Reliable performance that transcends weather and altitude.
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Share your thoughts
New to this stove - heading out for 10...
New to this stove - heading out for 10 days wilderness canoe trip with 4 people. Does anyone have any guidelines on fuel usage per cooking hours?
the stove burns about 40 minutes on a full tank (3oz). the tank capacity is 4oz...don't fill it more than 3/4 of the way to allow for pressure build-up. best stove there is...i've been using mine with frequency for 20 years +. because of their size, if you place a pot that's too large in diameter on top, it could tip over. most reliable stove ever produced IMHO. seach for svea 123 on spiritburner.com
Best Stove money can buy
My dad got me this stove a few years ago when I was really getting into backpacking trips. I pretty much used friend's canister stoves prior to this. And while canister stoves provide easier flame adjustment, and may be lighter, I found it was easier to carry more fuel for the SVEA volume-wise. These things are reliable as hell too. Camped on Mt. Washington at 4,100 ft in February and it was the only stove we could get to really work. (we had a Jetboil and a similar Brunson pocket rocket) Wished we had 3 SVEA's instead!
Can you prime the gas tand with a pump?
Can you prime the gas tand with a pump?
Yes, there are optional pumps that fit the fill cap available but they really aren't needed.
Can you prime the gas tand with a pump?
Can you prime the gas tand with a pump?
It's not necessary, but you can buy a micro pump from Optimus that fits this stove.
Optimizing the Optimus 123R
The Optimus lives up to its reputation for ease of operation. Instead of using the aluminum cup and handle that comes with the stove, consider pairing the stove with a cooks set or metal double-walled cup that the stove fits into. Consider the Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo Cookset which also comes with a net storage bag. Also get a fuel bottle that holds the amount of white gas you will use plus some extra for unexpected needs.
The ol' stand by
I replaced my old Svea with several stoves, after it developed a leak. Out of nostalgia and as a back up stove I got another. She's as good as the original. I headed our for a 2 day trip and took the Svea and no extra fuel and the weight was comparable. Worked like a charm.
Love this old stave and definitely recommend it!!!!
Blow it up and it still works
Have two 123's. The first one acquired in 1970.
While winter camping in the Adirondacks about half way up Blue Mt. in '72 my buddy blew it up.
They do need to be finessed for use at -20 and a 25mph wind (hey, later that night it fell to -40 and the wind kicked up to about 40mph, I have no idea what the wind chill was) and my friend was not experienced using one in those conditions.
He got too heavy handed priming it and did not open the valve enough to vent the building pressure.
Soon it was enveloped in flame and sounding like a 747 on takeoff, we could no longer go near it. Then the tank started blowing up like a balloon and we headed for cover.
The emergency pressure release valve, a solder plug in the middle of the cap finally melted and blew out, at which point we had a 15' geyser of flame spouting up at a 45 degree angle that melted my aluminum windscreen/cook set into a puddle of slag.
My buddy looked terrified that I was going to flay him alive. I was just happy that no one was hurt, no other equipment was lost and he had another stove and cook set in his gear.
Once the stove cooled pliers were needed to remove the blown cap. A replacement cap, the original brass windscreen installed and new load of white gas and she was humming along again as our second burner 1/2 an hour after armageddon.
Never had any further repercussions from that incident and she still roars 40 years later. Except that all those sharp creases and folds were blown out resulting in a very fat and balloon like Svea with approximately a 20% greater fuel capacity.
When my health made me hang up my backpacking boots and car camping with the family became my milieu, I went for a second Svea 123 knowing I can depend on her through thick and thin.
Please do not use stoves in tents, had this happened in our tent even if we escaped burn injuries nighttime conditions were deadly. We were well equipped for -20, even -30. When we unpredictably encountered wind chill conditions in the area of -85... Well, just to survive we had to pull out all our spare clothing to supplement our Holubar Royalight sleeping bags (anyone remember Holubar? Pre-Eddie Baur Holubar.) in a three wall expedition tent and still came closer to Brokeback Mountain than either of us cared to.
