Brunton Optimus Nova
The Optimus Nova has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best liquid fuel stoves for 2023.
I purchased this stove as a replacement for my workhorse MSR Whisperlite for the following reasons:
- My wife did not like priming the MSR stove.
- The plastic pump was a source of anxiety (try finding pieces in snow after the plastic pump comes apart).
- Cleaning clogged jets were a frequent pain (this was pre-shaker jet version).
- Baking/simmering was possible but a pain with this stove.
The purchase of this stove met most of these objectives resulting in my 3.5/5 rating.
The good news....
My wife can prime/light this stove. The priming fuel is well contained within the burner cup/wick, the stove primes quickly. An added bonus was that the priming stage could often be skipped when relighting the stove after short outages (such as eating your meal)
The pump is all metal, has good feel and is effective pumping.
SIMMERING. If you own an outback oven then this is the (white gas) stove for you! Flame adjustment is very precise and at the burner for near instantaneous response. Simmering is not sensitive to the amount of pressure and/or fuel in the fuel bottle. Once I have obtained a desired temperature/simmer no further adjustments are required over periods of 20-30 minutes!!!
Pot stands are stable. Much easier to adjust then with the Whisperlite. No problems with large 6L pots full of water.
The stove has a larger jet size yet fuel use seems to be equivalent to Whisperlite stove. (I came back with fuel in the bottle after extended trip with family of 4.)
No problems (white gas) is colder (-7C) weather.
The larger jet is less prone to clogging... (see bad news)
The magnetic jet cleaning tool works some of the times...
The stove jet is easy to dis-assemble and clean... (see bad news)
No testing at high altitudes. Search the internet.
The BAD NEWS...
The larger jet size is still prone to clogging. Not a complete failure to burn, but a reduced heat output which is very annoying when awaiting large pots of water to boil. We took both stoves on our first few trips until we recognized the problem.
This problem can be minimized by vigorous use of the magnetic cleaning tool after each priming. Yes, this can be done while stove is running.
Search the internet. There seems to be a group of users who also experience this chronic clogging. Somewhere (I can't find it now) there was suggestion that this may be due to a cracking fuel line needle valve assembly.
The stove stores into a compact cylinder except for the fuel & needle value assembly which protrudes about 3" from the stove. This stove will not pack as compactly or worry free as the Whisperlite. I have concerns about long term (10-20yrs+) life of this stove due to the chance of this weld breaking/cracking.
The stove is a bit heavier. This may be an issue for some who are not lugging gear for their kids...
Heat output is comparable to Whisperlite. Maybe slightly lower...
If it was not for the simmering performance this stove would of been returned. I have since become adept at cleaning this stove and now feel comfortable on trips with this as our only stove.
I am not certain if this Nova stove is still available. It may of been replaced by the Brunton Vapor AF. This Brunton stove has a plastic pump....
Price Paid: cnd$128
I purchased 2 of these stoves when they first came out years ago, and I am looking to buy a third. I mainly use the stoves on canoe trips around the US and Canada, for up to two weeks in length, but I have used them also at 9000+ feet in winter conditions on hunting trips.
Even though it is a multi-fuel stove, I have only used white gas in mine. The only problem I have ever had, is a small fuel leak, because of "my" error. I hadn't checked the connections in awhile, and one had come loose. The solution was to just tighten it, and the problem was solved. These stoves are so easy to use, and nothing ever goes wrong with them, that it is easy to forget they should get a little attention every now and then. Because of heavy use, I will completely strip down my two stoves each year to give them a cleaning, and to replace O-rings, gaskets and filters if needed. It is quick and easy to do with the multi-tool that comes with each stove.
Weight and fuel consumption are of no concern to me because of the type of tripping that I do, but over-all the Nova is very good with these. My main concern for a true rock solid reliable wilderness stove is that it is built tough, is simple in design and function, is easily field repairable, and not only has a very high heat out put, but will simmer down to almost nothing. I cook for a minimum of 4 people and up on each trip, and we eat real food, not just boil water for freeze dried backpacking meals. We have cooked and baked just about everything you could think of with these stoves, and they have worked flawlessly over the years.
