Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Kovea Spider Stove

I’ve backpacked in winter a fair amount using both the MSR Whisperlite and more recently the MSR Micro Rocket gas canister stove.  I never really liked using the Whisperlite under cover due to the potentially deadly flaring so I changed to the safer and more convenient gas stove.

Canister mounted gas stoves have their own issues when used in winter (good reading can be found at Zen Stoves) but simply put once the canister gets down to freezing they become increasing challenging to use; I’ve routinely stashed the gas canister in the bottom of the sleeping bag overnight or under the coat as I pitched up; used various windshields to boost the heat feedback to the canister; I’ve even resorted to warming the canister over a nightlight.

I thought it was time to change to a remote canister stove specifically designed for winter use (pre-heat loop so the gas canister can be used inverted)…….time to hit the internet, again!

I’d already decided that I wanted a stove with a fairly narrow flame pattern (to match my Evernew 1L Pasta Pot pot); it should also preferably pack inside the pot and be as light as possible; that narrowed the field a bit but there is still quite a few to choose from.

I’d never heard of the Kovea but the Spider (KB-1109)  seemed to be one of the lightest remote canister stoves (170g) on the market and cheap (£35 on eBay, around half the price of the competition).  I was still a bit suspicious particularly about quality  but with a bit ‘Googling’ I soon found a lot of positive reviews for both Kovea (reportedly this Korean manufacturer make stoves and components for some of the more well known brands) and the Spider, Adventures In Stoving has a good comparative review.

Was quite surprised when the stove arrived today only one week after ordering from Hong Kong.

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The initial impression is of quite a well built stove and I was impressed with initial firing, flame pattern is not too wide so it performs well with smaller pots.  The weight was spot on 170g, there does seem ample opportunity for Kovea to reduce the weight by 50g by simply changing some of the materials.   The instructions didn’t address inverted canister use but I was aware of the procedure; light the stove with canister upright with a low flame, after 15 – 20 secs slowly invert the canister (time to get the preheat loop hot).  Once inverted the flame increased and while the stove made an odd popping noise it ran well.

My next job was to figure out a windscreen, I’ve still a small stock of 0.15mm thick aluminium sheet which I’ve found makes ideal material, a section of disposable aluminium baking tray does as good.  I wanted a design that fitted inside my pot so that limited the height to 105mm; a quick trial so found that a simple screen around the legs (around 160mm diameter) worked reasonably well did extend very far up the pot (20mm) and the annulus was quite large (~ 25mm), not the most fuel efficient.

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I considered reworking the legs to reduce the diameter but that seemed a bit radical, then I hit on a simple solution, hanging the windshield off the legs!

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It takes about 10 sec to install; very light (20g); low enough to shield the nozzle and flame; has a 10 mm annulus and comes part way up the pot to improve fuel efficiency.

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As a word of caution, having the windshield  too tight around the pot, particularly with the stove going flat out for a while can lead to the aluminium melting; as happened to one of my readers; I’ve not had any problems though.

Out of interest I compared the weight  of a the complete set up with the MSR Micro rocket; the Spider included the windshield only weighs 60g more than the Micro Rocket + windshield + canister stand (a necessity IMO)  ; I’ll carry the extra 60g in winter and save all the messing about with warming canisters etc.

For the MYOG enthusiast here’s a sketch of the windscreen I made to suit the Evernew 1L Pasta Pot, the design would also suit other smaller pots like the MSR Titan Kettle, Alpkit MytiMug, etc but the dimensions will vary a little.

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The real test will come when we get into winter and it’s coming soon!

Update:

I’ve had the stove out on a couple of cold winter trips and am pleased with the performance with the gas canister in inverted mode.  I did find that operation was helped my initially warming the canister, stashing it under the coat or in the sleeping bag for a few minutes, this ensures sufficient gas pressure to preheat the burner head prior to inverting the canister.  In inverting mode the stove is less controllable (flame size) since the valve is metering liquid and not gas, I found that opening the valve only around half a turn provided a ‘good’ sized flame (not going full blast); I’ve found that all gas stoves run at their most efficient at half throttle.

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Update 2#:

The aluminium windshield lasted 3 yrs use without problems only a bit battered & bruised so took the opportunity of replacing with springier 0.1mm thick titanium foil from eBay, being from China it did take a few weeks to arrive but a 10cm * 100cm piece was only £6, the new windshield weighs 18g.

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6 comments on “Kovea Spider Stove

  1. Smittyburger
    December 21, 2013

    Great Review. I love your windscreen design, simple and functional! Have you had a chance to try out the combo in winter conditions yet?

    • Paul Atkinson
      December 21, 2013

      Had its first outing end November and it worked very well, I didn’t use the canister in the inverted mode as the temperature was only around freezing, was impressed with the stability and flame control. Fuel efficiency about the same as the Micro Rocket, boiling around 8.5L of quite cold water (some snow) with 150g of gas.
      I’ll update post after more experience in colder weather.

  2. Pingback: Kovea Spider Maintenance | Whiteburn's Wanderings

  3. Pingback: Čuhčajavri to Nikkaluokta, the end. | Nielsen Brown Outdoors

  4. hikesocal
    November 3, 2014

    Really well done.

    I just picked up the Spider a few weeks ago and was just running around the web to see if anyone else had a situation where the “popping” noise took place when the canister was inverted. I had it out in the mid-20’s (and snow) a couple of nights ago and that was my experience. (Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t get cold in Southern California).

    Found the stove worked well with the canister inverted but was a little concerned. Thought it might have been that I was using a canister with low fuel. I’ll try it again with a full canister. Either way, it’s a really effective, and super-packable, stove.

    I made a windscreen too and it didn’t even CROSS MY MIND to position it inside the legs. HA. You nailed it. A big thanks for that. Looking forward to trying it to see if the aluminum melts. If not, man…that will be one solid windscreen.

    Thanks again for this.

    • Paul Atkinson
      November 5, 2014

      I’ve had no trouble with the Ali but normally only have the valve 1/2 turn open when inverted.

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This entry was posted on October 17, 2013 by in Gear, MYOG, Reviews and tagged , .
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