Almost as old as me
I just happened across this info (that backcountry.com sells the Svea 123R) while searching for a replacement gasket for my Svea 123. I had to respond. I purchased my Svea 123 new in 1972. I still use it today. While I do own an MSR Dragonfly, the Svea is, from my experience, far more reliable. I have never had an issue with it (other than to replace the Viton gasket in the fuel cap). I have used my stove in the High Sierras, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Arizona desert, all over Alaska (used it many times to cook freshly caught salmon and halibut), and Utah's desert and high country. The stove has NEVER failed to operate as designed. To be sure, there are lighter and more appealing stoves, but the Svea 123 has to be the most dependable backpacking stove ever made. I continue to use the stove partly because of all the good memories, but it's more than that--I never worry about the stove failing when there is no room for failure. It's that dependable. As far as priming goes, I learned early on that the best way to prime it is to pour some fuel on the tank and then light it. Sometimes in very cold weather I have to do this twice. I purchased the Optimus Mini Pump with this stove but have never used it, preferring to prime it as described. I paid $25 (if my memory serves me well) for this stove 40 years ago. There are few pieces of gear that function so well for that many years. Every decade or so I polish the stove with brass polish. I just bought a new one (just for the halibut) from backcountry.com for my 72-hour kit.
My SVEA stove wont start.. Is there a jet...
My SVEA stove wont start.. Is there a jet mthat needs to be cleaned?
I'm not certain if you have any experience with this stove. When I was 40 years younger, my scoutmaster loaned me a Svea stove. I didn't know how it worked and I went without cooking that rainy weekend. Since the stove has a built-in cleaning needle, the jet it is probably already clean. This stove is self pressurizing, so it must be primed or pre-heated. This is done by placing alcohol, priming paste, or even a small amount of the stoves fuel (coleman fuel or other white gas) in the small depression in the top of the tank where the burner is screwed in. By heating the top of the tank and the burner's valve assembly, the fuel expands and pressurizes the tank. At first the burner will sputter and flair up a bit, but as the stove warms even more, it will begin to burn cleaner with a strong blue flame. It will also be kind of loud compared to a butane stove. Seems like more trouble than it's worth for a novice, but this stove will work when a butane stove becomes a paper weight.
Write your question here...Where can I get...
Write your question here...Where can I get a filler cap for the 123? I have a pump adapted filler cap now and it isn't holding pressure. Any way to repair? I have had mine since the early 70's and up till now...no problems.
Sounds like the seal is bad on the cap. It might have just dried out, so a little lube like lithium or silicon might help, but if it's a goner, try this next-
or this (thanks Jeff!)- http://packstoves.net/cart/index.php?main_page=index
If that's not the obvious solution, here's the contact list of Optimus partners who carry spare parts (Katadyn in the US)-
Good luck, hope this helps.
Howdy, Alan. I recently purchased a set of six gaskets from a seller in England. (I live in Utah; total cost was about $8, including shipping. Six are more than anyone needs, but that's the way the seller sells them.) These are the real deal: Viton gaskets, so they last a long time. I have trimmed other types of material (such as Neoprene gaskets, which are readily available from your local hardware store, but this material is not designed to withstand high temperatures). On eBay, do a search for "Viton" and then look for the seller "spiritburner."
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.
Svea 123 best ever
I went to Philmont in 1984 as a young boy with my Svea. After Philmont, I went on to other things and did no backpacking until my boys got into Scouts. My parents had my old backpack, and in it was my Svea. I literally did nothing to it, but it fired up on first start with 20+ year old white gas in it, and has run like a champ since then. I've still got the unopened all "moving parts" repair kit, but to date, have not had to do a thing to it. This is an amazing stove, and it is what I learned to cook on. The designers should have gotten a Noble Prize for something.
A great little stove
I bought mine in 1970 for less than $7.00. Have used it for no less than several hundred nights of backpacking. Also have an Optimus Model 80 of similar design. Only problem ever was a need to replace the gasket in the fuel cap. Truly the most reliable piece of backpacking equipment I have ever owned!
What cookset do you recommend for this...
What cookset do you recommend for this stove?
If the lid/pot that comes with it isn't enough, and depending on if you're going to be using it for solo or a couple people, I would look at the Snow Peak titanium pots. Start with the Trek 700, then the Trek 900, and if that's not quite big enough, go to the Trek 1400. This stove will also nest into both the 900 and 1400 nicely.
