BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Brunton Optimus NOVA Multi-Fuel Stove > Owner Review by Andrew McNeil

BRUNTON OPTIMUS NOVA MULTI-FUEL STOVE
BY ANDREW MCNEIL
OWNER REVIEW
March 08, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Andrew McNeil
EMAIL: thewhitearrow (at) hotmail (dot) com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking since my early twenties. I have done traditional seven day hikes, but now favour shorter duration, long distance hikes carrying very little gear. I do not have a lot of ultra-light gear and keep my pack weight down by carefully choosing what to bring with me. For a weekend summer hike in the Rockies my typical base pack weight would be 5.44 kg (12 lbs). I have also kayaked extensively on Canada's Pacific coast and in the Yukon, but still try to pack like a hiker for the sake of simplicity and speed.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

The Nova is a four season, liquid-fueled backpacking stove. It is designed and manufactured by Optimus of Sweden. It was distributed in North America by Brunton, but they have since dropped it from their product line.
Nova Stove and Fuel Bottle
Nova Stove, Top View
1 L Nalgene bottle included to indicate size.


Information Provided By Manufacturer
Manufacturer: Optimus of Sweden
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.optimus.se
MSRP: $149
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Included With Stove : 0.6 L (20.3 fl. oz) fuel bottle, pump, padded case, maintenance tool, spare O rings and a spare fuel filter
Dimensions: 9.14 cm x 10.92 cm x 6.10 cm (3.6" x 4.3" x 2.4"), with the stove folded
Weight: 428 g (15.1 oz) without fuel bottle
Fuel Types: white gas, kerosene, diesel #1, auto fuel, jet fuel, and others
Heat Output: Approximately 2850 watts (9700 btu)
Burn time: Up to 2.5 hours at high output for one filling of 0.45 L (15.5 fl. oz)
Boil Time For 1 L (34.4 fl. oz) of Water: Down to 3.5 minutes (varies by fuel, climate, altitude, tank pressure, etc.)
Warranty: Brunton/Optimus warrants this product to be free of defects in workmanship and materials for the lifetime of the original owner, and is non-transferable.

My Measurements
Stove only: 320 g (11.29 oz)
Pump: 115 g (4.06 oz)
Fuel Bottle: 95 g (3.35 oz)
Case: 55 g (1.94 oz)
Maintenance Tool: 35 g (1.23 oz)
Total: 620 g (21.87 oz)

Diameter of Pot Supports: 16 cm (6.3")

Locations of Use

Nova Stove, FoldedI have used the stove on summer paddling trips on the Pacific coast of Canada and in the Yukon. I have also used it on winter snowshoeing trips in Jasper National Park. The temperatures I experienced ranged from -15 C (-27 F) to 22 C (75 F) and the altitudes ranged from sea level to 2200 meters (7218 feet). Though one is not included with the stove, I usually use a windscreen constructed out of aluminum foil.

Construction

The stove is very solidly constructed of metal, which adds to its hefty weight. The pot stand is serrated and has an ample stance for most any pot likely to be on a backpacking trip. The legs and pot stand are curved and fold flush against the round body of the burner, leaving a compact shape to pack. The pump is all metal, which gives me confidence after witnessing the plastic plunger of another stove snap during cold weather operation. It is also very easy to disassemble the pump for field maintenance. The connection between the pump and the fuel line is very secure and easy to operate.Case for Nova Stove

The stove comes with a padded nylon case. It displays good workmanship and, while adding weight and bulk, it does allow storage of the stove inside a nonstick pot without worrying about scratching the pot's finish. The case has a slot for the maintenance tool and space for spare parts and a lighter, which allowed me to keep everything in one place when on the trail.

Priming

One of the biggest drawbacks of using a liquid fuel stove is the priming. The Nova makes this relatively quick and painless. Other stoves I have used will produce blue flames, but if I am not especially deft with the fuel valve, can quickly leave me facing a towering yellow flame and a lot of wasted fuel. While the priming process is very similar to other stoves, the Nova has a unique and very efficient method of conducting heat from the priming flame to vaporize the fuel. This means it uses less fuel and has a shorter and more consistent priming flame than other liquid fuel stoves of my experience.

