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Primus Omnifuel Stove Review


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:

Quick facts:

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!

What Not To Like:

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).

Should you buy it?

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).

You might prefer a stove like the MSR Whisperlite Internationale, the Trangia or one of the many ultralight models if:

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.

You can buy the Primus Omnifuel from CycloCamping ($158.90).

This review is based on a free sample, provided by Primus for testing. We returned the stove after we were done with it.

What Next?
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23 Responses to “Primus Omnifuel Stove Review”

  1. Becky says:

    It sounds like the Primus stove has the same sound issues as the MSR XGK http://cascadedesigns.com/en/msr/stoves/rapid/xgk-ex/product. I like the XGK because it is sturdy and burns anything, anywhere, but it is loud – which was a problem when we trying to be inconspicuous while cooking in hotel rooms. I always feel like I’m igniting a jet engine when I turn it on. What the XGK doesn’t do is simmer, for that you have me wishing I bought the Primus.
    Thanks for the review.

  2. If you are planning on cycling in the high altitude regions of Asia or South America – than there is another factor to consider. From other people I’ve read that the MSR whisperlite does not work well at higher altitudes whereas the Primus Omnifuel does. An MSR stove that according to the reviews does work well at higher altitudes is the MSR XKG –but this stove costs almost as much as the Primus omnifuel.

  3. Doug W says:

    We had the MSR Whisperlite Internationale for years and would take it during backpacking trips and everytime we used it, my ends would end up filthy, no matter how careful I was with it. I’ve also burned pots from its inability to simmer. Lastly, even sleeping with the fuel in our sleeping bag, I’ve had problems getting the MSR to work well in below freezing conditions. I’m not sure the Primus would work much better in those conditions, but we currently have an MSR cartridge-only stove and absolutely love it. The Omnifuel is a must-buy for us before we do our longer trip.

    Great article and video. Thanks!

  4. Simon Dunford says:

    The Primus build quality is outstanding. MSR fuel pumps look like they came from Mothercare in comparison. And turning the bottle over to clear the fuel lines is an inspired idea.

    Sometimes being an engineer can be a real hindrance. Especially when trying to stay within budget in the camping shop.

    • paolo says:

      I agree although this trait is invaluable in helping you not having to spend more than you need!
      I have worked and played in the outdoors for over 12 years. In that time, I have had chance to use all 3 models of MSR multi fuel stoves and personally owned the wisperlite and dragonfly.
      But I know own and use the primus omni-fuel, which I have been using for the past 4 and a half years which has been consistently a much better performer!
      The MSR stoves suffered from the major issue of pump failure no matter which model, and while the stove unit itself always performed it is useless without a working pump. With my MSR stoves I had to repair and replace parts to the pump more than a handful of times and once I had to send a pump off to MSR who dealt with the issue promptly and sent me a new full pump unit to me! Great service and product let down by failure of a relatively small but highly important part!
      Primus how ever not a problem yet (touch wood) and also its efficiency far excels that of the MSR stoves! and having used both I would always now buy Primus or Optimus. Also something to bear in mind is the stoves used by sherpas in the himalaya are often the original Primus or Optimus stoves from the 1950′s!!! We can all handle a windscreen failing but if a pump fails and you do not have a spare or are able to repair it, will leave you wishing you had spent that bit extra!

  5. Thanks Travelling Two, my Windscreen broke as well during my Trans Am cycle. I contacted Primus and they asked me to contact the company I bought it from. I now have a new Windscreen on it’s way! Result!

  6. I just wanted to add that you don’t necessarily need a Primus-brand gas cartridge to use on the Primus Omnifuel. The thread on gas cartridge being universal you can also use a MSR, Primus, Burton, Kovea, or any other threaded gas cartridges.

  7. Bill Adams says:

    I bought a Primus Omnifuel before reading your review or watching your video. Now I have three things I am really impressed with…(the stove, your review and the video).
    I am not really big on directions so your video reminded me about the need to turn the fuel bottle over to shut the stove down. Thanks for the great job.

  8. Paul says:

    Does anybody know the definite rule on putting a stove (in my case a Primus Omnifuel) in your checked baggage for flying. Not any fuel of course, but a cleaned, dry stove, which are basically just bits of metal aren’t they. Yet some people seem to insist it’s a big problem.
    Paul

    • friedel says:

      If it’s clean, dry and doesn’t smell like fuel, it will be fine.

      We only had a problem once with a stove in checked luggage, and then they only confiscated some of the rubber o-rings on our MSR stove because they said the o-rings smelled like fuel but the rest of the stove was allowed to fly.

    • Stephane says:

      As long as you don’t carry any fuel and leave the stove, stove parts, repair kit and fuel bottles in the checked-in luggage, you should be fine. I even took dozens of flights with a stinky stove (not easy to have a smell-free stove when it is used with gasoline!) and I even had the stinky fuel bottles and I never had a problem – and yet I flew to countries with strict regulations like USA, New-Zealand, Australia. Again, make sure you don’t keep any of those stuff in you carry-on and don’t bring gas cartridges with you (even in the checked-in luggage) because it is almost garanteed that they won’t allow the cartridges to travel due to the air-repssure difference in the airplane, and luggage compartment, during the flight.

    • paolo says:

      Basically like people say as long as you don’t leave fuel in it and it does not smell of fuel you should not have any problems. However getting your stove to not smell like fuel is another matter, so here it goes the best way I have found to eliminate the fuel odour is…
      First empty the stove and leave pump stove and bottle separated, to allow residual fuel to evaporate!
      Secondly wash with warm water and dish soap and air dry.
      Finaly once everything is dry rinse all part with cooking oil then wipe dry as possible, Job Done!!! Stove ready for flight!

