Gear Guy

Which stove is quiet and simmers well?

I’m looking for a stove that simmers well and is quiet. I’ve considered three: MSR’s DragonFly, Brunton’s Optimus NOVA, and Primus’ OmniFuel. Any other ideas? Richard Venice, California

All excellent stoves, and at similar prices: MSR DragonFly ($120; www.msrcorp.com), Primus OmniFuel ($110; www.primus.se), and the Brunton Optimus NOVA ($144; www.brunton.com). All also are multi-fuel stoves that use liquid fuel—white gas, kerosene, gasoline, aftershave, you name it. As a general rule, liquid-fuel stoves don’t simmer quite as well as those that use butane/propane. You just can’t get the flame low enough without it going out. But they all simmer reasonably well. I’ve used the DragonFly, and it has an excellent flame range. Maybe not enough to slow-melt chocolate for your dessert, but it’s fine for cooking delicate eggs or rice, or for hold temps on a soup.

The wild card here is that the Primus OmniFuel, in addition to a host of wet fuels, also takes canister-based propane/butane fuels. That makes its operation a bit more complicated, but that also gives you the ability to A) use canisters if that’s all you can find, and B) take advantage of a canister stove’s generally superior simmering ability. With price and weight (all three are around 15 ounces) more or less equal, that may be worth consideration.

And, while all are well-made stoves, the NOVA strikes me as the beefiest. It’s all-metal, stable, easy to light, and offers super-high heat and good simmering. All in all, a top pick unless you really want to burn canister fuel as well as liquid.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive hiking section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

Subscribe to Outside

Outside Magazine Latest Issue

Save 66% and get All-Access: Print + iPad