Hands-on Gear Review

Etekcity Ultralight Review

The best stove for a tight budget. Competitors perform 10-20 percent better, but at four times the cost.
Etekcity Ultralight
By: Ian McEleney and Chris McNamara  ⋅  May 2, 2018
Price:  $30 List  |  $18.99 at Amazon - 37% Off
Pros:  Simple, durable, inexpensive, strong hardcase.
Cons:  Unstable, sputtery wind and cold weather performance
Manufacturer:   Etekcity
60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 15
  • Fuel Efficiency - 25% 4
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Simmering Ability - 25% 7
  • Time To Boil - 10% 4
  • Ease Of Use - 15% 4
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Best Buy Award

Our Verdict

The Etekcity Ultralight is the winner of our Best Buy award because it is half as expensive as the next cheapest stove. It's a capable and compact stove that performed only slightly lower than the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 when in warmer and low wind environments… and at a quarter the cost. It usually retails for less than $12, and you can get two for $20. It even comes with a piezo igniter, something many of the small canister stoves lack. That said, we noticed a significant lack of performance at higher elevations and in cold and conditions. That is where the Pocket Rocket 2 kept performing admirably and showed the limitations of the Etekcity.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Etekcity Ultralight is so much less expensive than the competition that we doubted its performance. For the most part, we were wrong. This stove is a great example of technology that has been around for long enough for the price to come way down. It's a "middle shelf" small canister stove at a "bottom shelf" price. In almost all metrics, it performed as well as stoves that cost more than twice as much.

Performance Comparison


While the Etekcity Ultralight's performance against other stoves in our review may only be average, its shockingly low price makes it a great value.

This model fulfills the basic function of a backpacking stove: it makes water hot.
This model fulfills the basic function of a backpacking stove: it makes water hot.

Fuel Efficiency


This stove is in the middle of the pack of small canister stoves for fuel efficiency. It consumed 0.6 oz of fuel while bringing one liter of water to boil. It's less efficient than the fuel-sipping Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0. It's also less efficient than all of the integrated canister stoves (like the Primus ETA Lite+) which dominated the other stove types in this metric. However, the Etekcity is more fuel efficient than the liquid fuel stoves in our test.


In our 8 - 10mph wind test this stove, like all small canister stoves, performed poorly. It failed to bring one liter of water to a rolling boil after 30 minutes. 2 ounces of fuel were consumed in the process. When camping above treeline, find a sheltered spot for this stove or consider using it in a well-ventilated tent vestibule. Use of an aftermarket windscreen enclosing the stove and fuel canister is frowned upon by the manufacturer because of the potential for the can to be heated to the point of explosion.

The wide open burner head of the Etekcity is exposed to any breeze or wind.
The wide open burner head of the Etekcity is exposed to any breeze or wind.

Weight


With a 3.4 oz trail weight this is the third lightest stove in our review (after the GigaPower 2.0 and Pocket Rocket 2) and it's twice as light as the next lightest stove, the MSR Windpro 2. That's not including the case, which adds another 0.6 oz.


The Etekcity is one of the most compact stoves in our review. It's comparable in packed size to the GigaPower and Pocket Rocket. The ends of the pot supports fold up and the end of the wire valve control tucks into a little notch in the pot support for a smaller package that slides easily into the compact case. It's hard to imagine how a stove with a piezo igniter could be much more compact. Its small size often led our testers to toss it into a car camping kit just in case.

Packed in a 1L pot with a 4 oz fuel can and lighter  there is room to spare.
Packed in a 1L pot with a 4 oz fuel can and lighter, there is room to spare.

Simmering


Small canister stoves led the review in the simmering metric. The Etekcity Ultralight simmered well. Though it didn't simmer quite as well as the Primus Classic Trail it did slightly better than the MSR Dragonfly, a liquid fuel stove designed specifically for that purpose.


