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Survival Gear Review: Kelly Kettle Ultimate Camp Kit

kelly_kettle_openedThe Kelly Kettle was developed by the Kelly family in Ireland and has been in use for over one hundred years. The kettle has a simple yet very effective design for boiling water.  The body of the kettle is a doubled wall construction with a hollow core.  When the kettle is placed over the hobo stove, the heat is directed up the center, hollow portion of the kettle and out of the top.  Since there is a much larger surface area being heated, the water boil time is greatly reduced.  The excess heat coming out of the top of the kettle can then be used as a cooking source while your water is being boiled.

By Tinderwolf, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

The stove uses biomass for its fuel, meaning that any natural source of combustible material can be used. The more I talk about the Kelly Kettle to folks the more I am amazed that people have not heard of it.

My Experience

I filled the kettle up with water and set it off to the side while I started my fire in the hobo stove base.  I always carry a few pieces of Fatwood with me as they are filled with resin and hold a flame very well. I used the Fatwood and other biomass that I found to get the fire going.  Once I was satisfied with my base fire, I placed the kettle filled with water on top of the hobo stove.  It is important to note that when you are boiling water you must keep the silicone stopper out of the kettle.  If you have the stopper inserted, too much pressure can build up inside the kettle and you will experience a nasty side effect.

Related: Weighing The Options For Drinking Water

Once I had the kettle on top of the heat source, I began my stopwatch.  I then placed the cooking top accessories in the chimney opening so that I could cook a pot of soup.  Within five minutes the water was at a rolling boil and my soup was hot enough to eat.  The small pot grabber accessory came in handy when the pot was ready to be taken off of the heat source.

kelly_kettle_cookingI took the kettle off of the hobo stove base and equipped the grill top. It was the perfect size to cook a sausage link.  Five minutes later I had a great grill tasting sausage.  With the grill accessory still in place, I decided to try using the pot cover, which can also be used as a small frying pan, to cook an egg. The size of the pan is just right for a single egg to be cooked.  Cooking directly above the hobo stove worked well, though I’m sure the cook time is diminished. There are two ways in which to feed fuel into this system.  You can feed fuel from the bottom directly into the hobo stove or you can feed the fuel directly into the chimney of the kettle. Feeding the fuel from the top and into the chimney is the recommend way in which to feed your base fire.

Pros & Cons

As the list is very short, let’s begin with the negative aspects of this system.  Since the Kelly Kettle uses biomass as fuel, there is no real good way in which to adjust your heat output like you can with a fuel canister system. The only way to do so is to stop feeding the fire and let it die down on its own.  With a fuel canister system you have much more control over the heat output.  When comparing this to a fuel canister system, starting the fire and keeping the fire fed is going to be more work with the Kelly Kettle.  It’s also going to be more difficult if you want to have a smokeless fire depending on the fuel available. The Kelly Kettle is also much larger and weighs more than a small fuel canister accompanied by a grill base.

See Also: Water Purification and Survival

kelly_kettle_water_pouringFor me, the pros of the Kelly Kettle system far outweigh the cons. If you are traveling long distance or off the grid for an extended time, you will always be able to use the Kelly Kettle provided you have fuel. You have the option of the kit being made out of aluminum or stainless steel.  Aluminum will obviously be lighter but more difficult to clean. The stainless steel will add more weight to the kit but it will be much more durable and easier to clean. The entire base camp kit which includes a kettle, a hobo stove, two plates, two cups, a pot with lid, pot base, pot grabber and a grill all fit into an easy carry bag.

Conclusion

Some might look at the price for the Large Base Camp kit in stainless steel as a bit pricey, coming in at $170.  I try to save money on gear when I can but when it comes to main items in my kit, I believe you get what you pay for.  The Kelly Kettle is a good investment. This particular model is the largest that Kelly Kettle offers and works wonderfully if you are going to be setting up camp in a location for a couple of days. Because of its size, it is probably not something you are going to want to be packing and unpacking several times a day through your travels.  I have placed this model in my large pack that I use for longer outings. For smaller, quick day trips I plan on later purchasing one of their smaller models.

Photos Courtesy of:
KellyKettleUSA

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