I began setting up to test.  Out of curiosity, I flipped over a 110 g canister of gas.  The pot supports fit easily into the underside of the canister.  The BRS-3000T is a small stove, and the pot supports don't have a particularly wide span.   Pot stability is definitely an issue with this tiny little stove.
The pot supports of a BRS-3000T are so small that they will fit in the underside of a 110 g canister.
The nice thing about such small pot supports is that they will work well with small vessels, for example the 250 ml Sierra cup shown in the photo below.
The BRS-3000T is a good match for a Sierra Cup
Pot stability is a little tougher with a larger (but not particularly big) pot like the 1300 ml Evernew UL pot shown in the below photo.  I probably wouldn't go larger than a 1.5 liter pot on a BRS-3000T, and you'd be better served by keeping your pot size under one liter.  The best fit would probably be for pots (or mugs or cups) from about 750 ml to 250 ml in capacity.
A 1300 ml Evernew UL pot on a BRS-3000T
I put approximately 750 ml (three cups) of water into the pot, fired it up, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about 10 minutes the water came to a low boil.  The stove was not able to achieve a full roiling boil.  I had heard that a BRS-3000T would struggle in wind, but I had no idea it would be this bad.  All open burner upright canister stoves are impacted by wind, but I have never seen a stove this wind sensitive before.  Even at highest output it could not bring 750 ml of water to a roiling boil, and this was not a particularly windy day.  I would describe the winds as moderate.  I had to put a weight on my ramen noodle wrapper to keep it from flying away, but it wasn't like cups were being pushed over by the wind, and the trees around me were not blowing way over or anything like that.  These were pretty ordinary, common outdoor conditions, conditions that I probably wouldn't even take particular note of normally.

Well, I was hungry, so I put my noodles in, and, after a bit... what the heck?  Did I put the pot on wrong or something?  My pot was clearly listing to one side like a sinking ship!
My Evernew 1300 ml pot – canted off to one side atop a BRS-3000T
Quickly, I grabbed my pot before my lunch took a tumble!  Examining the stove, I realized that the pot support had bent.  It may be a little hard to see here, but the pot support on the right in the below photo is bent outward and down with a slight twist.
Note the bend and partial twist in the pot support on the right.
All I had in the pot was about 750 ml of water and some ramen noodles.  I mean c'mon, that is a very normal load for a stove.  If I had put a 3 liter pot on a little stove like this maybe I'd understand, but 750 ml?  That's trivial.  A stove should be able to handle 750 freaking little milliliters.  750 ml is only 0.75 kg (1.7 lbs).  Do not get distracted by the pot size.  This is not a pot size issue.  Read the Analysis section below.  The real issue in this case is the wind and the design of the stove.

Yes, I tested the stove on top of the picnic table.  Yes, it would have been better to set it on the ground behind a rock or something, but c'mon!  I ought to at least be able to boil water after 10 minutes on high.  This stove is a really poor performer in wind, and there certainly shouldn't have been any deformation in the pot supports after 10 to 12 minutes.
The pot supports of a BRS-3000T are exposed to a great deal of heat.
Remember that photo I posted earlier?  The pot supports absorb a lot of heat from the flame.  After 10 minutes on high, they had absorbed enough heat that the pot supports deformed even though they weren't under a particularly heavy load.

Analysis
I noticed during use that the wind was blowing the flame toward the pot support that eventually failed.  Said pot support was glowing brightly while the pot support opposite was barely affected. So much heat was channeled into the one pot support that even under a relatively light load of less than a kilogram, the pot support experienced "creep deformation" (or "creep failure"), the tendency of a metal to slowly deform under stress – a tendency that increases when both stress and heat are present.

The way that the flame and supports are configured, the pot supports are blasted with heat.  Magnify that effect with wind directing the majority of the heat to a single pot support, and you get creep deformation.  Yes, I realize that 10 to 12 minutes is a little long to be running a stove, but, it's not a grossly unreasonable time to run a stove, particularly in wind.  A stove shouldn't deform due to its own flame in such a short time.  The stove should not have been designed such that the pot supports are blasted with heat – or they should have been made a little more heat resistant.  Remember that photo I posted of the flame?  Most stoves don't have that kind of discoloration in the flame.  There's something peculiar about this stove and its design.

However, there are plenty of people using the stove that are not experiencing any problems.  It looks like quality control may not be quite what it needs to be with this stove.  Combine poor quality control with a design that blasts the pot supports with heat, and you have a recipe for pot support failure.

