Primus has a solid reputation among outdoor enthusiasts. Considering its large lineup of stoves, lighting, cookware and accessories, the reputation is well deserved. With the Primus Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset, the company’s taken a slightly different approach. The stove and pots still perform great, don’t get me wrong. But they’re unabashedly designed more for the “urban outdoorists” or fashionistas than they are backcountry regulars. And living in a city rife with car campers, I can tell you there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The photo above shows the Primus Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset in tandem, but the two don’t have to work together. In fact, the first time I took the Primus Campfire Cookset into Mt. Hood National Forest, I paired it with our old Coleman stove and got great results. Used together on several subsequent trips, the Onja and Campfire Cookset performed just as well.
I approached the Primus Onja Stove with a ton of skepticism. Having spent most car-camping trips with a traditional flat Coleman stove, the upright stature of the Onja Stove just screamed “tippy.” When packed, the Onja looks and transports like a thick messenger bag, complete with shoulder strap. How on Earth could that thing not tip over and set the whole table on fire? I even (foolishly) tried to intentionally tip it a few times just to test it out. It’s surprisingly stable.
The bottom of the Primus Onja Stove spreads apart, sort of like a vertical version of the X-Wing Fighter‘s wings. This essentially doubles the width of the stove’s base and provides a much more stable stance. The spreading motion also widens the top opening to allow easy access to the burners. I feared that this open top would cause the burners to blow out easily, as the stove doesn’t have a wind guard. It doesn’t.
Opening the bottom also provides access to the underside. There, you attach one fuel canister to the base of each burner. It would’ve been nice to have a single canister work with both burners, but that’s a minor quibble. Unlike our old Coleman stove, which uses propane, the Primus Onja Stove uses isobutane fuel canisters. I bring this up only because isobutane heats much more efficiently than propane, so it appeared as though the Primus Onja Stove heated water and cooked food much faster than our old stove. In fact, it was mostly due to fuel requirements.
As for the pots, time and again they delivered even heating, while the leather pulltab helped us avoid burned fingers when lifting their lids. A strainer integrated into the lid allowed us to drain pasta for the kids without losing any noodles. The handles collapse alongside the perimeter so we could nest the pots and skillet for easy packing. These technical touches reflect Primus’ backcountry cred and insights, and a lot of people might take them for granted. They certainly weren’t lost on me. Truth be told, my wife even said she’d consider the Primus Campfire Cookset for home use.
And I think that really speaks to what Primus was trying to achieve with its Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset. The company has a track record among outdoorsy folks and brings technical expertise to the table because of that. But the Primus Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset are designed for a different audience, people who think more in terms of “luxury” and “nice” than “lightweight” and “packability.” The fact that the Onja and cookset also offer some of those elements — though not the lightweight one — is simply gravy.
The Primus Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset were provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Primus Onja Stove and Campfire Cookset
- Stove: Surprisingly stable in spite of its upright shape
- Stove: Keeps burners going even without wind guards
- Stove: Inclusion of an oak cutting/serving board is nice
- Pots: Little technical touches go a long way for comfort
- Pots: Packable like Russian nesting dolls
- Stove: One fuel canister per burner seems inefficient, though it might ease the repair process if needed
- Stove: Shoulder straps get a bit unwieldy at times
- Stove: Sometimes fuel canisters don't screw-in easily -- a threading issue?
- Pots: Accidental scorching can be a major chore to clean