The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Primus EtaPower MF Stove: Base Camp Powerhouse
Posted on: May 1, 2008
Weight: 2 pounds
I just returned from a trip to Argentine Patagonia, where I tested the Primus EtaPower MF (multi-fuel) stove. The stove comes with a windscreen, burner base, EtaPower pot, heat exchanger, frying pan, handle, ErgoPump, 0.35-liter fuel bottle, multi-tool for adjustments and a small package of Silicone grease for the fuel pump. A nice additional touch was an insulating storage bag, which not only stored everything in a neat package but also effectively kept my dinner warm when I was off gathering more water or chopping vegetables.
The stove's most striking attribute was how quickly it boiled water. In 0 degree C weather it had 1.5 liters of water boiling in about three minutes. Afterward, I put a pot of boiling water in the zippered insulating case. Two hours later the pot of water only cooled from 100 degrees C to a very warm 45 degrees. Keep in mind this was in damp, 0 degrees weather. I was impressed.
I later tested the boiling power of the MF outside Smith rock, and again was impressed. The outside temperature was 11 degrees C. I had 1.8 liters of ice chunks that liquified in six-and-a-half minutes. Three-and-a-half minutes after that the water was boiling.
I tested the stove with white gas, gasoline and kerosene (the stove also burns isobutane canisters and diesel fuel). All three fuels I tested worked well and burned cleanly. But priming the stove took some care, and only after a few uses did I have it completely figured out.
Some qualms I had with the stove: At 2 pounds with the fuelpump, it isn't exactly lightweight. Additionally, though the packaging is convenient, it's rather bulky. For these reasons, the stove did not accompany us onto the climbs. Instead we relegated its use to base camp. One other annoyance was that the aluminum windscreen warped slightly after only a few uses. And my biggest complaint was that it was quite difficult to get the stove to simmer. It was either full-blast or nothing: fine for making the morning coffee, less than perfect for making dinner.
Overall, this is a solid all-around multi-fuel stove. Though I wouldn't bring it on alpine routes, it is a good base camp cooker, especially in areas where white gas is not readily available.
Pros: Boils rapidly; convenient packaging; burned well with gasoline, white gas and kerosene.
Cons: Heavy and bulky; priming is a bit tricky; difficult to simmer; windscreen warped after a few uses.