There’s a lot of romance and adventure in the idea of setting off into the woods and cooking everything over an open fire that you create from kindling, branches, and fuel you collect while out and about.
At the same time, there are plenty of folks swept up in that romance and that adventure that can’t possibly imagine starting their day without a perfectly brewed cup of coffee – and recognize that pulling that off over an open flame can make already challenging mornings more difficult.
Thankfully though, with the help of the Kelly Kettle and the Ghillie Kettle you will never again have to worry about struggling to make a perfect cup of coffee (or boil water) at camp ever again.
Both of these camp kettles bring a lot to the table, both of them feature similar designs, and both use compact form factors and advanced technology improved over the years to give you a level of control over your camp stove that you won’t find anywhere else.
Let’s take a little deeper into everything these options have to offer.
What Is a Kelly Kettle?
Believe it or not, the original design for the Kelly Kettle was conceived of more than 100 years ago across the Atlantic Ocean. The original design was cooked up in the 1890s in a tiny little fishing village in Ireland, thought up by a man named Patrick Kelly that was looking for an easier way to prepare boiling water on windy days – particularly when out in the ocean or down on the docks.
His design was a revolutionary new approach that transformed this one off product into an empire, and by the 1950s the Kelly Kettle was one of the hottest selling products in all of Ireland. Shortly after that, the product began to be exported internationally and today it is seen as one of the best camp stove options adventurers rely on for boiling water and making coffee.
What Is a Ghillie Kettle?
The Ghillie Kettle was originally conceived of in the United Kingdom, featuring a very similar design to the Kelly Kettle (so much so that historians believe there was more than a little bit of “borrowing” of the original design on behalf of the folks at the Ghillie Kettle organization) that made it and immediate hit in the UK.
The original design was a little more squat, little more square, and a little less portable – but in 1928 new designs were implemented to turn this into the “Volcano Kettle” – and the design hasn’t been changed since then (though the name has).
The big difference between the Ghillie Kettle and the Kelly Kettle is the fact that the Ghillie Kettle includes a built-in whistle when the steam starts to build up in the liquid inside starts to boil, similar to a traditional teapot.
Design and Materials
As highlighted above, both of these kettle options feature similar designs from top to bottom and both of them can be described as an “Irish volcano” design that sets them apart from all other options.
The bottom of these kettles feature a small stove area that can be filled with fuel collected from your campsite, with the heat created by that fire starting to boil the water inside of the kettle that is fused on top of this stove compartment.
Because of the materials used (aluminum and anodized materials) water can be boiled inside of these kettles in less than five minutes, a big part of their charm and allure.
The Ghillie Kettle run is made entirely out of aluminum with an option to choose anodized aluminum to increase the overall strength and durability of these options. On the other hand, you can choose between aluminum and stainless steel materials if you go with the Kelly kettles.
The aluminum materials are a lot lighter, but Kelly kettles made out of stainless steel are practically indestructible and certainly “buy it for life” contenders.
Both the Ghillie Kettle and the Kelly Kettle options originally came in just one size configuration, but today both of these companies offer three different sizes of camp stove for customers that want something a little more portable, something with a little extra capacity, or something right in the middle.
Overall capacity options from both of these companies sit between 0.5 L of water and 1.5 L of water, give or take very small differences. At the same time, the Kelly Kettle is slightly larger in size across the board at every individual level which impacts its portability but also allows you to make maybe half a cup more of boiled water at the same time.
Ghillie kettles are going to include a drawstring bag with every purchase, a drawstring set up that can be pretty easily converted into a backpack with extra storage space to tuck away essentials. Kelly kettles come with a drawstring sack as well, but they aren’t quite as roomy or as spacey as the options you’ll get with a Ghillie Kettle purchase.
On the flip side of things, there are a lot more Kelly Kettle accessories out there than you’ll find Ghillie Kettle accessories. You can find all kinds of stainless steel cooking sets, “hobo stoves” metal plates, mugs, and more that worked perfectly with Kelly kettle options whereas the Ghillie Kettle set up is a lot more streamlined, a lot more minimalist, and doesn’t feature quite as many gear opportunities that work with this kettle/stove set up.
At the end of the day, though there are some differences between the Kelly Kettle options and the Ghillie Kettle options on the market right now these two options feature far more similarities than differences.
When you get right down to it, both of these camp stoves are perfect example of the Irish volcano camp stove design, both of them are well-made and super durable, and both of them are available in a variety of different sizes and configurations to suit your needs right down to the ground.
Choosing one or the other really comes down to personal preference.