Links:

Recommendations
I can't exactly give a good recommendation to a stove that failed during testing. Neither can I give a stove that handles wind so poorly a good recommendation.

Again, however, I'm aware that there are plenty of people who are using the stove and are not experiencing problems.  It’s an inconsistent stove.  Maybe you'll get lucky.  Maybe you won't.  Clearly there are duds out there, and even if you don't get a dude, the right wind conditions could still cause a pot support failure.  Also, your pot supports could fail over time, as they did in Failure #3, above.

I suggest the following:
  • Run the stove  for 15 minutes on high with 2 cups of water on before taking it out on the trail for the first time.  If your stove can handle a 15 minute run on high at home, then it's probably going to be OK out on the trail.  If it fails at home, just buy another one.  It's not like they're expensive.  The chances of getting two duds are fairly low I would think.
  • Make absolutely certain to shelter the stove from wind.  If you fail to shelter the stove, wind may channel heat to a single pot support which may deform and fail.  You should always shelter a stove anyway so that you're not burning through an inordinate amount fuel, but it's particularly critical on the BRS-3000T.
  • Run the stove at about 50% to 75% of full flame to avoid overheating the pot supports.  It'll take a little longer to boil, but you'll actually save gas this way, and you won't have so much heat blasting the pot supports.
If you wanted to really play it safe, you could limit the amount of water boiled at any one time to, say, 500 ml.  You could also run the stove for no more than maybe 5 or so minutes at a time, give or take, and you could let the stove cool a bit between successive boils

Long Term Reliability
What impact will repeatedly blasting the pot supports with high heat have?  I have received reports from people who had good results at first but whose pot supports deformed over time.  So, there is the possibility that even if your stove is good at first that it may experience problems over time.

Alternatives
BRS has a history of problems; some BRS stoves have been banned by countries in Europe due to repeated safety problems.

If you really want a good ultra light canister gas stove, look into Fire Maple stoves.  Fire Maple has a pretty good reputation.  Their FMS-116T (sold in the US as the Olicamp Kinetic Ultra) weighs 48 g/1.7 oz.  The Fire Maple FMS-300T (sold in the US as the Olicamp Ion Micro) weighs 45 g/1.5 oz.  They're not super fancy stoves, but at least they don't channel so much heat to their pot supports that they deform and dump your dinner.

Note the nomenclature on that last stove, the 300T.  Sound familiar?  That's right, the BRS-3000T is a cheap imitation of the FMS-300T.  Do yourself a favor; get the real thing.  Yeah, it's 0.8 oz/20 g more weight, but at least it doesn't bend after ten minutes of use.  My opinion.  YMMV.

And of course there's the Snow Peak LiteMax stove at 1.9 oz/54 grams, which is very compact while still having good pot stability.

Best Use
I can't recommend a stove that failed during testing even if, yes, the circumstances were a little bit unusual.  However, if anyone were to use a BRS-3000T, it should be a soloist. This is not a good stove for two people, and it is clearly not a group stove.

I would not recommend the BRS-3000T for snow melting.  Snow melting usually requires that a stove be on for longer periods of time although there are people who are doing just that, snow melting, and are not having problems.

Summary and Conclusion
The BRS-3000T
What's good about it?
  • Cheap.  Prices vary, but I think I paid about $15 for it, including shipping, on Amazon.
  • Light.  Twenty five grams (0.9 oz)!
  • Compact.
  • Fits small cups, mugs, and pots well.
What's not so good about it?
  • Absolutely abysmal in wind.  A windscreen will help, but there are times where even a windscreen may not be enough.
  • Pot supports get heavily hit by the flame and could fail.
  • Poor pot stability.
  • Overly short valve control handle.
The BRS-3000T:  Not recommended.

Sorry I couldn't give a better report.  I was really hopeful about this stove but am now quite disappointed.  Had I bought it locally instead of from China, I would demand my money back.

HJ

Disclosures
I purchased this stove with my own money on Amazon just like anyone else would.  I have no financial relationships with either BRS or Amazon.  If I did, I might be giving a much nicer review, don't you think?  I am an independent stove reviewer.  This is my review; it is no one else's.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Gas vs. Alcohol – Which is Lighter?

Ah, the perennial question among those who wish to save weight:  Which is lighter, gas or alcohol?

I've visited this question before, but now that super ultralight (SUL) canister gas stoves are available, it's time to re-visit the subject.
The BRS-3000T, the world's first super ultralight (SUL) canister gas stove – a mere 25 grams!

