Kelly Kettle Company graciously provided a Trekker Kettle, pot stand, and cooking pot set for this review. The review process has included use and critique by my immediate family, and by my “camping family,” those women that I hang out with in the woods.
The Trekker is the smallest of the Kelly Kettle family. It is an aluminum kettle that holds ½ liter of water in its walls. I was intrigued by the history of both the kettle and Kelly Company when I read through their website www.kellykettleusa.com.
Some of this same intrigue was evident when I unpacked the kettle at a group camping event. People gathered ‘round and made comments like “That’s a cool-looking pot,” “wow, that’s neat, where can I get one?” and of course, “Oh! A new pot!” because campers like new gadgets and gear. Here’s what we found.
The components all get very hot.
Con: I would not let young children use this pot. It took a long time for the parts to cool down enough to pack into the bag, especially the pot rack. Use the pot handle!!!
Pro: I took the kettle full of hot water (no fire), corked, into my tent and let it radiate heat, which it did nicely. Bonus points for acting as a room heater.
Water inside the kettle heats quickly.
Pro: I tested the Kettle against the Esbit for speed of boiling water. It takes a little more time to prep the kettle for lighting (gather combustible materials) than the Esbit (put a fuel cube on the stove platform), but when lit at the same time, the Kettle beat the Esbit’s time for producing two cups of boiling water. (Water boiled in the Kettle walls. The pot of water on top followed shortly thereafter).
Pro: I really, really like the fact that this does not use chemical fuels. I like it so much that fact alone offsets any shortcomings I found in the pot. This was the one feature that was universally appealing to those who viewed the Kettle with me.
Con: the con is only a con if you’re a Leave No Trace purist. There will be ashes left after making a fire under the Kettle. Bury them. It does get hot enough to scorch the grass underneath, so set it on a rock if you don’t want to leave signs of humanity.
It has to do more than just heat water.
Pro: I can double the capacity of water I’m heating by using a pot on top while the water inside the Kettle heats, or I can cook on top while water heats inside. The pot rack also held my heavier, larger set of backpacking cook pots.
Pro: Fill the base with pine needles, pine cones, leaves, dead grass, and twigs, set the filled kettle on top of the base, and light your fire through the air holes in the base. I found that it worked much better when I did it this way than trying to light the fire in the base and then put the Kettle on it. The draw through the base and up the chimney helps the fire get started. You can continue to feed the fire through the holes in the base.
Con: Both the website and the instructions with the Kettle tell you to lift the Kettle holding the handle at a 90° angle. This was easy when the pot was empty, not so much when it was full of water. I found that if I squeezed the sides of the handle together slightly it would hold a full pot at 90°. You definitely don’t want the handle to be over the top of the pot’s chimney, it is extremely hot even if there’s no flame.
Components pack together.
Pro: The pot rack comes in two pieces that slide together for use, and when taken apart, fit flat together.
The cook pots, pot handle, and grill pieces all fit nicely into the bottom of the kettle. Slide it all into the carry sack, and throw it in the boat!
I admit I was a little skeptical when I first received the Kettle from Kelly. We walked around it for several minutes tossing out ideas, based on the fact that it ‘only heats water’. After the first trial run I decided I might use this for a day hike, but not an overnight backpack trip. It is light for its size, but it’s no match for my Esbit stove in either weight or size when I’m carrying everything in a pack.
I took in on a kayak camping trip, and loved, loved, loved it!! I could throw the tough aluminum pot in the bow of the boat and not worry about damaging it. I would (and will) take this on car camping trips and it’s my new “gotta-have-it” for kayak camping. At campsites I grabbed one bag (the Kettle with cook pots) and one water bottle to start dinner. The small size worked fine for two of us, for four or more people I would go up to the medium or large size Kettles. The medium and large size kettles would be excellent for car camping as well.
I think Scout troops would love this. Again, caution about the hot metal parts.
This would also be an excellent addition to emergency kits, to keep in your trunk or at home, if you are stranded or without power. I could see purchasing it just for that, if nothing else.
Pricing is reasonable, especially when you consider this is an aluminum product, which will last forever if used correctly. The cork stopper might have to be replaced eventually if the Kettle receives a lot of use, but corks are easy to find. The medium kettle holds 1 liter, and the large hold 1.5 liters. I think ‘handy’ describes it perfectly.