Svea stove

Le 7 septembre 2002, par OldJimbo

A test of the Svea stove.

One of my friends gave me a cook set with a Svea 123 stove. It’d been in a box since he went bow hunting for sheep about 25 years ago. It still had gasoline in it and started and ran first try. Not bad for dependability !

That’s the post I made about the stove, and while it’s a bit of bragging - the stove has only gone up in my estimation since.

I guess that a little update is called for, even before we get started. I keep the stove in the back of my truck - inside the coffee can pot, and I found in the middle of last winter that the truck canopy had leaked, the can had filled with water and that the stove was frozen in a block of ice. I decided to leave it that way for a couple of months feeling sure that it would still work. The end result was that the stove was frozen for four months. Once I thawed it out, it started first time and has worked without a problem ever since. I just have to polish the brass again to make it look new. That must seem like a pretty stupid test - but the fact is that these stoves are touted as being the sturdiest and most dependable ever built. It appears that they deserve the reputation ! The stove has also run flawlessly on 89 octane purple (boat) gas for a year now.

I’ve had a lot of email on this stove - lots to say how great the stove is, but others to ask if I’m really sure it’s a dependable stove. I’m sure not going to drop it off cliffs or drive over it - but I’d say it’s pretty well tested.


For some years I’d been meaning to get a single burner stove. There are times when a fire is not possible or convenient. I have had a two burner Coleman propane stove for decades, but that’s not too convenient to pack around. Anyway while I was visiting a buddy, I mentioned that I was shopping for a small stove and he gave me his - and the cook set to go with it. Now that’s pretty special ! I was quick to polish up the stove and even had it sitting on my bookshelf for a while : it’s one pretty piece of equipment being all brass. At first I was worried about getting any needed spare parts as the stove was 25 years old. I shouldn’t have worried - the stove has been produced for well over a hundred years. These days everyone is concerned with the latest stuff, lightness, hi-tech : I’ll stay with the stuff that really works : to me a brass stove looks better too.

And it sure does work ! Naturally I had to take it out and try it with the fuel that was in it, and had been sitting in it for 25 years. That’s some testimony to the fact that it doesn’t leak ! It fired up right away, and only slightly scared me with the distinctive sound that these stoves make - sounds like helicopters coming in. I was a little apprehensive about a stove using gasoline, but you soon get used to things. About the only fuel pressure stoves I ever used was as a kid camping in Europe and those were kerosene or "paraffin" as we used to call it there. The stove has been properly used and abused for the last few months running on regular unleaded gas, being left in a damp truck, and so forth. The stove has never hesitated. For sure you get to learn some tricks in getting it going, but it always goes. I could never bear to dent or scratch the stove, but my thought is that you would have to deliberately try to wreck it to stop it ! The one real warning is to be careful to store the plate (part #2174) that fits over the burner carefully. Lose it and you are in trouble as the stove just won’t work.

Some Specifications from the Optimus site :

No. 123R SVEA / CLIMBER Gasoline Stove

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 !

We doubt 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 its 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.

As on the 8R Hunter, the Svea is self-pressurized. Operating without a pump, the Svea produces well enough output for one person outdoor cooking. If desired, output can be increased by using the optional Midi Pump.


Fuels : White gasoline, Coleman fuel.

Weight : 550 grams/19 oz.

Measurements : 100x130 mm / 3.9"x5.1"

Rating : Appr. 1.400 watts/4.700 BTU. With optional midi pump appr. 1.600 watts/5.300 BTU.

Burning time : Appr. 75 minutes on one filling (0.12 litres/4 oz.) at high output.

Boiling time, one litre of water : Appr. 7 minutes. With optional midi pump appr. 6 minutes.

Click on the picture for a larger one..


The specs about say it all. Notice that the key adjuster is also a wrench set which can be used for everything on the stove.

Warnings :

The stove won’t blow up because it has a safety vent. It is important to not though that you can get some good flare ups if it does vent. This will be caused by people trying to build a wind screen that keeps too much heat in. You’ll hear the difference as pressure builds up and the burner runs fast. Those helicopter noises will get very threatening before anything lets loose.

If you are careful with refuelling, and keep your fuel bottle well away, all will be well. You can pre-heat the stove with cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, placed in the burner bowl and lit. If you want to just use fuel for pre-heating then you better be a careful person. This just isn’t the stove for children or careless adults.

An important fact to remember is that a mixture of one part gas to 16 parts air explodes if ignited, rather than burns. Storage of gas involves some care.

