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best stove? Primus vs Nova vs MSR

10:28 a.m. on May 19, 2002 (EDT)
(Guest)

MSR XGK II vs Brunton Nova (don't know much about) vs Primus Himalayan/Omni fuel

Looking at reviews and specs can tell you only so much.
Somethings you can only pick up in the field.

Price may be a factor, but for the discussion of overall quality and performance, don't regard price is not an issue.

I'm leaning towards the XGK II.

Field maintainability and life of service are big issues, no doubt.

So how does the MSR pump stand up to prolonged (severe)cold weather?

11:34 a.m. on May 19, 2002 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Alex, Alex14, GuyWithAnIdea, packboy, Alex Polemeropoulos

Quote:

MSR XGK II vs Brunton Nova (don't know much about) vs Primus Himalayan/Omni fuel

I would go with the MSR XGK II. Very dependable under any conditions.
Have you thought of the MSR Dragonfly? It is essentially the same as the XGK but with flame control.

Quote:

Looking at reviews and specs can tell you only so much.
Somethings you can only pick up in the field.

Price may be a factor, but for the discussion of overall quality and performance, don't regard price is not an issue.

I'm leaning towards the XGK II.

Field maintainability and life of service are big issues, no doubt.

So how does the MSR pump stand up to prolonged (severe)cold weather?

10:51 p.m. on May 19, 2002 (EDT)
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Heading out the door for the Alaska Range (and _really_ cold weather), so don't have time for much of an answer.

The XGK is the super-stove, prime choice of expeditions. Dependable, field serviceable, lots of heat output. Let me repeat, LOTS of heat output. 2 heat settings - blast furnace and "launch the Shuttle", no such thing as simmer (well, ok, there are ways to simmer, but not really practical). I've used the XGK (my own, other people's, original XGK, XGK-II, shaker version, last year's version) in temperatures down to -40 (F or C, take your choice), altitudes up to 17,000. I've found a few problems, but they are field-fixable (except for the one plastic pump I saw get melted on Denali by a professional guide, no less, but that was carelessness). I had my original XGK for 20 years, then MSR swapped it for an XGK-II, which I have had for about 7 years.

Primus MFS/Himalayan MFS/Omnifuel (same stove, different names for different years) - pretty much same comments as the XGK, except add the versatility of simmering and being able to change to cartridge fuel (Lindahl valve cartridges). Currently my favorite stove for all conditions. I have seen only a few problems, mostly field-fixable with the standard overhaul kit. Two exceptions - I once dropped the white fuel pickup tube in the white snow and couldn't find it. I went with a butane/propane cartridge for a couple meals, then eventually found the tube and went back to white gas for the remainder of the trip. Second was that the flexible fuel line developed a small break after several years of jamming it bent into my pack, hence a tiny leak (Primus replaced it under warranty). This would not have been fixable in the field and could have been catastrophic, had I not noticed the dripping. But it is preventable by watching how you jam the bent hose in your pack. Still, I have had Primus white gas stoves for almost 45 years (my Primus 71L is still cranking away, since 1958), and have a soft spot for them, justified by their dependability under all sorts of conditions.

Brunton (Optimus) Nova - Optimus, like Primus (part of Primus-Sievert, but part of Optimus for a short time in the 70s and 80s) and Svea (currently part of Optimus) is one of the original mountaineering stove companies. These 3 Scandinavian companies produced the stoves used on most Himalayan expeditions since the 19th century. Brunton was an old-line US company making survey and optical instruments, but was taken over by Silva Sweden some 5 or 10 years ago. Brunton is the importer for Optimus at present, just as Suunto USA (subsidiary of Suunto Finland) is the importer of Primus at present. Anyway, Optimus like Primus is a long-time maker of excellent mountaineering stoves. You would probably be happy with the Nova, as with the others. Only reason you aren't familiar with them is the re-naming due to the various corporate mergers and import agreements. But be assured that this is one of the oldest companies producing mountaineering stoves and has an excellent reputation. I haven't used the Nova myself, but people who have are pretty enthusiastic (these are people who have had other Optimus stoves in the past, in general).

Another poster suggested the MSR Dragonfly. While there are nice things about this stove, there are some extra maintenance steps that, if negelected, can cause problems in the field. One of these is regular and frequent cleaning of the needle valve (the simmer valve). The threads of the regulator needle build up lacquer deposits quickly and can have an adverse effect on boil time. A friend had his Dragonfly fail completely midway across Greenland on a ski crossing. Luckily, the party had an XGK and was able to complete the trip. Another friend went through several Dragonflies before getting one which worked properly (MSR is good about warranties). If you are diligent about stove maintenance and will thoroughly strip the stove down every 10-15 hours of usage, you should be ok. But if you are like most people and expect the stove to operate without maintenance (and with the over-priming that 90 percent of stove users insist on), then get an XGK, Omnifuel, or Nova (or even a Whisperlite).

no time for more comments, but there is lots more to the stove story.

