Gear Review

2 5

Just Not Very Good...

I bought my Svea for one reason; Colin Fletcher who was my backpacking hero when I was a kid, used one. (Although, even then I preferred my little propane Gerry stove, and eventually lost my Svea). So, for whatever reason I decided to get one.

To be blunt, this stove is heavy, is unstable, performs poorly in wind, takes a long time to boil water, and is very hard to light. Oh, and forget about trying to simmer anything. If you are buying it for efficiency or performance, you would be much better off with an MSR Dragonfly for white gas, or the MSR Reactor for propane. I wish things were different, and that this stove had been somehow upgraded. But it has not.

To be fair, in addition to sentimental value, the stove is durable, and does not require pumping. This internal pressurization is also why it is slow to boil water.

So, I am putting this review out so people know the truth about the stove, and why some of us old-timers might have one. It is a durable, but poorly performing cantankerous stove that is very outdated. But if you want to cook on a piece of backpacking history, go for it.

Responded on

It might be cantankerous, but I was able to pull one out of my dad's garage, fix it and get it running optimally withing a day with just a thorough cleaning. The one I have simmers better than any of the 'modern' one valve stove (looking at you, MSR) and lights with less drama than most of those as well, so I am kind of puzzled by your review. It is on the heavy side, although it makes it a fine weekender in my opinion because if you just fill the integrated fuel tank it saves you the weight of the separate fuel bottle and will burn about an hour on that from my experience (depending on what level you run it at on average).

I thought it was just an old piece of poo when I started playing with it, now I think its highly reliable, functional, easy to use, and almost artistic piece of gear.

One bit of agreement though - it is not very good in wind. I use some sort of windscreen with mine.

Responded on

Your Gerry... which is the same stove as my Hank Roberts Mini Mark Stove, is no stellar performer in the wind either. Most pack stoves aren't. Even my benchmark, foul weather performer, MSR XGK comes with an aluminum windscreen. No, the Svea is not perfect, but it is bullet proof. Quirky? Yes, it can be. In cold weather, it's advisable to insulate the tank from the cold ground or snow to keep it chugging. On a -20F trip in the Boy Scouts many moons ago, my Mini Mark went belly up despite sleeping with my fuel canister. My fellow scout with the Svea was the only guy cooking with a stove that weekend.

Responded on

I bought the Svea 123 in '72 for $14.95 just prior to taking two years traveling throught the US, Europe and Asia. During that time I never had issues with my stove. It is bullet proof. Other than repainting the metal case and putting a gasket on the brass fuel canister it always worked even at 12,500 feet and -5 degrees. It did require a bit of cleaning after I burned diesel for months in India but it never let me down. The pump is necessary to build pressure at high altitudes or low temps. I'm getting a multi-fuel Dragonfly for Christmas so I'll post something to compare old vs new.