Primus Micron Canister Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Primus Micron ultralight backpacking canister stove.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07

Overview

Primus Micron Canister Stove - 1
Primus Micron expanded. The piezoelectric igniter is operated by a lever.

Weighing only 3.4 ounces (96 g), the Primus Micron is a mini-canister stove with some excellent features and good performance. It is one of the best performers among the stoves we tested in calm conditions, but requires shielding from wind for good performance in windy conditions. The stove comes standard with a piezoelectric igniter that is operated by a lever rather than a push button. I like its ergonomics, but the igniter usually requires several flicks to light the stove. The pot supports are sturdy and cleverly designed so the stove collapses down to a very small size. Flame control is by a short knob that is easy to reach and turn. The Micron's flame adjustment occurs within one-third of a turn, but the control is precise. There is not much flame spread, so the stove produces a hot spot about 2 inches in diameter. In my field cooking tests, the Micron was up to every task I subjected it to, from melting snow to boiling water, cooking noodles, frying burgers, and cooking pancakes with a low constant flame. In lab tests the Micron turned in good boil times and fuel efficiency numbers under optimal conditions, but it stumbled in windy conditions. The Micron is especially sensitive to wind and loses a lot of efficiency without a windscreen. With proper wind protection, the Micron is an overall good performer and value.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Primus Micron with standard piezoelectric ignition

• Accessories Included

Small stuff sack

• Dimensions

Expanded, 3.5 in high x 5 in wide (9 x 13 cm); collapsed, 2.5 in high x 2.8 in wide x 2.3 in thick (6 x 7 x 6 cm)

• Weight

Manufacturer claimed 3.3 oz (96 g); Backpacking Light measured 3.4 oz (96 g)

• MSRP

$52.95 US

Usable Features

Primus Micron Canister Stove  - 2
The Primus Micron collapses to a very small size and packs easily.

Compactness - The three pot supports on the Micron are cleverly designed so they fold down to a very compact shape and size. The collapsed stove easily slides into the 3-inch by 4-inch stuff sack provided, and can be packed into a small cook pot. It is one of the most compact canister stoves available.

Weight - At 3.4 ounces including a piezoelectric igniter, the Micron is very lightweight.

Ignition - The Micron's "Easy Trigger" lighting system effectively integrates the piezoelectric igniter into the stove. Rather than a button to push, there is a lever that you push down.

Flame Control - The flame adjuster is a short (1.3 inches long) knob. I found it easy to turn with fingers reaching upward which kept my hand below and away from the burner. The Micron's steel mesh burner is claimed to "spread the flame broadly for balanced heat distribution," however I found that the flame goes straight up and spreads after it hits the bottom of the pot.

Pot Support - The Micron has a very clever design for the pot supports to collapse when not in use and to lock solidly into place for cooking. When open, the three pot supports angle downward towards the center resulting in only the outer one or two barbs contacting the pot. Nevertheless, a 2-liter pot "stuck" to this stove, and would not slide off even when I intentionally tilted the stove 30° or bumped it hard.

Options - None, the stove comes standard with a piezoelectric igniter and a stuff sack.

Ease of Use

Setup - Easy. Simply thread a fuel canister onto the stove, open the valve, and flick the piezoelectric igniter - 15 seconds max.

Lighting - The "Easy Trigger" piezoelectric igniter is ergonomically well designed. In warm, calm weather it is easy to light the stove with one to three flicks of the igniter. In a 12 mph wind, the stove required four to five flicks to light, but it did light. However, in cold conditions the stove was more reluctant to light; I counted 16 flicks at 47 °F.

Adjustment - The flame adjuster has four and a quarter turns, but only the first third of a turn is effective. Within that small range the stove adjusts from a slow simmer to full throttle, with no rebound or need to make subsequent adjustments.

Cold Weather Use - It is easy to attach a fuel canister and operate the flame control knob and piezoelectric igniter lever with heavy gloves on.

Cooking Performance

I took the Micron on June backpacking trips in the Colorado Mountains and camped on the alpine tundra surrounded by snowdrifts. Temperatures were in the high 40's °F when I cooked my dinner and in the high 20's °F when I cooked breakfast.

Capacity - The Micron can be used to cook for a group nearly as easily as it can be used to cook for one. The pot supports have sharp barbs that hold a larger pot well although it is important to center the pot on the supports and use a pot clamp to hold the pot while stirring, otherwise a large pot is a bit top heavy and unstable.