Tips :

  1. Test the stove away from flammables and with a hosepipe running at least three times before trusting a used or older stove. Leave it running 5 minutes each time.
  2. Get yourself a good fuel bottle and always leave an air space.
  3. I use a multi tool set of pliers to drop on the 2174 top plate after getting some tissue soaked in gas to heat the stove in the burner bowl. That saves burned fingers. I’ll be fabricating a replacement plate or buying one to attach to the stove since the original could get lost.
  4. Use Coleman fuel or purple gas. The latter works well in cold conditions because it’s 89 octane. Regular gas has a lot of additives - but does work well in this stove. Eventually expect it to clog.
  5. I haven’t made a lot of the stability of the stove because you just have to be careful. Remember when you decide to make a nice rock wall around the stove to help support the pots that you are keeping the heat in. That’s not too great.

Conclusions :

Pressure fuel stoves give a lot of heat. That’s the advantage over alcohol stoves which you can make or buy cheaply. Gasoline stoves are the most fuel efficient. For all of the stoves out there, reviews show many people returning to the 100 year old design of the Svea. I think I can see why.

For classic stove stuff, start here and follow links.. Stoves

Post-Scriptum :

Original article at OldJimbo’s site.

par OldJimbo



Le 20 septembre 2002
can be found at : Optimus
Bob Marquardt
Le 4 août 2003

I agree with your evaluation of the Svea. I had one for over 20 years and had a great cook pot set, in which the stove fit perfectly in the smaller pot, I bought it from REI. Recently, my stove and pot set were stolen. I was able to replace the stove from e-bay, however, I can’t seem to find the cook pot set. Anyone have any idea what I am talking about and where I can find such a cook pot set, it contained three pots of different sizes, fitting into each other, with handles and lids ? It was a perfect match to the svea camp stove.

Bob Marquardt

Le 26 août 2003
I have had my svea stove since early 80’s and very happy with it. However, it recently developed a small fuel leak around the gas cap area, and seems that the seal has weakened. I tried to get the gasket out and it just crumbled on me, so now it seems i need to replace the whole cap (was not successfull finding a replacement seal at a hardware store). I searched the internet for svea stove, but did not find an origination address for the company. Any one out there know their address ?
Le 28 août 2003

Optimus (

is the maker of Svea stoves.

just a guy
Le 11 septembre 2003

I’m not sure what the seal looks like on your stove, but I’ve replaced several coleman stove seals with O-rings. to get one the right size, go to a reputable garage, or a good auto parts store. They should have a kit with a range of sizes. You could also check with a plumber, but they don’t always have the range of sizes. Plumbers do know how to solder though, so if you damage the tank, they can often repair it.

BTW I’ve had an O-ring seal on my large two burner Coleman for ten years, and it works better than the new stoves. Finger tight means no leaks, and it makes it easy to open if I leave it for a season.

Le 18 septembre 2003
Here is a link to the repait kit for the Svea-123/Hunter camp stove : The price is $14.95 + shipping.
Ben Sands, Vienna VA
Le 15 octobre 2003

Wonderful piece of gear. I use a medicine dropper to put a few drops of fuel in the indentation where the stove meets the tank. CLEAR the area and use a long lighter.

I have never been able to duplicate the "Compleat Walker’s" method of lighting a small pice of paper held under the tank, open the valve, some fuel comes into the bowl, shut the valve, light the fuel and reopen the valve just as the last of the fuel burns.

Le 7 août 2004
I bought my Svea 123 in 1968 from a climber in Boulder who was leaving town. Dubious of this device at first glance, I’ve grown to love it so much over the years I’ve never felt the urge to buy one of these newer fancy stoves. The Svea 123 has never failed me, although there have been some startling moments when it really takes off and sounds like an old WW II "buzz bomb." So I’d say 36 years of using the same stove every summer for numerous backpacking trips makes the Svea 123 a "classic." I’m finally sending it off to H&R out in Tustin, Ca. to have it overhauled. Not that it needs it, but what the heck. I noticed that REI still sells this stove on their web catalog site, but don’t expect many of the kids who work in the REI stores to know anything about the 123. You might as well be speaking ancient Greek. The REI catalog calls this stove "Nostalgic" but to me that’s rather insulting considering that I have tucked into a hot meal made on the 123 while some young whippersnapper nearby is still fiddling with his cranky new stove with the pumps and fuel bottles and hoses and whatnot. Nostalgic maybe, but no-nonsense effective in my book.
Le 31 août 2004

My Svea 123 has been sitting on the shelf for about 15 year half filled with Coleman fuel. I decided to see if it would still work. I replaced the old fuel with new, poured a little fuel in the cup and fired it up. It burned, but sputtered and didn’t ever get very hot. I then disassembled it and cleaned each part and reassembled. This time when it took right off and the had the distinctive roar. As a test I boiled a liter of water in my old Sigg tourister pan with the Sigg wind shield. It took about 6 minutes.

It has been a long time since I last used this stove and I have a couple of questions. After about 3 minutes the flame started burning hotter and the roaring sound noticeably increased. As it was heating the water I noticed the burner was glowing red. Is this normal for the Svea ?

Le 9 octobre 2004

I just bought (by mere chance, unexpectedly in an old tools shop) a SVEA no 121 stove.

Do you know this stove ? Which characterisitics does it share with the SVEA 123 ?

I was told it is operated by paraffin. Do you know if yu can use any other fuel ?

Thanks for any info !


Le 9 octobre 2004

Hi Nomade !

The SVEA 121 is kerosene (parafin) fuelled and so no other fuel can be used. This can be a benefit as parafin is much safer. It should look like :


and the stove site is the place to look for details of spare parts and tips :



Le 20 janvier 2006

I’ve had and appreciated one of these SVEA 123 stoves since 1981 and haven’t replaced a single part.

One tip for preheating -notice the little channel that runs around the base of the burner assembly. This can hold a piece of ESBIT, META or similar, a fuel soaked cotton ball or even -if you’re careful -some petrol. Lighting this means you don’t risk clogging the burner and you don’t have to remove (risk losing) the top plate.

To be honest, 25 years into ownership...I didn’t know the top plate came off !

Le 25 mars 2006

Just fired up my Svea which I hadn’t used in about twenty years (my grandsons asked me to go backpacking). No problem.

Now if my knee works as well as the stove, we’ll have a great time.


T Lucchesi
Le 12 juillet 2006
I have had my Svea a really long time,too- with my Sigg Tourist cookset- Two pots, a lid/pan and a two part windscreen that all nest together and make a nice package. I got mine at REI also in I think about 1979. I am still using them- just this past week in the Trinity Alps- although the set is a bit dented. I have never replaced a thing and the Svea has never once failed me. I haven’t tried to Google Sigg Tourist cooksets, good luck.
Paul V
Le 28 juillet 2006
I think you’re talking about the SIGG tourister cookset. These have been out of production for several years. They pop up on E-Bay from time to time...but they always sell at premium prices. A good alternative in a compact cookset is the GSI hard annodized double boiler. It’s cheap ($20-$25) It’s light. A svea fits perfectly into it.
Le 29 août 2006

Hi :

We just bought our second SVEA 132 campstove at a garage sale for a couple of bucks. Our other one is about 30 years old, still working fine and have never changed parts. It has gone all the way across Canada and used every day on that trip for months ! However, this new one, upon trying to fire it up, my husband could not get it going. He took it apart and noticed the pin (cleaning needle) was bent and broken. We need a part and cannot locate one. I tried Mountain Coop and SIR. I tried to e-mail Optimus but received not response. Can anyone help ? Our e-mail

Thank you ! Colleen

Le 6 septembre 2006


Try A&H at for parts. Also check out for a neat website with links to parts. Base Camp in the UK carries lots of parts for old stoves. Your 30 year old Svea...I have one of similar probably more reliable than the newer version with the self-cleaning needle. I never had a lick of trouble with my old one. It now looks like it survived a war, but still runs like a Swiss clock !


Le 11 septembre 2006
One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is making sure you remove the fuel valve key once you get your stove running. You will only leave it in place one time ! After a few minutes of running you can leave serioiusly burned finger prints on that very hot little key. As for the flame spreader cap ; I bent it’s ears in a bit to make it tighter and have never had it come off by mistake. I bought my 123 in the 1960’s and served me on many a hike, hunting trip and bicycle expedition.
Le 3 novembre 2006
One thing to note when using a Svea123 is that there is a cotton wick in the stem pulling fuel to the burner by capillary action. The fuel is coolant for the wick & if the stove is allowed to burn itself out (zero fuel while running) the still-hot stem will bake the wick. The stove will then be difficult to light & will perform poorly due to a charred wick. Unscrew stem from tank & replace wick...& never let stove run dry. Mine is 38 years old & no problems from -31°F to 101°F ambient. -Dan
Le 6 novembre 2006

I have been using a svea 123 for about 20 years and start it one of 3 ways.

