There’s a new lightweight multifuel stove on the block, and it’s name is Primus OmniFuel Ti. Ti obviously stands for Titanium, the coveted UL material which is so dear to us ultralight backpackers. With two winter tours on the programme for me, one which will be solo and over a week, I thought it might be high-time to look into those stoves which are common among Polar Explorers.
It arrived in the last week of January 2012. So far I had it out and tested it with gas (Video coming) and try to get out this week to test it with Primus PowerFuel in -24°C or more. I might try other fuels, though as I don’t have a car I rarely visit gasstations.
It is a Multifuel Stove, which makes it a tool to produce boiling water for food & drinks. However, Multifuel stoves have the advantage that they usually are excellent for very cold temperatures where other fuel sources are not working well, and that they can be used when travelling in different countries and it is unknown what fuel sources will be available - with a multifuel stove chances are that you will find one that works. The OmniLite Ti works with
- Propane/ butane/ isobutane gas
- White Gas
- Vehicle fuel
So if you plan to do an around-the-world-trip, this stove certainly would have you covered (you also can rely on biomaterials for cooking). I got it less for an around-the-world-trip but more for its cold weather capabilities. Wood or gas are not very reliable at the low temperatures I am expecting on my trips, so a stove which can melt snow and boil water without much fuss is certainly not just a very comfortable solution, but at -25°C or more almost critical.
A stand/ pot support made of Titanium, which makes it lighter than the OmniFuel or other multifuel stoves. Optimized to work with Eta pots (so pots with them fins down on the bottom). It is equipped with a system called “Primus Wind Proof Burner” that adjusts the flame to wind condtitions, minimizing the chance that it goes out. The fuel line and pump have a self bleeding system to eliminate flares and spills. Absent from this list is a pre-heater (A tube which pre-heats the fuel which comes from the bottle/ cartridge over/ near the flame). This is interesting, and I will probably soon find out if this is a bad thing, or if this stove works just wine without one.
It is made of Titanium. Not an innovation per se, though there’s not many Ti multifuel burners on the market, so this certainly makes it stand out.
It is made to work with Eta Pots; that are those pots from Primus which allow for better fuel efficiency. I got their 2,1 litre pot with the stove, and will see if this is really the case (going to test it with a pot without the fins underneath).
It is very well made, lemme tell ya. It is Made in Estland, and the quality is superb. It radiates trustworthiness and durability.
An important part! Lets see:
- 219 gram - Stove
- 194 gram - Fuel bottle with pump
- 090 gram - Titanium windscreen
- 134 gram - Bag
- 042 gram - Multitool
- 413 gram for stove and (empty) bottle with pump installed
You can leave the fuel bottle at home is you plan to use it only with cartridges. The benefit of such a stove versus e.g. the Jetboil Sol Ti is that you can invert the cartridge, as in low temperatures the gas solidifies and in a normal stove will sink to the bottom - if you can invert the cartridge that means it goes right to the hose and the burner. Of course you could build a small cozy for the cartridge to insulate it from the cold, though I am not certain how well this works in very cold temperatures.
It is the same question as with other gas/ multifuel stoves: The stoves themselves are fairly sustainable - I expect this stove will work for years to come - but it is the fuel it runs on which is not sustainable. The Primus PowerFuel comes in a plastic bottle (and it is made in the Netherlands) while the Primus Power Gas is Made in South Korea and comes in an Aluminium cartridge. Once empty, you need to buy a new one, and the fuels themselves also are not the most environmental friendly. The other fuels it can run on - diesel, gasoline and kerosene are in the same category, not very sustainable or environmentally friendly.
You’re in a hard place if you go winter backpacking and need a reliable fuel - you pretty much need to use one of the above or rely on wood, which might be very hard to get in some places and at -30°C or more can be difficult to work with. This is something to consider; though it is pretty much either one of the unsustainable fuels or melting snow with body heat and eating cold food (or make a wood fire if possible).
It is made in Estland, which means at least for me it only had a short trip to arrive here.
Looking at the stove unit, it consists of titanium, brass and steel, the hose is probably rubber and there’s a plastic knob. All of these materials can be recycled, digging them up takes quite a toll on the environment, though.
Stoves compete with other stoves, as well as a good old fire. So besides the BushBuddy, Ti-Tri Caldera Cone, Backcountry Boiler, Jetboil Sol Ti, Gnat and others, the main competition will be from other Multifuel Stoves. The lightest is the Soto Muka (claimed weight of 160 gram, 200€, works with gasoline and white gas). A classic is the MSR Whisperlite (claimed weight of 305 gram, 120€, works with different liquid fuels). The Optimus Nova (claimed weight of 435 gram, 140€, burns liquid fuels) is another familiar name when looking for multifuel stoves.
What Others Say
Only Chris Townsend has reviewed it, and he says If you want a stove that can run on a variety of fuels this is one of the best around. He seems not to have tested it in the cold, though.
Coming after further testing. More Photos.