Primus Primetech 1.3l Stove Set

Over the years I have become far more jaded about the latest whatever piece of kit that is flavour of the month for this expert or that magazine. I confess I still waste a fair amount of cash on stuff for the outdoors, although in my defense until you have tested things in your chosen environment no amount of poking in shops or reading of reviews like this will necessarily help.

Just a selection from the stove collection
By now I have tried most cookers, from ultralight titanium meths burners, wood stoves, multi fuel, canister top and remote. My chosen playground is mountains, Scotland, North Wales, the Lakes or more likely the Pyrenees, generally the higher the better and this is the main influence on my stove choice. Bad weather high up is when I need hot food and drink if only to lift the spirits, so the ability to work well in cold and windy conditions is essential, as is simplicity in set up. Until now my favorite would be the MSR Reactor, robust, effective and simple but, and it's a big but on long trips, I find it really difficult to do much more than boil water with it.
Then whilst mooching around our local outdoor emporium, Trail Outdoor, I came across the Primus Primetech Stove.

Primus Primetech 1.3l Stove

The second pan, stove, handle and igniter all store inside the main pot for transport, and although not as neat and tidy as a Trangia did a reasonable job at making a compact unit. In use the handle clips to the pan and feels secure and the strainer lid works really well with pasta or rice. The integrated heat exchanger on the pot together with a partial windshield on the burner reminded me of the simplicity and robustness of the Reactor and with a multi month trip coming up, which will require I do more than just boil water, it had to be worth a go.
Long gone are the days when I measured the grams of every item, that lead to some very miserable trips! Now items are far more performance driven, having said that I'm not daft and I'm not strong so out went the second pot, the igniter and the transport bag, added were my trusty firesteel and a cuben fibre bag from Treadlite.

Primus Primetech 1.3l Pot and Stove 

A couple of nights camping high in Snowdonia confirmed what a great stove this appears to be, cold blustery conditions with intermittent rain the stove was fast to boil for hot drinks and simmered when asked allowing thoughts of a varied menu. The main pot is non-stick meaning at least initially I won't need the titanium chisel to keep it clean, scrambled eggs or pancakes anyone? The next 4 months will reveal any weaknesses but for now I'm really rather excited!

Post Via-Alpina Update.......

Ok so the stove did a lot of things pretty well. It does appear very frugal on gas, copes with both cold and windy conditions well. We cooked inside our tent on many occasions in foul weather without the worry of knocking anything over. Above all we even managed to "cook" scrambled eggs, vegetable curry, halloumi burgers and other real food from scratch, a real boost on a long trip.
However that was all whilst the stove was still working because on day 67 it fell apart.

This reduced the stove to a useless piece of ballast to be carried for the remaining 27 days of our hike. Earlier concerns we had over the stove's build quality now came to the fore. Within the first few weeks small bits of plastic fell off the handle, these were supposed to help the gripper hold the pan firmly without damaging the non-stick surface, they did appear from the beginning to be a bodge.

Whilst not affecting the stove or pans performance the damage is irritating and the pan handle fit was now sloppy. At the same time the pan lid started to display cracks. Now the whole system was packed in a sleeve and carried very near the top of my pack so very little on top of it, for years I have carried a reactor with a similar plastic lid with a climbing rack to no ill effect.

In conclusion from experience I expect better quality from Primus. I think the design idea is good but I am not sure the finished product lives up to either expectations in use or the Primus name.

I have spoken to Rosker, UK distributors for Primus who in turn have spoken directly to Primus who indicated there was a manufacturing batch problem that they were aware of that has now been resolved. Obviously this may or may not be comforting.


Pic Perdiguere

The dark of a January evening in front of the fire surrounded by a soggy Dartmoor it is easy for my mind to wander back to recent mountain adventures in warm sunshine. This is one such episode that will live long in my memory as a grand day (or so) out.

Lac d'Oo
Starting out from the Granges d'Astau an easy path (GR10) leads quickly up to Lac d'Oo and the Auberge. Continuing further up the valley we reach Lac d'Espingo and its accompanying refuge. At this stage the GR10 has turned off for Bagneres-de-Luchon and if you started late the crowds will have thinned.

Lac Saussat and Lac d'Espingo
After the third piece of water, Lac Saussat, the path starts to climb through the Cirque d'Espingo in order to reach Portillon where the fun begins.