1. Pour a bit of fuel in the indentation in the top of the tank and light, or :

2. Heat the cold tank with a tea bag wrapper or scrap of paper and fill the indentation with fuel jetting from the nozzle. Then light, or :

3. Open the valve and let the fuel flow out on its own because I filled the tank at a lower elevation after breakfast.

Le 15 décembre 2006
Bought mine at a garage sale with it’s nesting cup. The chain was there but no key for the burner. Used a short length of small brass fuel line and with the tang of a small file, hammered in made, the square in the end and bent the other end like a allen wrench and drilled a hole for the chain.. works fine.
Le 29 décembre 2007
I bought a SVEA 123 used for $5 in 1980, used it for years, mounains to deserts. Started it on the descents with a teabag wrapper (a la Compleat Walker) or held a match underneath, on the way up the pressure was enough. Never had a pump, nor needed one. I gave mine away to a friend getting into camping, now looking for a new one ! They are expensive now !
Le 15 février 2008
Just bought a SVEA after reading so many 5 star ratings. After playing with the lighting process for awhile I got an idea to make a doughnut shaped wick from a short length of wood stove door gasket that sits in the fuel well on the top of the fuel tank. To light put a few drops of alcohol or coleman fuel on the wick (doesn’t spill) and light. This provides a nice flame that will light the burner after reaching proper heat level. The gasket material seems unaffected by the heat. This works great ! BTW the stove is fully assembled for the whole lighting process.
Jose Jimenez
Le 20 février 2008
I have a Svea 2 burner camping stove and am looking for the front knobs that control the flame. Any idea where I can buy them ?
mighty might
Le 30 avril 2008
We’ve got a 25 year old SVEA stove that we haven’t used in 6 or 7 years. I’ve been looking for tips on another stove to buy in preparation for our first backpacking trip since then (and with our now 9 year old) and it sounds like we should just tune up the SVEA and keep right on using it ! I first used one in the early 80s—it was recommended to me as the gold standard : not tippy and easy to light. Yep ! And it definitely appeals to my live lightly on the earth sensibilities. My goal is to make it the only backpacking stove we ever buy !
Le 8 juin 2008
I have had my Svea 123 since the early 1978 and it still works like the first day. I love the jet-engine sound as it cooks my meals. It is mated to my Sigg Tourist cook set, made in Switzerland, which is designed explicitly to use with the Svea. Together, they can’t be beat by anything on today’s market !
Le 11 juin 2008
I’ve had my Svea 123 since the mid 80’s, and have had zero problems with it. But I wanted a second one to expand the menu possibilities, now that camping has become a family affair. They’re out there on EBay, but certainly not cheap. Finally came across the previously mentioned A&H Enterprises in Tustin, CA. They still have about 50 new ones available. Since I’m close, I ran down there on my lunch hour and picked one up ! I use the eye-dropper method to get mine going. It’s not the best stove for simmering --- but they don’t seem to catch on fire like all my friends’ Coleman Peak 1’s have at some point.
Le 3 juillet 2008
Where can I get the pump for my Svea ?
Le 28 juillet 2008
The pump for the 123 may be availbale through Optimus. I purchased mine from Campmoor a few years ago. It came with a replacement fuel cap that works with the pump. Unfortunately, I don’t think Campmoor sells them anymore. I found that the pump is helpful in extreme cold (below zero) as the low temperatures can prevent the stove from pressurizing itself. One must take car to not over do it or you’ll have a torch on your hands. The pump is also helpful for starting the stove. Give it half a pump, open the valve and enough fuel squirts out the jet to fill the primer bowl. I always open the valve first to see if it has already pressurized itself enough from the altitude change to fill the bowl. My dad purchased the stove in 1973 along with the Sigg Tourist cookset. Was used for numerous family backpacking trips before being passed on to me in the 80’s. Always used Coleman fuel except for one season when EMS chose to sell a cheap replacement. The stove ran horribly and became covered with carbon deposits. Found some Coleman fuel at a hardware store. Running it with the coleman fuel actually cleaned out the carbon deposits. Never use any other fuel again. Stove still runs great. I enjoy the joking remarks about my antique stove while at backcountry campsites. I just smile while enjoying my meal and the other guys are still trying to get their MSR stoves started.

Le site est affiché en français avec ses sections françaises seulement, sachez qu’il existe cependant beaucoup à découvrir dans la version Anglaise.

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