Heavy?  Or (Ultra) Light? 
What do I mean by "SUL?"  How do we classify canister stoves?  Well, here's my schema:
Canister Gas Stove Weight Classes
(Less Than or Equal To)
Ounces Grams
Heavy
 4+
113+
Moderate 4 113
Light 3 85
Ultralight (UL) 2 57
Super Ultralight (SUL) 1 28

Basically, if a canister stove weighs less than an ounce (28 g), that's SUL in my book.  If a stove weighs more than a quarter pound (113 g), that's heavy.  I think that's a fair and reasonable categorization, given the state of the art.

But, Hikin' Jim, uh, isn't this post about comparing gas to alcohol?  All you've done so far is talk about gas.

The Math
Ah, yes, quite right.  So, for a given trip, which is lighter, alcohol or canister gas?  Let's do some math.  If you don't like math, then by all means skip down to the discussion, but in order to really feel like I'm on solid footing here, I need to go through the details.

First, for the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to assume that our gas stove and our alcohol stove set ups weigh about the same.  In the case of the BRS-3000T, that would be 25 grams.

Second, I'm allocating 30 g for the alcohol container and 100 g for the gas canister.  Those may not be representative of all containers and canisters everywhere, but let's just go with it for now.

For this example, assume the individual is going to boil 500 ml of water twice a day.  Based on that assumption, I allot 40 ml of alcohol or 20 grams of gas per day.  Both of those could be overstated, but these are round numbers for comparative purposes.

The specific gravity of alcohol is about 0.8, so our 40 ml/day of alcohol is going to weigh about 32 g/day.

I've laid out an example in the below chart, based on a 5 day trip.    By the way, this spreadsheet is available for download if you want to run your own numbers.  See the "Get your own danged spreadsheet" section of this post.
Alcohol Calcs Alcohol Set Up (grams) Gas Set Up (grams) Alcohol Set Up (ounces) Gas Set Up (ounces) Gas Calcs
Stove Weight 25 25 0.9 0.9
Container Weight 30 100 1.1 3.5
Fuel/Day (ml) 40 20 Gas grams/day
Spec Gravity 0.8
Fuel/Day (g) 32
Days on Trail 5 0.0 0.0 100 Total Gas Weight (g)
Fuel Weight 160 110 5.6 3.9
Total Weight 215 235 7.6 8.3

Discussion
Now, the "conventional wisdom" is that a trip shorter than X days is going to be lighter with alcohol but that all trips longer than X days are going to be lighter with gas, the presumption being that since gas is more calorically dense, one would eventually overcome the heavier weight of the steel canister in which the gas is housed.  There's some disagreement on exactly what "X" is, but this is the basic argument, that a trip longer than X days will be lighter with gas.

But is it really true?  Well, take a look at the bottom line, total weight, in the chart above.  For a trip of 5 days, alcohol is just slightly lighter, by 20 g, than gas.  Ah!  There you go. So, for anything beyond that, gas will be lighter, right?

Well, maybe not.  Look at the far right column.  Do you see the cell labeled "Total Gas Weight"?  Look at that number there, 100 grams.  So, let's see, one more day than five would be six days, and on the sixth day, we'd add another 20 grams, our daily allotment, giving us a total of 120 grams of gas... But our canister only holds 110 grams of gas.  Oops.

Therein lies the problem with the "conventional wisdom".  Canister gas is only sold in lots of roughly 4, 8, or 16 ounces (about 110g, 220g, or 450g; brands vary).  The problem with the "conventional wisdom" is that on day six you have to size up to the next larger canister, and... alcohol becomes lighter again.

Now, are my numbers for every person for every trip?  Probably not, but in general the rule should hold:  Gas will be lighter after a certain number of days – until you have to size up to the next larger canister.

Here's how it maps out, in the chart below.  Negative numbers  in the difference column mean that gas is heavier.  Positive numbers mean that gas is lighter.

Empty canister weights are as follows:
110 g size = 100 g empty
220 g size = 150 g empty
450 g size = 210 g empty
Days Alcohol Set Up (grams) Gas Set Up (grams) Difference (grams) Alcohol Set Up (ounces) Gas Set Up (ounces) Difference (ounces)
1 87 235 -148 3.1 8.3 -5.2
2 119 235 -116 4.2 8.3 -4.1
3 151 235 -84 5.3 8.3 -3.0
4 183 235 -52 6.5 8.3 -1.8
5 215 235 -20 7.6 8.3 -0.7
6 247 285 -38 8.7 10.1 -1.3
7 279 285 -6 9.8 10.1 -0.2
8 311 285 26 11.0 10.1 0.9
9 343 285 58 12.1 10.1 2.0
10 375 285 90 13.2 10.1 3.2
11 407 445 -28 14.4 15.3 -1.3
12 439 445 4 15.5 15.3 0.2
13 471 445 36 16.6 15.3 0.2
14 503 445 68 17.7 15.3 2.0
15 535 445 100 18.9 15.3 3.2
16 567 445 132 20.0 15.3 4.3
17 599 445 164 21.1 15.3 5.4
18 631 445 196 22.3 15.3 6.6
19 663 445 228 23.4 15.3 7.7
20 695 445 260 24.5 15.3 8.8
21 727 445 292 25.6 15.3 9.9

