The Optimus Hiker+ camp stove is a small, no-nonsense, self-contained liquid-fuel stove. (Photo: Gary Garth for USA TODAY)
The first time I tried to light the Optimus Hiker+ camp stove I nearly set the darn thing on fire.
Then I read the instructions.
The Hiker+, which traces its origins to Sweden more than seven decades ago, is a small, no-nonsense, self-contained liquid-fuel stove and is becoming one of my favorites, thanks to its size, durability and heat output.
All you add is fuel, and even at the most far-flung outposts you can usually find something that will burn in this stove. The Hiker+ is portable and dependable. The burner and fuel tank are built into a rugged steel case, which is about the size of a small lunchbox (7 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches). Open the lid and drop the front panel (which slides the fuel tank forward) and you’re set up to start cooking.
Sliding the tank in and out also helps clean the nozzle by way of a couple of cleverly placed magnets under the burner. This is recommended each time the stove is used.
The Hiker+ weighs about 3 1/2 pounds and at first glance might seem a bit bulky for the minimalist, ultralight user. But it is equally at home in a backpack or a car camping gear box.
The stove is easy to use but first-time users should read the instructions, which come with the stove, of course, and are also available on the Optimus website.
The stove is easy to use but first-time users should read the instructions. (Photo: Gary Garth for USA TODAY)
Fill the tank about two-thirds full (12 ounces). Pump 10 to 15 times to pressurize tank. Open the fuel control knob a quarter of a turn for a couple of seconds. This spills some fuel on the wick. Close the fuel knob and light the wick. It should ignite with a leaping, yellowish flame. This step is required to preheat the burner. (Failure to close the fuel knob will result in a growing, aggressive flame as fuel will continue spill onto the wick.)
After a few seconds, as the burner heats and the fuel burns out, the flame will begin to dissipate. Just before the flame vanishes, open the control knob a quarter-turn. If the burner is property heated, the fuel will vaporize and produce a small, bluish flame accompanied by a hissing sound. You’re ready to cook. If the fuel fails to vaporize, shut off the fuel supply, let the stove cool and relight.
The process is simple and straightforward but it takes some practice, especially for users unfamiliar with liquid-fuel camp stoves.
According to the manufacturer the Optimus Hiker+ will effectively burn white gas, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel. I used white gas (widely available from most outdoor retailers), which burned cleanly and efficiently. Diesel and kerosene are generally more available in remote corners of the globe. A 12-ounce fill-up will provide up to two hours of cooking time. Buy a small funnel that will store inside the case to aid with fueling.
The Hiker+ camp stove is small, well built and good quality. However, it is not inexpensive. The MSRP is $219.95.
For more information visit optimusstoves.com.
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