3:14 a.m. on May 23, 2002 (EDT)
(Guest)

Dragonfly?
No way.morr parts equals more problems

7:21 p.m. on June 11, 2002 (EDT)
(Guest)

I've used both Primus Himalayan/Multifuel and XGK and Dragonfly. Dragonfly just is not as hot as the others, and you don't really use the simmer that much (at all ?) on expeditions - mainly just melt water as fast as possible.

I think XGK is overrated. This is heresy - I know. But I used the Primus side by side with XGK (and Dragonfly) in Antarctica and the Primus is hotter. It also has an all steel pump. Yes, the MSR pumps have cracked in extreme cold. Yes, I too have melted an MSR pump - and yes, I was guiding, but not in AK, in Antarctica. I used XGK for 62 days straight in Antarctica and they simply lose a lot of performance in extreme cold and with a bit of altitude thrown in. So does the Primus, but not as much. On Denali, the Primus beat the Dragonfly hands down. Both times using Coleman white gas.

Bill is dead right about the Dragonfly thread clagging up - especially with kerosene and other fuels you get in Asia.

I recently used my Primus in China, with bad kerosene, and despite some priming/starting/sooting problems it worked OK.

Ignore magazine/brochure boil-times - they are irrelevant on a real expedition.

I'm definitely a convert to the Primus, though for sure the XGK is easier to get parts for overseas, everyone knows how to use it (Sherpas etc) and they do work, as is well known. I just think the Primus is a better performer. And the plastic pump on the MSRs is always a worry, especially if you're dismantling the thing every day and assembling it again in cold weather, with gloves on.

I've had minor problems with both stoves with the leather plunger cup either going out of shape or shrinking in the cold. Just be careful with them, do regular maintenance and cleaning. I've found the o-rings better on the Primus, more durable and reliable than the MSRs.

The stove support legs on the MSR are WOEFUL and should have been changed years ago. The Primus is way ahead on this one, they have good sturdy, grippy legs, making it MUCH more stable than the XGK, and this is important if you spend a lot of time cooking in the vestibule or even in the tent. Spilling a pot of water at high alitude is a mortal sin. Generally the MSR seems to have more fiddly little pieces to get lost and broken, the Primus is bit more sturdily built.

The flexible hose on the Primus is also much better than the rigid XGK pipe (has this changed on the new ones ?) as it means you can sit the stove on more uneven ground, without the tilting/instability problems of the XGK.

The Primus pump fits MSR bottles, Coleman bottles, Sigg bottles and, er ..... Primus bottles.

Never even seen a Brunton.

D

12:19 a.m. on January 3, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

Quote:

I've used both Primus Himalayan/Multifuel and XGK and Dragonfly. Dragonfly just is not as hot as the others, and you don't really use the simmer that much (at all ?) on expeditions - mainly just melt water as fast as possible.

I think XGK is overrated. This is heresy - I know. But I used the Primus side by side with XGK (and Dragonfly) in Antarctica and the Primus is hotter. It also has an all steel pump. Yes, the MSR pumps have cracked in extreme cold. Yes, I too have melted an MSR pump - and yes, I was guiding, but not in AK, in Antarctica. I used XGK for 62 days straight in Antarctica and they simply lose a lot of performance in extreme cold and with a bit of altitude thrown in. So does the Primus, but not as much. On Denali, the Primus beat the Dragonfly hands down. Both times using Coleman white gas.

Bill is dead right about the Dragonfly thread clagging up - especially with kerosene and other fuels you get in Asia.

I recently used my Primus in China, with bad kerosene, and despite some priming/starting/sooting problems it worked OK.

Ignore magazine/brochure boil-times - they are irrelevant on a real expedition.

I'm definitely a convert to the Primus, though for sure the XGK is easier to get parts for overseas, everyone knows how to use it (Sherpas etc) and they do work, as is well known. I just think the Primus is a better performer. And the plastic pump on the MSRs is always a worry, especially if you're dismantling the thing every day and assembling it again in cold weather, with gloves on.

I've had minor problems with both stoves with the leather plunger cup either going out of shape or shrinking in the cold. Just be careful with them, do regular maintenance and cleaning. I've found the o-rings better on the Primus, more durable and reliable than the MSRs.

The stove support legs on the MSR are WOEFUL and should have been changed years ago. The Primus is way ahead on this one, they have good sturdy, grippy legs, making it MUCH more stable than the XGK, and this is important if you spend a lot of time cooking in the vestibule or even in the tent. Spilling a pot of water at high alitude is a mortal sin. Generally the MSR seems to have more fiddly little pieces to get lost and broken, the Primus is bit more sturdily built.

The flexible hose on the Primus is also much better than the rigid XGK pipe (has this changed on the new ones ?) as it means you can sit the stove on more uneven ground, without the tilting/instability problems of the XGK.

The Primus pump fits MSR bottles, Coleman bottles, Sigg bottles and, er ..... Primus bottles.

Never even seen a Brunton.

D

April 18, 2014
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