I give this stove a top rating in every aspect; I wouldn't dream of using any other stove, especially in remote wilderness areas. Other than getting a bad stove (lemon), which is always possible with anything; I think the bulk of the negative reviews on this stove would have to be from people who do not read the special operating instructions for the stove, or are to afraid to take the stove apart and clean or replace worn/problem items. This stove is pure simplicity to use, and should work in any backcountry environment or weather condition.
Price Paid: Retail @ REI
First, I own just about every stove imaginable, alcohol soda can, swiss, swedish, micros, everything. I have about eight svea 123 and two 8r and give them to boy scouts when they reach Eagle. The one I keep and use constantly is the Brunton Optimus Nova.
We just finished making pizza on our 12" outback oven and have used it as well with my 8" that I use when there are just two of us backpacking. I only use Coleman fuel though it says you can use any type. The trick is to always use clean fuel and wand the magnet under before starting.
It simmers extremely well, works in extreme cold and heat, and the outback oven loves to make good baked items with this stove. It amazes me every time on how little fuel it takes to operate. I always top off my gear when we return from a trip and this stove uses very little for the energy produced. If you just want hot water, this is also the best stove I own, boiling 1L in 3.5 minutes.
If I ever had to run out of the house and never come back, this is the stove that will be with me. I would say I want to be buried with it but my wife wants it after I am gone. We ended up taking an old license plate and drilled some holes and use this to secure the stove to the snow or ground when cooking and it has been well worth carrying into the wilderness.
Remember the magnet thingy which also has a bottle opener, not sure who would need one on a trek but it is there!
Price Paid: $120
A great piece of kit. Compact, simple design, very easy to use, excellent burner control (simmers very well), boils 3 cups in just over three minutes; and I really like the system of turning over the fuel tank to vent all fuel from the stove before storing. We used this stove on a major cycling trip across Europe two years ago. The fuel bottles fit perfectly in bike water bottle holders, and the stove (0.9 lbs in case) fit easily into handle bar carrier.
My only complaint is that I had trouble getting it to run on other fuels and in Europe, where Coleman fuel is difficult to find. We eventually DID find it, but tres expensive! The stove DOES require some simple maintenance, but this is very easy, interesting, and the one-piece tool that fits in the case is all you need to strip this down completely. The magnetic cleaning system (while the stove is running) is quite slick, and works well.
I filter all fuel through a paper coffee filter, and haven't had any filter problems with the stove itself.
It IS loud, roaring like a little jet engine, but I'm not too bothered with this. Because of its very compact size, I take it out more often than I might with a larger stove system, just to make up coffee/tea or heat up a simple lunch, etc.
I would definitely buy this stove again.
Price Paid: $129
I love this stove, though maybe I just haven't pushed it to extremes. It's by far the easiest, fastest, simplest priming liquid fuel stove I've ever used (we run it on paraffin (kerosene) since it's a tenth the price of Coleman fuel here in the UK) and it's an absolute doddle although that said I am careful to use the cleaning needle frequently.
Judging by other comments it seems like quality may be a bit variable, but in my experience it's great. The only odd thing being that the main burner tends to slacken off slightly in the stand - big deal, just do the nut up every couple of days. Otherwise, very stable, easy to prime/light (though I recommend a turboflame type lighter as the wicking pad is a little deep inside the body for a normal lighter/match).
Takes a bit of getting used to in terms of the turning the bottle over to use up the fuel in the feed hose, it does seem to go on burning for a long time, but after a while you get to be able to judge that and simply flip the bottle over a few minutes before you need to turn the stove off. Other than that, very controllable, very simple, an ideal liquid (multi-) fuel stove.
Have owned this stove for over two years and have used it extensively on treks around the world. I have never owned any other multi-fuel stove so I have a problem rating this one. I own a Coleman white gas stove which has been very easy to use and reliable, but I needed a multi-fuel.
