If you have been following my reviews, you probably noticed that a few months back I did a review of a stove made by Kovea, the Kovea Camp 5. As I mentioned there, Kovea is a Korean company that has had a good track record in terms of quality, and from what I understand manufactures a lot of products for better known companies in the US like MSR.
I was recently contacted by Kovea, and was told that they are looking into entering the US market. They were kind enough to provide me with another one of their stoves for testing. The stove is the Kovea Spider. It is not currently on the market, but will enter production shortly. In the interest of full disclosure, the stove was provided to me free of charge for purposes of this test. If you are interested in any of the Kovea products, you can currently get them in the US through their Ebay Store.
The Kovea Spider is a remote canister stove. It uses a standard threaded canister as a fuel, and as such is compatible with all such canisters, including MSR and Snow Peak.
The stove is light weight for a remote canister stove, coming in at 6.0 oz. The next lightest stove currently on the US market is the MSR Windpro II, which comes in at 6.6 oz. The only lighter remote canister stove of which I am aware is the Kovea Camp 5 which I reviewed earlier, at 5.3 oz. I am told that when the stove hits the US market, it will be priced somewhere in the $55 range. To me that is the most amazing aspect of this stove, allowing it to come in at less than half the price of similar remote canister stoves by MSR and Primus.
The stove comes in a small box. Inside there is a carrying pouch for the stove, as well as a remote igniter. The igniter simply produces a spark when you press a button, igniting the stove. It works well, but I find that I have little use for it, since I always have a lighter for that purpose. I am very happy that Kovea has chosen to offer the igniter as a separate tool rather than integrating it into the stove. Integrated igniters are always an issue for me, malfunctioning and adding unnecessary weight to the stove.
As you can see, the stove folds up into a fairly small package. The stove plus a 8 oz MSR canister fit inside my Open Country 2qt pot along with a windscreen, a lighter, and a bandana. The legs fold out very easily and lock into place, creating a very stable platform. As you remember, my biggest issue with the Kovea Camp 5, tested earlier, was that it was too unstable. This problem has been completely fixed with the Kovea Spider. The stove is extremely easy to set up, allowing easy operation without worry about the stove moving or tipping over. While it is 0.7 oz heavier that the Camp 5, it is well worth the added weight. In the picture below, you see my Open Country 2qt pot balanced on the stove at a pretty serious incline without any issues.
The flame pattern of the Kovea Spider is wider than it is on the Kovea Camp 5, although smaller than the MSR Windpro II. It is reminiscent of the GigaPower GS-100, although quite a bit larger. I found the flame distribution to be fairly good. I did not experience any issue when cooking thinks like rice. However, if your style of cooking requires a very large flame dispersion pattern for gourmet cooking, you may be more comfortable with the MSR Windpro II.
Interestingly, the Kovea Spider looks very similar to the end product of my modification of the Kovea Camp 5 that I did earlier. Here you can see the two of them side by side.
While my modified stove weighs only 4.7 oz, while the Kovea Spider weighs 6.0 oz, the Spider is a lot more stable, not to mention that the legs actually fold. This leads me to think that the 6.0 oz range is the lightest you can make a remote canister stove before it becomes unstable. Any lighter, and the tension of the hose becomes enough to move the stove around and tip it over.
Here you can see the Kovea Spider next to the MSR Whisperlite International.
The main feature I look for in a remote canister stove is that it has a vaporization tube. Without it, I would just get a lighter canister mounted stove. The vaporization tube allows the fuel to pass through the flame before it is released, much like you have in a white gas stove like the Whisperlite. This allows the stove to be used in liquid feed mode, where the canister is inverted, and the liquid fuel inside is utilized without needing it to vaporize within the canister. With such a set up, a canister stove can operate at much lower temperatures than one without a vaporization tube, or simply a canister mounted stove. For example, using MSR Isobutane/Propane mix, a canister mounted stove will stop working at about 20F. A remote canister stove with a vaporization tube will function at 0F and even lower, without any tricks.
The Kovea Spider has a such a vaporization tube, allowing for inverted canister operation.
When operating the stove with an inverted canister, some monitoring is required due to flame fluctuation, but it worked quite well. As all the instruction are in Korean, I am not sure if this is a recommended use for the stove, but it works none the less.
The only minor issue I had with the stove is that the top part of the legs are slightly bent down towards the burner. This means that a pot placed on them does not make full contact with the whole horizontal part of the legs. I am not sure why that was done, but I imagine that if the top parts of the legs were completely horizontal, it would offer better pot stability.
So in summary, the stove is lightweight for a remote canister stove (6.0 oz); it is relatively cheap ($55); it is stable and easy to operate; it allows for inverted canister operation; it packs up fairly well; and has decent flame pattern.
I am not a huge stove guy. I am sure that someone who spends a lot more time thinking about stove details can give you more specific aspects of the stove that can be differentiated when compared to its competitors on the market, but that is beyond anything I have been able to notice or care about. My main concern with a stove is whether it gets the job done at a reasonable weight and a reasonable price. The Kovea Spider fulfills all of these categories. So far I am very happy with the operation of the stove, and will be using it as my main stove for some time to come.