Notes on the above chart:
  • For days one through four, alcohol is about 5 to about 2 ounces lighter.
  • On day five, it's less than a one ounce difference between the two, but alcohol is still a bit lighter.
  • But on day six, the amount of weight saved by using alcohol increases to 1.3 oz.  Why?  Because we had to size up to the next larger canister.
  • By day seven, you're at basically a break even.
  • For days eight through ten, finally gas is actually lighter.
  • On day eleven, alcohol goes back to being the lighter weight option again.  Why?  Because we had to size up to the next larger canister.
  • Finally, starting on day twelve, gas is always lighter, increasingly so, for the remainder of the three week period that is mapped out in the above chart.
You will note in the above that the progression is not straight line (non-linear).  It jumps up disproportionately because the weight of a canister does not increase steadily.  The first 110 grams of gas requires 100 grams of canister weight (about a 1;1 ratio).  The next 110 grams only requires 50 additional grams of canister weight (about a 2:1 ratio), and then the next 200 grams only requires 60 additional grams (about a 4:1 ratio).  Incidentally, I think we can see here that it's going to generally be better to carry one larger canister rather than multiple smaller canisters for a given amount of gas.

Summary
  • Trips of one to four days have reasonably good weight savings when using alcohol.
  • Trips of five to eight days don't show a whole lot of difference either way.
  • Trips longer than eight days will generally see better results with canister gas, with the exception of day eleven where alcohol will be lighter.
Concluding Remarks
Now, "your mileage may vary" (YMMV) as they say.  The number of people, type of cooking, conditions, and the specific stove set ups will affect these calculations.  But regardless of the specifics, it's going to be along these lines.  Don't just assume that trips longer than X days will always be lighter on canister gas.  Factor in when you will have to size up to the next larger size canister.  And of course, my underlying assumptions in terms of how much fuel will be needed per day may not apply to you.  The best course of action is to run your own numbers based on your situation, which leads me to say:

Get Your Own Danged Spreadsheet!
Don't like my numbers?  That's perfectly understandable.  Use your own numbers.  You can download my Excel spreadsheet, which is in xlsx format, and then you can run any number of different scenarios.  Cells in which you need to enter values into are highlighted in yellow.  You need to enter the following:
  • Stove weight, once for alcohol and once for gas.
  • Container weight, just for alcohol.  Gas container weight will be calculated for you based on how much total gas your trip requires.  
  • Fuel per day, once for alcohol and once for gas.
  • Days on trail.
Once you enter the above values, the spreadsheet will calculate the total weight for both alcohol and gas.  The results will be displayed in both metric (to the left) and English (to the right) units.  I hope it's helpful to you.

Does It Matter?
Does any of this matter?  Aren't the weight differences too small to care about?  Maybe.  It depends on the individual.  There are gram weenies that count every gram.  There are ounce counters that will save every ounce they can.  And then there are people for whom a few ounces really don't matter much either way.

However, considering how excited people get over a stove that weighs about an ounce and a half (FMS-300T) vs. a stove that weighs about one ounce (BRS-3000T), I'm thinking that there are people that will be interested.  Regardless, the spreadsheet is here if you want to use it.  Whether or not it matters, well, that's up to you.

Tailoring to the Trip
Let me leave you with one last thought: Sometimes starting pack weight isn't the only issue.

What do I mean by that?  Well, recall that you have to burn more alcohol per day to boil the same amount of water.  Your pack weight will fall faster with alcohol.  With gas, your pack weight decreases more slowly, and you've always got at least a quarter pound lump of steel in the bottom of your pack – the canister.

If you're planning a trip where you've got a big first day, then of course you want to minimize your first day's weight.  But if you're planning a trip where there's a rough go in the middle or end of the trip, you might actually want to choose alcohol since your pack may be lighter – at the time that you do the rough section – despite having a higher initial starting weight.  If you're going to have big climb, a tricky scramble, or a XC route toward the end of the trip, it might make sense to bring alcohol even if it were heavier at the start of the trip.

