The main pot of the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Set is better than any other single pot in any set we evaluated. Between the lid, the handle, the nonstick coating, and the heat exchanging rings, this is the most sophisticated and high-performing pot we've used. It is only enhanced by the accessory pot and the insulated cozy/carry bag. That it doesn't include any more features may cause some consternation. However, if you are looking for maximum performance, you won't mind the process of securing your own accessories. If you want cooking performance that approximates but doesn't match, that of the Primus PrimeTech and includes a few more features to save you hunting them down on your own, check out the other Editors' Choice award-winning GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper Cookset. Still wondering if the Primus set is for you? Read our entire review for the most detailed, first-hand, comparative assessment of camping cookware on the internet.
Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Sturdy construction and efficiency-oriented heat exchanger ring, locking universal pot gripper
Cons: Heavy, especially for a kit that requires addition of other features, heat exchanger ring is a little messy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The two pots that make up this award-winning cook set are solid and clean. Their performance is excellent, with only proven "bells and whistles". Of the cook sets we tested that include efficiency-enhancing "heat exchanging" fins, the Primus pot is a little less efficient, but the other attributes tilt the overall needle back in its direction. The whole combination is an excellent foundation for a genuinely high-end camp kitchen. For true aficionados of camp cooking, those that demand carefully selected equipment for preparing excellent food with ease and enjoyment, the Primus PrimeTech is the best product we tested. The other Editors' Choice GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper is a little more convenient, but the Primus is the best performing.
The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L pot set is tied for second place in overall scoring. This is work-horse equipment, purpose built and not bogged down with anything unnecessary and constructed with proven materials and techniques. The only other products in the same scoring strata also won awards for their unique attributes. This is the very upper echelon of camp cookware on the market.
We evaluated the cooking performance of each set of cookware on a matrix of objective tests and the subjective results of "day to day use". On this rubric, the Primus shares the top spot with just one other product. Because boiling water is the foundation of camp cooking, the results of our standardized boiling test are a big part of the overall cooking performance score. The heat exchanging ring on the bottom of the Primus main pot reduces the boiling time and saves simmering fuel to a significant degree. This same pot, with its broad construction, relatively thick aluminum bottom, and excellent Teflon coating, cooked scrambled eggs remarkably well. On a stove that simmers well, the thick pot walls and close fitting lid even work well for backcountry baking tasks.
Only the Optimus Terra HE scores as high, in cooking performance, like the Primus. It is no coincidence that these two products are also the only ones that include specialized features for enhancing heat exchange efficiency. With the Optimus main pot, however, to achieve the boiling efficiency score it earned, one must balance the slippery fry pan/lid on top. The "lid" of the Optimus is not very user-friendly. In overall scoring, then, the Ease of Use scores brought the Optimus way down. In preparing any boiled water food, all the other products we tested suffer as compared to the Primus. The difference exaggerates even further if one's camp cooking involves melting snow. In other cooking tasks, like sautéing and simmering sauces, the Primus does well too. It does not include a dedicated frying pan, but either main pot is broad enough to suffice. If you dig a dedicated frying pan, you will need to purchase it separately (which is a strategy that allows you numerous options) or opt for the other Editors' Choice GSI Bugaboo Camper.
The outer dimensions of the packed-up Primus kit are almost exactly average. The 2.3-liter pot forms the rigid outer shell of the kit, enlarged only by the lightly insulated carrying bag. The shape is also fairly average. To maximize boiling efficiency and cooking ease, a low cylinder shape is pretty standard. The Primus is shaped this way too. Regarding packability, we also consider how much one can fit inside and what that does to the cookware. The two pots of the PrimeTech set nest tightly together, wasting no space between them. The inside of the inner pot is treated with a nonstick coating that needs to be protected from whatever is placed inside. We find that a small piece of a towel is a great addition for pot protection and a worthy kitchen accessory.
As compared to the other high performing cook sets, the Primus is very similar in packability. It is a little smaller than the other Editors' Choice GSI Bugaboo Camper and about the same size as the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set. All of these highest scoring products are, not coincidentally, among the more significant cook sets we tested. For most camp cooking pots around 2-3 liters are best, at least as an option. Smaller than that, especially for groups, and you must adapt your menu to more straightforward fare. If you do so, and wish to pack super light, the Top Pick MSR Trail Mini Duo is in a class of its own. It is tiny and featherweight, as compared to the Primus.
Durability is a function of materials and metal thickness. Thicker metal is less likely to bend or warp. Steel is the strongest, followed by titanium and then aluminum. Uncoated metals maintain their performance attributes longer. Pots and pans coated with Teflon and ceramic break down with time, with the ceramic pots maintaining safety longer than the Teflon products. The Primus pots are aluminum with Teflon coatings. They will dent, but not as easily as some. They will lose their non-stick coatings with use and abuse. In the meantime, though, the cooking performance is worth it.
