User Review: Optimus Nova+
Price Paid: $149.95 US
A superb stove, probably the best currently available on the market.
I began serious backpacking in the 1960s using the Optimus SVEA 123 stove. While that was, and is, a very functional piece of equipment, I wanted something that would give me greater efficiency in terms of lighter weight and a controllable flame. In the mid 1970s I discovered the new MSR 9a stove and was hooked by its efficiency, durability and field maintainability. I only retired that original MSR stove in 2005 and it had broken down for the first time then when the original fuel intake hose had finally rotted into pieces.
After initial experience with the MSR 9a I got the complete series of their liquid fueled stoves and was always satisfied with their product until they were initially purchased by REI. Beginning with that time the quality of their stoves considerably declined with manufacturing and design problems showing up in areas such as faulty welds on the body of the stove and plastic pumps that would disassemble while in use or would easily break. I think MSR must have been making more money from selling repair/parts kits than from selling the stoves themselves. A general dissatisfaction with the current list of MSR stove offerings sent me on a search again for another lightweight backpacking stove.
After a somewhat methodical search I decided on the original Optimus (then called Brunton in the US) Nova stove. It had a sturdy metal pump, the stove itself was extremely compact but sturdy, was stable and would hold large/heavy pots, was multifuel, and was field maintainable. I purchased the stove and a field maintenance kit and have since used it something more than 500 days in the field, both summer and winter and from below sea level (Death Valley) to over 9000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. I've always been extremely pleased with its fast/easy startup and excellent performance and have never had to use the field maintenance kit. I was consequently very happy to learn that an improved version, the Nova+, was now available but was somewhat disconcerted to learn from reading a previous review that at least some of the early Nova+ stoves suffered from some quality control issues. Based on my long and happy relationship with the previous version of the Nova stove I decided to buy a Nova+ and test is myself.
I'm delighted to say that whatever quality issues may have afflicted the initial production run of the Nova+ stoves have been completely laid to rest. My Nova+ stove is perfect in form, fit and finish. The pump and stove are still all metal (it's hard to tell from some illustrations because some of the metal is colored black.) The burner cup has a minor redesign which apparently assists preheating during adverse conditions, the filter on the fuel intake line of the pump is much more sturdy, a windscreen is now included with the stove and the hose that connects the fuel bottle with the stove now acts as a fuel control valve (rotate the fuel line to increase/decrease fuel flow) which allows you to securely wrap the stove/pots with the windscreen and still control the stove flame without opening the windscreen and without heating a separate burner control valve which used to be located attached to the stove and therefore inside the windscreen. A maintenance tool and small package of repair parts accompany the stove as well as a 34 page operations and maintenance manual. A 16 ounce fuel bottle and a carrying bag is included as well.
I strongly recommend this stove based on my experiences over 40 years of using backpacking stoves in the field.