This stove is not nearly so reliable. I have gotten to know the inner working of it quite well over time. Burning different fuels like kerosene, auto gas, white gas of different grades caused me a few problems with clogging. Met another traveller in Africa who was having problems figuring things out. It is a learning curve but nothing I couldn't figure out with the help of the manual and the repair kit. Now I have to replace the leather pump cup as it has lost its shape.
Love the design and compactibility of the stove though it doesn't exactly throw a wide span of heat across the frying pan. Don't try cooking any gourmet meals! It is quieter than my buddy's MSR Whisperlite, but still I find myself thinking after dinner is served, "Wow, it sure is peaceful out here!"
Price Paid: approx. $180 Cdn.
This stove performed poorly producing very little heat the first few times that I used it. However, it turned out that this was due to a clogged fuel filter.
The stove comes equiped with a tiny fuel filter installed where the fuel line attaches to the stove. The end of the filter facing the fuel bottle was coated with a thin layer of what looked like aluminum foil--I suspect this may have been an accumulation of fine aluminum particles from the inside of the fuel bottle.
Fortunately, the stove came with one replacement filter. After replacing the clogged filter, the stove performed very well, with a short boiling time and good simmer. I'm concerned that the new filter will also become clogged quickly though, and plan to carry a few spares at all times.
Incidentally, the stove ran best with no fuel filter at all, but since it seems that running it without a filter may increase chance of a plugged jet, I don't plan to use it regularly without a filter installed.
Price Paid: $130 (US)
I have owned this stove since 2002 and have never had a problem with it, even getting water to boil at 9,500 ft. in Grand Teton Nat'l Park. I mainly use it for winter backpacking now, since I also own a lighter canister stove. I've used both white gas and kerosene without difficulty. It's easy to clean with the included tool and the flip-stop feature really helps to keep the fuel line clear. I've never once had to take it apart. As long as you follow the simple directions, it primes quickly and efficiently, boiling water in about 4 minutes, yet able to reduce to a real simmer if needed.
The smart design creates a very stable surface for large pots, yet packs small enough to fit into my 2 liter pot.
I LOVE this stove! I'm usually enjoying my hot tea while my fellow hikers are still messing with their MSRs.
Price Paid: $119 (2002)
I've had this stove for over five years and have had no problems with the stove itself. It's been used on numerous trip up to two weeks in length and with pot sizes up to 10 quarts.
The base is extemely stable and sturdy as evidenced by holding a 10 quart pot full of water. The simmer option works great and on the other end, this stove can put out a lot of heat for boiling.
The stove fits inside a 1.5 liter pot and the fuel bottle that comes with the kit will last two of us for at least four days cooking soup, dinner and coffee in the morning.
A friend of mine has the exact same stove and has had only one problem and this was due to using some old fuel. He replaced the fuel and the filter and the stove has worked fine since that time.
Price Paid: $75
I read all the reviews and thought I was getting the next best stove since sliced bread. However, three days into a 10-day trail the piece of sh*@ crapped out on me. Tried everything, stripped it clean and replaced practically everything you could and it just wouldn't go. I am supposing I got a lemon, but who knows. My faith in this stove is gone and I wouldn't trust it on a long trek ever again. I did love the compact case, simmer control, and the flip top fuel cut off option however the MSR stoves owned by others on my trip made me look bad. Especially after I spent so much time bragging how this stove was suppose to be the cat's meow. Decided to go buy the MSR Dragon Fly.
Price Paid: $150
Owned it for one month. Great pot stablity and appears solid in design. However, after 5-10 uses the stove began clogging (on fresh white gas). Unfortunately this was during a two-week backcountry trip. Needle valve jet and jet cleaning valve had to be cleaned with each use. My hypothesis is that leak developed in brass fuel line just before burner, resulting in incomplete combustion and soot. Felt vindicated (somewhat) when repair department of large outdoor retailer had major flaming on attempted priming on my returning. Maybe just one defective model, however, repair shop reported this was the second model in within the week.
