The 3 features to take into consideration when choosing a primus backpacking stove are efficiency, versatility, and fuel types.
Primus backpacking stoves include both a canister fuel stove and a liquid fuel stove option with a refillable canister.
The canister fuel stove is the less expensive option. They are very easy to light, and most of them are top mount canister fuel stoves. This means the stove sits on top of the fuel canister. When you put a pot on top to boil water, the actual burner assembly is exposed to the wind and weather. The downside of this is that even a 5mph wind coming through will carry heat away with it. That heat being carried away is no longer able to be utilized to heat water or cook food, making it less efficient for fuel usage.
Liquid fuel stoves use a detached fuel bottle from the burner. This allows you to implement accessories for fuel efficiency. A heat reflector, which is a light weight foldable piece of foil, can go beneath the stove apparatus. Also, because the canister is remote from burner, you can put a wind screen around the stove. This allows for a pot on the stove to have no wind moving across the burner head, and no heat to be lost to the surrounding environment. This optimizes fuel consumption and boil times.
You CANNOT use a wind screen and heat reflector with a top mount canister primus fuel stove. If you were to put that around this stove, it would risk the possibility of trapping heat around the canister, causing it to heat up and possibly explode.
2. Temperature and Volume
Primus canister fuel stoves and liquid fuel stoves both run on pressure. Because canister stoves have a set volume and don’t have a pump to stabilize pressure, changes in the weather and volume can affect the output of the stove.
Volume and temperature also effect liquid fuel stoves, but because the fuel container and stove are separate pieces, the fuel container has a pump so you can actually change the pressure when temperature changes and as fuel lowers. Because of this you can pump the stove up accordingly, and get that stable driving force to operate it in any varying weather condition. Depending on where you are backpacking and the climate you will endure, this is a factor to take into consideration.
3. Versatility and Availability of Fuel Types
Another factor to take into consideration when choosing a primus backpacking stove is versatility of fuel availability and fuel types.
With the primus backpacking stove canister fuel option, you are in need of certain type of canister and fuel type.
With a liquid fuel stove option, when the canister empties, it is refillable. So if you’re traveling across the United States and happen to come across white gas, you can fill the canister and just start the stove right up again. You can use kerosene, diesel fuel, white gas, or gasoline as a fuel source.
In summary, you have liquid and canister fuel primus backpacking stoves that are available. The top mounted canister stove tends to be less expensive and easier to use than the liquid fuel stove, however they don’t function as well in varieties of weather conditions or when the fuel canister volume gets low. Also, the canister stoves don’t give the ability to use different types of fuels, or allow for use of a wind screen or heat reflector to make a more efficient system.
Conversely liquid fuel primus backpacking stoves are typically more expensive to startup and a little more difficult to use because they require priming and periodic maintenance. However in all weather conditions they are going to be stabilized with varying temperatures and fuel amount, as well as allow for multiple types of fuel use.