Optimus of Hiker+ Stove Review

OptimusHiker+  IMG_8408

Base stats:
– BTU:  9,725
– Weight:  3.4 lbs (A bit of a beast)
Stove comparison chart

The Optimus Hiker+  is probably among the most reliable stoves I’ve ever used.  While it may be true that many years ago, it was likely considered a backpacking stove, these days, most folks, me included, use this as a car camping, or home emergency stove, and it works well in that regard.

One of the biggest questions people have about the Hiker+ is…just how big is it?
You’ve read the dimensions, you’ve seen the weight numbers, but you still don’t have a feel for it.  Well….it’s basically the size of a lunch box, but shaved down so it’s square.

Below, you can see the Hiker+ next to three others stoves.

IMG_0368IMG_0369

From left to right, they are:  SVEA 123R, Hiker+, British Army Cooker No.12, and an old Liberty kero stove.

IMG_0408 IMG_3653

Here is the stove with a small fry pan, and with a Toaks 1600ml pot.

Stunningly gorgeous.

A great piece of history.

All the other reviews I’ve read about this are accurate, but it’s not until you actually see it, hold it, and futz with it that I really understood the sense of size of this unit.

Basically it has the same depth as an old tin lunchbox so popular in the 70’s and 80’s. If you take one of those lunch boxes, leave the depth as is, and just make it a lot less wide, that’s basically the Optimus Hiker Plus. When closed and laid flat, it is a tad taller than a lunch box.

It really is a pretty small device compared to what it looks like.

That tank only holds about 12 oz.

But that’s good for about two hours of cooking, longer if you simmer.  While i worry about over-usage and running the pump dry, so far it hasn’t been an issue.

Simmer control is very good on the hiker+, but the flip side that you won’t get the same burn times that you do with, say, a JetBoil.  Of course, you can’t really cook with a Jetboil.  Okay, you can, but it doesn’t work quite as well as you’d like.

thsi runs great on kerosene, k-1/klean heat, white gas.  It runs on other fuels too, but i haven’t tried it.  Klean heat would be my goto generally as it stores fairly well, doesn’t produce a lot of soot, and has a fairly high temp requirement for volatility, making it a tad safer than white gas in my opinion.

I haven’t had any issues to date and have already used it several times, both for boiling a kettle full of water, and actual cooking.  Even non-stick pans work with this as the simmer control is so good.  You need to use a smaller pan, but 10″ pan works fine.  Haven’t tried a 12″ but should work, if maybe a tad off center.

There is a hot spot, or rather, a hot ring, but it’s easily manageable, and the stand is strong enough to support cast iron.

This little guy, the last in a long line of boxed liquid fuel stoves, is one serious draft horse and should work in almost any condition.  For car camping, this box with the can filled and a spare 1 L bottle using an alcohol fuel cap for easier refilling without spill risk is likely all you need for basic cooking.

It’s a piece of history….

And it’s one of the most reliable longest lasting stoves you could ever own, with potential for decades and decades of use.

I plan to use this regularly, and let it get beat up, gain character.

oh yeah….I’m one happy camper.
—-
EDIT
—-

I’ve read a lot of reviews and done a lot of testing on this unit since the original review, and have some new comments on usability.

One of the biggest complaints I read about for this unit is it’s weak performance in windy conditions, even a slight breeze can have an adverse effect on heat efficiency.

Yep, that is true. Very true.

IMG_0346

The issue is that the burner plate is much farther below the pot stand than it is on other camping/backpacking stoves, about an inch or maybe more. From a heat efficiency perspective, that’s a ton of vertical space for a breeze to steal away heat.

When using this unit, get it away from wind as much as possible. I have a 9.5″ aluminum folding slate windscreen/heat reflector that wraps around the rear and sides of the Hiker+. This works very well and dramatically improves heat efficiency, while also maintaining the size flexibility of using pots.

That big vertical gap between burner plate and the bottom of the stove does have an advantage, however, and that’s heat spread. In many stoves, the hotspot (which causes burns at the very center of the pot) is very significant. Now, that’s true of the Hiker+ as well. But that hotspot radius is much wider than in other stoves because the roarer plate (some call it the splash guard plate) pushes the flame outward from the center, so the larger the vertical gap, the wider the diamter of the hot spot.

Another great aspect of this unit is the sheer range of simmer control. The Hiker+ has a very broad throttle range and that makes simmer control ideal for low heat stews, pastas, beans, chilli, and other wet foods. In fact, if you have a small dutch oven, that can work on this too, the simmer control is that effective.

In a longer term test, I can boil a kettle 32oz at about 45 degrees to boiling in about 7-8 minutes on full throttle using the folding windshield/heat reflector along the rear and two sides. That’s not bad at all.

Also, in simmering a stew, I was able to get about 2.5 hours out of the tank easy and might have been able to get more if the tank was full. Of course, I had to redo the pump a few times, but that’s to be expected.

Having used this now 37 times, I have to contradict some more pejorative reviewers. The hiker+ is an incredibly reliable, consistent, and flexible stove and among the lowest maintenance of all my liquid fuel stoves. I think only the British Army Cooker No.12 requires less maintenance, and that is probably the best endorsement I could ever give liquid fuel stove.

If you’re in the market for a camping stove, and want something small and uber reliable, it’d be hard to go wrong with this one.

ADDITIONAL EDIT AT THE BOTTOM OF POST (20150424)

—–

When digging through the Optimus Hiker reviews on Amazon, you’ll basically see three types:
– Those who have owned one for years, saw it on Amazon in the past few years, and wrote a review
– Those who bought one in the last few years, and posted about shavings inside the tank
– Those who bought one even more recently, complaining that it was “used”, stll wet with kerosene, and the tank screws were loose or off.

Focusing on the latter two, here’s what I think is happening:
– Optimus saw people complaining about metal shavings in the tank and having to flush/clean/drain the tank, and decided to help.
– Their current process requires EVERY Hiker Plus to go through the draining process at the factory before it leaves.
– When properly cleared of debris, they run kerosene through it and test it,
– They then apply the “TESTED” sticker
– When they test the clean and test the tank and stove, they do not test it with the entire unit put together. They test the stove and tank separately. When they’re done, they simply throw everything in the box, hence the screws are loose and get stuck on the magnet.
– Since they cannot fully clear the kerosene from the inside of the tank, they package it up with a little fluid still inside, which can sometimes leak a little and coat the outside of the tank and maybe a little of the inside of the box.
– Also, since the screws are loose, they tend to stick to the magnet designed to keep the stove in place when the unit is opened.

—-

So, if you get one that looks used….it isn’t. Look for the “TESTED” label on the shield, and make sure you look for the screws around the magnet at the center of the box, below the stove.

Happy camping!

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One thought on “Optimus of Hiker+ Stove Review

  1. Pingback: Optimus Polaris Optifuel w/0.4L Fuel Bottle Review | Camping Stoves and Other Gear Reviews

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