The backpacking gear market is saturated with super-compact, ultralight canister stoves, but the new Primus Firestick looks quite different from the pack. The 3.5-oz (99 g) burner folds down into a cylinder that's smaller than an 8.4-oz can of Red Bull, sliding easily into a pocket or backpack pouch. When it's time to pour some boiling water into a pouch of dehydrated chili, the stove fans out to hold your pot like an upside-down tripod.
After our initial fascination with the Firestick's cylindrical shape wore off, we realized that many existing triple-prong backpacking stoves already pack ridiculously small and light, flipping and twisting into palm-sized gizmos that can all but be carried on a keychain. We're thinking of models like the MSR PocketRocket 2, Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 and Primus' own Micron Trail.
So why reinvent the form factor?
The answer lies in the fact that the Firestick's upside-down tripod design allows the arms to surround the recessed burner and provide some wind protection, something other canister stoves lack. And at 3.1 to 3.7 oz (89 to 105 g), the Firestick is still one of the lightest backpacking stoves around, comparable to the GigaPower 2.0 (3.2 oz/90 g) and only a bit heavier than the PocketRocket 2 (2.6 oz/74 g) and Micron Trail (2.8 oz/79 g). So the design doesn't tack on any real weight.
Determining whether or not the Firestick's design provides dependable flame protection would require some windy day testing, but another advantage of the design is apparent just by looking at it and comparing with more traditional folding canister-top stoves like those mentioned above. The Firestick's cylindrical silhouette is smooth and snag-free, no little pointy edges on which to catch or tear your ultralight wind-breaking pullover. More traditional three-prong canister stoves have pointed or toothed feet that could get caught and possibly rip the type of thin fabrics involved in gram-shaving, fast-and-light activities. The pointy bits on the Firestick pack inside the smooth sides and upper edges.
Here's the packed MSR PocketRocket 2 for comparison to the above photo of the Firestick:
With the Firestick, you can drop it in a pocket without the included wool case (saving more of those precious grams) and let go of any worries about it grabbing, pulling or slicing fabric.
Those advantages don't seem like enough to early-retire a perfectly good backpacking stove in favor of Primus' latest and greatest, but if you're in the market for an ultralight stove, the Firestick might be an interesting option. It's available in both titanium (3.1 oz/89 g) and steel (3.7 oz /105 g) versions, both of which have piezo ignitors and 8,530 BTU/hour power ratings.
Packed measurements are 4 x 1.4 in (103 x 36 mm), which, to bring us full circle, slide in well below the 5.4 x 2-in (137 x 51-mm) dimensions of an 8.4-oz (250 ml) Red Bull can. And we did in fact run to the store, pick up a can of Red Bull, and measure it out after a web search failed to provide definitive dimensions — the caffeine boost was but a nice bonus.
Primus debuted the Firestick at last week's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. It plans to get the stove to market in the first quarter of 2020, the titanium version retailing for US$120, the steel version $90.
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