The Primus Omnifuel has an excellent reputation in the world of camping stoves.
It’s known to be reliable and sturdy. As its name suggests, the Omnifuel stove also works with just about every fuel going, from ordinary car petrol to sealed cartridges.
We wanted to see how the Primus Omnifuel stove compared with our MSR Whisperlite, so we asked Primus if we could borrow a stove. They were happy to provide us with one for our bicycle tour of Denmark. We used it 2-3 times a day for 2 weeks, and came away with a positive impression.
Here’s a video of how the stove works. Our observations are below.
Most of our experiences with the Primus Omnifuel were good. Read the whole review, or jump to particular sections:
Weight – 441 grams (with fuel pump)
Cost – $158.90 from CycloCamping
Size – 140 x 85 x 70 mm
Boil Time – 3 minutes
Best suited for – Keen chefs and big bicycle adventures.
What To Love:
Stability – The stove is extremely sturdy. It packs away just as small as the Whisperlite, but the legs on the stove are noticeably more robust. They “grip” better to the ground than our Whisperlite, and small teeth-like ridges on the top hold the pot firmly in place. On a sloping surface, you don’t worry that your dinner might slide away (this was sometimes a concern with the Whisperlite).
Sturdiness – As soon as you pick up this stove, you realise the quality construction. The pump is made of metal, with a leather plunger on the inside (compared to plastic and rubber for the MSR Whisperlite). It feels extremely robust. We have no doubt that it would stand up to a lot of wear and tear.
Simmer control – The Omnifuel’s reputation as a stove that can simmer was one of the main reasons we wanted to try it. We’re happy to report that it works as promised. One small adjustment point offers a great degree of control over the flame, and this makes it easy to cook things like rice and thick soups without burning them. You still have the option to turn the stove to full power, if needed.
Soot-free exterior – Anytime you cook with a dirtier fuel like ordinary car gasoline, some soot is created. The Primus Omnifuel is cleverly designed, however, so almost no soot is deposited on the outside of the stove. Your hands stay clean. The inner workings of the stove do get black with soot, and require occasional cleaning, but this is no different from any stove. For a soot-free experience, you need to cook with something purer like gas cartridges (which are also more expensive).
Versatility – You can run the Primus Omnifuel on nearly anything: car gasoline, white gas, kerosene and the Primus-brand gas cartridges. That makes it fantastic for international touring.
Great carrying case – The Primus Omnifuel comes with a well-made cloth case. Aside from the stove, there is room for extras like spices and cooking knives. This is great for keeping the stove separated from your clothes, and also for protecting it from bumps while cycling. Love it!
It’s loud! – This stove screams “come for dinner” to everyone in the area. It’s a bit like firing up a jet engine; something campsite neighbours might not appreciate if you get up early for breakfast. If silence is crucial to you, both the Primus Omnifuel and MSR’s Whisperlite Internationale are outclassed by the Trangia.
Windscreen broke too easily – The windscreen broke in two just a few days after we started using it. Primus says this was a temporary manufacturing problem, and that they will send replacements to anyone who experiences the same issue.
Flip-off switch requires forethought – When you flip the bottle to turn the Primus stove to the “off” position, the stove will continue to work for 1-2 minutes. This means means you need to think ahead if you want to be super efficient with your fuel use.
Price – It might be more stable and give more cooking control, but you pay for the privilege. It costs roughly twice as much as the MSR Whisperlite (also an excellent expedition stove, and great value for money).
Like any major purchase, whether the Primus is worth buying depends on your requirements. Some reasons to buy the Primus Omnifuel include:
1. You plan to bike tour a lot. For the occasional trip, you probably won’t use the stove enough to justify the price.
2. You really hate sooty hands. The Primus stove doesn’t get nearly as sooty as the MSR Whisperlite, and the design makes it very easy to keep your hands clean.
3. You love cooking. This stove gives a high degree of control over the temperature of the flame.
4. You are clumsy or love things built to a very high quality. The Primus stove is very solid, with more robust legs than the MSR Whisperlite and a metal pump with a leather plunger (compared to a plastic pump and rubber cap on the MSR Whisperlite).
1. You are on a budget. This is one of the more expensive camping stoves on the market.
2. You don’t plan to cook many of your own meals.
3. You only plan to do simple things. For just boiling water for pasta and instant meals, the Primus Omnifuel is overkill.
This review is based on a free sample, provided by Primus for testing. We returned the stove after we were done with it.