White Gas Stoves

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by DarenN, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    Mick and I spent some time Friday evening playing with fire. we compared three of the white gas stoves that i have, to see which one we liked best.

    on the left is the MSR Dragonfly. center is the Primus Himalaya Vari-Fuel. on the right is the Optimus Nova (also available by Brunton).
    [​IMG]

    folded for packing:
    [​IMG]

    weight:
    the Dragonfly is the lightest with the Nova being the heaviest. weight difference is less than two ounces.

    size:
    the Nova is the smallest when packed.

    performance:
    all three stoves are reported to boil one liter of water in three and a half minutes. the Nova is said to be very fuel efficient. (i have not yet tested this).

    stability:
    the Himalaya is the most stable. with the Nova being second.

    noise:
    both the Himalaya and the Dragonfly are very loud. annoyingly so. the Nova is (we agreed) about thirty percent quieter.

    pumps:
    the Himalaya and Nova come with all metal pumps while the MSR pump is all plastic. call me old fashioned, but i like metal.
    the simplest connection of the three is the Nova, with a quick connect fluid coupling, similar to an air fitting that you would find on a compressor. the Himalaya has a threaded connector that has an exposed o-ring on the fuel line, that i don't like much. i find the fuel line connection of the MSR stoves more difficult to assemble.
    the Himalaya and the Nova have a 'flip the fuel bottle over to shut off the stove' feature that purges the fuel line and jet, and de-pressurizes the bottle.

    simmerring:
    all three stoves simmer beautifully.

    multi-fuel:
    all three stoves are 'multi-fuel'. the Dragonfly and Himalaya require a jet change to burn certain fuels. the Nova does not.

    conclusion:
    we both agreed that the Nova would be our stove of choice out of the three.
    as an added bonus, there is an adapter kit available for the Nova that allows you to mount it in the Trangia windscreen base.

    YMMV:
    i'm not saying that the Nova is the best stove that is available. but it is the best (for me) white gas stove that i have played around with.

    Daren........
     
  2. KayDubbya

    KayDubbya Paddler

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    Great comparo. I may have just decided on my new camp stove. Thanks for posting. All you need now is a side-by-side comparison with the Neufeld MK1 Woodburning Stove, your Alcohol burner and the Optimus.
     
  3. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    i've done an efficiency comparison.

    all three stoves were burned for ten minutes at full throttle. the fuel bottle was full and weighed before and after (in grams) to measure fuel usage.
    priming fuel was included in measuring. for each stove the bottle was pumped the same number of times (20 strokes).

    both the Dragonfly and the Himalaya used 30 grams of fuel over the test period, with the Nova using only 23 grams.

    this testing is done independantly, and the results are for information purposes only. i have no affiliation with any outdoor equipment company.

    DarenN.....
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    another interesting aspect that daren showed me:

    the dragonfly can only use msr bottles because the plastic pump lip design prevents it from fitting other types of fuel bottles.

    (possibly a better efficiency test would be to get a full pot of water just at the point of boiling, measure the bottle wt and then let just boil for a given length of time - because one stoves full on might be hotter than anothers.)

    also the primus and nova both have significantly longer fuel lines than the dragonfly allowing more fuelbottle/stove separation or options. And as Daren says, the pump quality seems quite a bit higher.

    But for me, the sound quality is of utmost importance - and of these white gas stoves, the nova is significantly nicer to be around.

    it was so interesting to see and hear them side by side.

    .
     
  5. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    Jeez... I hate it when companies try to squeeze the last dollar out of me by making something proprietary for no reason other than profit. One of the reasons I stuck with Optimus white gas stoves for so many years was that getting fuel almost anywhere was pretty easy. It's even easier now with the multi fuel stoves so common. And I prefer the Optimus with the built-in tank (called the "Backpacker Plus" and made for 70 years) because it just works. It does seem noisy but I live with it.