Thanks for putting up with all the math,

HJ

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review – The Kovea Booster+1 Dual Fuel Backpacking Stove.

The Booster+1 from Kovea is a dual fuel backpacking stove designed to work on either canister gas or white gasoline (e.g. MSR Super Fuel, Coleman Fuel, Crown Camp Fuel, etc.).
The Booster+1 dual fuel stove from Kovea.
Kovea is the best known stove company that you've never heard of.  For several major stove brands, who's actually making the stove?  Kovea.  You know their products but not necessarily their name.

Kovea makes either parts or entire stoves for Snow Peak, MSR, Edelrid, and Markill.  I'm sure that there are others.  Now, not every single stove, particularly in the case of MSR which does still make many of their own stoves, but Kovea makes at least some stoves for each of the above brands.

People have noticed that this stove is the exact same stove as a stove formerly sold by Markill.  Kovea has been making the stove all along.  When Markill stopped selling the stove, the Markill Phoenix, Kovea started selling the stove under their own brand as the Booster+1.

Single Jet
One of the really nice things about the Booster+1 is that you don't have to change anything when you change fuels.  You don't have to swap out the jet; neither do you have to change the connector.  Whether you use liquid fuel or gas fuel, the stove remains the same.

Multi fuel or dual fuel?
Kovea refers to the Booster+1 as a "multi" fuel stove, but to my mind a stove should work well with at least three fuels in order to get the "multi fuel" designation.  I mention this because you may read reviews elsewhere that the Booster+1 can run on unleaded automotive gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.  I would be very skeptical of such claims.  It can be run on some of those fuels, but the chances of it really running well are low (based on experience), and the chances of clogging the stove are high.

Alternative Fuels
If you're in an area where canister gas and white gasoline are simply unavailable, choose kerosene (1-K grade) if it is available or if you're near an airport Jet A1 or Jet A will work.  Leaded aviation gasoline (for propeller driven planes) and unleaded automotive gasoline should be avoided because of the tendency for the additives in the fuel to clog the stove.  So also diesel should generally be avoided, but special diesel #1 ("winter diesel") can be used in a pinch; just be sure it's the special #1 and not the normal diesel #2.

If you were interested in "alternative" fuels for the Booster+1, I have investigated the use of kerosene here:  The Kovea Booster+1 – Multi Fuel or Just Dual Fuel?   In order to use kerosene, you will need to know the priming and operational techniques discussed in this link.  Again, though, canister gas and white gasoline are the recommended fuels.  While you can use kerosene, the Booster+1 will not run as well on kerosene as it will on the fuels for which it was designed.

If they were cheaper and you wanted to use them, you could use "panel wipe" (common in the UK) or "environmental" gasoline (gasoline without automotive engine additives) without a problem.  "Sweet, light" naphtha should work also.

Paint thinner, which is somewhere in between gasoline and kerosene in terms of its properties should also work, but I have not tried it.  I mention some of these fuels not as a recommendation but rather as possible options for use in a pinch when more conventional stove fuels are unavailable.
The Kovea Booster+1 running on kerosene.  You can make do with kerosene in a pinch.
See the above link for tips and appropriate technique.
Boxed Set
The Booster+1 comes in a nice boxed set.  There are two versions, one with a fuel bottle included, and one without.  Make sure you know which one you are getting.  You will need a fuel bottle if you plan to use white gasoline.  If you only plan to use canister gas, then you're all set, and you don't need to buy a fuel bottle.  Either set includes a windscreen.
A Kovea Booster+1 boxed set.  This is the version that does not include a fuel bottle.

What's in the Box?
Inside the box is a nice zippered nylon case.  Inside the case is the stove.  One can also place the supplied maintenance tool inside the case, but there is not room for the pump.  However, I don't get too excited about this.  Just keep the pump in the bottle.  The fuel bottle will protect the threads and underside of the pump, and the pump will take up far less space.  When the bottle is empty, don't screw down the pump tightly so that you don't wear out the gasket.

