Gear Review- Primus Profile Propane Stove

8 February 2014

On nearly every trip we make to the desert there is usually a new piece of gear along. I often try to mention some of them, and write reviews about the gear if I have the time. The Swedish gear maker Fjallraven has recently opened a store in Boulder and I have acquired a couple of pieces of gear from them that are worthy of note. I have a pair of their G1000 Trekking Pants, which I will review in a future post, and a Primus Profile 2-burner propane stove, the focus of this blog.

Primus stove in action. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Our new Primus stove in action at breakfast. The stand is our own- an old folding stool that fits the stove perfectly.

Th Primus Profile stove is something I have been thinking about for a long time, especially for river trips. Until its purchase, and for the last 25 years, I have been using a basic 2-burner Coleman stove. We are on the second one now; the first gave out after about 20 years. There is nothing wrong with the Coleman stove- it does its job- you fill it, light it, and cook. But it is a bit tedious with the pumping and lighting sequence, especially if there is wind. They are fairly inexpensive to operate, with a gallon of white gas costing around 12 dollars and the stove costing about 100 dollars. For reference, we use about 3-4 liters of white gas on a two week trip, depending on the time of year and how much time we are at the truck.

Primus Set Up
The basic Primus Profile 2-burner costs just about the same as the Coleman, right at 100 dollars. It is available at many stores, including NRS online. The Profile is the basic model stove; there are others in the line with additional features.  The Primus takes about the same amount of time to set up as the Coleman, just a couple of minutes, but lights much easier. Setup requires opening the top, swinging out and locking the side wings into place, and connecting a hose to the stove and to a propane canister. This is where it gets easy- there is no pumping or priming- just open the gas valve to the burner then twist the electronic piezo igniter knob and you have a flame to set your pot on. The Coleman requires preheating, longer in the cold and wind, and there are often flareups to deal with, taking more time before you can start cooking.

Basic Coleman stove and Primus propane stove. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Basic 2-burner Coleman white gas stove and Primus Profile 2-burner propane stove side by side.

Both stoves are near the same size and weight, with the Primus being a little sleeker and thinner, a bit longer, and with rounded corners. It also feels a little stronger and better built than the Coleman.

Propane Canisters for the Primus
The primary, and really only drawback to the Primus has to do with the cost of disposable propane canisters, near 4 dollars each. On our fall trip we had just started on our fourth canister on our way home, so fuel for the trip was about 15 dollars, about twice the cost of using the Coleman stove. They feel a little bulkier than carrying a few MSR fuel bottles full of white gas. Also, they may not be recyclable, something I consider another negative.

But this problem can be worked around with the purchase of a refillable, one gallon (about 4.2 pounds, equal to 4 or 5 disposable canisters) propane tank. The initial cost is high, around 55 dollars. You will also need an adapter that will fit the disposable one pound canister hose end to the refillable tank. This will cost about another ten dollars. Now you start saving- instead of buying 5-one pound disposable canisters at near 20 dollars, the one gallon tank can be refilled for about four dollars, depending on where you live and where you get it refilled. That is considerable savings, and makes the Primus unbeatable.

End view of Coleman and Primus stoves for comparison. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

End view of both stoves for comparison- Primus is thinner and more rounded in design.

I have only come across one issue so far with the stove. On cold mornings during our November trip, with temperatures around 30 or 35 degrees, the piezo ingiter knob was almost impossible to turn, and lighting required the use of a lighter. Once the stove warmed, it would light with every turn of the knob. I am hoping this may have something to do with the stove being new, and that the igniter will work in the cold once it is broken in.

To summarise, the Primus Profile is quieter and easier to light than the Coleman stove. It is also considerably cheaper to operate as long as you buy a refillable tank. The simmer adjustment allows you to save fuel and really put a burner on simmer. The Primus Profile is sleek and thin, but strong and well-built. A final point of note that made me quite happy was that the Primus Profile doesn’t rattle constantly in the back of the truck the way the Coleman does.

For more about the gear we use and where we use it, visit the Desert Explorer website.