The small burner head of the Ultralight helps to keep the weight low but does not help when distributing heat around the bottom of the pot during our oatmeal test. Watch out for hot spots when this stove is cranked up. This stove requires verve and alacrity when stirring rice, oatmeal, or anything else likely to stick to the bottom of a pot. The big burner head on the Primus Classic is a better choice for backpackers who are willing to trade weight and pack space for cooking ability.

Watch out backcountry gourmets  this wasn't our favorite stove for simmering.
Watch out backcountry gourmets, this wasn't our favorite stove for simmering.

Boil Time


A boil time of 6 minutes 8 seconds put this stove behind all of the other small canister stoves. It was also slower than all of the integrated canister stoves except for the Jetboil Flash, which it tied.


In our 8 - 10mph wind test the Etekcity Ultralight fared poorly, like all of the other small canister stoves. It stayed lit and was able to get bubbles to form on the bottom of the pot but the water did not boil after 30 minutes. Backpackers who are worried about poor wind performance should consider the MSR Windpro 2 or the Jetboil MiniMo.

Our testers couldn't get the piezoelectic igniter to work after the first time. Rooting around for a lighter adds a step when we want hot coffee right now.
Our testers couldn't get the piezoelectic igniter to work after the first time. Rooting around for a lighter adds a step when we want hot coffee right now.

Ease Of Use


The price of the lightweight and compact nature of small canister stoves is pot stability. The Etekcity Ultralight has the narrowest pot supports of any stove in the review at about 9.3 cm. The Pocket Rocket 2 measures about 11.5 cm and the GigaPower 2.0 about 10.7 cm. Additionally, the 4 pot supports are somewhat flexible. Our testing team was always careful when using this stove, and avoided using it with any pot larger than 1L. No canister stand is included with the stove, but our testers found that the increased mass of an 8-ounce fuel can improved stability.


This stove comes with a piezo lighter, but on our model, it only worked about 10% of the time. So most of the time the piezo lighter was dead weight. Our testing team is baffled that some manufacturers integrate this technology really well (GigaPower 2.0 and Stryker), some struggle with it, and some don't seem to be aware it exists.

Tiny arms flip out from the ends of the pot supports to slightly improve stability.
Tiny arms flip out from the ends of the pot supports to slightly improve stability.

The control valve wire was a decent size, but we wish it was bigger. Not only would this make it easier to find when our noodles are boiling over, but if it was wider, we would have better flame control.

Best Applications


This stove's light weight and small size make it a great emergency stove. It could be a worthy part of the home emergency kit FEMA wants us all to have. It is also an excellent choice for the occasional backpacker. Its low price should earn it a place in any survivalists bug out bag. Though hopefully, they're not bugging out in a big group because this stove can't handle large pots or pans. This stove is best for solo backpackers.

This stove is less stable than the competition. Our testers recommend using smaller volume (less than 1L) cookware.
This stove is less stable than the competition. Our testers recommend using smaller volume (less than 1L) cookware.

Canister stoves are pretty much not field repairable. If the stove is a "mission critical" piece of gear on your next trip, it could be worth considering an inexpensive, lightweight back-up.

Value


Though we didn't pay much for this stove, our testing team feels that we got what we paid for with the Etekcity Ultralight and that it's a great value. Serious backpackers or those willing to pay a bit more should consider the Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0. It has all the features of the Etekcity, but they're better executed.

Conclusion


This isn't the highest performing stove in our test, but it is the least expensive. It has a set of features an characteristics that are becoming standard for small canister stoves: low weight, packable, simmering ability, wire control valve handle, and piezoelectric igniter. These features work about as well as you would expect for a stove that costs about 13 bucks. It makes our testers wonder why some companies charge so much more for products that do the same job only slightly better. If you don't backpack very often, or just need something cheap that makes water hot, this could be the stove for you.

This was not our favorite stove for foul weather performance.
This was not our favorite stove for foul weather performance.

Ian McEleney and Chris McNamara

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Most recent review: May 2, 2018
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