The zippered nylon case of the Kovea Booster+1 has room for the stove, maintenance tool, and the spares kit.
There isn't enough room for the pump, but who cares?  Just keep the pump on the fuel bottle.
Speaking of the pump, I regard the Kovea pump as a high quality fuel pump.  The fuel pump has some nice features like a knob that is turned so that one can screw on the connector.  See my review of the Kovea Hydra for details of this feature and further commentary on the pump.  Since the Booster+1's pump is the same pump as the Kovea Hydra, I will not repeat all of my earlier review here.
The high quality Kovea fuel pump.
As I mentioned, the Booster+1 comes with a spares kit which includes things like "O" rings, a spare jet, lubricant, and a spare pump cup.
The spares kit of the Booster+1
It's a nice little kit, and along with the maintenance tool, should be able to handle routine maintenance as well as trouble shooting in the field.
The maintenance tool for the Kovea Booster+1.
Note the wire "pricker" for cleaning the jet at the end of the tool.
The maintenance tool is a little on the heavy side in my opinion, but it certainly will get the job done.  It would be nice to see a few grams shaved off – so long as it didn't diminish the effectiveness of the tool.
The Kovea Booster+1 duel fuel backpacking stove (in folded configuration).

The Stove Review
The stove itself can only be described as beefy.  I mean this thing is strong.  This might be a great stove for scouts and for, say, college outdoor clubs and the like where gear tends to take a beating.  Also, a number of expedition type users have reported very good results with the stove.  This is a very robust, heavy duty, reliable stove that is very field maintainable.  There is a cable threaded through the generator that can be pulled out and re-inserted like a pipe cleaner should the generator gum up due to poor quality fuels of the type found in remote places.

The legs are very strong steel.  The pot supports have a very wide span and will accommodate heavy pots for large groups or for snow melting.  There is little I would worry about failing on this stove; it is strong.  However, there's always a trade off on such things.  Yes, the stove is extremely strong, but it is therefore consequently also fairly heavy, weighing in at 310 g/11 oz for the stove, 116 g/4 oz for the pump, and 43 g/1.5 oz for the tool.  You don't absolutely have to carry the tool, and many people will just throw the stove in their pot (and leave the case at home), so let's say the minimum weight is 426 g/15 oz for just the stove and pump.  Of course you'll need a bottle, but the size and brand you carry will vary, so I'm not going to try to estimate the weight here.

The fuel line of the Booster+1 sticks out, rigidly, at a bit of an odd angle.
There is one thing here that I find slightly irritating.  It's minor, but the fuel line sticks out at a kind of funny angle, and, since the fuel line here is rigid, the stove winds up taking more space than it really needs to.  It's a fairly large stove.  I don't think it will be able to fit into a pot of less than about 1 liter in size.

However, that's not to say that there aren't some smart features here.  For example, there's a bend in the fuel line such that one can clean the jet without disassembling anything, er, well, you do have to pop off the flame spreader, but that's not exactly disassembling a stove.  I mean putting on and off the flame spreader is about as difficult as opening and closing a bottle of water.
There's a nicely designed bend in the fuel line so that one can access the jet easily.
The Booster+1 attaches to both it's fuel pump and to a canister of gas by means of a standard 7/16ths UNEF threaded connector.
The Booster+1 uses a standard threaded connector to attach to a) its fuel pump or b) standard threaded canisters.
The Booster+1 is compatible therefore with standard threaded brands of canisters, for example, MSR, Jetboil, Coleman, Primus, Optimus, Brunton, Snow Peak, etc.
The connector of a Booster+1 attached to an MSR brand canister

Cold Weather Canister Gas Operation
Note that in the photo above, I am running the stove with the canister upside down.  Not all stoves can handle this kind of operation, but those stoves that can operate this way gain a roughly 20 Fahrenheit degree (10 Celsius degrees) advantage over stoves in cold weather.  See my article Gas Stoves in Cold Weather – Regulator Valves and Inverted Canisters for further information on cold weather and canister gas.

Fuel line and rotating coupler
The fuel line is nice and flexible, and it's long enough that you can stand the bottle up as you pump, letting gravity help you with your work.  I find this to be a huge plus.

In addition the coupler fully rotates.  There's a big advantage here:  One can turn the fuel bottle upside down such that the fuel intake is 180 degrees opposite it's normal direction.  In other words, instead of dipping down into the fuel, the fuel intake is in the air space inside the bottle.  What's the big deal?  Well, there are two advantages to this:

  1. Purging the fuel line.  If you turn the fuel bottle over while the valve is still open, air will start coming down the fuel hose instead of fuel.  This cleans out the fuel line so that you won't have fuel drying inside the hose leaving potentially clogging deposits behind.
  2. Clean hands.  If you let all the air out by turning the fuel bottle upside down, then there's no pressure bursting out when you unscrew the pump from the bottle.  With some stoves, the only way to release the pressure is to unscrew the pump while still pressurized which inevitably means that your hands are going to get sprayed with fuel as the pressure is released.

