Primus Lite+ Stove Review
The arrival of the all in one integrated outdoor cook system was a game changer for me. It com-pletely altered the way I prepared food in the mountains and it made food preparation far easier and more efficient. The first stove of this type that I tried was the Jetboil and it has since become the gold standard by which I have judged others. Jetboil's were the first stoves I knew of that offered a completely integrated system incorporating a cooking pot, burner unit, igniter, heat exchanger (a series of fins on the pan base that help direct heat efficiently) and high performance gas cartridge. Just as importantly, the burner unit and gas cartridge are then designed to be stored inside the pan leaving a very compact unit that is well shaped for packing. The system can be stood on the ground or, with the addition of a hanging kit, hung from any suitable attachment point. It is a genius design. My main method of preparing mountain food is based around heating water and adding it to dried foods, so the main thing I want my stove to do is to heat water and the Jetboil excelled at that. However, the Jetboil has it's faults. Needing a separate hanging kit is a pain, the pan to burner attachment can be fiddly and, in the original design at least, it is rather unstable (this has been improved by a changed shape in some recent models).
I was recently offered the chance to try the Lite+ which is a new all in one stove from the legendary Swedish manufacturer Primus. I have used a number of Primus models over the years (the first being a huge unwieldy brass petrol burner when I was a 13 year old scout!) and, as I have always found them to be beautifully engineered and well designed, my expectations for this new model were high. The Lite+ shares a number of the Jetboil's key design features so, as the Jetboil is such a brilliant system, any competing all in one really needs to stack up very favourably against it to compete.
The first thing I did when reviewing the Lite+ was to stand it next to the Jetboil (Flash model) for comparison. There’s certainly the integrated pan and burner. The insulated outer sleeve is there and the igniter too. It also has the heat exchanger and stabiliser. It is an unquestionably similar design. I then did a boil test on both stoves and the results were very similar with the Jetboil getting a 500ml panful to the boil about 12 seconds faster than the Primus (which in tests with a new Primus cartridge took 2 minutes 34 seconds) . Weight for weight the Lite+ weighs 410 grams to the Jetboil at 400 grams. The cooking capacity of the Jetboil Flash is, at 1 litre capacity, significantly larger then the 500ml Lite+. This is something to consider if you need a larger pan size but for me the 500ml is the ideal solo size (and provides 2 cup capacity if you are making drinks for two). The smaller pan does make the Primus very compact.
So, besides the capacity variations there are actually far more similarities than differences. So, it is really all in the detail and that's where I think the Primus shines. The connector that links the burner to the pan is a brilliant design and much easier to operate than the small lugs on the Jetboil. Primus have created a triangular shaped burner head that quickly and faultlessly twists into slots in the pan unit. It’s easy to use in all situations and can be managed with thick gloves on. It is a great connection system.
The Jetboil requires a separate hanging kit while the design wizards at Primus have solved this simply by designing the strap handle so it can be unhooked and then looped across the top of the pan and reconnected. This can then be simply used as a hanger by attaching a piece of cord (and they even include one in the package). Another genius solution. The strap can also be looped over the top of the stored cup to hold it in place for transport.
The Jetboil has no facility for use with a standard pan as there’s nothing to allow the pan to be stood on top of the burner. The Primus team have added three removable pins that can be screwed into the burner unit allowing any pan can be used. If you don't think they will be used they can be left at home - but it's certainly nice to have the option and they are another simple solution that shows great design flare.
One potential disadvantage of these all in one systems is that, once the cartridge, burner unit and filled cooking pot are stacked on top of each other they become quite unstable. It would be better if the whole system can be as low as possible. Primus has produced a very interesting way to reduce the height. The Lite+ features a burner system called Larimar Flow Technology (patent pending) which allows the burner to be flatter. The stove is still relatively tall but I have used it many times without the pan stabiliser and, as long as you choose the ground it is placed on carefully, it is plenty stable enough to feel safe. Primus do include a very wide and effective stabiliser that can be attached to the base of the gas cartridge and weighs only 24 grams if stability is a concern. However, although it works well I don’t like the fact it can’t be stored inside the pan like the Jetboil model can. I tend to leave this at home.
The lid of the Lite+ is very solidly constructed and and can be used as a cup or, via holes on one side, as a strainer. It does work as a cup but it is quite small for this job. It also works well as a strainer but for me this is primarily a water boiling stove so that feature isn’t so important. Nice de-sign touches though.
The insulation sleeve on the Lite+ is great quality and now even come in a range of colours. They are made from felt lined Fjallraven G1000 fabric which is durable and gives a contemporary look and feel to the stove. Primus have also made this removable (via a velcro fastening) so it can be removed for cleaning or could even be left at home if you were trying to travel ultralight.
The Lite+ features a Piezo igniter which has worked faultlessly. Infact, it has so far lit the stove first time every time. I had problems with a broken igniter on my very first Jetfoil because it stuck out rather vulnerably when stored. The Primus igniter is well tucked away inside the burner unit.
The Lite+ retails for £110 and for that you get a lot of stove for the money and it will undoubtedly last for many outdoor adventures.
So there is very little not to love about and plenty to relish about the Lite+. It really is a brilliant stove. It works extremely efficiently, it is superbly engineered and the design has been thought out to the finest detail. It has become my new benchmark for all in one systems and I wholeheartedly recommend it for lightweight one person (or potentially even for two person) use. With both the Jetboil and Lite+ available in my gear room it is telling that it’s the Lite+ that always gets packed in the rucksack. Great job Primus.
Posted by Paul