The material, thickness, and non-stick coating are essentially the same as that used in the other Editors Choice' GSI Bugaboo Camper. The Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set uses a non-stick coating that isn't necessarily any more durable than that on the Primus, but the degradation of the ceramic coating is healthier than the similar degradation of the Primus. If you are looking for truly bullet-proof construction, and are willing to sacrifice cooking performance, the MSR Alpine 2 is the most rugged and long lasting product we evaluated.
The overall Primus set is almost exactly average. The set weighs 709grams while the average of all the tested sets is 716 grams. Comparing overall cook sets, however, is problematic, as each set comes with different components and features. In our attempt to better compare products, we weighed the main pot, lid, and handle and then normalized for pot volume. By this methodology, the Primus is also basically average. For the cooking performance it demonstrates (above average), this weight scoring is admirable.
In comparing the overall set weight, we can only look at similarly featured products. The only other similarly featured product (two pots and a lid and handle, with bag) is the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set which is quite a bit lighter than the Primus. If we strip all the products down to their main pot, lid, and handle, and then normalize for volume, the Primus is similar in weight to the MalloMe 10 Piece Mess Kit. It's way heavier than the Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Set and significantly lighter than the Optimus Terra HE and the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set.
Ease of Use
Pots are mostly fairly simple to use, and any differences are fairly subtle. We like the locking, universal handle/gripper of the Primus set. The heat exchanger ring lends a little stability when the pot is set on narrow camp stove burners. The lid is easy to put on and off, and its plastic construction stays cool. The lid strainer helps to separate water from the cooked pasta.
The accumulation of simple, bomb-proof usability attributes in the Primus PrimeTech pot set puts it near the top of the heap regarding usability. The MSR sets are similarly easy to use, while the tiny and ultralight Snow Peak Titanium pots are flimsy and unstable by comparison. To protect your fingers from burning, removable handles are far more useful. The Snow Peak, Winterial 11 Piece and G4Free 4 Piece pots all have built-in handles. They won't get lost, but they may get hot, and they are usually a little less secure and stable than the rigidly attached removable kind.
There are no extra features, to speak of, with the Primus PrimeTech pot set. The one extra that is included is the insulated "cozy" that doubles as the carry bag. While we couldn't find much use for this attribute, some will certainly like the option to insulate your heated or cooled cooking pot and its contents. It is likely a feature that you learn, over more time than we had, to incorporate into your habits and patterns. It is exactly the lack of accessories that set the Primus apart. No cook set is perfect. For high performance, high-efficiency, regular and frequent camp cooking, connoisseurs will want to assemble their kits. For those, a basic, well thought out set of pots will form the backbone of a tailor-made kit. The Primus PrimeTech doesn't have any extra parts that you will have to compromise on or have to replace.
Other pot sets that are relatively spartan like the Primus PrimeTech are the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set and the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set. The Optimus Terra HE adds just a frying pan to the otherwise similar set of two pots. If you want more accessories, check out the Editors' Choice GSI Bugaboo Camper (which includes cups, bowls, and a frying pan) or the MSR Quick 2 System (which includes cups and deep plates/shallow bowls). The only kits we tested that are "ready to use" are the Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Set, the Top PIck Stanley Adventure Series, and the MalloMe 10 Piece Kit. For basic meals, for one or two campers, these two kits can be pressed into duty "as is". There are certainly compromises in the accessories, but most or all of what you need is indeed included.
This is the best pot set on the market for he or she that is working to assemble a comprehensive, versatile, high-performing camp kitchen. No matter your camping habits and menus, the Primus PrimeTech pots will complement what you do. The only catch is that this pot set requires the owner to collect all the other components. Most will do better with this strategy anyway, as compared to buying a kit that includes more components.
This pot set is the same price as the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set. It performs better in some ways, and more poorly in others. It is quite a bit less expensive than the other Editors' Choice GSI Bugaboo Camper, but you will need to spend some of that difference on some accessories. Of these top-scoring pieces, all are the same value.
We granted two Editors' Choice awards. This Primus PrimeTech equipment is the ticket for the engaged shopper that wants the best of the best. He or she will need to also secure a frying pan, cups, plates, cutting board, and cutlery to have a complete kitchen kit. On the other hand, if you want some more help further along the path, the co-Editors' Choice GSI Bugaboo Camper saves you making choices on cups and frying pan. Either way, you get good to great cooking performance.
— Jediah Porter