PRIMUS OMNILITE TI STOVE
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
December 08, 2015
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thefishguy AT hotmail DOT com
5' 11" (1.80 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for over 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, and enjoy everything from casual hikes with my children to mountaineering and alpine rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Primus AB
|Stove and Accessories|
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: www.primus.eu
MSRP: 229.95 Euro
Listed Weight: 8.43 oz (239 g), 12 oz (341 g) including pump
Measured Weight: 7.9 oz (224 g) - stove only, 11.5 oz (326 g) including pump
10.2 oz (289 g) - my weight for use with canister (stove and windscreen)
18 oz (512 g) - my weight for use with white gas (stove, windscreen, pump, fuel bottle and lid provided)
18.8 oz (532 g) - my weight for use with white gas in snow (as "typical weight for use with white gas" above with addition of round heat shield base for under stove)
Component weights (may not add up to the same as above due to rounding/scale error):
Stove - 7.9 oz (224 g)
Pump - 3.6 oz (103 g)
Windscreen - 2.2 oz (63 g)
Heat Shield Base - 0.7 oz (20 g)
Fuel Bottle and Lid (as provided, empty) - 4.3 oz (123 g)
Multi-Tool - 1.5 oz (43 g)
Jet nipples (each) - 0.07 oz (2 g)
Storage bag - 7.4 oz (210 g)
Tube of silicone grease for maintenance - 0.2 oz (6 g)
Additional Manufacturer Claims from Packaging (quoted from packaging):
2600 W * 8900 BTU/h
2 min 40 sec/1 L boil time with PrimeTech pot (+ preheating)
100 minutes on 230 g/8.1 oz gas cartridge
Dimensions: 112 x 92 x 55 mm (4.4" x 3.6" x 2.2")
The Primus OmniLite Ti stove arrived in its retail packaging, with all components neatly organized inside the box.
|Snow Melting Machine|
My initial impressions were that the stove appeared fairly robust, and reasonably intuitive-looking. The stove has three legs which rotate out to open, a short hose with a female-threaded end that will accept a standard gas cartridge (or attach to the included pump for use with white gas), and a wire bail regulator control to adjust the flame. In addition to this typical regulator, there is a shutoff valve on the end of the hose that attaches to the fuel source. The stove also included a priming cup with a wick, a feature that seemed nice compared to wick-less priming cups that I've used (which I've often spilled). When opened, the stove seems large and robust enough to support a fairly large and heavy pot, yet the supports would work equally well with my small titanium sierra cup, making for what appears to be a fairly versatile stove in terms of utility with a large variety of pot sizes.
The pump itself is typical of white gas stove pumps I've used with the exception that it has a male thread identical to a fuel canister thread, allowing it to attach to the stove's hose. The pump body is slanted slightly in relationship to the threads, allowing it to be placed in an "on" position (where the tube angles down toward the bottom side of the fuel bottle to get as much fuel as possible) or an "off" position (where it will angle upward away from the fuel. The pump is labeled "off" and "on" so I can easily tell if I have it set up the right way.
Included are a typical windscreen and a round base, both of pliable metal that appears to be aluminum, and folds up flat and compact. Also included are a Primus fuel bottle (11.8 oz - 0.35 L) with a cap that works like a prescription bottle lid (in that it has to be pushed down to unscrew), two additional jets (of different sizes), a multi-tool that includes a cleaning wire and appropriate tools to disassemble the stove for routine maintenance and jet changes, a tube of silicone grease for maintenance, and a robust nylon storage bag.
My initial impressions were that the stove appeared well-made of robust components assembled into a very versatile stove.
|Prepping to Melt Snow|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions on this stove include a front page of diagrams where key components are numbered for easy reference. The instructions begin with the usual warnings about how failure to follow the instructions may result in serious injury or death, and then cover the following topics: fuels and performance, safety information, handling the appliance, assembling and operating the appliance with a gas cartridge, changing the cartridge, assembling and operating the appliance with liquid fuel, maintenance, hints and troubleshooting, service and repair, and parts and accessories.
I found the stove pretty intuitive, so I just did a quick glance through them before trying the stove out for the first time. Then I took the stove on a climb of Mt. Rainier in Washington State, where I got to try it with several fuels, and came home to find out that even though the stove worked great for me, I wasn't using it right. More on that in a moment.
|With 1.5 L Pot|
TRYING IT OUT
Being the impatient sort, I glanced at the instructions to see if there appeared to be any pictures that looked different than I expected to see, and seeing none, I proceeded to grab a fuel canister and some white gas and hit my driveway for my first test.
