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Optimus 8R Review
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More Optimus ReviewsStoves
00 Kerosene Stove (4)
111 Hiker (3)
Explorer 11 Stove (2)
Ranger 10 (4)
Svea 123 (27)
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Seach Latta Outdoors for Optimus 8R.
Billy Hewett, 0/0/00
"I got this stove from my boss. He had it in his garage for over ten years still in the original box. I've used it about 3 or 4 times so far with no problems. The tank is a little small as well as the flame, but it gets the job done. I do like the compact size."
William Turner, 0/0/00
"I also have the Optimus 8R (I have several Optimus stoves).
I like the compact design and operation of this little stove.
The all steel clamshell box that serves as the holder and windscreen contains the completely all brass construction of the burner, vaporizer and fuel tank.
This stove is of the self-pressurizing design. After priming the stove with a little fuel in the priming pump, you simply turn the stove on and the heat from the burner keeps the fuel tank pressurized.
The simple, but elegant design of the stove ensures that there are little parts that receive wear so this stove can be expected to last for quite some time. You'll surely see other reviews were people have received their 8R Hunter from someone else and many have used theirs without problems for decades.
This stove burns only one fuel type: white gas/coleman fuel.
Optimus also makes another stove called the Optimus Svea 123, similar design except that the stove is a cylinder design with the fuel tank on the bottom.
If you decide on an Optimus stove, I'm sure you'll enjoy it for many years to come.
My primary stove is actually the Optimus 10 Ranger a kerosene stove that burns hotter and boils water more quickly. But I carry the 8R along so I can run two stoves at a time.
The simmering capabilities of the Svea 123R, 8R Hunter and the other Optimus stoves are fantastic."
Jamie Lacivita, 0/0/00
"If you want simplicity, reliability and dependability this is simply THE stove to have. I have used many of them at various times (some I’ve owned, others borrowed) and have yet to find one that didn’t function as it should. Because of its simple design and ease of use, this stove is much better than the unnecessarily complex and fragile newer stoves available in stores. It is a great piece of equipment and I wouldn’t choose any other."
Carl Birks, 0/0/00
"I purchased my Optimus 8R from a freind who had got it "used" at a yard sale. That was about 15 years ago and it is still going strong. I recently found a barely used one and snapped it up. These stoves are bullet-proof and will not let you down when you need them. We'll proven, sturdy design-and they last and last. Just make sure that you dry them out if they get wet or rust will occur on the steel parts. The pumps are not worth the hassle or the cost IMHO."
"I bought my 8R in high school nearly 25 years ago. Since then, I've packed several hundred miles and taken it from Florida to Alaska and California to Maine. They are very tough, easy to maintain, and small/light enough for extended packing. I would buy another but I'm still trying to wear this one out! I test stoves occasionally but still go back to the 8R."
"I had 8R's for a while, and I always thought they are a little weak on firepower department, unless you had one of those mini or midi pump. My Svea 123's do not need any pump, in order to reach the full pressure. 8R's on the other hand, seemed to need a pump to produce the full flame. I did not even think I could leave home without a pump. Otherwise, the boiling time on 8R becomes an opportunity to train oneself in spiritual discipline through building up patience.
This is what I have adopted, in order to improve 8R's operation. 1) Install a fiberglass wick around the priming dish. This will produce hotter and bigger flame, and you can put more priming fuel (alcohol) to deal with a windy day (longer duration of flame). 2) Remove the heat shield, until you can feel the fuel tank with your fingers. If it gets prety warm, then you put it back on. The flames from the burner also add heat to the exposed area of the fuel tank, and further cuts down the boil time. Do remember to put it up, in order to avoid overheating. 3) When you squeeze a couple of dropper full of alcohol into the cup, drop about another 1/2 dropper full of alcohol (but no more) right next to the fuel tank on the side that faces the burner. Caution: I would NOT do this with white gas!! If you put it on the other side of the tank, the flame will harden the rubber gasket in the fuel cap, and the fuel tank will not build up the pressure.
This extra amount of heat quickly raises the temperature of the fuel tank, which increases the internal pressure, so that relatively a large amount of fuel will be available for the burner to vaporize, when priming is over. It cuts down considerably the time that you need to wait to reach the full operating pressure without using a pump.
This way, my 8R boiled 1 Quart of water in a very reasonable time, way faster than before, when I left the fuel tank to the burner to heat up.
