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The award winning Primus OmniLite Ti
© Mick Ryan UKC/UKH Jonathan Miles tests the lightweight version of the Primus OmniFuel. The Primus OmniLite Ti won a Gold award for outstanding innovation and design achievement at the OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen last year, and was the Scandinavian Outdoor Overall Winner for summer 2012.
The question of gas or liquid fuel is usually an either or when considering what camping stove to buy. Gas generally wins out for convenience, simplicity and cleanliness but is let down by lack of power at low temperatures, altitude and often being difficult to source in the middle of nowhere.
The Primus OmniFuel, which has been on the market for a few years now, offers compatibility with both gas and liquid fuels, giving you the best chance of a hot meal whatever hydrocarbon source you can lay your hands on in whatever far flung corner of the world. Now Primus have refined the design further and produced the OmniLite Ti, which attempts to take the flexibility and performance of the OmniFuel and - as the name and sleekly machined titanium suggest - adapt it specifically for the lightweight market.
Now, if a picture can tell a thousand words then a video must be pretty much an encyclopaedia. If you want to see the stove in action, Alan James has put together a short video of the stove doing that most important of backpacking tasks: making the morning coffee.
VIDEO: Getting started with the Primus OmniLite Ti
"Knocking a £175 dent in your bank balance - it's not cheap. If you're going to spend that kind of money on a stove, you expect something a bit special..."
One thing you can't get away from when considering this stove is the cost. Knocking a £175 dent in your bank balance, it's not cheap. If you're going to spend that kind of money on a stove, you expect something a bit special, and fortunately the OmniLite Ti does not disappoint. Straight out the box the stove has a quality feel to it: light yet sturdy and well made. The legs, pan supports and outer body of the stove are titanium and the whole assembly weighs a remarkable 210g (measured by me) and sits in the palm of your hand.
There are some nice design touches, too. I like the way the pan supports are serrated on top to stop your dinner sliding around and ending up on the floor if the ground is a little uneven; in fact the whole stove feels very stable and well seated. I also like the little lugs on the burner that lock the legs into place, and the way they fold way to a really compact unit. The fuel line - often a bugbear of these types of stove - is longer and more flexible than a number of its rivals, making it easier to set up and use with less tendency to try to flip the stove over.
During a field test on Arnamurchan a few weeks ago I ran it with both gas and unleaded. Both burned with a satisfyingly powerful roar sounding like a small rocket engine; perfect for waking your tent mates with the temptation of morning tea. Getting the stove to simmer was easily achieved by turning down the main control on the stove body, then tweaking with the control on the fuel source. The control offered means this is a stove that can do everything from boil in the bag to rustling up a full gourmet meal. I did, however, notice that at really low power the stove had a tendency to blow out when you removed a pan from the heat.
"Both gas and unleaded burned with a satisfyingly powerful roar like a small rocket engine - perfect for waking your tent mates with the temptation of morning tea..."
Three different jets are supplied and are interchangable depending on what fuel you are going to use. Switching between them is really easy as the burner head detaches completely from the stove, allowing the jet to be unscrewed with a special tool. The only downside to this I can see to this is that the jets are tiny and, unless you're careful, very easy to lose.
The fuel bottle supplied with the stove is in keeping with the lightweight philosophy: it's a tiny bit smaller than a drinks can. That said, it lasted throughout a weekend away and, should you wish, the pump fits Primus' larger bottles. When operating in liquid mode I also really like the self bleed system, which allows the fuel bottle to rotate about the fuel line from “on” to “off” position; this allows air from the bottle into the system to de-pressurise it and, once the flame has gone out, means you don't get your fingers covered in fuel when disconnecting the stove (more about this in Alan's video).
So would I buy one?
Having used an MSR Dragonfly for many years I think the OmniFuel offers better flexibility and a neater design and has converted me to the concept of a true multi fuel stove. I'm also impressed with the thoughts behind the design - particularly the self bleed. Whether it deserves the extra cash over the standard OmniFuel probably depends on your attitude to weight. This is probably the best stove on the market but do you really need it?
About Jon Miles
"I'm a keen walker, climber, and mountain biker based in Leeds but with my heart in Scotland and especially the far north west. Particularly fond of big easy mountain routes or big winter days on the hills. I'm a huge fan of mountain literature so not really a surprise that I wanted to try writing myself."
Stories of adventures in the hills, and musings on whatever has inspired or annoyed Jon about life in general can be found in his blog: The Mountain Goat.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Jonathan Miles: