Made in China. You know what images this conjours up. Just like Made in Korea in the ’80’s and Made in Japan in the ’60’s. I get this all the time in the Solar industry; “I don’t want Chinese made panels” they say as if they have a clue. Well let’s take a look at Chinese made gear. First, Apple computers, iPads, iPhones and iPods are made in China. So are Toshiba. Canon, Nikon and Olympus cameras are made in China and so are their lenses. Olympus Zuiko lenses are regarded as some of the best you can get. My early film Olympus SLRs and Zuikos were made in Japan but the digital gear is Chinese and guess what? They are better. The lenses are shorter, lighter, faster, sharper. In the Solar industry, of the top 10 highest rated panels in the world, eight are from China. Our company uses JA Solar monocrystalline panels and they are about the best you can get. Suntech might argue the point but they are Chinese as well.
This little rant came about because of coffee. You see, my last couple of paddle trips were coffee cruises on Lake Macquarie and because my Thermos died and I couldn’t be bothered taking my Trangia to boil water, I was hoping to stop near a cafe and buy a nice Flat White. Well, on each occasion Owen and Anne decided we’d go nowhere near a cafe so I was forced to put on a sad face and get them to make me a coffee from their own supplies. Fortunately, the generosity of this pair is never wanting nor is Owen’s usual offerings of advice. “Buy a bloody Thermos! Aldi have got them for $6”. OK, OK, so I went to Aldi a few days later. No Thermos there but soon picked up a cheapy elsewhere. What I really wanted was a gas burner that could make a cup of coffee without all the rigamarole of the Trangia, something like the MSR Whisperlite but without the stupid price. Of course, eBay is your friend here and a quick search pulled out dozens of tiny gas stoves for various prices. With no idea of whether they were going to be any good and all of them from Hong Kong or China, I shut my eyes and picked one at random. It cost $9 with free postage!! That’s nothing. How could I lose. Even if it were complete rubbish, I get a $9 lesson. It arrived today and it is pretty impressive.
This thing is tiny, very well made and comes in a handy orange box to stow in a coffee cup.
So where is the Whisperlite so superior? Why pay $69 for the MSR?
Note the flame. This flame is exactly the same one they use on the MSR. Now, I’m no rocket scientist but I’m pretty sure if I put a teapot on this thing, the water in it will boil and make a splendid cup of coffee in seconds. Piezo electric ignition, too. I’m sure there will be some among you who will be quick to tell me that the piezo ignition will probably fail after a few months in the real world of kayaking. Note the box of matches. I’ve got it covered. I should buy another five of these things before the Chinese middle class starts getting their stuff made in India. Hmm, Beijing Olympics, Delhi Commonwealth games? You be the judge.