  9. Stewart says:

    If using butane gas canisters for the Primus OmniFuel it only takes the screw on canisters which cost ~AUD$10-15 each. I’ve just bought a small adapter from Korea (ebay $5) that allows the OmniFuel to also be used with the much cheaper non-screw type Butane cartriges that are sold in most supermarkets and asian shops.

  10. victor says:

    We took the new model Primus omnifuel on our 4 month cross-europe tour in 2012 after much careful research and reviewing of our options. Unfortunately it was problems right from the start possibly due to a defective unit or just a finicky stove. We encountered other bike campers with older models that seemed to work fine. Primus did not offer much help other than cleaning the stove, and their only solution was “send it in”, something which is not possible when you are on the move long term and need the stove daily. Primus dealers didn’t offer repair services, they just offer to send them in. The saga ended 3 months later when the fuel valve snapped off spraying fuel all over the campsite. After the fuel valve snapped we had to leave the bottle and fuel pump assembly at the campsite because we did not feel safe carrying it on our bikes, and of course Primus will not replace it without sending in the broken unit.
    We resorted to using just the Primus canisters from that point forward with better luck, but keeping the flame lit and adjusting the heat was still a struggle. The majority of the bikers we met were using the 30 euro campinggaz stoves with better performance than ours. Considering the cost and still having to buy canisters (instead of just fuel), next time we will just buy whatever cheap stove uses the canisters that are available in the countries we are passing through. Hit a new region? Buy the next compatible stove…it still would have been cheaper and more dependable.

    • sz says:

      Why did you have to leave the bottle and fuel pump at the campsite? Why not just unscrewed the faulty pump, screwe on the bottle cap, let the pump dry, pack up, and off you go?

      • victor says:

        That was our attempt, but unfortunately the fuel pump snapped right at the top of the threaded section with only a small piece of plastic & metal sticking up out of the bottle. I was not able to unscrew it with my hands or with a rag. If we had a wrench we could have probably done this but we were at a campsite in the woods. The bottle still had about 1/3 of the fuel inside of it, and would come out of the hole at the top of the snapped off section. There was no way for us to seal the bottle any more, and we were afraid that the hilly 5 mile ride into the closest town would end up shaking out the remaining fuel. Luckily we found a park attendant who took the broken pieces to dispose of properly, but was also unable to help us remove the broken piece. (I’m not sure he understood what we were trying to do, he spoke Slovenian and we had to communicate via gestures/hand signals)

  11. paolo says:

    Sounds like you had over tightened the pump must have put some force in to shear the pump unit! Often user error is a major problems with multi fuel stoves, I have experienced problems stemming from my own mistakes as have friends, my friend spent year lighting his stove with the control valve turned completely open needless to say it looked very impressive a 5 foot jet of flame. But had he read the manual correctly he would have found out much sooner!
    Learning to use equipment before a trip is so important and allow you time to refine issues you may have!
    Best of luck in the future!

  12. Shane says:

    I’m guessing that fuel line is a nightmare to connect with thick gloves on???

  13. anna says:

    My Omnifuel has served me reasonably well but over the last year or so it has required dismantling and fiddling with frequently – if not quite with every use, close to it. Which is tedious and time consuming to say the least. And now it seems to have given up the ghost almost entirely. I can cook a meal by dismantling it two or three times during the attempt and sometimes not even then.

    The quality of the fuel I am using is not ideal (standard petrol from local Central American and South American petrol stations) but isn’t an Omnifuel by definition supposed to be able to cope with a variety of fuels? I filter the fuel I use through a doubled up piece of silk cut from a sleeping bag liner so no really big bits of gunk are getting into the works.

    Even when the thing does burn at all the flame is kind of gusty and uneven and often now it simply goes out after a while. Or I can’t get it to light at all. (The fuel oozes slowly out when I open the valve to release the fuel to preheat it.)

    So do these stoves just have a life span or mine has reached the end of it? Or should it last more or less indefinitely with appropriate servicing? And what kind of servicing would that be?

  14. Vinnie says:

    I have a primus omnifuel and love it, recently My leather pump gasket has broke, where can you get the spare parts from? I just want this pump gasket!

    Any help/advice is much appreciated

    Cheers, vinnie

    Email addy – rudevin20@hotmail.com

  15. I have one of the first run moels of the Himalaya omnifuel, the one with the all aluminium pump. It has proven to be bulletproof and it looks like I will ave to leave it in my will. I only use liquid fuels, and mainly use Coleman shellite which is clean burning compared to petrol or diesel so the burner does stay cleaner. Not as clean as it would using butane, of course, and even with shellite you will have to ‘prick’ the burner jet every now and then.
    My stove has required no other maintenance to date, despite the years of hard use I have given it, but, like all things made by man it will eventually wear out some parts. I cannot comment on how well Primus may support their product as I have not yet had to test them on that.
    The stove works excellently as the review says, but as with everything, it has a couple of problems. it is very susceptible to winds. At one time you could get a Trangia fitting to use the omnifuel in a Trangia windshield. Also it is, as mentioned, extremely noisy. It is fairly heavy, I use mine mainly for car car camping (with Trangia pots) but I have also used it for ultralite aircraft camping trips and the weight will give pause for thought.

  16. Fabian says:

    Hello,

    an practical way to store you windscreen is not to fold it but to roll around your fuelbottle. My windscreen is lasting now for 5 years now and doesn’t have any cracks.

    An nice option for a stove with simmering is the Optimus Nova ( not nova plus!)

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