I would give it one star if I didn't have to spend $35 to get a new needle for the stove. EVERY time I used this stove entailed removing the needle to clean it. Every time! I used the magnetic tool that came with it. Shook the crap out of it. Cleaned it religiously, filtered the fuel and to no avail. The needle would stick every time. I tried to order a new needle (can't) have to get the complete overhaul kit, about $35 plus shipping. This is on the way to the bin as I use an alcohol stove now.
Price Paid: about $70 on sale
Good stove. We use it each year snow camping, down to 5 degrees. I had to make a snow plate to support the stove on snow, would have had to with any stove in these conditions. Only flaw is the stainless atomizer which fuel is projected against, want to fall off. Had to crimp the thin piece of metal to secure it in place. Since then, no problems. A bit noisy, but actually a good sound, as you wait for snow to melt...I would buy it again. I trust it, for family snow overnight trips.
While this stove may be highly acclaimed, it did not perform well for me at all. Like most of the other multifuel stoves out there, I found it way too finicky especially at high altitudes. I spent too much frustrating time getting it light and maintaining fire. I followed all recommendations, but to no avail. Never had a problem with my old SVEA 123. Actually now I have switched to a simple compressed canister that is simple, with a very light alcohol stove as a back-up, but haven't needed the backup.
Price Paid: $125
I've had this stove for around three years now and although I also have an MSR DragonFly, I prefer the Nova... although they're very close.
The things I like about the Nova (over the DragonFly) is the aluminum pump which is pretty indestructible and its lack of noise. The "legs" are a lot sturdier over the DragonFly's wire "legs" as well, but they're not as wide.
But with that being said, you really can't go wrong with either stove. Just grab the one on sale ! :)
Have used this stove for about three years now. It has never failed to lite and preform flawlessly. Backpacking trips have taken me into the Rockies, Tetons, and Alaska. No problem at elevation (several nights at 10,000 ft plus), I always burn white gas. Have read the problems with fuel filter and operation at elevation, but have never experienced either. Confidence in this stove is high. There is always room for improvement so maybe the next stove will get a 5.
Price Paid: $97.99
Don't know what the other guys did wrong, but I have never had a problem with this stove. Primes quickly, blows out the heat, and is super stable. I have had it at 9000 ft. and had no problems whatsoever. The flip on/off switch is great at preventing fuel spurts when disassembling the stove.Packs down small and the pump is metal, which one ups the MSR stoves. Overall a quality product.
Price Paid: $85
During a three-week backpacking trip that was 90% of the time over 9000' this stove seemed like it had to be cleaned before every use. Above 10000' it sputtered and was almost impossible to boil water. It never seemed to be up to par with MSR.
I had serious problems with two of these stoves. I like the design but couldn't get to boiling water at 10,000 ft. I ended up exchanging it for an MSR. Prior to this I used a Svea 123 for nearly 20 years.
Price Paid: $129
I have owned this stove for over two years and never had a problem with it. Outstanding performance at any altitude and temperature. I always carry the repair kit with me, it is still unopened.
So far so good. I've used the NOVA on several desert treks and it has performed as its reputation boasts. Planning a 10-day Yellowstone jaunt...will share the verdict with you when I return.
Price Paid: $146
Love the stove, great fuel economy, bombproof (someone stole it and dumped in my backyard, found it 6 months later under dirt...still worked perfectly. Very easy to work with.
Price Paid: 160,00
nota maxima para um bom protuto de qualidade e praticidade parabens.
I have owned the Brunton Optimus Nova Stove for nearly two years. It has proven to be an unreliable piece of equipment.
As I have read in similar reviews, the stove quits working after a couple of uses. You then have to take it apart and clean it to get working again but then there is no guarantee its going to work. This stove has quit on me when I needed it the most, ie winter camping, multi-day kayaking trip, etc. I then have to find alternative ways to cook a warm meal.
I am very disappointed with the performance of this stove and I wish I could share positive comments like other reviews on this site. However, I would not recommend this stove since it appears to be a hit or miss model.
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Historic Range: $60.00-$149.99
Reviewers Paid: $70.00-$150.00