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Svea 123
Gear Review

Svea 123

Svea 123

Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Svea 123

Manufacturer: Optimus

Your Opinion: 
 - 14 Votes


Page By: Dean

Created/Edited: Nov 13, 2002 / Jan 26, 2007

Object ID: 555

Hits: 14047 


A beautiful ultra-classic light-weight white gasoline stove made of solid brass. The Svea has been manufactured since the late 1800's and still sets a standard for compact outdoor cooking equipment!

Optimus doubts that any other outdoor stove has been field tested as much as the Svea to this date. Widely used by Climbers all over the world, the Svea is recognized for it's performance at high altitudes.

The built-in cleaning needle of the Svea is a very important feature at high altitudes where air is thin. If a stove does not get enough oxygen to mix with the fuel, it may start to sputter, flare up and eventually the burner jet may clog due to incomplete combustion of the gasoline. Turning the burner control to a full left on an Optimus stove clears the jet, and shutdown is avoided.

The Svea is ideal for single ventures, high altitude cooking or whenever stuff volume and weight must be kept low. The lid of the stove also serves as a small cooking pot.



Viewing: 1-13 of 13

DeanUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Thirty years and counting, that's how many years I've had this little gem. The stove just goes and goes and goes, kind of like the energizer bunny. I have two of these stoves, one with the self cleaning capability and one without. This is just a dependable stove, and combined with a Sigg pot set (which gives it a stable platform), it makes cooking a pleasant chore. Nowadays, with all the lighter weight canister stoves, this may seem like a relic from the past but I've never had mine fail me (basic maintainance provided at the start and close of each season) Getting the stove lit in the cold can be trying but it was the same with most of the stoves of its generation. I always carried a small (medicinal sized) plastic squeeze bottle that I would use to put fuel in the shallow depression on top of the stove. Then I would light the fuel thus dispensed and it would work very well to heat the stove enough for lighting it. They used to sell a little attachment that helped pressurize the stove and that helped immeasurably as long as you didn't overdo it.

Anyway, no discussion of stoves can be complete without discussing the Svea 123. There is something special about the gentle 'roar' it makes after you light it up and start cooking on it. It helps to wake anyone up who is trying to sleep in. No, there will always be a place for the Svea 123 in my backpacking closet and my memories of camping in the 70-80's (but most likely I'll take my pocket rocket and the svea stays home : )

Posted Nov 13, 2002 5:45 am

bigwallyUntitled Review

Voted 1/5

It was 35 years ago, in 1968, when I got my first Svea 123 stove. For $5, at a "garage sale", I acquired both the stove , its associated cook-cup/cover and an Insulite pad. Along with those two items came one of Life's GREAT LESSONS...."SOME THINGS WORK, WHILE OTHER THINGS DON'T!!

In the following year I found myself putting the stove in my down bag with me, wrapping my hat around it, hugging it to my chest as I slept, so that it might be warm enough to work. I primed it into fireballs and even built fires under it, just to get it to generate and light (much to the amusement of my companions, who went on to cook over the fire, while I burnt the eggs and the pancakes on the unendingly variable and innately uncontrolable flame, that has so much become the Svea Trademark).

Convinced that the problem had something to do with the "previously owned" nature of my specific stove...I purchesed a NEW ONE!! Brilliant !! The same irratic behaviors were inherent in this one, as well. This stove's performance makes the chick in THE EXORSIST look stable, it makes Jack Nicholson's character in THE SHINING look like a man with few "little ups-and-downs" and it makes a stay at the BATES MOTEL a Welcome Event.! This stove has done, for Dependability what Charlie Manson has done for Country Music.!!

Conveniently, it is compact, lightweight and has few unattached or loose pieces, so that you can THROW IT ALL AWAY AT ONCE.! ... It does have serious value as a Collector's
Item, as they are Doomed to Extinction. Polish it and display it next to your 8-Track Tapes, the Stuffed Dodo Bird, the Mood Ring and the "Goldwater For President" banner....SOME THINGS WORK, WHILE OTHER THINGS DON'T....Go Get Yourself a Decent Stove...YOU DESERVE IT !!

Posted Mar 3, 2003 11:02 am

keemaUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

It was 23 years ago when I bought my Svea for an extended bicycle trip. As from the other reports this stove is almost bomb proof.
The good points are that it is nicely compact and uses many types of fuel.
The bad points are it is hard to get ignited, especially when it is cold, and the flame is hard to control. I have tried carrying Coleman flammable gel to warm the stove for lighting. What a mess if the tube gets puntured. This stove is also not the worlds most stable unless you have a large flat area
Posted Mar 4, 2003 6:49 am

danmerrickUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

In 1972 a real SVEA 123 was my first stove. Mine was made before Optimus took the model over. I still use it on occasion when I need two stoves or feel nostalgic. It has always worked just fine. Don't bother trying to prime the thing by warming it up in your hands like the instructions tell you to. In the old days I always carried a plastic eyedropper and used it to take a little fuel out of the tank for priming. There is even a little hole in the heat shield to hold the eyedropper along with holes for the cleaning prick and the cup handle. Later, I found a tiny pump that fits over the relief valve on a special cap that came with the pump. Optimus sells a similar pump ($17 at Campmor).

