Primus TechnoTrail Canister Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the Primus TechnoTrail lightweight backpacking canister stove.

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by Blake Morstad | 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07

Overview

Primus TechnoTrail Canister Stove - 1
Primus TechnoTrail expanded (left) and collapsed (right)

Editor's Note: Author and Backpacking Light Staff Editor Blake Morstad was killed in an avalanche on New Years Day, 2005. We are pleased to present this review, written by Blake before he died. For more information about Blake Morstad, please view the Blake Morstad Memorial at BackpackingLight.com.

The Primus TechnoTrail has a fast boil time and widely spaced pot supports that provide a stable platform for larger pots, making it a good two-person stove. It has an ergonomic flame control knob and our test sample included the optional piezoelectric igniter for easy starting. On the down side, it weighs almost twice as much (6.7 ounces, 190 grams) as the mini-canister stoves we tested, folds down into a bulkier package, and is on the high end for fuel consumption of the stoves in our review suite.

Specifications

• Stove ID

Primus TechnoTrail with optional piezoelectric ignition

• Accessories Included

Stuff sack

• Dimensions

Collapsed, 3 x 2.75 x 2.5 in (8 x 7 x 6.4 cm); expanded, 3.25 x 4 x 4.5 in (8 x 10 x 11cm)

• Weight

Manufacturer claimed 6.4 oz (180 g) with optional piezoelectric igniter, Backpacking Light measured 6.7 oz (191 g)

• MSRP

$39.95 with piezoelectric ignition, $34 without

Usable Features

Primus TechnoTrail Canister Stove - 2
Disassembled stove

Compactness - Although the stove's pot supports rotate around the burner head to one side and nest together in a folded down position, the stove remains bulky. A die-cast support for the piezoelectric igniter is immovable and adds to the stove's bulky storage size.

Weight - This stove is on the heavy side compared to others in its category. A stainless steel valve body accounts for most of the weight of the stove, contrasting with other stoves using lighter weight aluminum and titanium for the valve body. The piezoelectric igniter adds 1.8 ounces to the stove's total weight because of the addition of the die-cast support. The photo shows the valve body and other parts of the stove.

Ignition - A piezoelectric igniter lights this stove effortlessly.

Flame Control - A large ergonomic knob is easy to turn and is positioned so your fingers do not get burned. The pot supports hold the pot about 0.75 inches above the burner, which allows a wider flame spread. The burner head has ports directed to spread the flame to the cooking surface. As a result, this stove is able to accommodate a 6-inch diameter pot. However, because of a wide flame spread, a 2-inch diameter cool spot is created under the pot. While this is common for canister stoves, the size of this cool spot is larger than for other stoves.

Pot Support - The pot supports spread from the burner head 2.5 inches and easily support a cookpot. Small perforations on the stabilizers provide a measure of grip to secure pots. While the stove provides a stable pot platform, some movement was detected where the stove mates to the canister.

Ease of Use

Setup - It takes approximately 20 seconds to completely set up the stove, including rotating up the pot supports, swiveling them around the burner head into a locked position, opening the flame controller, and then lighting the stove with the piezoelectric igniter. Disassembly proved to be just as fast, which included unlocking the pot supports by pushing a metal tab and folding the supports away. Some practice is required for a fast setup time since the pot supports need to be moved in a certain order or they tend to bind.

Lighting - Every time the piezoelectric igniter button was pushed, a solid arc was produced at the burner head. The igniter button is easy to operate. A well-placed thumb helps to steady the stove while pushing the button.

Adjustment - The large flame-control knob is clearly labeled with large plus and minus symbols. The knob allows precise flame control.

Cold Weather Use - The flame-control knob and pot support tab are of sufficient size to be operated with winter gloves.

Options - The only option available for the TechnoTrail is the piezoelectric igniter, which adds $5.95 to the base stove price and 1.8 ounces to the weight.

Cooking Performance

Capacity - Due to its wide flame spread, the TechnoTrail is well suited for a two-person cookpot (1.5 liters or larger), providing heat to the edges of the pot. When a one-person cookpot (0.9 liter or less) is used, a significant amount of heat escapes around the pot bottom and is wasted.

Versatility - With superb flame control, this stove is well suited to simmering, frying, and baking tasks. As mentioned, the wide flame spread creates good heating at the edge of the pot; however, a large cool spot in the center creates a noticeable temperature difference. This is a factor to keep in mind when preparing food that is not stirred, such as when baking.

Wind Effects - Because of the distance the supports hold the pot from the burner head, wind can affect the performance of the TechnoTrail more than some of the other canister stoves we tested where the pot is closer to the burner head. The pot supports provide some measure of wind protection near the burner. Lighting the stove under breezy conditions was not a problem as the piezoelectric igniter was unaffected.

Heating Efficiency

The TechnoTrail has a boil time comparable to other canister stoves we tested, lagging others by only a few seconds under optimal conditions. However, this stove trailed others in fuel consumption, which may be attributed to the wide flame spread and the burner head to pot separation. While the TechnoTrail is able to output enough heat for fast boils, it does not do this as efficiently as the other 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 TechnoTrail
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 + Wind screen Full Flame 1 quart water
TechnoTrail Boil Time (min:sec)3:34 5:10 2:18 7:25 52 degrees*5:16
Average Boil Time for all stoves tested (min:sec) 3:33 4:51 2:18 7:35 88 degrees**5:12
TechnoTrail Fuel Consumption (g) 19.2 11.9 9.6 12.9 38.722.9
Average Fuel Consumption for all stoves tested (g) 16.1 11.7 8.1 11.5 30.0 18.6
TechnoTrail: Water Boiled Per 4-ounce Fuel Canister (qt)5.99.55.98.8-4.9
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

The TechnoTrail has a beefed up design compared to other canister stoves, for greater durability. A die-cast housing protects the stove's valve and piezoelectric igniter. The pot supports are sufficiently thick to withstand a reasonable amount of bending. The three pot supports nest together, which is a durable storage method. The manufacturer cautions that the O-ring at the canister interface needs to be inspected and replaced if needed to ensure a leak-proof fit.

Value

While it has a fast boil time, this stove consumes more fuel than many of the other stoves we tested. Also, this stove is a heavyweight at 6.7 ounces, weighing about twice as much as the mini-canister stoves we reviewed. It folds up and compacts nicely for a larger burner stove with wider pot supports. With its ease of use, good durability, and fast setup, the TechnoTrail is a decent value for its relatively low price of $39.95 with piezoelectric ignition ($34 without) making it a good buy for two-person cooking.

Recommendations for Improvement

It seems that the piezoelectric die-cast housing could be redesigned allowing for a more compact enclosure. The stainless steel used for the valve body could be replaced with a lighter material or trimmed down in size to shave off a few grams. Also, I noticed that the valve body to canister interface has some play. A tight mate here would add to the overall stability of the TechnoTrail.


Citation

"Primus TechnoTrail Canister Stove REVIEW," by Blake Morstad . BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/primus_technotrail_canister_stove_review.html, 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07.

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