The products reviewed here were given to us as a sponsorship from KATADYN GROUP. We need to clarify that we asked for these specific products after we had already made our own research and we don't have any obligation to “promote” them or “advertise” them. The reviews that follow come after 15 months of almost everyday use for the stove and the pots, and after 15 months of regular use of the filter, depending on our access to potable water.
Optimus Terra HE cook set
We have mentioned it before, but we'll say it again: we eat a lot! And when we arrive at our day's destination, we're usually too tired to bother cooking into small doses! Actually, the previous cook set we had was for two persons, but probably it meant “two very thin persons who eat small portions of dried noodles”. This time, we chose the Optimus Terra Cook Set, not only the pots are larger, but also because it includes a pan, a considerably wide pan.
So, we have a cook seat made of rugged anodized aluminum. One 1.75lt heat exchange pot with measurements, one non-stick coated 1.7lt pot with measurements and a frying pan that can also be used as a lid. The set comes with an aluminum pot lifter and a neoprene bag where you can fit everything (plus, you can keep your already made rice with veggies warm, while you're sauteing your chicken fillet).
The heat exchange (HE) pot – the larger one – reduces significantly the time to boil which is very important for two hungry, exhausted travelers who have spent the whole day riding for endless kilometers on an overloaded scooter. Patience is not our thing!
The non-stick material of the second pot and the pan, works miracles. Even when we forget to supervise the food being cooked, we always manage to save it from being burnt.
The pan can be also used as a lid – but we have to admit that it took us some time to find the right way to catch it with the pot lifter without compromising our dinner.
As for their strength, we were amazed to see only a small dent in the larger pot (which didn't affect its use at all) after the cook set, which was stored in the soft pannier, was accidentally crammed with heavy stuff against the scooter.
After 15 months of almost everyday use, there are only minor scratches on the surface of the pots and the pan, that haven't even slightly affected their non-stick properties. We are totally satisfied by the Terra HE Cook Set and we recommend it for sure.
You can find the Optimus Terra HE cook set HERE
Katadyn Vario water filter
After careful research among the various types and brands of water filters in the market, we decided that the most suitable option for our style of travel would be the Katadyn Vario Filter. And as we don't want to keep you in suspense, we'll start by telling you that, yes, it proved to be a great idea!
Katadyn Group agreed to provide us with the filter and, after 15 months of use under various conditions across South America, we are now sure that this particular filter is ideal for us for many reasons. According to the description, the filter eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores and sediments. Reduces chemicals and improves taste and odor thanks to a replaceable activated carbon granulate. Many times we find ourselves in areas with no access to potable water and we need a filter that is efficient. But apart from this, the Vario, has some more features that we really like:
The filter is designed to make pumping as easy as possible and its dual piston mechanism provides continuous water flow with minimal effort, which was a very pleasant surprise. It has 2 modes: In "Longer Life" mode, the turbid water is first pre-filtered through the ceramic disk and has an output of approximately 1lt/min. In "Faster Flow" mode, the water is directed straight to the glass-fiber membrane, increasing the water flow to up to 2lt/min. We always use it in “Longer Life Mode” and we never felt that the water flow is slow. 1 lt/min is more than enough for our needs.
It can treat up to 2000 liters throughout its lifespan, which is quite a high volume in comparison to other popular filters. And this is a great “value for money” feature!
It weighs 425gr, less than half a kilo, which is not exactly lightweight if you compare it to a “lifestraw” type filter. BUT what's important here is that for two people who don't find it very attractive lying face down and sucking water from potholes with a straw, Vario is the solution! All jokes aside, we don't think it's a big deal – for our style of travel – to carry a slightly heavier filter. It would be way more uncomfortable to have to treat water through a straw to use for our coffee/pasta. And, NO, boiling water is not always the answer!
The only weak point we found out about first hand, is that it is important that it should be kept safe from impacts and cramming. It has a plastic housing and even if it is a tough one, it can crack or break. So, in any case, try to avoid drops and falls! In our case, it was the nozzle at the water entrance that broke, but we easily managed to repair it with glue. There are some reviews claiming that the filter may leak, but we never had these kind of issues. Of course, the O-rings and the filters need cleaning and maintenance according to the manual, so this way, all issues related to poor maintenance can be prevented.
Our overall impression after 15 months of use of the Katadyn Vario is that it is ideal for long-term trips for more than one person. The quality and the efficiency of the filter are not disputable. The fast flow (even in the “slower” of the two modes) is a key-feature, as well as its lifespan and the volume of 2000lt of water it can treat. So, in one small phrase: definitely recommended!
You can find the Katadyn Vario Filter HERE
Optimus Nova multifuel stove
First of all, we chose the Optimus Nova among other multi-fuel stoves. Any other type of gas stove (propane, butane etc) isn't an option for us, because a) we are on a long-term trip around countries where it can be difficult to replace or refill the bottle, b) we use our stove not only for a quick meal or a cup of coffee, but for more demanding recipes and c) our stove rarely takes a rest, we use it almost everyday for long periods.
We need a robust stove that can hold a quite large pot or even our pressure-cooker (yes, we carry a pressure cooker!), so a small stove could be a headache. This is exactly what Optimus Nova is: robust. Plus, low center of gravity and a wide base, make it more stable. Its components, from the legs to the fuel pump, have been designed to withstand a significant amount of vibration and cramming along with other stuff in a soft pannier – we travel on a Vespa scooter, smoothness is not our strongest point. The durability starts ground up with the thick turbine shaped legs that fold in a tight bundle around the burner housing (after some time the legs get a bit stiff, but this can be seen as an advantage because they will definitely stay in place when the stove is being carried in its bag). The burner itself is encased in a sturdy, yet compact roundish frame.
Size & weight: It's neither small nor lightweight (dimensions: 140x80xØ65, weight: 460gr) but that's exactly why we preferred it over others. And please note, that for what it offers it's the most portable and compact stove we could find. Actually, we used to have a similar one (of another popular brand) and we are not interested in carrying any smaller or more “sophisticated” model. We are two on the trip and we have to admit that we eat...ahem...well – in terms of quality AND quantity!
For someone with no experience with such stoves, it may seem complicated at first, but this isn't a disadvantage. Actually, we didn't find it more complicated than our previous stove. On the contrary, we think that its details – such as the magnetic tool to clean the nozzle, the all-aluminum fuel pump with the flip-stop switch or the fuel control valve – come in really handy.
The only fuel we have used for our stove is petrol (gasoline) which, in many cases is of very questionable quality. Believe it or not, with some proper maintenance, we had 0 problems until now, after 15 months of continuous use.
The first few times we used the stove, we had some difficulties: it wasn't easy to turn on, the flame would easily go out, and it wouldn't burn evenly. After thorough research, we found out that all the issues were caused by a faulty needle which we immediately replaced. From that moment, we never had the slightest issue again (if you're off on a long-term trip, it's highly advisable that you carry the “spare-parts kit”, too).
Our overall impression after 15 months of almost everyday use of the Optimus Nova Stove is that it is ideal for long-term trips for more than one person. Its quality and efficiency are not disputable. So, do we recommend it? Yes, we do!
You can find the Optimus Nova Stove HERE