Cirque d'Espingo
Refuge du Portillon is in a stunning position on the HRP and surrounded by numerous 3000m peaks.

Refuge du Portillon
It took us about 4.5 hrs and 1400+m to reach the refuge where we enjoyed a cold drink with our picnic lunch sat in the warm sunshine overlooking Lac du Portillon. Rested we now cross the dam and set off up to Collado Inferior de Lliterola, another 500+m at 2964m.

Approaching Collado Inferior de Lliterola
The col marks the start of our real objective to gain the ridge up to Punta de Lliterola 3116m, Pico Royo 3103m and Tuca de Lliterola 3080m. Initially the snow can be quite steep although this can be preferable to the broken loose ground lying underneath! but gaining the crest reveals good rock and plenty of opportunities for scrambling.

Gaining the Crest
Approaching Punta de Lliterola
Pico Royo with Pico Perdiguero behind left
The ridge is followed easily down to Collado Superior de Lliterola. An initial fairly steep scramble establishes you on Perdiguero (or as it is affectionately known to my wife "Jenga Mountain" due to the generally loose nature of most of the blocks on the North face), so exposed crest or loose blocks, neither are that bad.

After the initial scramble Pico Perdiguero

Pico Perdiguro summit view

Portillon far below
The route is now reversed to regain the col to head directly back to Portillon, firstly on a large fairly steep snowfield, followed by boulder fields festooned with occasionally useful cairns. As the way opens up in a more northerly direction a path becomes more evident which eventually rejoins our earlier path to the Col Inferior.

Collada Superior de Lliterola crampon moment
Reaching the Refuge at 7pm meant they were going to be busy with their guests so we passed without a celebratory beer and continued a little further to a bivy spot for the night.(2200+m positive/850+m negative)

Looking back from Portillon at 7pm
Lots of hot coffee and sandwiches for supper we watched the stars on and off through the night before the 4hr stagger out the following morning.

Comfy Pyrenees bivy


Via-Alpina 2017

Another end to end hike.

We have always wanted to visit the Alps but never really decided where as there does seem to be quite a lot of them. Cicerone's "Trekking in the Alps" alone lists "20 classic routes" all competing for our attention, but there is nothing quite like starting at the sea and ending at the sea as the Pyrenean Haute Route does. So in what seems like a good idea in front of the fire on a cold Dartmoor evening tickets to Trieste are booked and we begin pouring over maps and kit lists in excited anticipation.

So its coming to the end of April, much planning, route worrying and kit selecting has been going on, most of which is totally unnecessary but still an integral part of preparing for one of our hikes. To make it "official" we announced to the world, or at least the Via Alpina Facebook page that we would be starting in June.........

Hi, we are Nick and Jo Mandeville. We live and work in the Dartmoor National Park in Devon UK. This year we start walking the Via-Alpina from Trieste on the 24th of June hoping to reach Monaco in early October. We have hiked, climbed, camped and bivouacked throughout Dartmoor, Snowdonia, Cumbria, Scotland and the Pyrenees. At a time of great change politically and environmentally we hope to discover an Alps that is inclusive and that inspires particularly the young who once captivated by mountains and wild places are sure to be their future guardians. If you see us stumbling along the trail please come and say Hi.

We aim to follow the "Red Trail" from Trieste as far as its intersection with the "Green Trail" (Alpine Pass Route) which we aim to take through Switzerland before meeting up with the "Tour Du Mont Blanc". At some point on the "TMB" we will break off to join the "GR5" which will form the basis of our route down to Monaco. 
Along the way if the weather is kind, we have the time and a little extra in our legs we will try and summit Triglav, Buet and Viso.............its a rough plan anyway!

Via Alpina Kit.
So that is it we are off, if you would like to catch up and see what happens next look us up on Instagram.

We made it!!!!!.................

On the morning of Monday 25 September, day 94, we hiked the final one and a half hours from our last bivy to the beach at Menton bringing to an end a great adventure. Discovering Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and France. Bears, Wolves, Boars, Squirrels, great birds of prey, salamanders, snakes and the most wonderful flowers. Sunshine to nearly 40c, blizzards and high bivys down to -10c.
Lots of pain and huge amounts of pleasure, we reveled in glorious landscapes and met some amazing people.................just for now we will let it sink in!