The fuel capacity of the 123 isn't much but is easily adequate for a meal for two. Like all liquid fuel stoves, the heat is either on or off. My MSR WhisperLite uses more fuel to prime and wastes a surprising amount every time I disconnect the burner from the tank/pump.

I stole a 1-liter stainless steel beaker from a lab that the whole stove fits into perfectly. The little aluminum cup that comes with it is too small to be of much use for cooking but is fine for drinking, scooping and pouring.

I think it is a better stove than the WhisperLite.

I am now old and lazy and I think I will buy a canister stove. I will miss the cozy buzz-bomb roar of the old 123.

Posted Aug 18, 2004 6:50 pm

BobSmithUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I owned a SVEA for a number of years, until it vanished along with some more of my gear from a storage unit I was renting.

It was a great stove and took a lot of abuse from trips up and down the Appalachian Trail. Occasional problems with keeping the jet going, but no big deal. I would still recommend the SVEA as a good backpacking stove.

Posted Jun 9, 2005 8:13 am

RRosofskyUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Bought in 1978 in the middle of a through-hike of the AT.

STRENGTHS: Has been incredibly reliable; never failed to light, under any conditions. Has the little pin that pokes through the burner orifice to clean off carbon. Lightweight, takes little weight in the pack.

WEAKNESSES: Loud as a blow torch, hard to get a simmer, can be tipsy with a large pot on top, requiring careful balance and out of the wind.

OTHER: I use the "toothpaste-like" starter to make it go, which warms the burner just fine. I've considered breaking down and springing for the Whisperlite, but I just can't justify buying something new when I have something that's perfectly adequate.
Posted Jun 27, 2005 9:09 pm

Bill ReedIt's been my friend !

Voted 5/5

Thirty years of service is good measure of any piece of equipment. Few tools have lasted me that long, only this stove, my REI sleeping bag and my old Kelty Tioga pack come to mind. All have been replaced now, save the old Svea. Over the years, using the 123 with the dedicated Sigg Tourist cook-set, life has been good. Sadly, on the last few trips the old Svea is gettin' a little cantankerous-going out after seemingly having good fire and needed to be reprimed. I'm afraid I'll have to replace it soon, but it has been a good, old friend.
There's nothing like the sound of it, when it gets going. I'm going to miss it.
Posted Feb 9, 2007 3:06 am

mrmthikersvea 123

Hasn't voted

Since 1975 our svea 123 & associated wind screen/cookset have been great & 100% trustworhty. It has served our family well over the last 32 years, (hundreds of trips). In fact, I bought another set/up just like it on the internet 2years ago for my daughter(24). Old but proven! It is #1 in our book. Can't find better! mrmthiker South Lake Tahoe,Ca.
Posted Feb 9, 2007 10:15 pm

GarethSvea 123R

Voted 4/5

This stove does require some patience to use. This is especially the case if you don’t want to bother priming the stove with either (additional) white gas, alcohol, or paste. Also keep in mind that you want to open the tank when the stove is cooler than when you want to try and light it.

However, I can easily understand why this stove is so reliable: simplicity = less that can fail. In a sense, the fact that the Svea 123 (in its purely stock form) lacks a pump, is a good thing. I have had problems with the pumps on other white gas stoves and appliances. This has especially been the case in cold weather. To make matters worse in regards to pumps, my MSR stove’s pump is plastic and has broken (it did still function however). Cold plastic is even more apt to break. This is the beauty of the Svea 123…no plastic parts to break, no pump to fail.

Is the Svea 123 the greatest, lightest, and fastest to use? No. But it is compact, nice to look at, has a great reputation for reliability, and lets face it, it’s a great throwback to a more classic time in the mountains.
Posted Mar 4, 2007 4:06 am

hikin_jimSvea 123 = Rock Solid

Voted 5/5

The Svea 123 -- what a classic. I have one of the originals from the 60's. It's actually fairly compact, and the way everything nests together is a testament to the thought that went into its design. The Svea 123 (since the 1970's, 123R) is the ONLY stove from that era that is still produced which loudly proclaims its quality.

In response to the very negative review:
Yes, you can't simmer on it, but what did you expect? Almost NO white gas stoves simmer. That's just the nature of white gas stoves. Yes, you have to prime it, but if you had THAT much trouble, brother, you're doing something wrong unless you were in seriously cold weather in which case you just needed the optional pump.

The Svea 123 is a rock solid white gas stove that you can count on.
Posted Nov 2, 2009 6:11 pm

winemanvanA right of passage

Voted 4/5

Every kid should get one of these stoves on their 13th birthday. It is a work of genius. They take a lot of abuse and keep on boiling water. Too bad they weight so much.
Posted Mar 24, 2010 12:06 pm

reboyles37 Years and Counting

Hasn't voted

My friends and I all bought Svea 123s in the early 70s and every one of these stoves still work fine in 2010. I used my stove at 13,000'+ and at 30 below zero and never had a problem, ever. I no longer use it since there are much lighter and more convienient stoves out there but it will forever sit along side my original bamboo shafted Chouinard/Frost piolet (ice axe), my 1972 Chouinard catalog and the other classic gear that I still have hanging around.
Posted Jul 20, 2010 2:31 pm

mtnbndold faithful

Voted 5/5

Great stove, drop it off a mountain and it will still work. Lasts forever, well worth the money.
Posted Dec 27, 2013 1:10 pm

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