User Review: Optimus Nova
Price Paid: $108
Purchased four or five years ago to replace a twenty-year-old MSR XGK — which is still operational, by the way. In addition to the XGK and this stove, I have used the MSR SimmerLite, the Coleman Peak 1, and various small butane canister stoves over the years.
This has been an outstanding stove for me. I have used it on a number of winter trips and many overnight hikes, and for a number of early morning day-hike breakfasts.
The stove consists of a burner with a manual fuel valve control, with a trio of stamped-metal curved "feet" that fold up against the burner when not in use, plus a woven metal hose. the end of the hose clicks into the pump assembly, which screws into the top of a fuel bottle. mine came with a repair kit (silicone grease, two small O-rings, and a multitool that can be used to disassemble the stove) and a heavy metal foil wind screen.
I like the nylon bag that came with the stove — it unzips down the size, making it very easy to remove everything. I have only used it with white gas but believe it can be used with other types of fuel, so long as you can store the fuel in a bottle (it won't hook up to a butane can). this is not super-heavy, but it is not an ultralight solution.
PS - you should really use only Optimus fuel bottles with this stove. The Optimus bottles have a flat round rubber washer, whereas MSR fuel bottles use O-ring seals. The pump on this stove may not seal properly against the lip of the MSR fuel bottles.
Durability has not been an issue; I clean the gas jet periodically and grease the exposed O-ring, that's it. I checked the appropriate website when I read about recalls, and this stove was not among the stoves that had problems.
When the stove first arrived, the end of the woven metal hose did not have a rubber O-ring on it; I took one from the included repair kit. Unlike many, i have not had a problem with this O-ring getting torn, and I still have one of the original spares in reserve. I will say this — it's worth using the silicone grease in the repair kit to lubricate the O-ring, and because it's a tight fit, inserting the end of the hose into the pump could tear the O-ring if you aren't careful.
For whatever reason, I feel like i have to pump this stove more than my MSR stove — for a typical meal, I do 80-100 strokes. Once pumped, I open the valve a little to allow some gas to escape into the burner, then light it - it lights easily, i generally use a firesteel. initially, the excess gas makes the stove flame up.
Once lit, the stove does everything well. the three folding metal feet easily hold a large pot full of water and keep it stable; at full blast, the stove is loud and boils water quickly (it is almost as loud as my XGK). the green valve control handle does an excellent job lowering the flame, and it rests outside the windscreen, so it is easy to use without charring your fingers. this stove, more than most, does a great job cooking at low heat.
The pump has a nice feature - when the fuel bottle is resting on the ground with the "on" side of the fuel pump up, you can cook; if you flip the bottle so the "off" side of the fuel pump shows, after cooking, you can release the fuel valve and vent pressure out of the fuel bottle, and virtually no gas escapes. I like the fact that the fuel pump is virtually all metal and feels solid.
So, if it works and doesn't have manufacturing flaws, this is an outstanding stove. It has served me flawlessly for years.