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 worse than the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe when in warmer and low wind environments… and at a much lower cost. Despite its MSRP, it usually retails for less, and you can get a 2-pack for a whale of a deal. It even comes with a piezo igniter. That said, we noticed a significant lack of performance at higher elevations and in cold and windy conditions. That is where the PocketRocket Deluxe kept performing admirably and showed the limitations of the Etekcity.
Etekcity Ultralight Review
Cons: Unstable, sputtery wind and cold weather performance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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 an excellent 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.
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 less efficient than the fuel-sipping MSR PocketRocket Deluxe. It's also less efficient than all of the integrated canister stoves (like the Primus 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, consuming two ounces of fuel in the process. When camping above treeline, find a sheltered spot for this stove or consider using it in a well-ventilated tent vestibule. 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 the sixth lightest stove in our review, and it's twice as light as the next lightest stove, the MSR Windpro 2. It's just a bit heavier than the Soto Windmaster 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 PocketRocket 2. 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 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.
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. It boiled faster than the liquid fuel stoves.
In our 8 - 10mph wind test the Etekcity Ultralight fared poorly. The Windmaster and Deluxe did much better in the wind. 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.
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 PocketRocket 2 measures about 11.5 cm and the GigaPower 2.0 about 10.7 cm. 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. No canister stand comes 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 was dead weight. Our testing team is baffled that while some manufacturers integrate this technology quite well (Windmaster and Stryker), 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.
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 survivalist's 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.
Canister stoves are pretty much not field repairable. If the stove is a "mission critical" piece of gear on your next trip, the Ultralight could be worth considering as an inexpensive, lightweight back-up.
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 Soto Windmaster. It has all the features of the Etekcity but better executed.
The Etekcity Ultralight 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 only need something cheap that makes water hot, this could be the stove for you.
— Ian McEleney and Chris McNamara