The fuel line is nice and flexible which allows one to stand the bottle upright while pumping.
Note that I use alcohol for priming which burns much cleaner than white gasoline and is less prone to fireballing.
The fuel bottle in the photo is a Sigg brand bottle. The Booster+1 is compatible with standard Sigg type threads.
At the base of each leg, there is a nice non-slip rubber pad.  I found the Booster+1 to be extremely stable.  Extremely.
The Booster+1 is well thought out with nice features like this non-slip rubber pad on the end of each leg.
The Booster+1 vs. the Hydra
Here is a photo of the Kovea Booster+1 alongside another stove I recently reviewed, the Kovea Hydra.
The Kovea Booster+1, left, and the Kovea Hydra, right.
Whereas the Kovea Hydra is a study in compactness, the Kovea Booster+1 is not.  Indeed, if one were to compare the two stoves, one might describe them as opposites.
Stove Bulk Strength Noise Maintenance Wind Resistance
Booster+1 Bulky Very strong Loud Easy High
Hydra Compact Adequate with care Unusually quiet A bit trickier Low*
*It is important to use a properly sized windscreen with the Kovea Hydra.  See my review of the Hydra.

The Booster+1 is built like a tank and will take a lot of abuse.  With the Hydra, one has to be a bit more gentle.  The Booster+1 is a much larger, beefier, and more powerful stove (see below chart), but it's a bit loud.  The Hydra is probably the quietest liquid fueled stove that I have ever used.
Stove Weight BTU/hr - Upright Canister BTU/hr - White Gasoline BTU/hr - Inverted Canister*
Booster+1 310 g 7000 9600 10,500
Hydra 308 g 6100 7400 8500
*Estimated.

Here's a photo of a 2.6 L pot on the Booster+1.  Note that the pot supports extend beyond the edges of the pot even though this is a fairly big pot.  The Booster+1 can take some pretty big pots.
A 2.6 liter pot on the Kovea Booster+1.
Note how the pot supports still have more length out beyond the edges of the pot.
One can put some pretty big cookware on a Booster+1.
Flame Control

  • Flame control when using an upright canister of gas is excellent.  A very low simmer can be easily maintained.  
  • Flame control when using an inverted canister of gas is very good but a bit trickier.  A reasonably good simmer can be maintained.  
  • Flame control on white gasoline is good but not great.  If one gets the stove good and hot (as would normally occur when bringing water to a boil), one can get a pretty good simmer.  However, eventually the stove cools down, and the flame starts to sputter.  The simmering lasts for a pretty good amount of time though and is generally better than a lot of comparable stoves that only have an at-the-bottle valve.
  • Flame control on kerosene is poor.  One cannot get a decent simmer, and one cannot turn up the stove very high.  Only on moderate settings was the flame stable

Standard Fuel Bottles
The good news about the fuel bottle, is that Kovea uses "standard" fuel bottle threads.  That is, Kovea uses the same threads as Sigg, MSR, Primus, Optimus, Snow Peak, etc. use in their fuel bottles.  So, if you already have one of those brands, you should be able to use the fuel bottle you already have.  HOWEVER, check to see if everything works before you head out on the trail.  One time I had a Primus bottle whose threads were the same size as all of my other fuel bottles, but my MSR pump couldn't be screwed into that particular bottle.  The threads on that particular bottle started too far down the neck of the bottle, and the threaded portion of my MSR pump couldn't quite attach to them.

Also, make sure the fuel bottle you intend to use is long enough to accommodate the Kovea pump.  As I say, hook everything up at home and test it before you head out on the trail.
A Kovea fuel bottle, left. An MSR fuel bottle, right.
The Kovea fuel bottle is an excellent fuel bottle, but Kovea liquid fueled stoves can use any standard threaded fuel bottle.

Snow Melting
In terms of power, the stove has plenty.  I found it to be a good snow melter on liquid fuel.  The Booster+1 is rated at 9600 BTU/hr on white gasoline which is about the same as an MSR Whisperlite Universal.  The output on canister gas with the canister right side up (i.e. vapor feed) is considerably less, 7400 BTU/hr.  However, if you invert the canister (i.e. liquid feed), BTU output will go up and will typically be higher than on white gasoline.  Kovea does not provide figures for inverted canister operation, but assuming that the Booster+1 follows along the lines of other similar stoves, the rating should be about 10,500 BTU/hr.

Melting snow on a Kovea Booster+1.

Uh, but of course in snow, you'll want to use some kind of base lest your stove sink into the snow – and your dinner into the same.

The Booster+1 needs to be used with some kind of pad or platform when in snow (just about all stoves do).

