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Brigantes Presents – High Angled Solutions – Optimus Polaris Optifuel versus MSR Whisperlite Universal

With a dramatic increase in military interest in the polar regions there has been a huge drive to reinvest and update the equipment that our militaries use to survive and fight in these incredibly harsh environments.  Arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment is your stove.  It is critical to keeping you fed and watered.


On the market at the moment are a small number of truly flexible and adaptable stoves. Of these the MSR Whisperlite Universal and the Optimus Polaris Optifuel offer the ability to burn all liquid and cannister fuel types. Although it must be pointed out that both the fuel jet and regulator have to be changed, to switch between certain fuels, on the MSR.

They both follow a similar construction with three wide legs and a central burner head.  The MSR has a wider burner which could possibly reduce boil times but could also increase fuel consumption.  The control arm on the Optimus provides excellent and delicate control of the flame making it much easier to avoid flares. The pump on the Optimus is completely metal and therefore more robust than the MSR.

The lighting process for both is very similar and once it has been practiced a couple of times you can get exceptionally proficient in not accidently adding a sunroof to your tent.  Cooking in tents is necessary in the extreme cold but does have its risks, including fire and CO poisoning.

Whilst burning the MSR is noticeably quieter. There is a “silencer” available for the Optimus but this is not yet manufacturer approved.  Whether the noise difference is significant for the end user is debatable.

Shutting the stoves down is where there is a key difference.  The way in which you flip the bottle over on the Optimus does leave a completely dry system which is excellent at preventing fuel leaking into your equipment.

Cost wise the Optimus is more expensive but it does come with some very useful additional features and the ability to burn all fuels without modification.  Overall both are well recognised around the world and have had extensive use in the arctic environment.  The way that light forces operate in these environments does bring a number of specific challenges that these stoves manage to work around.

For more information get in touch by email on international@brigantes.com or for UK customers tribe@brigantes.com.  


3 Responses to “Brigantes Presents – High Angled Solutions – Optimus Polaris Optifuel versus MSR Whisperlite Universal”

  1. Matt says:

    I have used both in environments down to -40C with great success. I prefer the Optimus due to the fact that you can us any fuel- even butane easily. The Optimus was more reliable when lighting and starts up with that blue flame very quickly. The bottle cap and pump is more robust then the MSR and has two ways to regulate your flame if you want a lower temp for cooking vs boiling. The quietness is a non issue in a tactical environment because if you are going to use these you are normally in a location that can accept that kind of noise level.

    • warnich says:

      Interesting, I’ve been in all manner of cold wx environments and have never had much success with butane/isobutane mixes below 0F/-18C unless I kept the canisters warm with body or some other form of external heat.

      • Graham says:

        Hi Warnich,

        I wild agree about using LPG mixes when it gets really cold, it can be done, but the extra admin involved means that this is where the liquid fuels come in to their own. The ability to switch between two fuel sources easily, is a big bonus. We used both stoves extensively in Sweden this winter, the colder it got, the more sense a liquid fuel made. Whilst gas can be warmed in the sleeping bag, making a hot drink and food out on the trail (saving the hot flask for emergency’s) really showed the limits of LPG.
        Thankfully both of these give you the option to switch!