Primus Omnilite Ti Stove Review

Omnilite Ti stove at camp

Primus Omnilite Ti Stove Review

Multi-fuel flexibility for a lightweight backpacking stove that simmers too 

Omnilite Ti stove at camp

Omnilite Ti stove at a camp below Mt Daly, Elk Mountains CO. Here I’m using the Primus PrimeTech 1.3L pot, which boils water really fast (30-50% faster depending on altitude and wind). The stove comes with a tiny 0.33 mL fuel bottle which is great for 2-person trips up to 3 days

Like anyone else who grew up in the 90s or earlier, worked in the outdoor/ wilderness therapy industries, or ever took a NOLS course, I’ve used one stove for most of my backcountry camping: the MSR Whisperlite International. There’s an army of us that know that stove inside and out – how to strip and clean it in the field, how to use the ‘two-pump’ method to bake brownies – and it’s so easy to stay with what you know. However, there are some cool innovations in stove design happening, and I was excited to get the chance to test a new stove from Primus.  MSRP $200

I found the Omnilite Ti stove to be a great choice for international travel, winter camping, or longer 3-season backpacking trips. Since it can simmer it’s great for real cooking or baking.

Multi-fuel flexibility

While cannister gas is light and simple, liquid stove fuel is still often the best choice for camping in the snow (when you need to melt your water) or trips longer than 5 or so days, when the amount of canisters needed out-weighs the additional liquid fuel you can carry (I often just use Gatorade bottles - really light). This stove lets you use both! With the same jet you use to burn white gas, you can also burn from a cannister – and leave the pump at home. 

This stove is suitable for international travel, burning all the fuels that work in a Whisperlite Intl (white gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, paraffin, and jet fuel). It comes with 2 additional jets to burn dirtier fuels, and swapping jets is pretty easy (details below).

Lightweight for a stable, simmering camp stove; a little noisy

This is a light stove for what it does. The legs and frame of this stove are made of titanium and are broad enough to support large pots. It weighs 12 ounces stripped down to its essential parts, the same as the Whisperlite Intl. If you go with cannister gas you can drop the weight to 8.5 ounces.

This weight is impressive, considering that this is a cook-worthy stove that could keep any base camp happy (similar to MSR Dragonfly, 14.5 oz trail weight). There are plenty of super-light options for cannister stoves (e.g. MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, 3 oz), but they don’t offer the long-term fuel efficiency, cold performance, pot stability, or cookability of liquid fuel.

This stove is noisy, not as bad as the Dragonfly, but not exactly peaceful sounding. Primus tells me they are making a ‘silencer’ for the stove that will dramatically reduce the noise; it will be available in the US in the coming year.

Use and maintenance: a little complicated, but standard for its type

When using liquid fuel you need to prime this stove for ~40 seconds, like other stoves of its type (with cannister gas it’s plug-and-play). Once lit it burns really smoothly, and they provide the standard foil windscreen for windy camps. Maintenance is pretty straightforward; the included tool has all the wrenches you need and a small wire to clean the jet. I like that the fuel line is made of standard brass threaded hardware – easy to take apart and clean.

One benefit of the multi-fuel design is that you can use cannister gas to clean the fuel line – simply run it for a few seconds and blast it with butane. I inadvertently gummed up the stove with non-volatile heating oil during a lost-in-translation moment in Colombia and a Primus tech explained this technique to me. For home maintenance, a spray of automotive carb cleaner works wonders too.  On a related note, Primus has excellent customer service.

There is an extra procedure that this stove requires that many users will not be familiar with: after burning liquid fuel, Primus wants you to do a ‘burn out’. This is described in the manual, but in case you don’t read it, it goes like this: the fuel bottle has ‘ON’ and ‘OFF’ labels in its plastic collar. Flip the bottle to ‘OFF’ and let the stove keep burning; this will burn out all the remaining fuel in the line, and takes about 4 minutes. A Primus tech suggested doing this once in a while, but it’s required if you’re going to switch to canister gas to avoid a flame-up.

Potential quality/longevity problem

The pump cup on this stove is leather, and it was misshaped on the stove I received and therefore the pump didn’t pressurize well until I removed it, applied some of the provided silicone lubricant, and re-assembled the pump. This is easy to do, and the provided lubricant should last years, but it’s an extra step and one that might confuse users who aren’t technically-minded. I’m not the only reviewer who’s encountered this (see outdoorgearlab’s review).

Bottom Line

I’ve been happily using this stove this summer for car camping and backpacking. It’s an excellent choice for international travel – you can burn just about anything in it, including canister butane. It’s relatively light for its capabilities and cooks well. It would be ideal on a winter camping trip or an expedition where you want to do some fancy cooking and baking. Maintenance is a little tricky, and you need to periodically check the leather pump cup.

Notes on the smaller camp gear:

Primus PrimeTech 1.3L pot set

This set comes with 2 anodized pots (one with heat exchanger, one without), a lid, a lightweight pot grip, and a handy carrying case. I've started using the heat-exchanger pot as my go-to backpacking pot. It boils water really fast (30-50% faster depending on altitude and wind), and the lid is a really well designed: super light, the silicone handle stays cool to the touch, and the strainer is actually really useful for cooking pasta or draining excess water off rice, etc -- it works great. MSRP $70

Primus PrimeTech 1.3L pot set

Primus PrimeTech 1.3L pot set

PrimeTech 1.3L pot. The lid has a gap for a pot grip that lets you keep the lid tight for draining excess water out the small drain holes -- it works really well in the field and you don't need gloves.

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

Pocket rocket stoves are ideal for short trips. This thing is tiny, weighs 3 oz, and is plenty powerful to cook with. The flame control is excellent, and the piezo igniter works great so far (but I always carry a lighter just in case). It's not very stable, but that's the sacrifice you make for bringing a stove the size of tooth-paste tube. (pro tip: bring the canister support from a JetBoil). MSRP $70
MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

Frying pancakes on a float trip on the lower Gunnison River with my Pocket Rocket Deluxe.

MSR Pika Teapot (aluminum, 1 liter, 5.2 oz)

OK, so I thought this thing was a gimmick and now I use it all the time. It's the perfect size for boiling water for 2-3 people, and it boils a bit faster than a pot due to the small lid. It's actually a really well-designed teapot; it pours well with no drips, and the lid secures in very nicely. For overnight trips where I'm just cooking with boiled water (coffee, oatmeal, dried soup, freeze-dried dinner) I can bring this with the pocket rocket and some food tucked inside for a super-light and compact cook kit. MSRP $25
MSR Pika Teapot

MSR Pika Teapot

Pika Teapot pours really well and has the accuracy to hit the AeroPress with pre-coffee hands and brain.

Drew Thayer

Primus Omnilite Ti Stove Review 2

Drew's love of gear is born from his life-long obsession with human-powered adventure in the mountains. On foot, on ski, on bike, and on the steep rocks, he loves exploring Colorado's mountains through each season.
Drew brings a technical eye to gear -- he's a data scientist with a Masters' degree in Geophysics and loves to understand the design and engineering make great gear what it is. He's also worked in the field for many years -- as a wilderness therapy field guide and a Geophysicist -- and knows a thing or two about function and durability of technical equipment.
Drew tests gear in real mountain conditions, on overnight ventures whenever possible. His specialties are rock/alpine climbing and light-and-fast human-powered pursuits on ski or mountain bike. He's ventured on exploratory climbing expeditions in Argentina, Peru, and Alaska, and completed remote technical river descents in Alaska and Colombia.
When not building statistical models and writing code, he can be found tending his garden or trying to keep up with his awesome wife.
Primus Omnilite Ti Stove Review 3

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