    For the record, and I hope MSR and others are reading, I react so negatively towards companies that make my life unnecessarily complicated that I remember which companies did that and don't buy their products.

    Thanks for the tests and review. Much appreciated.


    Craig Jungers
    Moses Lake, WA
     
  6. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    Craig;

    do you have a pic of that stove of yours?

    Daren....
     
  7. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    Yup.. here it is. Optimus says the new model (this one is 35 years old) will run 2 hours on a full tank of fuel. I never measured mine. But I used it on a bike trip to Europe in 1972 and went a month on 2 liters of naptha.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    Optimus still makes one similar, called the Hiker+. it has the same burner as the Nova.

    [​IMG]

    Daren......
     
  9. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    If I had to buy another camp stove I would still buy this stove again and it's even better now with the new multi-fuel Nova burner. The only downside is that it's not as compact as the Nova but its built-in tank offers the advantage of not requiring a separate fuel container on a short trip (1 or 2 days). Also no fiddling with connecting to the fuel cannister. Just pump it up and start it.

    The Optimus I have was bought in 1972 or 1973 and it was pretty old then (but unused). I've used it bicycling in Europe, mountain and rock climbing in the Cascades, and camping and kayaking all over the USA and Canada. I even used to keep it in the car for safety in winter when driving back and forth over the mountains (along with a small tent, a blanket, and a down sleeping bag).

    Thanks again for the review and the information.

    Craig
     
  10. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    this stove was found on craigslist. i picked it up this morning. it's an Optimus #99, from the 1970s. just 5"x5"x3" tall when packed. it works very well, burning quite quietly.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Daren.......
     
  11. kelly t

    kelly t Paddler

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    Nice find 8)

    So, does that make it stove #99 in the Neufeld Collction?
     
  12. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    I had an optimus 99 when I was young(er). Great little stove for canoeing & hiking. Very dependable. Sadly, I didn't know you could get replacement parts for it. :cry: I picked up an 8R a few years back; same stove but steel shell instead of aluminum.
     
  13. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    I bought my Optimus in Paris in 1972. When I left Seattle I mistakenly thought that they'd be easy to find in Europe but nothing could have been further from the truth. Only "camping gaz" stoves were available. I had to describe this stove to a sporting goods owner who suddenly said, "ah" and disappeared. He reappeared 5 minutes later with the box containing my Optimus, blue the dust off the top of the box, and sold me the stove for a paltry price. Turned out that waiting to buy in Europe wasn't such a stupid idea after all.

    Nice to know they are still making them and that the old ones work as well as mine still does.

    Craig
     
  14. lance_randy

    lance_randy Paddler

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    I have this crazy old stove called a Svea 123. I have had it for over 15 years, and it was used when I bought it.

    It can be scary as hell to fire up, it shoots flaming gas all over the place, but it always gets going, and has yet to fail me.

    The best part is, it`s lid turns into a cup.
     
  15. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Used a 123 for 30 years. Gotta love the blowtorch effect. A pyro's de-light! hohohohoho :roll: :wink:
     
  16. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    the Svea 123R is still manufactured. i bought one brand new recently.

    if you use alcohol to pre-heat it cuts back on the flaming gas shooting all over the place.

    Daren.....
     
  17. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    Optimus Svea 123R

    [​IMG]
     
  18. oldsailor

    oldsailor Paddler

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    All white-gas stoves I've seen require priming because they use the heat of the burner parts to change the fuel from a liquid to a gas. DarrenN's idea of using alcohol to prime is a good idea. I always turn the stove on just enough to put liquid fuel in the cup below the burner, then turn the stove off, and light that fuel. There is always some flame but it cuts way back on the sputtering.

    Craig
     
  19. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    And what fun would that be?!?! :twisted:
     
  20. DarenN

    DarenN Paddler

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    now Mark, not everyone likes to have an uncontroled inferno for a stove, ya pyro! :twisted:

    another thing about useing white gas for priming: it leaves a sooty mess behind. alcohol doesn't.