If you’re serious about your camp cooking and are very short on space, then the Primus OmniFuel may be just what you’re looking for. The first time I used the stove, it was very cold and although I had heard just how reliable and durable the stove is, I was a bit pessimistic about how well it would perform.
I was doing a 24hr ‘stranded in a car’ winter survival exercise with a friend of mine and although not part of my usual car survival kit, I decided it would be nice to bring it along so I could treat us to a nice cup of coffee in the morning. It worked flawlessly and with the sound of a mini jet engine, I had a boiling pot of water in just a couple minutes to make some coffee with. Of course being the coffee lovers that we are, I restarted the stove 30minutes later and made another pot for us. Yummo.
I have the fuel bottle filled with regular Coleman camp fuel and after pressurizing the bottle with the fuel pump (comes with the stove, but the bottle is sold separately), you can start the pre-heating process. Give the bottle about 20 pumps, make sure the bottle is “ON” side up, turn on the bottle valve, followed by the stove valve for a couple seconds (to saturate the Priming Pad) and light the stove.
*Important notes: Make sure you turn off the stove valve before lighting the stove AND be sure to light the stove down low near the Priming Pad. That last part isn’t too well covered in the instructions but is very important. If you light the stove near the top, you won’t ignite the fuel down on the pad and you won’t complete the pre-warming process. Just as the orange flame starts to die and you start hearing that jet engine sound, gently open the stove valve and you’ll get that nice, clean blue flame in the burner indicating it’s time to start cooking.
It was my second time out with the stove, on a winter hike in Algonquin Park, when problems began. I needed to melt some snow to rehydrate some breakfast since all my water was frozen and this is when I ran into trouble. I got it lit easily enough and it was burning fine for a few minutes but once the pot full of snow started warming up, suddenly the flame went out. Then began the frustration. Before attempting to relight the stove, you must allow it to fully cool or you risk some serious injuries, but since it was -8celcius, it didn’t take long. But I think the freezing temps and user error would lead to damaging the stove to the point where I couldn’t get the damn thing to fully ignite again.
In my ignorance, I wasn’t lighting the stove down low where the priming pad was and since the snow on the side of the pot melted off and slide down onto the pad and then froze solid, the stove was never to light again without some maintenance. At the time though, I just thought the problem was the snow on the pad and cold temps. Ignorance is bliss or perhaps a touch of hypotherma was hindering my ability to think straight.
My next time out though was much warmer but when I couldn’t get the stove to light again, I started realizing what the possible problems could be (clogged nozzle jet, damaged primer pad, or both). Turns out…it was likely both. Oh..and me not paying attention to lighting it down low near the pad instead of up high near the flame spreader (I can’t blame hypothermia this time though).
With the warmer temps, I was able to dismantle the stove without worrying about frostbite. I had the repair tool, and I had the forethought to buy a full repair kit when I bought the stove, so I carefully got to work taking apart the stove. I cleaned out the jet and replaced the pad with a fresh one, reassembled the stove and fired it up. After the warmup process, I was able to get that nice blue flame again along with that jet engine sound and the stove was once again working perfectly. Lessons learned indeed. I can’t state enough how important it is to be fully familiar with how to use your equipment before you have to rely on it and it’s also important to know how to repair it before you’re forced to do so in the field. This is another reason why I always have a backup plan and in this case, while I was repairing the stove, breakfast was being cooked over an open fire nearby.
The main reason I chose the OmniFuel is because as the name suggests, it can burn pretty much anything including White gas, Kerosene, Diesel, Petrol/Gasoline, LPG, and even Aviation fuel. Don’t however try and use alcohol because it burns very differently and to my knowledge, no multi-fuel stove can burn alcohol. If you try it and suffer serious injuries…don’t say you weren’t warned.
The stove comes with a nice storage bag, heat shield, repair tool, spare primer pad and two other nozzle jets, which you change depending on what fuel you’re planning on burning (different jet sizes for different fuels). You can also fore go the fuel bottle and instead directly attach the fuel hose to a Primus fuel canister (less messy and no priming is required).
The pot arms are serrated and grip pots rather well so if you’re cooking on slightly uneven ground, you can have confidence that your pot isn’t likely to slide off. It also supports a frying pan well enough and thanks to it’s ability to simmer, this means you can actually cook with this stove and not just use it to melt water for rehydrating food packs.
All in all, this is a great little stove and packs up very small (fits in the palm of your hand, or pant pocket) and once you get used to using it, it works without difficulties. This stove is still fairly new to me but based on the very favourable online reviews, the Primus OmniFuel stove can work pretty much anywhere…at any altitude and at any temperature.