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Submitted: 12-14-2010 by rikjohnson
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Back in the late 60's when I was really poor and destitute, I found an old Optimus Hiker at a swap meet for a couple bucks. It weighed a ton and all the parts were steel or brass but it came in a steel box I could sit on. It also worked well if you weren't afraid of priming it with a match.

Later on, I switched to a single-burner Coleman which I liked because screwing in a tank and tossing a lit match on the burner THEN opening the valve to see that woosh was neater than trying to prime my Optimus.

THEN on one long trip, I got tired of the Coleman for one reason. I could never figure out how much fuel was in each canister so if I took two, are one full or both nearly empty? Yes, I know, mark the cans but somehow that never happened and I found myself packing IN and packing OUT an armful of green canisters.

So I returned to my Optimus.
Problem was that I had lost the instructions and couldn't remember how to work the thing. So I wrote to the company asking for a set. They replied that they hadn't made the original Hiker in years (the new ones are mostly plastic it seems). Then a week later I got a package. They had found some employee who had a set in his closet, translated them into English and sent them to me.
I LOVE that company.

I used it a couple more times until I got my Jetboil and retired my Optimus again. Then I had to send my Jetboil into the shop a week before a long trip and had to use the Optimus again.

Honestly, the ONLY problem I have with the Optimus is the weight! It is durable, strong, and once I made a windscreen from some aluminum foil and aluminum 'duct' tape, it works wonderfully.

Will I give up my Jetboil? No.
Will I give up my Coleman? Yes!
Will I leave my Optimus behind? No!!!

It is nice to have a back-up stove in case the Jetboil fails so I am willing to carry the weight for the security. As much as I love my Jetboil, if I had to choose only one stove, the Optimus has proven to be so dependable it is worth the weight. Besides, I see the newer ones with plastic fittings going for $150+ and the original Hiker for far more. And anyone willing to pay that much for an old stove must mean something.

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