In review: Hiking stoves

28 November 2014

Words & Photos: Rinaldo Captain

Whether you're tenting at the top of Thukela Falls in the 'berg in winter or just boiling some water to make a cup of instant coffee on a cold winter’s day hike to the top of Table Mountain, your choice of hiking stove can be life-saver or leave a you shivering, hungry wreck. Let’s face it, there’s nothing that helps boost morale more after a tough day of hiking than a hot meal or decent cup of coffee (Irish or otherwise) – and for this, you need a stove you can rely on.

ATG Gas Stove - Wider Burner Head gives off a wider flame.

ATG Gas Stove.

Kovea Spider Stove with separate igniter.

ATG Jiko Gas Stove and Kovea Spider Stove.

Kovea Spider Stove with Gas canister inverted to enable the stove to burn liquid ButanePropane

Versatility is king

When it comes to choosing a stove, the range of hiking stoves offered by each of the local and international manufacturers,which are readily available throughout South Africa, can be quite large and varied. These range from the complicated multi-fuel roarer type burners, through to the integrated canister stoves, the simple Trangia alcohol burners and even the idiot-proof Esbit fuel tablet stoves. The problem comes in when trying to find one that can pretty much do it all because each stove is suited to specific conditions and therefore has inherent shortcomings. Remote canister stoves, however, solve a number of shortcomings of traditional canister stoves.

Remote canister stove

Remote canister stoves are a mix of stove types where the actual burner is no longer situated directly on top of the canister. Instead, it is connected to the canister via a braided hose that is similar to the configuration of the multi-fuel roarer type stoves. Remote canister stoves have some advantages over their top-mounted predecessors in that:

• It is possible to completely enclose the stove and pot in a wind-shield, thereby making the stove more efficient. It is extremely hazardous to even attempt this with top-mounted canister stoves!
• It is far more stable on uneven terrain due to the lower centre of gravity.

To help you make an informed decision, I have chosen two popular stoves to do the review on. The contenders are the Korean-made Kovea Spider, which has a good reputation internationally, vs. the popular local kid on the block, the ATG (All Terrain Gear) Gas Stove. The aim of this comparative review is to find out which one is the most versatile, affordable, readily available and easy-to-use remote canister hiking stove. The stoves have been compared on price, quality, weight, stability and, of course, versatility.


Technical Info:
Weight of the stove: 170 g
Dimensions of stove when closed: 115 mm x 105 mm x 55 mm Dimensions of stove when closed: 107 mm x 94 mm x 46 mm

Small packed size (fits into pot sets)
Good quality build and materials used
Comes with a detached Piezo igniter
Well priced
Able to burn liquid Butane/Propane mix

Small head


Technical Info:
Weight of the stove: 220 g
Dimensions of stove when closed: 107 mm x 94 mm x 46 mm

Good quality product
Very stable
Built-in Piezo igniter
Well priced
Broad head for larger flame surface area


Kovea Spider Stove - Copper Vapourisation tube.

In my humble opinion, both the ATG Gas Stove and Kovea Spider performed well.

The ATG head is a bit broader, so it gives off a nicely spread-out flame that allows the heat to spread evenly beneath the pot/pan. The rugged and sturdy ATG Gas Stove feels very stable and well built, therefore great for hiking, camping, bike touring and the like. I'm pretty sure it can handle a cast iron pot like a champ!

The Kovea Spider is quite small and surprisingly sturdy, given its size. The invert option, with the vaporisation tube, helps to burn liquid canister fuel at sub-zero temperatures and at high altitudes. The ability do this makes the Kovea Spider more versatile than most other canister stoves. However, beware that this cannot be done inside a tent, as flaring does occur. So before attempting to invert the canister, make sure you've turned the stove to low and that the stove has been on/burning for at least 30 seconds to allow the vaporisation tube to heat up or you WILL burn those bushy eyebrows! This stove is at home on the Drakensberg escarpment in winter and equally at home on your kitchen counter top when Eskom implements load shedding for the umpteenth time this week. The Kovea Spider is ideally suited for weight-conscious, gram-counting hiking types who are venturing into more extreme conditions.

The verdict

Both stoves are great products and far better alternatives to the top-mounted gas stoves. The ATG Gas Stove is a great little stove, very sturdy and the price is great. The fact that it's a South African brand is a real bonus for me, as I believe we need to give more support to local brands. However, even though the ATG Gas Stove has a number of pretty good points, the winner here is the Kovea Spider, with its increased versatility due to the vaporisation tube.

More information
For more information on the ATG Gas Stove and where it is available from, visit
For more information on the Kovea Spider and where it is available from, visit

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