If you're interested in keeping an all Optimus kit, here's a link to what they offer as well.
Still using my old banged up Sigg kit.. Comes with a windscreen that holds the pots up. I don't imagine they make them now-- try Ebay.
I bought my first Svea 123 in 1979. I used it often for a few years before life got too busy to backpack. 32 years later, I was asked to go Camping with a few Army Special Forces friends. Aside from the fact that I had not changed the feul for over 30 years, that white gas fired right up! Once I remembered that one needs a proper headspace for fumes (e.g. do not over-fill), it was sputtering blue flame so hot that it melted the aluminum windscreen that came with it!. Fortunately, the base and wind scren are now Brass with new models. 4700 BTU is serious output without regard to altitude or temperature. I wouldn't trade it, sell it and in fact I bought a new one from Backcountry.
I have an Optimus99 carbide mini stove....
I have an Optimus99 carbide mini stove. I'de like to find out how old and if it is worth anything?
The Optimus 99 burns only white gas. I actually had to think about the carbide gas thing for a minute.
It was first introduced early to mid 70's & sold for about $25. Similar to the Svea 123 in function & 8R/Hunter in appearance & size, it is a self-contained stove where the cookware is part of the actual stove. I can't tell you the exact age & worth of your stove, but the Optimus 99 was only manufactured for about ten years.
Re Svea 123 stove: Is there a difference...
Re Svea 123 stove: Is there a difference between the 123 and the 123R? Should I care which I buy?
The original Svea 123 has a straight vaporizing tube which, when heated up, acts as a generator. The jet/nipple also has to be "pricked" with a cleaning tool to keep the orifice open. When the 123R was introduced, a self-cleaning needle was added to the vaporizing tube & voila, now you could clean the jet by simply turning the valve key.
You can still find the original 123 on eBay, flea markets, antique stores, a stove collector like myself, but not new on the retail market. On the other hand, 123R's are available mostly in North America & Europe.
These little gems won't be produced forever so pick one up before they go the way of the 123. They are an amazing, little stove.
Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate the info. -Evan
A light, when all others go out
I'm biased here, because the roar of this stove is the soundtrack to the outdoors as long as I can remember. I was given mine when I was ten, and spent hours on the back porch learning its quirks and how to light it. I own several other stoves, and they have their purpose, but this stove is the best I own. It clanks around, it's tarnished, it's bulky and on the heavy side, but I go back to it every time. I like the comfort of knowing I have a hot meal or a hot cup of coffee, whatever the conditions or temperature. It's earned it's spot in my pack.
What is white gas? ok thank you...so is...
What is white gas? ok thank you...so is it safe to use with automotive unleaded gas?
"White gas is the name for pure gasoline, without additives. This was commonly used when leaded gas was normal, to prevent fouling in situations where the properties of the tetraethyl lead additive were not required".
The stove is great but I would not use unleaded gasoline on any advice. White gas is commonly called Naphtha but it is not unleaded gasoline. Aside from the additives other then lead in gasoline that are used to work in compression engines the burning characteristics are significantly different. Do not use gasoline.
Unleaded like the name states, has no lead, but it does contain other additives. In a pinch, unleaded was used by me, and it worked. A little smokey on start-up, but ran well when warmed up fully. Not a wise choice because of the additives. Unleaded produces poisonous combustion by products and cause nasty deposits to build up inside the vaporizer/valve assembly. It may also effect your seals. As soon as suitable fuel was available,(naphtha from a hardware store), I swapped out the gasoline immediately. If I had a choice, I would NOT use unleaded.
Best of the best ye ole' Svea
I bought my first Svea 123 in the late 70's and have never been let down. For priming I simply carry a plastic eye dropper (stores in the lid) and squirt enough fuel into the base of the burner to fill the recess. That little metal mother always lights. To much fuel in the recess = huge flame, so don't sit to close to it when igniting. The lid sucks for cooking, but works perfectly for protecting the bendable upper parts of the stove. I also own a Wisper Light, but don't trust it do to the multitude of plastic parts. My 123 is the only camping equipment that has not been upgraded over the years, because it's simply the best stove on the market in my opinion.