Brunton Optimus Svea
The Optimus Svea has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best liquid fuel stoves for 2020.
Historic Range: $78.40-$79.95
Reviewers Paid: $65.00-$68.00
20 years. That's how long I have had this tough little stove, on the water, in the backcountry, and even in the garden. Fuel is cheap, the heat is excellent, and the self-cleaning feature is handy. Thoroughly reliable. Not bad for something that was designed a century ago. Just buy one!
If you want a stove you can depend on then this is the one you want. The tank of gas burns for about 45min when full at 14,000ft. I tried the Svea at 19,350ft and the stove burned for half an hour before the tank went dry. The flame wasn’t always the best, but then again I was using normal car gas in a windy area. Car gas seems to work fine at 14,000ft. It does have a long boil time but it is way more dependable then any stove like the Whisperlite where you pump the gas to pressurize the tank.
I usually put the stove without the wind shield between my legs for five minutes while I relax in the tent. It usually starts right up without pouring gas on it. The built in cleaning needle is very nice although it really doesn’t work well to try to clean it while cooking.
Another thing that is very convenient is being able to move the stove while cooking: it’s not the most stable stove but a canister stove stand should work on it. Compared to the Optimus Nova it has a slower boil and uses more gas time but my experience with the Nova is that you have to constantly regulate the flame and wind disturbs the flame a lot.
The Svea is an amazing stove. I would definitely recommend this above any other stove unless you have the money for canisters. The price isn’t bad either.
Price Paid: $65
The Brunton/Optimus/Svea 123R stove has a great history spanning more than half a century. My first 123R has served me well since 1984. I now have two operating 123R stoves used for kayak camping.
I rated 4 stars because of the weight compared to modern liquid fuel stoves, but aside from that, the stove rates a 5 for functionality, nice simmer, ability to work in wind, and low fuel consumption, especially if a wind screeen is used.
In 2003 I started a collection of over 60 stoves of this type stove realizing they won't be around forever, and now have many examples of all three types (Sievert Svea 123, Optimus Svea 123, Optimus Svea 123R). The Optimus/Brunton 123R has a self cleaning needle which operates automatically when the flame control key is used to adjust the stove.
I recommend buying one just as a collectible, but you will find that it will not quit and it will amaze those who have not seen one. It will increase in value if you take good care of it, and especially if the original box is preserved in new condition. They will not sell these beautiful brass stoves forever, so the flea market rule applies "buy one now, or come back later and it will be gone."
Price Paid: $68
I really loved mine over the ten years I used it before it dissapeared during a move. It can't compete with the more modern high tech LP units but if you have a cedar strip canoe, classic motorcycle, or a Duluth pack you should get one just because...
Price Paid: gift