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LTR (Again) - Optimus Nova Plus - Ben Mansfield (ATTN Shane)

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  • ben.mansfield
    Shane, Please see my Optimus Nova+ LTR text below, and full report in the test folder: http://tinyurl.com/3ynrt4 Thanks for picking this up... Ben Long Term
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2008
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      Shane,

      Please see my Optimus Nova+ LTR text below, and full report in the test folder:

      http://tinyurl.com/3ynrt4

      Thanks for picking this up...

      Ben

      Long Term Report

      March 11, 2008


      Long Term Observations

      I put a few more trips worth of meals on the Nova+ since the Field Report. One trip in
      particular was a three day, two nighter to Zaleski State Forest in southern Ohio in early
      February. Conditions were cold at night, with temperatures hovering around 18 F (-8 C) at
      night with some scattered snow and plenty of wind, warming up during the days to around
      40 F (4 C), with some sum peeking through and the wind subsiding in the afternoon.
      Because of the short days, it was generally dark when cooking dinner. I tried to take some
      artsy pictures of the stove glowing blue against the night sky, but pictures without a flash
      came out either dark (with a short exposure) or blurry (with a long exposure and no
      tripod). Pictures with the flash came out fine, except that the flash washed out the flame
      almost entirely. I'm sure it was the camera's fault, not the photographer's.

      <photos>
      A few poorly shot photos of the Optimus Nova+ in action


      As far as durability is concerned, the Nova+ has shown no signs of wear other than the
      normal coating of soot and field grime. I have not experienced any seizing of the control
      valve as indicated in the instruction addendum I discussed in the initial report, although I
      have been careful to allow the stove to cool before closing it entirely. Because of the
      method of flipping the fuel bottle over to extinguish the flame and depressurize the
      bottle, this has not caused any issue. The heavy gauge metal used to form the pot
      supports does take a little longer to cool than other stoves I've used in the past, but this
      has not been an issue for me.

      In the field report I noted that I have replaced the included storage bag with an off-the-
      shelf nylon stuff sack. I have continued this practice, and the nylon stuff sack has not
      shown any major signs of wear. This is likely due in part to the way that the Nova+ folds
      up so that the number and size of sharp points protruding from the stove are minimized.

      Lab Results

      I hoped to be able to provide a detailed lab report showing average, min, and max boil
      times for a number of different fuels, with water temperature trended over time. Indeed,
      this seems like it would be a really good idea. The fact of the matter is that when I
      performed the tests, the differences were so small that the results are really not
      interesting. In the end, I tested the stove with white gas (NAPTHA), kerosine, and diesel
      fuel. My fuel of choice when it mattered (in the field) was the white gas. In general, all the
      fuels boiled a liter of room temperature water in my stainless steel pot (seen above in the
      pictures) in about three minutes. Perhaps this is because the heat content for all of these
      fuels is pretty similar - within a 10% span. The white gas did seem to burn the cleanest;
      both kerosine and diesel produced a lot of soot and made the stove a little grimy. Also,
      the three minute time may be a little subjective, since I did not leave the fuel valve open
      full blast, but rather modulated it so that the flames just licked up over the bottom of the
      pot. Different pots and/or insulating the system in some way would definitely change the
      boil times, though I question the magnitude of the improvement.

      I think the thing to point out regarding lab tests is that in the field, on very cold and windy
      nights, the stove performed well with the white gas fuel I was using. Of a group of four
      stoves being used by myself and my companions, the Nova+ was the fastest stove to boil
      noodles at night or water for coffee and oatmeal in the morning. I guess when it counts,
      how a stove performs in a lab is really secondary to how it works when you're hungry and
      tired, or when you need your caffeine fix in the morning.

      Final Conclusions

      In general, I'm really pleased with the Optimus Nova+ stove. I'm a water boiler probably 7
      times out of 10, so what I look for in a stove is a fast boiling, no nonsense heat maker.
      The Nova+ provides that, and adds some neat features like the self-depressurizing fuel
      bottle and magnetic cleaning needle. If I were Optimus of Sweden, I might redesign the
      storage bag that is included with the stove. It's a good concept, but a little undersized and
      a little overweight for the function that it performs. There is also some room for
      improvement in the fuel control. With no weight on the stove (i.e. when lighting), the
      stove body itself tends to turn when you turn the control valve (which in turn rotates the
      hose). This is not a major issue for me, and I accept it as the price I have to pay to get the
      unique shutoff and depressurization system that it provides. The only other improvement
      I'd suggest would be to change the "On" and "Off" text on the fuel pump which shows me
      what position the fuel nozzle is in - it's nearly impossible to read in the dark. Maybe just a
      dot of paint on one side or the other would do the trick. I'll likely raid my wife's nail polish
      to add a little red dot to the "Off" side.

      These issues are really just nitpicks, however. The stove is an excellent piece of gear which
      performs its designed function admirably and without a lot of nonsense. The capability to
      depressurize the fuel bottle and extinguish the flame by flipping the fuel bottle is really
      innovative and saves me from either packing a bomb in my backpack or getting my hands
      and other gear covered with liquid fuel. The moving parts of the stove are solidly built and
      easy to maintain. In the end, I will continue to use this stove as my primary backpacking
      stove, which is all that really needs said about the quality and functionality of the Optimus
      Nova+.

      In total, I used the stove in the field for 8 days worth or meals, plus a number of meals
      cooked at home (my wife was not impressed by my jerky stroganoff) and a bunch of lab
      testing which took place in my garage and my basement.

      Likes
      Fuel bottle automatic depressurization is a really cool (and safe) feature
      Fuel pump and stove mechanism robust and easy to maintain
      Excellent performance in cold weather

      Dislikes
      Included storage bag is a little undersized and overweight, even for a non-weight weenie
      Fuel bottle On/Off label is hard to read in the dark
      Wife didn't like the cooking - must be the stove's fault


      I would like to thank Optimus of Sweden and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to
      test this fine stove.
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