8R is a very reliable stove, and now I feel that the above method increased its utility value. Now I leave home without a pump."
"I've now had my 8R for 30 years!!! bought it new for a hike with my junior high school club, it still works great, never needed any replacemant parts, no complaints at all!"
Steve Kingsley, 0/0/00
"I have had my Optimus 8R for over 30 years and it still works perfectly. The only problem I have ever had with it is that I let it get so hot once that the burner and wire cookware supports got red hot and sagged a bit. I bent them back and continued to use the stove, that was maybe 20 years ago. I can't blame the stove for that though, I let it overheat myself. To it's credit, it did not vent through the cap or explode or anything like that. This is a testament to the reliability and indestructibility of the stove.
I ain't crazy about having to prime the thing to get it going, but I have gotten used to it. I ran out of the priming paste like 25 years ago, since then I have just filled the priming cup with fuel and lit the thing. Once the burner gets going it heats up nicely. Ronson lighter fluid works well for that also, and doesn't smoke, but I still usually just what's in the tank.
I value simplicity and durability and abhorr throwing "technology" at a low tech "problem" like cooking dinner. The 8R suits me perfectly, and it will probably outlive me."
"I have been using the same Optimus 8R stove for 30 years since I bought it in high school. It still works fine though I think I have replaced the fuel cap once.
I agree with the other reviewers that recommend against using the little pump. It is unnecessary and complicates an otherwise simple stove.
As with all white gas stoves, you will end up with gasoline smell on your hands after you use this stove."
ed humburg, 0/0/00
"it is heavy, it is bulky in the pack, and I love it!
I purchased mine over 30 years ago at a local EMS. this stove is so rugged and reliable that I cannot bring myself to retire it. The pump does help a great deal, however, I tried the passive heating of the fuel tank as suggested by an earlier submission and it does work quite well.After all, trying to pump that little thing in sub zero temps does become tedious."
Jim Trueworthy, 0/0/00
"It's to bad this younger generation of outdoor enthusists don't seem to know about the reliability and toughness of these little stoves. Sure they might cook a little slower, but they more than make up for it in just plain orny-ness,in many cases lasting 20 to 30 years and still going strong."
Cactus Cowboy, 0/0/00
"The best stove ever! I bought mine nearly 30 years ago. I've backpacked thousands of miles and it keeps on going. New stoves suck. My MSR stove is difficult and clumsy to set up. Folding it up is a PITA and leaves my fingers covered in soot. Not so with the Optimus and it's clever clamshell construction. Five stars all the way!"
"Two reviews back someone stated the 8R only burns white gas or coleman fuel. Mine says on the case that it burns gasoline (only legal in UK). My guess is it will burn other fuels, but check your sources before trying."
Thorbjorn Lee, 0/0/00
"Great, simple little stove.
Actually, I have made a simple change to it: I went to the hardware store, bought a foot of #8 uninsulated wire, wrapped the middle around under the valve, then have the ends go up to curves about a quarter inch outside and level with the burner so the flame goes over the top of the wire. This improves simmering and allows the use of unleaded fuel for cars (dirtier (leaves soot on pans), lower temperature fuel than Coleman / white gas). I almost never cook at top temperature setting. No, I donâ€™t drink coffee so I donâ€™t boil water.
Donâ€™t use it that often now, but have had it over thirty years with nary a problem. Never replaced any parts. At one job, I enjoyed hot lunches every day while workmates either went without or ate sandwiches. Spoiled. In an emergency have simmered food for over an hour on less than a tank of fuel, the little stove looked sort of odd under that big pan and it did not run dry.
In operation, I preheat by taking some fuel from the tank using a glass eyedropper (which has lasted years stored in the case when not in use), put it in the cup under the burner, light with a cigarette lighter or match, open the valve just as the burning is dying down and within seconds that blue roar meets the bottom of my pan. If I use unleaded car fuel, the blue has yellow streaks from impurities, but has never clogged the burner.
All stoves should use a windscreen in breezy conditions, so I havenâ€™t tried without.
One downside is that the steel case has some light surface rust where the blue paint has worn off. I also notice that the new ones donâ€™t have that big control handle that my old one has and that I like.
The only other camping stoves I have used were Coleman stoves that need pumping, and it is nice to have a stove that turns on and stays running until the food is ready without pumping to keep it lit."