Setting the stove up with a canister was simple . . . swing out the legs, attach the gas canister to the end of the hose, open the shutoff valve, open the regulator valve, strike a flame with my lighter next to the burner, and it lighted right up with a nearly invisible flame that seemed to have good heat output. I turned the stove off right away, inserted the pump into the fuel bottle filled to the fill line with white gas, pumped it up 20 times (one of the few things I did notice from the instructions), and hooked it up to the stove. I opened the shutoff valve, and cracked open the regulator to let fuel dribble onto the priming pad for about 10 seconds (later, upon reading the instructions more fully, I realized this was recommended 2 seconds, 4-6 seconds if windy). I closed the valve, lit the fuel in the priming cup, and waited until the yellow flame died down before cracking the regulator valve open, which resulted in a nice, robust flame.
At this point I was all ready to go, packed the stove for my Mt. Rainier trip along with some extra white gas, and away I went.
This is where reading the instructions would have been a good idea. Or not. I'm not really sure, because what is written on the box is different than what is written in the instructions.
The insert in the box says the 0.25 mm nipple is for kerosene/paraffin/diesel, the 0.32 is for gasoline/petrol, and the 0.36 (which is the one that comes installed in the stove) is for LP-gas/white gas/GPL. The instructions say the 0.36 jet is for Primus cartridge gas, and that the 0.32 jet is for white gas (and gasoline only in exceptional cases because of additives).
I used the 0.36 jet for both in my initial tryout, as well as my Rainier climb with both fuel types, and experienced no problems.
|Melting Snow at 11,000+ ft (3353 M)|
On my Rainier climb, I melted approximately 9 L (9.5 qt) f water from snow before having to add any white gas to the bottle. This was over two days, using a 1.5 L (1.5 qt) titanium pot, and using the windscreen for about half of the use. While most of the snow was simply melted and filtered, approximately 3 L (3 qt) were brought to boiling for cooking. I later borrowed, on our last day, a fuel canister from another climber in my party, and melted another 4-5 L (4-5 qt).
So far, so good. The stove worked flawlessly under all conditions, which included altitudes in excess of 11,000 feet (3,353 M).
The Primus OmniLite Ti stove appears to be a well-made and easy-to-use stove that has so far performed flawlessly at a variety of altitudes using both canister fuels an white gas.
Based on my experiences so far, I think it offers a good compromise between weight, durability, and versatility, without being unnecessarily complex.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During field testing, the Primus OmniLite TI Stove got to see use under a broader variety of weather conditions and altitudes than during initial testing. Use included 4 additional nights, two in the Cascade Mountains, and two in Olympic National Park, both in Washington State.
Altitudes ranged from approximately 500 ft (152 m) to approximately 4,500 ft (1,372 m). Temperatures ranged from approximately 40-55 F (4-13 C). Weather included light rain one evening, but otherwise was cloudy to sunny with light winds (never exceeding 10 mph (16 kph).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Primus OmniLite TI stove has continued to perform well during field testing. One trip I used a fuel canister, and one trip I used white gas, but I again did not change the jet (simply because I was in a hurry as I packed), though I still hope to try it's performance with the other jet sizes and other fuel types (kerosene/paraffin).
While in initial testing, my use was primarily melting snow for water, and boiling water to reconstitute meals, during field testing I attempted to prepare some meals that involved simmering. My experience on Mt. Rainier proved this stove to be a very satisfactory snow-melter and water-boiler, but didn't afford me much opportunity to try it for more traditional "cooking."
My experiences with this were mixed. With white gas, I found the stove to be a bit challenging to keep at a simmer. Not any worse than any other white gas stove I've ever used, but not any better, either. There was an expected degree of having to tinker between fuel pressure (pumping it up) and the actual burner control. I've always avoided trying to cook anything requiring simmering on a white gas stove for this very reason, and I don't see that changing with this stove.
That said, when working with canister fuel (isobutane), the results were better. I found the temperature control sensitive enough to maintain a simmer, about on-par with my other canister stoves, which I've been fairly satisfied with.
While it may have simply been a function of the pot I was using (a 2L titanium), the flame pattern did create some hot spots while simmering that required I be pretty attentive to stirring. I plan to use the stove with a Primus heat-exchanger pot during long-term testing to see if that helps.
