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White Gas and Multi-fuel Stoves

The Optimus Nova and Explorer:  Two Multifuel Stoves from Sweden

Optimus Web Site HERE

Optimus Explorer Stove

Optimus No. 11 Explorer

14.5 ounces (includes stove and tool.  Fuel bottle and pump are an additional 6.9 ounces. Carrying sack adds 1.1 ounces) 

The Optimus Explorer is a white gas stove that uses a seperate fuel bottle instead of an integral fuel tank. It has a very nice windscreen which shields both the burner and priming cup. The priming cup also incorporates a wick, which makes priming somewhat easier than on the MSR whisperlight, although flare-up is still likely if you get too much gas in the priming cup. Because the priming cup is shielded by the windscreen, and because of the wick, the Explorer is easier to light in windy weather than other white gas stoves.

The Explorer simmers very well, and the pump pressurizes very efficiently, and doesn't require tons of pumping to get it going or keep it going. Overall, the Explorer is very well put together. The exceptions to this are: the "choke" which regulates air/fuel mixture, which is pretty cheesy and prone to falling off, but you only need the choke when burning alcohol for fuel, which I can't see myself doing very often with this stove.

The other part of the stove which I have had a problem with is a metal screen which slides onto the fuel intake tube inside the fuel bottle. This screen kept coming off and clanking around inside the fuel bottle. This problem was permanently fixed by crimping the screen down on the fuel tube with a vice. The stove's components are heavy duty metal, rather than plastic. The burner is solid brass, the pump is aluminum.

The Explorer supposedly burns just about any liquid fuel, but I've only ever used it with kerosene and white gas, (both worked well) and I mostly just use white gas. It puts out lots of heat, comparable to any other white gas stove I've used, including the MSR XGK which is renouwned for its heat output.  

One feature which I like very much is that the stove fits into my Trangia windscreen with the help of a ridiculously expensive ($15) adaptor bracket. When combined with the Trangia windscreen and cook kit, which blocks out wind extremely well, it makes a formidable stove for heavy duty snow melting and cooking in wind and nasty weather.

Like every other stove I've owned, the Explorer has its quirks and drawbacks. It has a long, stiff fuel hose, which makes it a tight squeeze inside when packing it inside a cook set. As a result, I tend to pack it outside the cook set. In order to turn the stove off, you have to flip the fuel bottle over. This prevents additional fuel from entering the fuel line, and when the fuel in the line is consumed, the stove goes out. You can also turn the stove off with the burner valve, which shuts it off immediately, but this leaves the fuel line full of un-burned gas, which leaks all over everything when the fuel line is disconnected.

Adjustment of the stove's flame is made with a small tool, as opposed to a flame adjustment lever attached to the stove as with most other stoves. I am always misplacing this tool, and have at times been forced to get out the pliers on my leatherman tool to adjust the flame, because I couldn't remember where I had set down the Explorer tool.

 On the plus side, this same tool is all that is needed for complete assembly and disassembly of the stove, so field maintenance is easy, provided that you haven't misplaced the tool. The Explorer is of pretty simple construction, and is easily field maintainable.

Overall, the Explorer is a very nice unit.  It simmers well, integrates into my Trangia windscreen/cookset which makes cooking very efficient, even in windy weather. In addition, I like the look and feel of the Explorer. The burner is made of brass, the pump is aluminum, not plastic, and it has a somewhat retro feel of quality and permanence about it.

Explorer stove integrated into the Trangia set

Optimus Nova
(The Nova and the Explorer share the same fuel bottle and pump)

Optimus Nova
14.4 ounces (includes stove, case, and tool.  Fuel bottle and pump are an additional 6.9 ounces.) 
The Nova is an update of the Explorer.  In function, it is quite similar.  The big improvement when compared with the Explorer is that the stove has a permanently attached flame control knob, so you can always adjust the flame and don't have to worry about a misplaced control tool. 
The Nova has very stable pot supports, that are serrated for better grip on the pot bottom surface.  This stove also has very good flame control, from blow-torch to simmer, and the heat output is excellent as well.  This stove can handle pretty much any cooking chore from frying eggs to melting snow. 
It is field maintainable and can be disassembled easily with the included multi tool.  Another function of the supplied tool is unclogging the stove jet.  The tiny oriface of a stove jet can get clogged by impurities and the by-products of ignition.  The Nova has a tiny magnetic needle built into the jet that will clean the jet and dislodge impurities.  The needle is actuated by moving the multi-tool (which is magnetic) back and forth under the stove.  This moves the needle up and down, cleaning the jet.    
Like the older Explorer, the Nova is a very well built stove.  It is sturdy and utterly reliable.  It is a stove that could easily be passed down to several generations of backcountry users.   I've used any number of white gas stoves throughout the years, and the Nova's combination of function, quality, and reliability have made it my favorite liquid fuel stove. 

Nova stove, packed in it's bag.

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