Operation

Pump for Nova StoveAs noted earlier, the stove primes quickly and consistently. The stove can crank out the heat at full bore or the flame can be dramatically reduced for simmering. It is very good at maintaining a simmer without either dying out or needing constant adjustment of the fuel bottle pressure and fuel valve. The valve that regulates fuel flow is located near the burner, allowing the flame to respond quickly to adjustments. There is not the frustrating lag that happens with stoves whose valve is located at the fuel bottle. The control handle for the valve rotates three and a quarter times between the stove operating at full strength and being shut off. This allowed me to make very fine adjustments to the strength of the flame and was helpful when cooking more delicate foods.

I have not found that cold weather affects the stove's performance very much beyond lengthening the priming time a bit. However, wind, as with any liquid fuel stove, makes lighting the priming flame a bit trying.

Depressurizing The Fuel Bottle

Nova Stove Maintenance ToolDepressurizing fuel bottles has traditionally involved slowly opening the valve on the fuel bottle and watching a mixture of air and both liquid fuel and vapor rush out, coating your hands and the bottle. This is wasteful and potentially hazardous. The Nova has a novel way to accomplish this. The fuel intake line inside the fuel bottle is tensioned against one side of the bottle. To operate the stove, the bottle is laid on one side, immersing the intake line in the fuel. To extinguish the stove, the bottle is flipped over, the intake line is exposed to the air in the bottle and the flame at the burner is starved of fuel. Because the fuel line is still attached to the stove as the bottle depressurizes, air is forced through the fuel line and jet, helping to clean them out. The fuel bottle can then be safely disconnected and stored for travel. With experience, I have learned to judge how long the flame will continue to burn after the bottle is flipped over, and, by incorporating this into my cooking, ensure that no burn time is wasted. If planning to use the stove again before transporting it, the stove can also be extinguished by simply shutting off the fuel valve, leaving the fuel bottle pressurized.

Maintenance

Nova Stove in CaseThe stove comes with a couple of extra O rings and a spare fuel filter. There is also a tool which has all the fittings necessary to completely disassemble the stove for cleaning and repair. The tool includes a magnet. When the tool is waved under the stove, the magnet forces a needle up to clean out the stove's jet. This can be done while the stove is burning.

Over the time I have had the stove, I have not had to replace any parts, nor effect any repairs. The only maintenance I have had to perform is to apply a few drops of oil to the pump cup to make it more pliable after a period of storage. The only wear I have noticed is that the magnet on the maintenance tool rusted slightly after some saltwater paddling trips. This has not hampered the magnet's effectiveness.

Fuel Types and Consumption

The Nova burns a wide variety of fuels: white gas, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel and unleaded gas. The stove can burn all these fuels using only one jet, avoiding the hassle of switching jets. I have only used white gas, never having to resort to dirtier fuels. I have not had to clean the stove very much to keep it operating smoothly, though using lower grade fuels might necessitate more maintenance.

I have not done any scientific measurements of fuel consumption. The literature with the stove states that it can operate at high output for 2.5 hours on 0.45 L (15.5 fl. oz) of fuel. This is the amount of fuel that can be safely held by the 0.6 L (20.3 fl. oz) fuel bottle included with the stove. This generally corresponds with my experience. Using the 0.6 L (20.3 fl. oz) bottle in the field, I have found that I can cook 6 dinners for 2 people, using dehydrated ingredients.

Conclusion

Nova Stove In The YukonThe Nova's two drawbacks, when compared to other liquid fuel stoves, are weight and price. I have no regrets about the price, as its reliability and ease of use have made it good value for me. However, for the price, it would have been nice for the manufacturer to include a windscreen. There are lighter liquid fuel stoves and the Nova looks even heavier when compared to canister or alcohol stoves.

After years of using other liquid fuel stoves and facing down flare-ups and carbonized meals, the Nova has been a revelation to me. It actually simmers, yet still kicks out enough power to boil pot after pot of water. I dehydrate whole foods at home and so appreciate a stove that can actually cook, not just heat water. On paddling trips where weight is not the primary consideration and on trips with inclement weather, the Nova has been an excellent choice for me.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Optimus gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew McNeil

Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Brunton Optimus NOVA Multi-Fuel Stove > Owner Review by Andrew McNeil



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson