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Primus Classic Trail Review

This stove prioritizes cooking ability and price over fuel efficiency, weight, and features.
Primus Classic Trail
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Price:  $23 List | $19.68 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, great for fancy cooking, good with big cookware
Cons:  Inefficient, not light, small valve control
Manufacturer:   Primus
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 3, 2019
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53
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 18
  • Fuel Efficiency - 25% 3
  • Weight - 25% 5
  • Simmering Ability - 25% 9
  • Time To Boil - 10% 4
  • Ease Of Use - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The Primus Classic Trail finishes towards the middle of our fleet for a low price. While it isn't the lightest stove, it is lighter and more packable than several other stoves in our test. For pure cooking performance (simmering and boil time), it came in third in our analysis. The large burner head means it works well with bigger pots and pans. If you're looking for a backcountry burner with the cooking performance of your stove at home, read on. If you need something lighter and even less expensive, check out the Etekcity Ultralight, which was our Best Stove on a Tight Budget.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Primus Classic Trail
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $19.68 at Amazon$69.95 at REI
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$64.95 at Amazon$134.50 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, great for fancy cooking, good with big cookwareWorks in the wind, great for simmering, best of the bestLight, works in the wind, great piezo lighterLight, fairly fuel efficient, piezoelectric lighter, can simmerSimple, light, inexpensive, strong hardcase
Cons Inefficient, not light, small valve controlUnreliable piezo igniterNot the most fuel efficientNot windproofUnstable, no piezo
Bottom Line This stove prioritizes cooking ability and price over fuel efficiency, weight, and features.This simmering champ can also perform in the wind.This lightweight stove is easy to use and will boil water when it's breezy.This light, relatively fuel efficient and convenient stove is our Top Pick For Integrated Canister Stoves.This small, light, easy to use stove can actually simmer and is perfect for backpacking.
Rating Categories Primus Classic Trail MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Soto Windmaster JetBoil MiniMo MSR PocketRocket 2
Fuel Efficiency (25%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
Weight (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Simmering Ability (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
Time To Boil (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
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4
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Specs Primus Classic Trail MSR PocketRocket... Soto Windmaster JetBoil MiniMo MSR PocketRocket 2
Boil Time (1 liter) 4:56 min:sec 3:22 min:sec 4:10 min:sec 4:06 min:sec 4:41 min:sec
Trail Weight 6.7 oz 3.0 oz 3.0 oz 12.2 oz 2.6 oz
Packed Weight 7.1 oz 3.5 oz 3.5 oz 15.2 oz 3.7 oz
Wind Boil Time (1 L, 8-10mph) 30 min 7:18 min:sec 8:43 min:sec 04:56 min:sec 30 min
Category Small Canister Small Canister Small Canister Integrated Canister Small Canister
Dimensions (inches) 4.9 x 4.9 x 2.2 in 3.3 x 2.2 x 1.8 in 4.7 x 3.9 x 3.6 in 5 x 6 in 3.5 x 2 in
Fuel Type Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane
Additional items included Stuff sack Stuff sack Stuff sack, pot support 1L pot, canister stand, plastic cup, stuff sack for burner Plastic case
Piezo Igniter No Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

When our testers first took this stove out of the box, we were unimpressed. It has the look and feel of a canister stove from 30 years ago. We were surprised then, to get it out in the field and find that not only does it really throw some heat, but it also simmers well. Unlike the other small canister stoves in the test, it has a broad burner head which, while presenting some problems, nicely distributes heat around the bottom of a pot or pan, limiting hot spots.

Performance Comparison


Different flame sizes and shapes on small canister stoves. Which one do you think throws the most heat?
Different flame sizes and shapes on small canister stoves. Which one do you think throws the most heat?

Fuel Efficiency


When we first fired this stove up, we were very impressed by the flame and heat output. We were not surprised to find that it was one of the least fuel-efficient stoves in the review. It wasn't too bad in the no-wind test, but like some small canister stoves, it performed poorly in front of the fan. It burned a lot of fuel without achieving a rolling boil during the 8 - 10mph wind test. The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe and Soto Windmaster both brought water to a boil in front of the fan.

We suspect one of the reasons that our tested fuel efficiency was low is that the burner head is quite large on the Classic Trail, almost three times a big as the PocketRocket 2 and the largest in the test. Our tester backpacking pot is 7 inches in diameter, and so part of the flame inevitably licks up the side and heat is lost. While using this stove, a bigger pan is better. For users concerned with fuel efficiency, making sure that the flame does not go beyond the bottom of the pot is essential.

