The Kovea EZ-Eco Alpine Pot (KGB-1410) is an integrated canister stove (think Jetboil) from Kovea, but it’s an integrated canister stove with a twist — it doesn’t use a canister, at least not in the field.
A canister-less canister stove. Wait. What’s that? No canister? How do you have a “canister” stove without the canister? Well, you build it in. The EZ-Eco has a built-in internal fuel tank. You load the internal tank with fuel before you hit the trail.
To load the tank, you either get the inexpensive 100% butane canisters used in the restaurant and hospitality industry or you use a regular backpacking canister with an adapter.
Pros and Cons. OK, so why would you want to use a canister gas type stove with an internal tank instead of a screw on canister? Well, here’s a few thoughts:
- Convenience. You do all the fueling at home. In the field, you just pull the burner out of the pot and turn it on. Uber convenient. No fumbling. No chance of cross threading. No cap to worry about losing.
- Cost Savings. Restaurant type 100% butane fuel costs about $1.50 for 220 g (8 oz) at my local Korean market. Backpacking fuel costs about $6.00 for the same amount. In other words, backpacking fuel is four times more expensive than regular fuel. Now, in colder weather, say below 50 Fahrenheit/10 Celsius, then maybe you need backpacking-specific fuel with its superior cold weather performance characteristics, but in warmer weather, save your money and use the cheaper fuel.
- Trash Prevention. Yeah, I know you would never dump a spent canister out in the field, but I have seen empties out in the woods. With the EZ-Eco, there is no canister and all temptation is removed.
But of course there are down sides:
- Fuel Capacity. The internal tank holds enough fuel to boil about 6 liters of water. Now, for most of us, that’s going to be plenty for the majority of our trips, i.e. 2 to 3 day weekend type trips. But for longer trips? Well, no. It’s not going to be enough. In those circumstances, you have to bring a canister and the stove’s internal tank. You’ve lost the convenience factor, and you’re paying a weight penalty by having to carry two items with an identical function. Also, one has to carry the same size fuel tank on short trips as on long. With a detachable canister, one can carry a small canister on short trips and a large one on long trips. With the Kovea EZ-Eco Alpine Pot, one must carry the full weight of the tank at all times.
- Weight. In addition to the above, the overall design of the stove was really not done with light weight in mind.
- Fiddle Factor. You do have to pre-load before a trip (rather than perhaps just stopping by the sporting goods store on your way out of town), and you have to buy a separate adapter if you want to be able to load backpacking fuel.
- More difficult to warm the fuel. In cold weather, you can’t just stick the EZ-Eco in a bowl of warm water to heat up the fuel. There’s too many crevices and such that shouldn’t be submerged.
Fueling. To fuel the stove, one turns over the burner and locates the black rubber cap shown in the photo below.
Pull up the cap, and move it to the side as shown.
Underneath the black rubber cap is a brass fuel port. If you have the 100% butane restaurant canister, you simply apply the valve tube of the canister to the fuel port and push (while keeping the stove upside down) to fill the stove.
If however you wish to use backpacking specific fuel, you’ll need to purchase some type of adapter (sold separately). What does such an adapter look like? Well, here’s a Brunton Fuel Tool.
To use, one simply threads the adapter on to a canister of fuel.
Keeping the burner upside down, one applies the fuel tube of the adapter to the fuel port and presses down firmly.
One needs to take care to not overfill the tank which might cause dangerously high pressure levels. A “Max” fill indicator is printed on the side of a tank next to a “window.” The fuel can be seen inside the window. When held level in the upright position, the fuel should be no higher than the level indicated by the “Max” fill indicator.
Once the fuel tank is filled, use is simplicity itself: Fill the pot, put the pot on the burner, turn on the gas, and adjust the flame as necessary. The burner is ready to go as soon as you unpack it from the pot.
Capacity. Kovea recommends that no more than 500 ml (about 2 cups) of water be boiled at a time.
In practice, I found I could boil about 800 ml without any problems so long as I a) kept the flame moderate and b) kept an eye on things. I was able to make a full pot of noodles if I exercised reasonable care.
Features and Components. The EZ-Eco Alpine Pot comes in a mesh sack with all the components stored inside the pot.
Inside the mesh sack is a nice, wide heat exchanger pot. The width of the pot is more like a Jetboil MiniMo or Sumo rather than, say, an original Jetboil. The pot has a removable pot cozy and a set of nice, solid butterfly handles.
There’s a cover on the bottom of the pot that serves to protect the heat exchanger.
The cover is nice, but it’s single use (i.e. it can’t be used as a cup, plate, or lid), and, really, it’s unnecessary. The mesh sack has a padded bottom that is more than enough protection for the heat exchanger. I’d probably leave the cover at home.
The heat exchanger underneath looks very Jetboil like, and it does the job.
The pot has a decent (but not great) lid. One nice feature is that the lifting tab of the lid snaps firmly into place and stays put. The only reason I say this isn’t a great lid is because it’s loose. The lid will fall right off in storage. Really, the state of the art for lids like this is the MSR Windburner type lid, a lid that snaps tight to the stove and stays in place even if the pot tips over.
Unpacking the pot itself, we first find a polypropylene cup with a capacity (to the brim) of 250 ml.
Underneath the cup, we come to the burner. A canister will not fit in the pot with the cup and burner — but then you don’t need a canister since the burner includes a built in fuel tank.
Pulling the burner out, we see that it’s a bit thicker than most, but then that makes sense given that this burner includes a fuel tank whereas most do not.
The EZ Eco’s burner has three legs underneath that swing out and snap into place. These legs give the burner stability and keep the underside out of the dirt.
The pot cozy can be easily removed for dishwashing or to clean the cozy itself.
In a pinch, the pot cozy also doubles as something of a windscreen, but take care lest you melt the cozy.
The controls of the stove are actually pretty nice. Whereas most stoves have a nob or spindle that must rotated counterclockwise in order to turn on the gas, the EZ-Eco has a lever that one simply moves back and forth.
I actually like the controls on the EZ-Eco better than the typical controls. Now, could this type of control snag on something and accidentally turn on the stove? Well, given that a) the control lever is recessed and that b) the burner is stored inside the pot, I really don’t think so. I had no trouble with the gas turning on while in transit, and the piezoelectric ignition was very reliable.
Economic viability. The EZ-Eco is a different kind of stove with its built in, internal fuel tank. Will it make it in the crucible of the backpacking stove market? I’m not sure. I kind of like the concept, but given that I do take longer backpacking trips a couple of times a year, I find the fuel capacity a bit limiting. On the other hand, being able to simply pull the stove out of the pot and have it on in seconds without fumbling for a canister is brilliant. Anything that puts hot food and drinks quickly into the hands of those who need them is a winner in my book, particularly as a dad with a little girl who’s a tad impatient. A smile on the face of the daughter equals a smile on the face of the dad, if you get my meaning.
Problems. I typically wait a couple of months (or more) before issuing a stove review. One never knows what may turn up with time. In this case, that appears to have been a prudent practice. When I first received the stove last November all was well, but after a few weeks, the stove started dying after a short time in operation, even in relatively warm weather (upwards of 70 Fahrenheit/20 Celsius). Now, while cold weather can cause a stove to conk out (due to loss of gas pressure caused by low temperatures), warm weather does not. What appears to be going on here is some type pressure regulator or safety inhibitor malfunction. When the stove heats up, the safety/regulator reduces the pressure. Unfortunately, the reduction is too much, and the stove loses power. Dramatically. I found it hard to bring water to a boil.
I contacted Kovea regarding this problem. At first they were interested in what I had to say, but then they broke off communication. I’m not sure what to read into this. Possibly others have reported the problem and Kovea really doesn’t know how to handle it. Maybe there’s just no available fix, and they’re stone walling. I don’t really know, but at this time, absent information to the contrary, I feel that I have to issue a “strongly not recommended” rating to the entire Alpine Pot line from Kovea until such time as Kovea can demonstrate that they have corrected this problem. I spent some really frustrating time out in the field trying to coax a boil out of the EZ-Eco Pot, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So, it is with regret that I have to issue a “strongly not recommended” rating to the Alpine Pot line of stoves from Kovea. Note however that other stoves from Kovea like the excellent Kovea Spider are not included in this rating.
What’s Good about it:
- Uses cheap fuel.
- Eliminates the need to dispose of used canisters in the field.
- Fast (when the regulator doesn’t over compensate).
What’s bad about it:
- Limited fuel capacity.
- Not the lightest.
- More difficult to warm the fuel in cold weather.
- Serious problems with the regulator/safety mechanism, problems that make the stove a complete non starter for field use.
The EZ-Eco Alpine Pot (KGB-1410) integrated canister gas stove from Kovea: Strongly NOT recommended.
I thank you for joining me,
About Hikin’ Jim
Hikin’ Jim is an avid hiker and backpacker residing in Southern California. Jim is something of a backpacking stove aficionado, owning well over a hundred backpacking stoves. You can find him most any weekend out field testing stove related gear in the local mountains or, in the summer, wandering the Sierra Nevada. Hikin’ Jim has a blog, Adventures in Stoving, devoted almost exclusively to backpacking stoves, including reviews, general stove tips, and other articles pertaining to the use of stoves in the backcountry.
Disclosure: The author received a sample stove for this review.
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