Versatility - The Primus Micron melts snow and boils water with ease. Assisted by its precise flame control, it can also be used to cook more exotic dishes like macaroni and cheese with hamburger, or pancakes. To cook pancakes, it is necessary to use a low flame, keep the fry pan balanced on the stove, and hold the handle while flipping the 'cakes.

Because of its small burner, the Micron produces a distinct hot spot about 2 inches wide in the middle of a cook pot or fry pan. This is not a problem for boiling water, but it makes frying more of a challenge. A very low flame is required for any delicate cooking (like making a sauce, sautéing vegetables, or frying pancakes) to avoid burning.

Wind Effects - Primus claims that the Micron has a "wind resistant burner," but I found it to be just the opposite. The Micron is especially susceptible to direct wind compared to the other stoves in our review suite, both in lab tests and field tests. The wind simply blows the flame away. Its performance in wind is boosted by a windscreen. Under breezy conditions I cooked using a windscreen that surrounded about three-quarters of the stove. The bottom of the windscreen was set on three rocks to raise it off the ground about 2-3 inches. I frequently felt the canister with my hand to make sure it was not overheating. (See our companion articles FAQs About Canister Stoves and Fuels and Homemade Canister Stove Windscreen for tips on safe use of windscreens with canister stoves.)

Heating Efficiency

The Micron boils water quickly in calm conditions, but boil times increase significantly in direct wind. It had one of the fastest boil times recorded in the Backpacking Light lab tests under optimal conditions: 3 minutes 25 seconds to boil 1 quart of water at full throttle. It was also one of the most fuel-efficient stoves in our tests; only 13.2 grams of fuel were required to boil 1 quart of water at full throttle and 10.8 grams using a moderate flame. These numbers place it among the top four stoves for optimal conditions. However, the Micron did not perform well in a 12 mph wind without a windscreen. In direct wind, it heated 1 quart of water only 46 °F in 10 minutes. When protected with a windscreen, the Micron boiled water in 5 minutes 06 seconds, only about a minute longer than the best performing stoves.

See Lightweight Canister Stoves Test Report for more detailed results of our heating efficiency tests on this stove, and all the canister stoves in our review suite.

Table 1. Summary of boil time and fuel consumption data for the Primus Micron
TestOptimal Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterOptimal Conditions Moderate Flame 1 quart waterOptimal Conditions Full Flame 1/2 quart waterCold Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterWindy Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterWind + Windscreen Full Flame 1 quart water
Micron Boil Time (min:sec)3:25 4:11 2:07 8:37 46 degrees*5:06
Average Boil Time for all stoves tested (min:sec) 3:33 4:51 2:18 7:35 87 degrees**5:12
Micron Fuel Consumption (g)13.2 10.8 7.3 11.2 28.4 15.3
Average Fuel Consumption for all stoves tested (g) 16.1 11.7 8.1 11.5 30.0 18.6
Micron: Water Boiled per 4-ounce fuel canister (qt)8.610.57.710.1-7.4
Average Water Boiled per 4-ounce fuel canister for all stoves tested (qt) 7.3 9.8 7.1 9.4 -6.2

Optimal conditions are 70 °F air and water, no wind. Cold conditions were simulated by putting the stoves and canisters in a freezer overnight at 10 °F, then boiling 40 °F water. Windy conditions were simulated with a box fan providing a 12 mph wind; water and air temperatures were 70 °F.

* Degrees Fahrenheit water temperature was raised after 10 minutes; water did not reach a boil.

** Average amount water temperature was raised after 10 minutes. Of the eight stoves tested with 1 quart of water, only one stove reached boiling within 10 minutes.

Durability

This stove is ruggedly built and collapses to a very small size that can easily be inserted into its small stuff sack or a small cook pot. No maintenance is required, but it is important to keep the stove's canister connection clean to avoid clogging the jet.

Value

The Micron is a good value at $53: it has a compact and rugged design, it comes with a piezoelectric lighter, it is light weight, is designed ergonomically, and has excellent fuel efficiency.

Tips and Tricks

Because of its poor performance in wind, I recommend using some type of wind protection with the Micron. See our companion articles FAQs About Canister Stoves and Fuels and Homemade Canister Stove Windscreen for tips on safe use of windscreens with canister stoves.

Recommendations for Improvement

The piezoelectric igniter could use some refinement; it often requires many flicks to light the stove.


Citation

"Primus Micron Canister Stove REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/primus_micron_canister_stove_review.html, 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07.

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