Primus Lite XL Integrated Stove Review
Over recent years I have rarely used anything but an integrated stove/pan system - they are compact, efficient and designed specifically to be used together. I have also seen the significant benefits of using a pan system with integrated heat exchanger - again they score highly for compactness and also burn significantly less fuel. My first dip into these combined systems came with a Jetboil and I have since used a number of similar products from Primus. A few years ago I tested the Primus ETA Plus followed by the Lite+ and more recently the Primus Essential and Primetech systems. So, here I go again as Primus recently sent me one of their Lite XL sets to review......
The Lite XL combines a 1 litre pan (with incorporated handle, heat exchanger and see through lid) with a gas stove which attaches securely to the pan. There is an integrated piezo igniter and the unit comes with a stabilising base stand, plastic bowl and storage bag. The stove packs neatly into the pan and you can also carry a small size gas cartridge in there too - it all packs into a compact unit.
While describing the stove itself is easy enough, there is a lot of design details that make this a great little system that is so much more than simply a gas stove. It needs to be considered as a fully integrated cooking system.
To consider the separate elements, the pan is a solidly built 1 litre capacity non stick model with a see through lid with integrated handle and vent/strainer holes. On the side there is a fold out insulated double handle that feels very secure to use even when the pan is very full. There are capacity marks on the side of the pan.
At the bottom of the pan is the incorporated heat exchanger. If you aren’t familiar with heat exchangers they are a series of fluted fins that work like a central heating radiator to channel heat where needed. They are a real game changer for stoves as they focus the heat onto the pan base which, in turn, speeds up cooking times and uses far less fuel. The channelled heat also means they can cope relatively well with cross winds. The slight increase in weight from the extra metal used to create the fins is easily offset by the need to carry less fuel and improved cooking times.
Having now gained a good understanding of the Primus range, I have come to see how several tried and tested features cross between models - the Lite XL uses, for a couple of examples, the same pan/stove attachment system as the Lite+ or the same handle as the Eta Power. This makes perfect sense as these features work superbly and it means that Primus can draw on many years of testing.
The stove unit is a solidly built and very efficient gas burner which locks securely onto the pan base using the ingenious slot in system mentioned above. With this system a triangular shape on the stove slots into a docking port on the pan. I think Primus have created a brilliant system here which is definitely the best I have come across from any manufacturer - it operates easily even when wearing gloves and feels absolutely rock solid when locked.
The gas burner uses standard threaded cylinders and has a Piezo igniter. Primus have also recognised that sometimes people may want to use a different pan and so they include 3 little metal pegs that can be screwed into the burner unit thus allowing any pan to be used - a great little addition again showing that typical Swedish attention to detail. The burner also features what Primus call ‘Laminar Flow Burner Technology’ which, Primus says, allows the burner unit to have a very low profile. Finally, Primus also include a plastic folding tripod stabiliser base which can be clipped on to various cartridge sizes to improve stability.
So, the system is very well featured, but how does it perform? Well, in a single word, brilliantly! I have always loved both the Primus attention to detail and the construction quality and the Lite XL is another example of all that make their products so great. Everything integrates superbly, the set up is quick and simple and the stove cooks efficiently and with great flame controllability via the easy to operate control valve. Also, once set up with the stabiliser base the stove feels very stable. Everything has been carefully considered and just works.
I would mainly use a stove of this type for boiling up water and this unit does this easily. Of course, having a non stick pan means you can be far more adventurous with your cooking if you wish, but most of my back country cooking nowadays involves dehydrated meals made simply with hot water. The one litre pan is a good size for up to 2 people and, because of the pan support pins, there is scope to take additional or larger pans if needed.
The lid is made of a solid see through plastic and is again very well made. It seals snugly onto the pan and incorporates strainer holes which are great if you are cooking up vegetables or pasta and want to drain the water. This type of operation is also aided by the large integrated handle which incorporates a rubber insert to allow the lid to be handled when hot.
Some pan systems have pan grippers or flimsy handles but the Lite XL has 2 beefy handles that fold out from either side to offer a very solid holder even if the pan is full and, consequently, heavy. The handles are made from metal covered in rubber and so there is no problem picking this up if the pan is very hot.
Once you have finished cooking, the burner fits inside the pan and a small gas cartridge can also be stored in here. Primus also supply the Lite XL with a neat storage bag. It is worth noting that you can’t fit a medium or large gas cartridge inside the pan for transport.
Cook times are excellent. Primus quote a boil time of 4 mins per litre and I found this to be realistic. The heat exchanger helps with this but also means the fuel usage is impressively low. The quoted fuel usage offers 50 minute burn time from a 100 gram cartridge which should be plenty for a solo traveler to cook for a weekend or so.
Depending on your intended use, the weight of the Lite XL might be the main consideration about its suitability. As mentioned, everything is solidly built and beautifully engineered but this means a fairly hefty system weight of 450 grams. This puts the system some way outside the ultralight stove system category and you would have to decide if this suited your activities. If you decide it will work for what you want, there is no doubt it will serve you very well for many years.
I haven’t yet tested a Primus product that isn’t superbly designed and beautifully made and the Lite XL continues this pattern easily. There are some excellent unique features mixed with many Primus tried and tested staple features and they all combine to give a brilliant product. The main consideration for potential users will be if they need something lighter, but if that isn’t the key consideration then this system is great. The cost of the unit is around £130 but don’t forget that for that money you get everything you need to be up and cooking straight away. Full details are available on the Primus website here.
Posted by Paul