Beware of Imitations!
I've seen stoves that look similar to a real Booster+1, stoves that even come in a box with the same color scheme and say "Booster+1" on the side.
An outrageous fake Booster+1 as seen on Amazon.com
Just look at the legs.  This is NOT a real Booster+1
Beware of cheap clones.  Such clones are not up to mainstream manufacturing and safety standards and have been banned by several countries.  Clones can be very dangerous.  Recall that stove fuels are highly flammable and that there is always the risk of an explosion.  Saving a few dollars is not worth it when you're risking a trip to the burn ward of a hospital – or worse.

Check your source carefully and examine photos closely.  My recommendation is that you buy from an authorized dealer so that you a) know that you're getting the real thing and b) have a warranty.  Stoves bought on e-Bay, even if authentic, do not have a warranty.  Only stoves bought from an authorized dealer have a warranty.  I know that Campsaver.com carries the Booster+1, and I believe that Mass Drop occasionally offers the Booster+1 in it's "drops" (group buys), but check around.  I'm sure there are other legitimate outlets for the stove.  If you see it on e-Bay or Alibaba, it's not an authorized outlet, and you may not even be getting the real thing.

Cost
MSRP is $170 USD, but shop around.  A careful shopper need not pay full price.  As I mentioned earlier, Mass Drop organizes group buys where an individual (such as yourself) can get in with a group and thereby get a group discount from the manufacturer.  Similarly, many on-line retailers will sell for less than MSRP.  Camp Saver had the Booster+1 for $30 off as of 21 February 2017.  Word to the wise:  Shop around.

Summary
The Kovea Booster+1
What's good about it
  • Field maintainable
  • Solid, beefy, built like a tank
  • No jet change when changing fuels
  • Rotating coupler allows one to purge the fuel line AND keeps hands clean
What's not so good about it
  • Heavy
  • A bit on the bulky side
  • Loud, but not exceptionally so.  Normal for this type of design.
Recommendations for improvement
  • Work with a native speaker of English and re-write the instructions.  The current instructions are in poor English and are difficult to understand.
  • Lighten the stove by at least 50 grams (about 2 ounces) and preferably 75 grams.  The Hexon is in this weight class, so I know that Kovea can do it.
  • Bring the fuel line in closer to the body so that the stove is more compact
  • Change the red cap on the fuel connector threads such that it has a lanyard attaching it to the pump
  • Make the stove fully kerosene compatible by:
    • Supplying a smaller aperture jet for those who really need to use kerosene.  Yes, not having to change jets is wonderful, but in some areas kerosene is all that is going to be available, and it wouldn't take much to supply a smaller aperture jet.  People who need to use kerosene are just going to have to accept the need for a jet change
    • Increase thermal feedback to the generator for improved vaporization for kerosene.  The current level of thermal absorption from the flame is inadequate for kerosene.  A brass sleeve around and bonded to the generator might be all that is needed.
The Kovea Booster+1:  Highly recommended


I hope that the preceding text and photos will give you a good sense of the stove.  By all means feel free to ask questions and make comments in the comments section, below.

I thank you for joining me,

HJ

Manufacturer and Technical Data
Date Available:  Currently available.
Manufacturer:  Kovea
Manufacturer's Website:  http://kovea.com
MSRP:  $170
Weight (measured):  310 g/10.9 oz
Materials:  Primarily steel
Colors available:  See photos.
Requirements:   Either a) A standard threaded canister of gas, sold separately, or b) a fuel bottle of white gasoline with compatible threads.  (and a pot of course, sold separately)
Warranty Information:  Contact Kovea through their website (see above).

Disclosures

  1. The stove used in this review was provided at no cost to me by Kovea.  I receive no remuneration from Kovea for my review other than I typically get to keep the stoves I review.  After the first hundred stoves or so (I'm probably up to a couple hundred now), yet another stove isn't much of a big deal and has no bearing on how I write my reviews.
  2. I receive no remuneration from any seller (Mass Drop, Camp Saver, or any other) of this stove.  Indeed, I have no financial relationships with any retailers of stoves.  I however have purchased items as a regular member of the buying public from many retailers, just like anyone else.  I mention the sellers that are herein named simply because I'm trying to tip you off on a good deal.  I don't get any kick backs or anything, so it's not like I really care where you buy your stove.  However, I'd feel bad if people went off and paid a high dollar amount simply because I listed said high dollar amount as the MSRP.  Do NOT feel obligated to pay the MSRP listed in this review.  Don't be a dunce!  Shop around!