This light, compact and solidly built stove uses an innovative design to make backcountry cooking a cinch. It works flawlessly and comes with everything you need, so how can you argue with that. The Kovea Hydra Stove deserves our Gear of the Year Award and then some.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
A good backcountry (single burner) stove must be easy to use, able to accommodate either white gas or iso-butane canisters, and must bring water to a fast boil (have a high BTU rating). To make it a great stove however, it should also be light and quiet. The Hydra is a great stove, period. Recently released, Kovea claims the Hydra is the quietest liquid fuel pressure stove ever built, and I’d have to agree. At just 62 decibels, you can cook your dinner and still carry on a conversation with your fellow campers. Kovea’s revolutionary combustion chamber technology keeps it quiet while providing the option of burning either iso butane or white gasoline.
The Kovea Hydra Stove in its element.
Kovea also claims the Hydra is the most compact expedition-level multi-fuel stove ever built. The key words there are “expedition-level”; There are several smaller stoves on the market, but the Kovea Hydra Stove is built to withstand rugged use that your average car camper may not inflict. The folding mechanism used to compress the legs into the body of the stove is a slick design which allows the Hydra to maintain its pocket-sized compactness.
The Hydra is a true multi-fuel stove capable of burning white gas (Aspen 4 or Coleman Fuel) and butane/propane gas canisters. There is also some speculation that it also has the ability to burn petrol (aka car gas), diesel and paraffin. While I have only tested white gas and butane/propane gas canisters, the option to burn other fuels is a huge plus, especially in less developed countries that may not stock the more traditional camp fuels. Unlike competing stoves, when switching from white gas to butane you don’t need to change the fuel nozzle. Similarly, if you want to switch between a fuel bottle and a gas canister the same fuel cord works for both, no switch required. These two features ensure that you won’t leave home with the wrong nozzle or adapter, and allows for maximum flexibility when travelling abroad. The stoves regulator, pre-heater, and burner technology provide variable flame control and produce a hot blue flame when using both white gas and butane/propane.
The Kovea Hydra Stove comes with a 500ml fuel bottle, gas canister support (for inverted use), lightweight protective box and a range of accessories. This helps justify its higher than average price of $199US. It comes with everything you need to get cooking in the backcountry (except for the fuel).
The Kovea Hydra Stove is incredibly quiet, and this alone would convince me to purchase it. It’s also very compact, lightweight and well-built. These are all aspects of a stove that I want to put in my pack for multi-day adventures in the mountains. What really makes the Hydra Stove a winner is the extra thought that Kovea put into even the smallest of details. The inclusion of a superlight 500ml fuel bottle, ground and wind protector, and protective case is genius. Most other stoves don’t ship with accessories like these, and the protective case they typically provide is made of cloth and usually rips in a matter of days. The Kovea hard plastic case protects the stove and your pack from damage, and contains a repair tool and canister tripod. It all fits perfectly into the case, but figuring out the orientation of the stove so that it fits back in the case can be a challenge. I struggled with this on more than a few attempts. Other than this there were no real flaws with the stove or its performance. It would be nice if it had a dedicated simmer setting, but after some finessing you can get the Hydra Stove’s flame pretty low so you don’t burn dinner.
If you’re in the market for a quality multi-fuel stove, look no further. I highly recommend the Kovea Hydra Stove.
Price: $199US, with bottle kit
Weight: 310g / 10.9oz (without fuel bottle and pump)
Dimensions: 29.7 x 26.6 x 9.7cm / 11.7 x 10.5 x 3.8”
Noise: 62dB (conversation is 60dB)
Boil time: 3.5min (time taken to boil 1-litre / 1 quart of water using white gas)
Fuel: white gasoline, iso-butane (screw type gas canister)
Consumption: White gas -157 ml/h (1,860 kcal / 12,179 BTU /3.55 kW); Iso-butane - 131 g/h (1,550 kcal / 7,139 BTU / 2.09 kW)
Function 1.5 /2
Quality / Price 1/2
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation. You'll need to login or register before you can comment but it only takes a few seconds, then you're good to go.