GENERAL USE AND SETUP
So, there are a couple of things I really like about this stove. First, as far as white gas stoves go, it's pretty simple and easy to work with (certainly no more complicated than others I own). It seems pretty robust, and can be set up and running pretty quickly. The priming wick works very well, and is far easier to work with than open-bowl priming cups, at least when the stove isn't perfectly level (which seems to be the norm outdoors).
There are also some things I don't really like about this stove. Not major dislikes, but more along the line of "can't somebody come up with something better than this?" First is the windscreen/heat reflector. These are made of a soft, silver metal, much like other white gas fuel stoves I've owned. I don't like them. While the heat reflector works ok, I just find them hard to keep clean (food spills, etc.), and they never lay quite flat after you've use them once (so they start taking up more room). My real dislike is the windscreen, though. Made of the same material, and just like every other stove I've ever had, I just find them a pain in the backside to get set up so they will block the wind, allow my pot to sit on the stove, and not blow away or spring out of place. Maybe I'm just not patient enough in getting it set up, but I also don't feel like I should have to be that patient, especially when I'm tired and hungry.
No worries here . . . I don't baby my gear at all, and I haven't had any problems. I store the stove and regulator (when using white gas) in the pot to prevent the hose from being over-stressed, but that's the extent of my care. I haven't really cleaned it other than to brush off some dirt and wipe off some spilled food, and I haven't had any problems whatsoever.
This stove works, and works as well as any white gas stove I've ever used, and is probably my current favorite among the ones I own, even though it is slightly heavier than my second favorite (which has an open priming cup, and has gotten finicky over the years).
For canister fuel use, I'm less a fan. While it works fine, I have other stoves that work as well or better that weigh a fraction of the amount of this stove. That said, when climbing, I love the versatility of the stove . . . the fact that I can use white gas, but if I run out of fuel, I can borrow a canister from another party.
The stove simmers ok (with the usual degree of fuel pressure balancing required with white gas), but does create some hot spots on a titanium pot. The stove is, however, a fantastic snow-melter/water-boiler.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Long-term testing included 3 additional nights use, all in Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. Conditions were at or just above freezing while cooking. While it was generally breezy I was in sheltered locations while cooking, and experienced no functional wind at the stove location. I did experience light snow on one occasion, but otherwise conditions were simply overcast.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Primus OmniLite Ti stove has continued to perform well during long-term testing. I used white gas and kerosene during long-term testing in the field. My opinions surrounding its use with white gas remain the same . . . the stove functions well, is easy to use, and boils water like a champ. Below is my new information, on using kerosene and using an ETA pot.
The one night I decided to use kerosene in the field. I changed the jet before leaving, filled the fuel bottle with kerosene, and off I went. I had a backup stove just in case, as I didn't have time to try it out at home first. Thankfully, it worked quite well. I was a little concerned that I might not be able to get the fuel lit to prime the stove, but holding my lighter against the priming wick the kerosene ignited fairly quickly (though not as robustly). I do wonder if there may have been some white gas still in the fuel line, as it was almost too easy. I waited until the priming flame almost went out (which is longer than I would with white gas), opened the valve, and proceeded to cook. I didn't notice a substantial difference in time to boil, though I didn't time it. There wasn't a substantial buildup of soot from cooking, but there was a fair amount on the stove from the priming. It wasn't difficult to clean when I got home. Aside from the smell of kerosene, the experience was good. It still wouldn't be my first choice, though; white gas and canister fuel would still be my preference, but it's nice to have options in a pinch.
I also used a small Primus ETA pot on one of my trips, and it worked well. I didn't notice a tremendous difference in boil time, but it seemed to disperse the flame more evenly so that hot spots weren't as obvious in the pot. I was simply boiling water for my meal, though, so it may have had advantages if I were cooking in the pot.
Overall, the Primus OmniLite Ti stove is a solid performer, providing a variety of fuel options in a reasonably lightweight and simple-to-use stove.
I suspect the Primus OmniLite Ti stove will become a staple on my climbing trips. Too often, when I ask my climbing friends to bring fuel, they'll bring white gas when I take a canister stove, or vice-versa. Given the performance I experienced on my Rainier climb, I'm happy to use this stove with both fuels without changing jets . . . solving the "oops, wrong fuel" problem once and for all.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
While the stove probably won't be my first choice for solo trips, or ultralight trips, it will certainly see use on group outings.
I'd like to thank Primus and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the OmniLite Ti Stove. This concludes my report.
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