Kelly Kettle – Over a Hundred Years In The Making

I first saw a Kelly Kettle at a rock festival, I remember being wowed by the simplicity and brilliance of it’s design. I gazed across our groups camp, looking enviously on as the Kettle’s owner boiled water with ease.

So what is a Kelly Kettle? To find out the answer we need to travel back in time over a hundred years to the 1890’s to Lough Conn, County Mayo in Ireland, where a young farmer and fisherman called Patrick Kelly was creating the first generation of the Kelly Kettle out of Tin. The great grandson’s of this genius inventor are the current Co. Directors of Kelly Kettle, over the years the materials and production have been improved but the core design has stayed the same. That’s the history, now onto the design…

Basically the Kelly Kettle is a double-walled chimney that allows the water to boil inside the cavity between its walls. A fire is started at the bottom of the chimney, the heat travels up the chimney and because of the large surface area boils the water in a very quick and efficient way.

With a brand new Stainless Steel Scout Kelly Kettle in my possession I was gagging to get out and use it, so on a horrible, dark, cloudy, Cornish day I set off into some of Cornwall’s wilderness for a bit of exploration and to try out my new gear. As it was such an unpleasant day I knew that later a hot cup of chocolate would definitely be in order.

One of my favourite features is that you can use almost any natural fuel that you can gather, for example dry leaves, twigs or grass are all perfect. This added a new dimension to my adventure, as I wandered and trekked I hunted for perfect fire fuel; picking up perfect dry sticks and stuffing them into my pockets!

First off it has got to be said that the original inventor Patrick Kelly would be very proud of his Great Grandsons and the modern version of his Kettle. The quality of materials and production are really top notch. It’s clearly built to be tough and rugged; If you treat it right I see no reason why a Kelly Kettle wouldn’t last you a lifetime.

Two holes are situated at the top of the Kettle, the uppermost being the top of the chimney and the lower of the two being the spout of the kettle. A really nice feature is the orange bung which allows it to be transported with water inside. Perfect if you know you are going to make a cuppa or two later that day.

Starting the fire is a piece of cake, you lift the chimney off the fire-base and build the fire inside the base. I popped a piece of cotton wool at the core, then some dry grass, leaves and sticks. You then replace the chimney on top and light the fire through the hole in the fire-base. Due to the sheltered nature of the design it lights very easily and works well even in stormy weather

During boiling you can add further fuel to keep that fire going by dropping it down the chimney. Having said that my water boiled in less than 5 mintures and required only a small amount of fuel. Air passed through the hole in the fire base and up the chimney and created a very strong fire.

Withing a few minutes you will see steam coming from the spout and will know that the water has boiled. Then you need to lift the chimney off the base using both hands on the wooden handle (this seems like it may become hot during boiling, but it doesn’t). To pour the Kelly Kettle you raise the wooden handle with one hand and with the other hand lift the chain that is attached to the bung. Although this sounds a little bit complex it really is easy and you can easily and accurately pour your boiling water into your different mugs.

As you can tell, I’m a massive fan of the Kelly Kettle. Not only does it boil water but it can also cook food at the same time (I’ll go into detail about this in another post). Most importantly the reason why I like it so much isn’t just because of how well it boils and cooks, but how much fun it is to do so. Lets face it, if you are outside camping, fishing or cooking you are doing so to have fun, so why not use a piece of equipment which is fast, efficient and exciting.




  1. keith collett
    January 9, 2014 / 5:23 pm

    the one thing wrong with the kelly kettle is when it rains, it is very hard to light, the fuel that is, I have one and it happened to me, I always take some fire lighters with me, I was gagging for a cupper and could’nt get it to work, I always take it when I go fishing, love it when the whistle blows

  2. WildTide
    January 9, 2014 / 6:14 pm

    Yeah I suppose so Keith, but then even with a few bits of dry kindling and a fire lighter its still lighter than carrying a bottle of meths! Glad you are also a fan of Kelly Kettles, mine too is definitely going to be a fishing trip staple for me.

  3. john hears
    January 10, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Hi I received a Kelly Kettle for Christmas and have used it a few times now and I’m well impressed with it, it will get used allot when mutt canoeing and scouting. Cracking bit of kit

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