While the Jet Boil (check out Ryan’s review here) and the MSR Pocket Rocket have been the tried-and-true reigning stove champs, I always look for underdogs: maybe it’s the hipster in me, but I love those excellent pieces of kit that fly under the radar.
Enter Olicamp’s Kinetic Ultra Titanium Stove, a $40-50 investment that strikes the perfect balance between ultra-light, super simple, and affordable.
The Kinetic works just like the canister stoves you know and love: screw it in to an isobutane canister, crank up the gas, flick your lighter, and blast Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” as you go into full over-drive.
However, what makes it stand out from other stoves is it’s weight; being constructed from titanium (with an aluminum burn-adjuster), the Kinetic weighs a paltry 1.7 oz’s, making it nearly half the weight of the 3 oz Pocket Rocket. The only thing lighter is the Kinetic’s little brother, the award winning Ion Micro, which shaves .2 oz’s at the cost of some stability.
The Kinetic’s small size let’s it pack away easily, whether in your cook kit or riding up in your pack’s brain, stowing it away is never an issue. It comes with a plastic carrying case, but I ditched it, instead wrapping mine in a handkerchief; when packed away inside a cook kit all snugly with utensils and sponges and spices, I never have to worry about it getting damaged.
Beyond that, the Kinetic performs just like your average canister stove, bringing .5-.8 liters of water to a rolling boil at around 3:30 minutes (give or take depending on conditions). If you’re like me and use a filter to purify water, making a full-boil unnecessary, you’ll be able to save some fuel and time by getting hot enough water for tea and instant meals in about 2:30-3:00 minutes. If you’re a real back-country chef who needs variable burn, you can adjust the flame easily with a turn of the burner-adjustor.
The only real downside to the Kinetic is that you have to be careful with your pot: the small arms on the stove don’t make it the most stable platform, so tipping is easy, especially with larger pots. That said, I’ve never actually tipped a pot on the Kinetic, but I definitely am careful with how it sits. If you’ll be doing multi-pitch or multi-day climbing, where your stove will be perched on narrow spaces, stick with a Jetboil.
Since the Kinetic uses canisters, it won’t be your go-to for cold weather camping.
Since the fuels separate at colder temperatures, you’ll find the Kinetic getting sluggish in the mid 30’s and down; at 20*, it’s like it’s on simmer-mode even when cranked to full burn. There are tricks to get canisters to work at lower temperatures–some of which can turn your stove into a bomb–but I recommend just switching over to a white-gas stove when you start seeing frost.
Lightweight gear always comes at price, and the Kinetic is no different, but the trade-offs are a lot less dramatic with the Kinetic: it’s a little slower than the Jetboil, and it doesn’t have the most stable platform, but the weight savings make it an awesome option for ultralight backpackers and adventure runners still looking for convenience and efficiency.
By Chris, who eats Ramen more off-trail than he does on.