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Kelly Kettle: Scout Kettle SST

Kelly Kettle: Scout Kettle SST

I have long been a fan of Kelly Kettles and own a large "Base Camp" Kelly Kettle in aluminium which, although showing signs of age and usage, is still going strong after a good 6-years hard use. With this in mind I was more than happy to accept the charge of reviewing the Kelly Kettle Scout Kettle SST (stainless steel) for Life In The Wilderness and I hope whoever ends up owning the review sample gets as much use and enjoyment from it as I have from my old faithful!

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Kelly Kettles come in 3 sizes, small "Trekker" 0.5L, medium "Scout" 1.1L and large "Base Camp" 1.6L models in both aluminium and stainless steel, and are basically double-wall chimneys holding water between the walls.

The kettle sits over a base containing a small fire which can be fed by dropping fuel down the chimney or through the vent hole in the base. Even just a few sticks, pine cones, leaves or lumps of dry dung will have the kettle roaring like a volcano and boiling the kettle in 3-5 minutes (depending on fuel type) and even if you just place the kettle over a well-ventilated open fire, the shape of the kettle will suck heat up the chimney and boil the kettle faster than any other billy or plain kettle.

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Be careful of the wooden handle if you use your Kelly Kettle over an open fire. Over the years my "Old Faithful" has had its handle burnt off and I have also burnt off the cork!

For transportation, the Kettlebase inverts and fits inside the chimney and the silicone stopper fits in the spout to avoid spilling any water or allowing debris into the kettle. Although the cork on my "Base Camp" is permanently attached to the chain, the Scout SST has the silicone stopper attached with a clip, allowing removal to prevent it falling into the dirt or getting scorched when the kettle is in use.

It is advisable not to over-fill the Kelly Kettles as, when the water boils, it bubbles out and extinguishes the fire!

Never leave the stopper in the spout when the kettle is being boiled or you could find you have invented the Bushcraft Bomb – with potentially tragic results. Do not put the stopper back into the spout while the kettle is still hot – the resulting vacuum makes it a major effort to remove the stopper when the kettle has cooled.

Once your kettle has boiled, you remove it from its base using the bail arm (do not get your hands over the chimney!) and tilt the kettle by pulling on the chain to pour the water out of the spout.

Superbly simple and terrifically efficient, the Kelly Kettle is a tough and durable bit of kit, well suited to bushcraft needs, and will get you your brew in record time. My old aluminium model has stood up to loads of wear and I am sure that the SST versions are even tougher, if just a tad heavier.

The Scout Kettle SST measures approx 26cm high (packed) and about 18.5cm diameter (across the widest point) and weighs about 1kg empty, 2.1kg full. The supplied stuff sack is plenty large enough to take the kettle, accessories, a brew kit and some dry kindling with ease.

On its own the Kelly Kettle Scout Kettle SST costs around £47.95 (at time of writing).

Purpose-made accessories are available in the form of a stainless steel cook set comprising a 0.85L pot with a lid (which can be used as a frying pan), a 2-piece grill and a gripper handle – all of which weighs about 0.3kg, and can fit inside the base of your Kelly Kettle for transport and costs around £16.50, and a 2-piece cruciform pot support which slots into the top of the chimney, and costs about £5.50.

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The pot support can support the cooking pot over the flames coming through the chimney while you boil the Kelly Kettle and allows you to cook "quick cook" foods such as noodles, soup etc. However, it does interfere with the feeding of the kettles fire to a degree (never use the system if the kettle is empty!) even if it ensures maximum use of the heat generated by the fire.

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As the pot support weighs only grams and packs away in the base of the kettle for transport, I would still think it worth carrying, especially if you intend using the Kelly Kettle for all your cooking needs.

The pot can also be used on the grill over the embers left in the base of the Kelly Kettle after the kettle has boiled and been removed. Using fuels that leave good embers makes this most practical and you can easily feed the fire through the vent hole in the base.

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A Kelly Kettle "kit" comprising the kettle cookset and pot support, is available for each model of Kelly Kettle, the Scout Kettle SST version costing about £67.50.

I love my Kelly Kettle and think that the Scout Kettle SST is also a great bit of kit (I really like the removable stopper…) and a step up from my aluminium model in terms of robustness, and if I was buying today, I would choose a stainless steel model – despite the slight weight penalty.

I would recommend the Kelly Kettle to any bushcrafter who wants a robust, simple-to-use carbon-neutral, fast, efficient brew system and basic cooker and is not afraid of the modest bulk of the system.

Kelly Kettles really are iconic bits of outdoor kit with a deserved reputation for excellence in their field!

PS. If you want to use your Kelly Kettle but fuel is unobtainable (where are you – the middle of the Sahara?), then I found that you can use your meths stove in the kettle and, with a bit of playing about, even with the grill. If you cover half of the chimney top with a rock or other fireproof item, the draft is improved for use with a meths burner, while many meths bottles will fit up the inside of the kettle for transport.

Kelly Kettles Website: Kelly Kettle® Camping Kettle & Stove | Camp Equipment | Camp Cookware | Survival kit | Kelly Kettle® - Original & Best
Author
John Fenna
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