Kelly Kettle Gear Review

The Kelly Kettle, also known as the the Volcano Kettle, has been used for over a century by Irish fisherman. This simple yet innovative tool is one of the most efficient heating methods for boiling water ever invented, while its small lightweight aluminum design that makes it extremely portable.

The Kelly Kettle is a highly versatile tool It can make use of whatever combustible material or local heating source is available at the time (ie paper, small scraps of wood, dried camel dung, etc). Some users have even reported boiling water by using a handful of sand in the base with a capful of diesel poured over it (strongly NOT recommended).

This unique combination of efficency, simplicity and versatility makes it ideal for overland and vehicle dependent expedition purposes.


Lightweight, relatively compact, versatile fuel, simple and classical design.


Difficult to clean, easy to dent

Overall Rating

Bottom Line

This is a classic piece of expedition kit that we take with us on every trip. It always gets oohs and ahhs from others at the campsite for good reason, its a great way to quickly heat up water and its downright cool too.

Available Sizes

The Kelly Kettle is available in two sizes – 1 pint and a 2.5 pint. is the larger of the two Volcano Kettles.

The 2.5 pint Volcano Kettle is ideal for expeditions or vehicle-based camping. Its generous capacity is just about right for small group or family use.

The 1 pint or “mini” kettle is the smaller of the two Kelly Kettle sizes. Its compact size makes it better suited for hiking or backpacking use. The small Kelly Kettle is perfect for “boil in a bag” dinners or afternoon tea for one or two people on the trail.

Due to the efficient nature of the Volcano Kettle, it is capable of raising water to boiling temperature within a minute or two. It comes with a handy canvas satchel for storage and transporting.

Cooking Accessory Kit

The cooking accessory kit is designed for quick and easy preparation of small quantites of food on the go. Each kit comes with a 2 piece grill, small sauce pan, frying pan and handle. These pieces nest inside the kettle for easy storage and transportation.

To use, simply build a fire in the base as if for normal kettle operation, then fit the appropriate cooking piece on top of the the kettle and you have a small cooking or grilling surface.

Kelly Kettle: How it works

The Volcano Kettle’s design is both simple and elegant. The kettle consists of two chambers: an inner chamber which houses the fire (heating source) and chimney for smoke to rise out of; the outer chamber, a double-walled chamber which surrounds the chimney houses the water that is being heated.

Because the kettle is made of aluminum, it has a high degree of heat transfer. Due to this and the huge surface area in contact with the rising heat from the fire, it can rapidly heat its 2.5 pint capacity of water to boiling temperature with minimal time and fuel use.

To operate a Volcano Kettle, simply follow these easy steps:


Remove protective cork and fill up the chamber with water.


Fill base with combustible material, such as twigs, newspapers, or dry grass.


Light fire through the hole(s) in side of the base and face into wind for extra draught.

Insert additional fuel through the chimney (keep the twigs etc small) until water reaches boiling.
Use handle and chain for pouring.

Be Safe: After use, pour any surplus water over the ashes to ensure that the fire is fully extinguished.

NEVER boil water with the cork in place.

Kelly Kettle History

Used for centuries by Irish fisherman, the volcano kettle is quite possibly the most energy efficient and versatile method for boiling water ever invented. This kettle has been relied upon and adored for decades by overland travelers all across the world. From the illustrious Camel Trophy to the Land Rover G4 challenge, to countless private and scientific expeditions have all relied on this ingenious piece of equipment, making it an expedition essential.

The ingenuity of the Volcano Kettle is in its heating efficiency and the versatility of fuel.

Essentially, anything that burns and is small enough to fit in the fire base is suitable for use as a fuel. So whether you have some dry twigs nearby, a bit of spare paper that you keep inside your 4×4 or, in more exotic locations dried camel dung, a bit of boiling hot water for tea is just a match strike away.

Personally, we like to scoop up some hot embers from the campfire as a starter for the fire at the campsite.

Most traditional kettles have a flat base that sits above the heating source. This means that their contact patch with the flame is merely the bottom of the kettle. Given a kettle of equivalent size to the Volcano kettle this would translate into about 28 sq in of contact area between the kettle and the heating source.

By contrast, the Volcano kettle has a double walled chimney that the water is stored in. This chimney allows the heat to rise up between the water, greatly increasing the surface area in direct contact with heat. Assuming a full kettle of water, This means that approximately 150 sq in of surface area in contact with the heat.

The larger surface area translates into less heating time and more efficient use of fuel. In typical use, its not uncommon to have boiling hot water about a minute or two after you get the fire going.

Additionally, the tall chimney protects the fire from the elements, making it a near all-weather tool. It works great whether you use it for morning coffee or oatmeal, a mid-afternoon tea break, or evening dinner.

Here’s a quote from Four Wheeler (November 2003) about the Kelly Kettle:

From the satellite telephones to the newest GPS receivers to the mountain bikes and tents, the Land Rover G4 Challenge brimmed with the latest and newest technologies. One product stood head and shoulders above the rest and wins, hands down, best of show: the amazing Volcano Kettle.

We’ve been using the same Kelly Kettle for ten years. To this day, the robust kettle works as great as it did the first day we pulled it out of its storage sack. The only drawback that we’ve noticed is that it dents quite easily. Ours looks like its been through a war, however after ten years of expeditions across four continents and countless tosses (while in our Pelican cases) from apathetic baggage handlers at airports a war might have been easier on it.

Furthermore, since the only way to access the chamber is via the cork up top, cleaning and maintanence of the boiling section is a bit challenging. As a result, we’ve only ever used it to boil water, whereas it would be nice to be have a bit more versatility.

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