Primus Omnilite Ti

Since gas is only occasionally available in Nepal, we wanted to take a stove with us that could burn whatever fuel we found available on the way. After lots of research we decided to take the Primus Omnilite Ti in cooperation with Sqoop.no, a titanium and lighter version of the Primus Omnilite. Though not the lightest stove on the market, it is an extremely versatile and sturdy product that has helped us considerably in the Himalaya. It was very crucial for us to have a stove we could rely upon, so we could warm ourselves with a hot meal or a cup of tea after cold winter days out in the high mountains. It takes a bit of getting used to a multifuel stove and we did have some trouble with it on the way, though these problems arose due to bad quality fuel clogging up the control spindle. All in all this stove has performed really well in the extreme circumstances it was in, and I would take it again on another expedition.

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Specs

  • Weight: 341 g (with fuelpump), 239 g (without)
  • Dimensions:170 mm (cooking base,) 115 x 90 x 55 mm
  • Boiling time PrimeTech Pot:2:40 min (+ preheating 40 sec) (1 liter)
  • Output: 2600 W / 8871 BTU/h
  • Burn time: 100 min on 230 g 8.1 oz gas cartridge
  • Season: 4 Seasons
  • Output: 2600 W / 8871 BTU/h
  • Ignition: Manual
  • People: 1-2

Ease of use and reliability

The Primus Omnilite Ti burns everything: gas, petrol, white gas, kerosene, even diesel if you have no options. Wherever you are and whatever is available: if you can get your hands on fuel, the stove can burn it. This is crucial in remote areas and high-mountain villages, where any type of fuel can be hard to find. We’ve used the stove with petrol, kerosene and gas. It comes with three jets, and you need to change the jet according to what type of fuel is being used.

Gas is of course the easiest to use and gives great output. We could boil a liter of water in about 2-3 minutes in lower areas, this changed to 5 or more as we went higher and atmospheric pressure decreased (though the boiling temperature of water is lower at altitude, the time you need to boil it will increase). It’s important to note that gas is the most efficient fuel to use at altitude: because the atmospheric pressure is lower, the pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the canister grows larger. This means that the liquid gas used in the canisters will more easily change back into its gas phase.

For me it was the first time using a liquid fuel stove: it does take some getting used to the process of how to get it started. Once you get the hang of it though, the Omnilite Ti does a smooth job: the fuel pomp works well and it does not take long to get enough pressure inside to get the fuel flowing. Only at altitude did we encounter troubles with this (more on that in the next section). It’s easy to prime (or pre-heat) the stove before you can light it, just make sure priming goes on long enough.

This stove did a very good and reliable job all through the Himalaya. We passed through many remote areas where we could not melt ice into water or make a hot meal unless the Primus OmniLite Ti was working, and it did an excellent job in all weather conditions: pouring rain, persistent damp conditions, dry cold, humid cold, extreme cold, etc. I did not carry the nylon bag Primus provides with it (it’s super heavy), I just carried it in a light stuffsack. This means it was more exposed to what was around it and I usually kept it in the bottom of my pack, so it got a few beatings along the way. The stove came back unharmed, and I would take it with me again on winter adventures in the mountains. It’s truly sturdy: I was never worried that it would break or it couldn’t deal with the conditions. The fuel pump too is still intact. We used it for about a month when we could not find gas, but never had to lubricate it. I was a bit worried sometimes about the extreme temperature changes though it does not seem to have affected the system at all.

Most common criticisms of the Ommilite Ti include that it is heavy and loud. I think that all multifuel and liquid fuel stoves are heavier for a start, but if you’re like to need them the choice is simple: carry the extra grams or choose not to make hot food. I find a hot meal in the evening very comforting and it’s a moment to unwind. It took away a lot of the mental stress of the trail for me. Furthermore, it’s only a few grams heavier than the MSR Whisperlite, which reputedly has issues with its fuel pumps breaking. As for the noise: as long as you are not using diesel or kerosene there is a silencer available. It is noisy without it, though not unbearably. I do use the silencer when I’m cooking on gas or good quality petrol: it adds a bit to the silence of the mountains.

Trouble shooting

When we first start heading to altitude, we experienced that the stove stopped working at 5688 masl. At the time we were not sure if it could not deal with the altitude or if something else was wrong with it. We were using kerosene at the time.

We consulted Tommy from Sqoop to see if he had any knowledge about the issue. We knew that he had been using the stove on Norway’s high mountain plateaus in winter, where temperatures fall to -20º to -30ºC, so it could not be the cold. After some research he informed us it was better to use gas at altitude, because of the pressure difference described above. We could not get enough pressure inside the fuel pump anymore to get enough fuel to flow. We changed to gas for the next pass but still had no result when camping at 5650 masl. On the Trakading glacier I was really persistent on getting a good meal, and cleaned the stove for a long time before we tried it again. It worked. A strange, green flame came out with the gas and that’s when we started realizing that it was not the stove that was the problem, it was the kerosene we’d been using.

Kerosene quality in Nepal is very low. The first batch of kerosene we bought was filtered through a cloth before we put it in our fuel bottles, but the second one was not. It turned out there was so much dirt and residue from this fuel in the system that we needed to clean it several times for it to regain most of its capacity. We had maintained it using the repair tool, as kerosene tends to burn dirty anyhow and requires you to clean the jet regularly. The quality however was so low that we needed to take the whole thing apart and clean the parts one by one. It also needed some time to burn all this residue out. After a while the Omnilite recovered and regained its original capacity.

The tool that comes with it allows you to truly take everything apart so you can fix problems in the field. It’s a very convenient thing and light enough to be worth its weight. We only carried it when using liquid fuel: you are very unlikely to need it when burning gas. The only fragile part is the cleaning needle: this one broke off when we were fiddling with one of the jets. We replaced it with a small paperclip, which also worked nicely.

Conclusion

The Primus Omnifuel TI is a versatile and sturdy multifuel stove that can withstand some tough conditions. This stove can burn anything you’ll find on the way, but do be careful with the quality of the fuel. It has performed very well in the rough conditions of the Himalaya. I would definitely use it again.

 

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