Etekcity Ultralight Review
Cons: Unstable, sputtery wind and cold weather performance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Etekcity stove is so much less expensive than the competition that we doubted its performance. For the most part, we were wrong. In almost all metrics, it performed as well as stoves that cost more than twice as much.
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 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 also less efficient than all of the integrated canister stoves, 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 2 - 4mph wind test this stove, like all small canister stoves, performed worse. The use of an aftermarket windscreen enclosing the stove and fuel canister is frowned upon by the manufacturer because they can potentially heat the cartridge to the point of explosion.
With a 3.4 oz trail weight, this is a reasonably light stove. It's twice as light as the next lightest stove. It's just a bit heavier than the lightest. That's not including the case, which adds another 0.6 oz.
The Etekcity is also one of the most compact stoves in our review. 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.
Small canister stoves led the review in the simmering metric. The Ultralight simmered okay. Though it didn't simmer quite as well as some of the competition it did slightly better than the liquid fuel stoves 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.
Ease Of Use
The price of the lightweight and compact nature of small canister stoves is pot stability. The Ultralight has very narrow pot supports. Additionally, the four 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.
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 was dead weight. Our testing team is baffled that while some manufacturers integrate this technology quite well, some struggle with it, and some don't seem to be aware it exists.
The Ultralight's control valve wire was a decent size, but we wish it were bigger — not only would this make it easier to grasp when our noodles are boiling over, but it would also facilitate better flame control.
A no-wind boil time of 5 minutes 34 seconds put this stove at the back of the pack of all the other small canister stoves. It was also slower than all of the integrated canister stoves. It boiled faster than the liquid fuel stoves. In our 2 - 4mph wind test the Etekcity Ultralight did better than expected, achieving a boil in just over 11 minutes. Several other canister stoves failed to boil water in 15 minutes during our wind test.
Though we didn't pay much for this stove, our testing team feels that we got what we paid for with the Etekcity and that it's a great value. Serious backpackers or those willing to pay a bit more should consider other models.
The Etekcity Ultralight isn't the highest performing stove in our test, but it is easily one of the least expensive. It has a set of features and 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 under 20 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 only need something cheap that makes water hot, this could be the stove for you.
— Ian McEleney and Chris McNamara