John Diesel, 0/0/00
"I just want to say that everything written here is correct. However , there are 8R stoves made that burn white gas coleman. There are 8Rs that burn gasoline. They are not interchangeable. Which is probably why everyone contradicts each other. I have both. The sticker either says gasoline or white gas / coleman.."
"I have taken this stove to places other stoves would not light (or stay lit). Many times it has been the only stove to crank out a meal or hot drink when others were still cursing their high-tech stoves. Although the priming needed to get it up to speed made some fellow campers a bit nervous at first, once they saw the speed it heated things up and its persistence in freezing/snowy conditions, they soon came to appreciate "ol' fireball".
Have used mine since 1978, bought a second a few years later, and have used them for 30+ years of camping adventures. Boiled probably thousands of cups of tea, coffee, or cocoa on the thing for dozens of people. Best camping investment I ever made.
It saved my own and climbing buddy's bacon on one excursion where we were snowed in for 3 days in a spring blizzard. His stove froze up on the first day, mine kept us going through it all. It was a real life saver!"
"I currently own a number of vintage Optimus and Primus stoves. I have been around them and used them since the early 70s, camping with my family. I bought my first 8R in 1977 when I started backpacking on my own. Still have that little stove and it still works great. In all that time I have done simple maintenance on it and it has never let me down.
The stove weighs about 28 oz. full of fuel. A 5 oz. tank will last a couple days worth of heating meals if you conserve. I like my hot food and drinks so I carry an extra 11 oz. small MSR fuel bottle on 2-3 day hikes and I always have more than enough fuel, even for things like making hot water to clean up with.
These stoves work well at all altitudes, temperatures and inclement weather conditions. The highest I have used the stove is at 13,000 ft on Mt Rainier in Wa. state. I have used the stove at 10 degree temps and also in wet nasty weather. It has never failed to light and deliver a hot meal.
The stove works on a self pressurizing principle. Unlike many other stove designs (Coleman) that require you to constantly pump up the fuel tank to create pressure, the Optimus 8R creates its own pressure to feed the burner. There is a priming ritual that must be performed where you preheat the burner with a flame. I carry a small 1 oz. squeeze bottle with Alcohol to perform this task. You put a little alcohol or other flammable fluid into a little pan built under the burner. Light the liquid and in around 40-50 seconds you can open the fuel valve and the warmed white gas will vaporize as it enters the hot burner. When you turn the valve regulator to the open position, gas vapor will flow and you can then light the burner. The whole process takes a couple minuets tops. A little extra work to start but then you can use the stove with no pumping which is nice.
So why do I continue to use the old Optimus stoves when there are newer designs that are easier to use, lighter, burn hotter etc.? When I find something that works I stick with it. These old Optimus stoves are reliable and perform good enough for my needs. I can't tell you how many times my stove saved the day after a hiking companion's latest fancy high tech stove crapped out in the middle of nowhere. Old Optimus stoves last and last. It will probably outlast you so there's no reason to run out and buy the latest, greatest stove.
As for performance the 8R works good enough. I don't care if it takes 5 minuets to heat my food as opposed to 4. I'm never in that great of rush. My stove bag with the 8R full of fuel, an extra fuel bottle and my priming alcohol bottle weighs 40 oz. Not the lightest but I have more fuel on hand and a more stable, usable stove to prepare my meal so to me it's a trade off. A lighter, simpler version of the 8R called the 99 is available if you're really concerned about saving a few more ounces.
I also tend to like vintage camping gear and want to have something unique. Most people I see on the trail have the newer butane or multi fuel liquid stoves but there's always interest in this old 8R. Many people have never seen the original "stove in a box" and get a kick out of the whole lighting process. But after they see it in operation they usually leave believers.
I pickup most of my Optimus and Primus stoves at garage, estate sales and camping gear swap-meets. Ebay is also a great place to find them but I noticed that the prices for the old Optimus stoves has really gone up lately with collectors from all over the world bidding big dollars on them. But if you're patient you can pick one up for a song and you will have a fine stove that will provide years of reliable service and that you can pass on to your kids someday.
Optimus parts and service are available from A & H Packstoves in Tustin Ca. www.packstoves.com. You can still buy the big brother to the 8R, the 111C "Hiker", brand new. It's a little pricey but makes an excellent basecamp stove.
I give the 8R a 4 star. It's a little heavy, a little quirky to use at first, but it's an excellent all around stove that is reliable and that will last a lifetime."
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