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Optimus Hiker III Stove

The Stove

Selection
Pros
Cons
Resource
Field Notes:
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The Stove

Optimus has a long history of making stoves.  They have been used by military forces and expeditions in the most adverse conditions and remain a top choice in liquid fueled portable stoves.  

This is the Hiker III stove.  It is a larger stove most suitable to expedition base camps or when the extra size and weight is not a restriction and is more suitable when cooking for more than one.

This is a brand new modern version of a stove that has been in use for decades.  They also make a smaller version and several other classic and modern versions of camp stoves.  

For more info on this and other stoves visit  Optimus stoves 

 

The stove set up ready for use.

Stove02.jpg (64521 bytes)

Ready for use

 

Stove03.jpg (45983 bytes)

Folded for storage

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Selection

I selected this stove for several reasons.  Here is what I required in a stove.

I wanted a stove capable of burning Alcohol. The dog mushers use alcohol for their 'dog cookers', (no, not to cook dogs, rather to melt snow and cook dog food in).  For years it has been the one fuel that musher have trusted in the worst conditions, and it hasn't failed.   It lights easy in sub zero temperatures, burns hot and fairly clean.   Since I will be hauling alcohol for the Serum Run in support of a dog team, I would rather haul a single fuel source for all stoves than to carry a special fuel for a camp stove.  I will just carry extra bottles of HEAT (the automotive fuel additive type, which is alcohol and what mushers use).   Besides alcohol evaporates quickly and cleanly if spilled, and no fuel odors. 

I also wanted a stove with minimal parts and/or assembly.  Something I could quickly get up and running even with cold fingers in a storm.  I wanted to be able to quickly be able to lash it to the sled and not have to worry about something getting lost or broken bouncing down the trail.  Nothing like being cold and hungry only to find that a stove part has been lost or damaged on the trail, or that the stove is a pain to put together and deal with in the cold.  

 

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Pros

The Hiker III will burn just about any liquid fuel.  Alcohol/spirits require a simple conversion by changing the jets and adding a restrictor sleeve.
The burner and fuel tank are contained in a heavy metal box case.  The top hinges open to act as a wind screen. The tank is mounted to a hinged front wall that swings out for use. When you swing the fuel tank out the burner slides to the center of two heavy duty bars that are the pot holder.  When you are done cooking simply swing the fuel tank back up and close the lid.  The control key (which is also the only tool you need to do any repairs on the stove), is chained to the stove and stores in the box  beside the burn.  No assembly required.  It can be set up and operated even with gloves on.
All parts are solid brass or steel, no plastic or light weight metals.
The stove is completely field repairable using the control key/tool which is chained to the stove. 
Larger size than compact backpacking stoves making it nice for cooking larger meals for two or more.  

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Cons

Optimus says Alcohol is not as efficient as other fuels, but works well in the cold.
Weight & Size:   At 1.5 pounds  and it's size, it is not a backpacking stove.  They do make a smaller lighter version of this stove. Visit Optimus stoves

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Field Notes:

The stove survived the shake down run without a hitch!  I loaded it in a Rubber Maid Action Packer and threw it in the cargo sled for a 40 mile bounce down the trails.  At the end of the day I pulled it out, opened it up, pumped it, primed it and poof, it was up and running.  In the morning I again fired it up without a problem and made breakfast.  

So far the stove has been taking a pretty good beating on the trail and proved to be compact and rugged.  

I ran the stove on  Alcohol in the form of automotive 'Heat' fuel additive, and it worked fine.  (The fuel tank will hold 1 full bottle of Heat.)   It burned clean and without a noticeable odor.   It's worth noting that the self contained case creates a very stable base for the stove and acts as it's own spill pan when priming, making it relatively safe for tent use.   Do note that the shaft of the fuel key does get hot when the stove is running and the key is on the valve stem.  So don't pull the key out and grab the metal shaft if it's been attached to a hot stove. 

So far the stove has preformed well!  I'm impressed.  

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Resource

List price on the The Hiker III is $159.  I found it on sale at Northern Mountain Supply for $79 plus shipping.  I ordered it via the internet.  
I found Northern Mountain Supply very easy to deal with, but they where unable to provide me details like if the stove came with the alcohol jet or where I could find one if I needed it.  When the stove arrived it did not have a manual, but a simple phone call to them and it was on the way.
For parts or repairs A&H Enterprises is excellent.  They carry all parts and know the stoves. 
And of course Optimus has a web site listing stove details and dealer locations.  Optimus Home Page

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