Kelly Kettle Kit
Major Pandemic 12.20.13
Kelly Kettle is a fourth generation company founded in Ireland. They now offer updated versions of the famous high efficiency cone water heating design developed and used for hundreds of years by Irishman who simply wanted a hot cup of tea during wet, windy, and rainy weather.
Fit, Feel, and Features
Kelly Kettle offers small, medium, and large sizes in either aluminum or stainless steel. The finish and fit of the kettle, base, and cooking kit is excellent.
The capacity is a big 50.7oz = 6 cups on the large stainless model I reviewed, and it generates plenty of hot water for a camp group. I found that two Large Kelly Kettles of boiling water poured into a clean and unused bug sprayer with a little cool water makes for a really nice, hot, off-grid spray shower.
The major feature of the Kelly Kettle is that the hollow cone shaped interior design not only exposes the water to the most heat possible, but also drastically increases the draft and heat when combined with the fire cup base. The whole setup works basically like a charcoal chimney starter and burns any wood or other natural fuel hot and fast all while shielding the fire from wind and rain.
The standard Kelly Kettle includes a carrying/handling bail, attached/chained rubber stopper, and the fire cup base, which can be inverted and stored compactly inside the Kettle. The complete kit adds a grilling grate, pot support which breaks down flat, pan handle, fry pan which can be used as a lid, and sauce pan. Surprisingly, the entire kit nests very compactly in a space only slightly larger than just the base Kelly Kettle. Comparatively this complete stove kit is lighter and smaller than all but the most pricey titanium kits.
The main reasons I like these kettles is their fuel efficiency, versatility, and size. As you would with any cookware, avoid running the kettle dry as this will eventually burn out the lining. Assuming you always use the Kelly Kettle with water in the chamber, the stainless or aluminum versions will last almost indefinitely with little or no maintenance.
There are no fuel costs or fuel to carry, and it’s a simple design that does not rely on fuel lines, igniters, or burners. It works every single time regardless of altitude as long as you can find something to burn to make a fire, it can be transported without restriction on all public transportation, and it boils a full tank of water in about 4-5 minutes with very little fuel. If you are one of those treehugger types, it also reduces landfill impact with no canisters to dispose of. If you happen to be a survival type, you should note that it is very difficult to spot the miniscule fire required for operation from a distance.
Another thing I like is that with the firecup, you are not scorching ground and are lessoning your chance of an inadvertent camp fire. If you have ever attempted to light a fire on damp ground, you will know that having a dry fire cup base makes the whole process far easier.
Operation is simple. Drop some wadded up newspaper or tinder in the fire cup, place a filled Kelly Kettle on the fire cup with the cork installed (so you don’t drop fuel in the water, but you must remove this before there is any sign of simmering), and load a handful of whatever relatively dry fuel you have into the top of the chimney. Light the paper through one of the holes in the fire cup base, and then pull the cork. In around four minutes from match strike, you will have boiling water, and in 5 minutes you will have volcanically explosive boiling water if you keep feeding it fuel. In that same time you can also use the chimney heat to cook up or reheat your dinner with the included fire ring topper. All in all it’s a very effective cooking system.
The benefit to this design once a fire is started is that the intense heat burns nearly any potential tinder even if it is a little damp. In my experience the kettle burns everything from pine cones, sticks and twigs, to bark and grass, and it burns it all quickly and completely to an ash state with very little odor. If you put in a little charcoal, then it makes a great long lasting fire.
The fire cup can also be used with the supplied grills, frypan, or saucepan to cook up a rather elaborate meal if you like.
The Kelly Kettle looks huge, but the entire setup nests together compactly. Don’t forget the center of the kettle is hollow, so there is plenty of room to tuck in food, tinder, and supplies into that cavity before slipping it into your back or camp case.
For me this is a camping necessity because you always have a need for hot water, whether you are just boiling the water for potability, bathing, stirring together some of the delicious freeze dried food, or actually making some fresh brewed french roast in your coffee press. If you want a smaller or larger size, Kelly has those available, from 17-44 oz models available alone or in kit form which includes all the grills, grids, and cookware you see in the kit I reviewed here.
Often we get caught up with how something should look and work, and we miss a great design. This is a truly great design for the camper, hiker, or survivalist which looks a lot different that we are used to here in the US. At 2.1lbs the large model is also very light considering you don’t need to carry any fuel, and the complete kit can nest compactly and still leave room to stuff food and utensils in the inner hollow part of the kettle. The grate also provides use to grill and heat food directly off the fire cup. The Kelly Kettle allows you to carry more food and a no fuel — definitely a handy survival feature in a cookset and stove.
- Kelly Kettle Large Stainless Steel Complete Kit
- Stock Item 50045
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Kettle Height: 15 inches
- Kettle Diameter: 7.4 inches (widest point at rim of fire base)
- Kettle Capacity: 50.7 fl. oz., 1.5L, 6 cups
- Pot Capacity: 32 oz. / 4 cups
- Included in Kit: 50.7 oz/1.7L Kettle, Base, Grate, Cook Set and Pot Support
- MSRP KIT $104.99 as tested