Back in the 1980s, when I first showed an interest in camping, my friend’s father gave me an ancient brass camping stove in a rusty tin box to help get me started. The thing hadn’t been used in decades so I eagerly polished the tarnished fuel tank to a mirror shine with Brasso before marching up to my local ironmongers to buy some paraffin. In those days paraffin was sold by the gallon, and since I didn’t have a container my friendly ironmonger sold me a jam jar full of the stuff for 10p along with a new leather washer, and sent me on my way.
When I got home I filled the fuel tank with paraffin, and with the help of my friend’s dad I changed the old and perished washer for the lovely new one, unscrewed the pressure release valve, primed the pre heater with methylated spirits and lit it with a match. Just before the meths had completely burned away I re-tightened the pressure release valve and apprehensively began to pump the stove. Within seconds it roared to life with a noise reminiscent of a Vulcan bomber ready for takeoff. Magic.
That was an old Primus no.23 stove, and it served my friends and I very well for years. It could boil a pot of water in a few minutes, and with its thunderous roar and bright blue flame it never failed to get the job done, whatever the weather.
Over 100 years of craftsmanship
Primus have been making camping stoves since 1892, and they’ve played a vital role in practically every significant expedition of the 20th Century, from Scott’s ill-fated South Pole expedition, to the first successful ascent of Everest.
The Onja stove from Primus continues in that great Swedish tradition of quality and practicality, all packaged into a compact two burner design that offers a lot of versatility for the wilderness gourmet. One burner is fine if you’re making tea or thawing out some pemmican on the frozen wastes of Antarctica, but if you want to sauté asparagus while pan frying a couple of freshly caught seabass fillets, two burners is definitely the way to go.
The Onja Stove Duo is the most compact two burner stove in the Primus range, and with its neat folding design and handy shoulder strap you can take it anywhere, from a picnic in your local park to an extended canoe trip in Scotland. In its folded state it can easily be mistaken for a messenger bag, and it only weighs 3kg.
The stove uses Primus bottled gas in either 100g, 230g or 450g sizes, and each burner has a separate fuel source so you will need two bottles of gas to power both burners. The gas isn’t supplied with the stoves, but they are available in outdoor shops all over the country, so resupply shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re in the middle of nowhere. The gas bottles can be carried fitted to the stove so they are out of the way.
A thing of beauty and practicality
Heat can be adjusted precisely with the neat folding steel switches, and I had no problems using it to boil water or gently simmer a pan of soup. The sturdy steel construction is very stable and the burners are at a very useful height for cooking while sitting cross legged on the ground, or on a table top.
The lid of the stove top is a beautifully polished oak board, which can be used as a chopping board or as a level surface for a couple of glasses of Chablis. The features in brass, leather and fabric are a nostalgic reminder of its Primus heritage, so typically Swedish.
Combined with the Primus campfire stainless steel cook set, utensil roll and a bit of imagination, this stove should give you many memorable outdoor dining experiences.
Andrew has worked as an outdoor pursuits instructor for over 20 years, teaching rock climbing, abseiling, gorge walking, coasteering, kayaking and canoeing, before specialising in bushcraft and survival skills through his company Dryad Bushcraft. He's also presenter of ITV's Coast and Country.