The flames easily wrapped around the edges of our 7 inch pot when the stove was at full blast. Heat and fuel are going to waste here.
The flames easily wrapped around the edges of our 7 inch pot when the stove was at full blast. Heat and fuel are going to waste here.

Weight


Weight is another metric where the Classic Trail lives up to its old school appearance. It is the heaviest small canister stove in our test, twice as heavy as the Deluxe or GigaPower 2.0. It is, however, much lighter than any of the liquid fuel stoves.


Though this could hardly be called a "small" canister stove, it is still reasonably packable. When we unboxed this stove, the control valve assembly was loose from the burned head. When installed, it makes the stove awkward to pack, but if removed after use the unit can easily fit in our 2.5-liter pot with an 8oz fuel canister.

The control valve assembly unscrewed from the burner.
The control valve assembly unscrewed from the burner.

Simmering


Low heat cooking is where the Classic Trail shines. The spectrum of flame control on this stove was possibly unparalleled in our test and reminded us more of our stove at home than something we'd carry into the backcountry. It was easier to simmer with this stove than with the MSR Dragonfly, a liquid fuel stove designed for simmering. The wide burner head distributes heat around the bottom of pots and pans much better than the laser focus of many of the other stoves in the test, like the Primus Omnilite Ti or the PocketRocket 2.


Boil Time


The Classic Trail put in a solid no-wind boil time, bringing 1 liter of water to boil in 4 minutes and 56 seconds.


Like most small canister stoves, it did not do well in the wind. In 30 minutes, it failed to boil 1 liter of water but made large bubbles and some steam.

Dinner time. This stove performs best in sheltered campsites.
Dinner time. This stove performs best in sheltered campsites.

We do not recommend aftermarket windscreen. Readers should be aware that Primus explicitly warns against this in the instructions and there is a risk that the canister could become dangerously hot and explode.

Ease Of Use


The Classic Trail has some features that make it quite easy to use. Because they don't fold up to get smaller, the large pot supports come to the middle of the burner head, so big and small pots are reassuringly stable. At 8 cm it's only slightly taller than the GigaPower's 7 cm, giving it a reasonably low center of gravity. While large pots are more stable on this stove than most, users should beware of mounting this burner to a 16 oz fuel canister. Doing so with a pot full of two or more liters would disrupt the stove's center of gravity and overcome the inherent stability of the pot supports.


It lacks in other areas. The small old-fashioned valve control knob is harder to find under the pot, especially under the larger pots and pans that suit this stove. We wish it had the modern wire control that 8 of the other ten stoves in our test have. We also miss the piezo igniter found on many of the other stoves. These are the two features this stove lacks the most, and we think they would make the user experience just like the stove at home.

Though the generous pot supports can handle the biggest cookware  locating the control valve (the smallest in our review) under a big pan can be challenging.
Though the generous pot supports can handle the biggest cookware, locating the control valve (the smallest in our review) under a big pan can be challenging.

Best Applications


We think this stove is best suited to backpacking trips with groups of five or more. Large pots and pans are nice with big groups, and this stove shines under those. This stove could also be a great choice for backpackers who want to get fancy with their cooking and don't care about lower fuel efficiency or extra weight. Backpackers looking for a lighter and higher performing stove who are willing to spend a bit more money should check out our Editors' Choice award-winning MSR PocketRocket Deluxe. Those looking for something more versatile and durable for expeditions should look at the MSR Whisperlite.

Value


It's hard to find any quality piece of backpacking gear for this price, never mind something as important as a stove. The low price and reasonable (if sometimes dated) performance of the Classic Trail make it an excellent value. It's so inexpensive it could be a good choice for a home emergency kit or a backup stove for car camping.

The Classic Trail packed in our 2.5 liter pot leaves room for an 8oz fuel can  a lighter  and maybe a bit of food or a spare pair of socks.
The Classic Trail packed in our 2.5 liter pot leaves room for an 8oz fuel can, a lighter, and maybe a bit of food or a spare pair of socks.

Conclusion


While this stove wasn't perfect, it cooked well, and the price is pretty great. If weight and fuel efficiency aren't big concerns for you, but the cooking ability is, you may have just found your stove.

While maybe not ideal for fast and light travel  the Classic Trail is one of our favorite small canister stoves to cook with. Its simmering capabilities are supreme.
While maybe not ideal for fast and light travel, the Classic Trail is one of our favorite small canister stoves to cook with. Its simmering capabilities are supreme.


Ian McEleney