Reviewed By: Jim
"Hey, if you want an ultra-light, cheap stove for use only in mild conditions, the Primus OmniFuel is NOT for you. But if you want a stove that will go anywhere, work in almost any conditions and burn almost anything, the OmniFuel has to be a front-runner (its main rival being the MSR Dragonfly). The penalty for this versatility is that multi-fuel stoves are slightly heavier, noticeably more expensive and significantly more complicated to use than gas-only stoves.
Within the UK, you'll probably power the OmniFuel with gas canisters, which are convenient. But travel a little further afield and gas canisters can be hard to buy (obviously you can't take them on the plane with you!). This is when switching to liquid fuel makes most sense.
First choice for liquid fuel should be white gas (not to be confused with white spirit!). The famous brand name for this is Coleman Fuel. Essentially this is extra-pure petrol, so if you can't find white gas, ordinary unleaded petrol should be the next choice. If you can't get this, then kerosene, diesel, or even aviation fuel can be used.
The drawback with these fuels is they are more likely to cause blockages, stopping the stove from working. Some blockages can be solved simply by clearing the fuel nozzle with the needle-tool provided. More intractable problems may require a little dismantling of the stove with the special tool provided. The OmniFuel's design makes this fairly easy to do, but it's important to practise before leaving home - you don't want to try it for the first time at night, high up a freezing mountain!
When changing fuels, you need to switch between the three different sizes of fuel nozzle that are included. This is again done using the supplied tool. The need to be a bit of a mechanic is partly what makes using any multi-fuel stove more complicated than a single-fuel stove. I've heard it argued that MSR designs are easier to use than Primus, but I can't see the difference - both are pretty straightforward when you know how.
When using liquid fuel, you need to pump the fuel canister to pressurise it, go though a priming procedure (to warm the burner) and, after use, ensure the fuel line is cleared. With gas things are much easier, and the OmniFuel design means gas works at pretty low temperatures, unlike some simple gas stoves.
The gas canister connects to the burner by a metal-clad hose. This is better than simple stoves where the burner sits high on top of the gas canister - an unstable arrangement that's all too likely to dump your hot meal onto the ground or into your lap!
Another attraction of keeping the canister remote is it allows you to use the supplied aluminium windshield/heat-reflector to concentrate maximum heat on the saucepan. In designs where the canister is attached directly to the burner, you have to be cautious with heat reflectors to ensure you don't overheat the gas canister - for obvious reasons!
Whatever the fuel, the OmniFuel puts out a good heat without excessive noise. The control valve makes it easy to reduce output to a gentle simmer - something that can't be said of earlier Primus Multifuel designs.
The stove's three legs give good stability and fold away neatly so the unit can be stored in the included sack, which gives useful protection. Primus offers fuel bottles in a variety of sizes and MSR fuel bottles can also be used. Be wary of other brands, as they may not fit properly.
My Primus has never let me down and I've the reassurance that it's been proven in conditions even harsher than I plan to encounter. I happily recommend it, but I haven't got time to waste arguing over the relative merits of Primus verses MSR - seems to me they both do a good job. What's much more important is to decide if you really need a multi-fuel stove or if you'd be happier with something less sophisticated.
For an informative video on how to use the OmniFuel, see:
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Additional Product Information
Brand: Primus Stoves
Item Name: Primus OmniFuel MultiFuel Stove with Fuel Bottle
Model Number: 328985