Primus Classic Trail Stove Review

  • Wilderness Backpacker

Primus Classic Trail Stove Overview

After a long backpacking trek there is that magical moment when the gear is unpacked, the boots are loose, and the stove needs to be retrieved from the pack. This moment is not to be toyed with. Nobody wants to spend a long time fiddling, twisting, and praying for their stove to spring into flame. These magic moments are best supported by simple and sturdy stoves, such as the Primus Classic Trail Stove.

Weighing in at eight ounces and boasting a solid 10,000 BTU/h output, the Swedish-made Primus Classic Trail Stove is simple to set up, stands under the weight of awkward kitchenware, and does not demand much space in the sack. It’s not the smallest or the lightest or the fastest boiler — it just gets the job done, reliably, time after time — for $20.

Given the affordability and reliability, we have given the Primus Classic Trail Stove our Budget Pick award for the Wilderness Backpacker.

Learn the best way to warm your water (or your weird backpacking food mush) with our backpacking stove guide, and read the full Primus Classic Trail Stove review below.

Classic Trail Stove Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 8 oz. (227 g) Fairly heavy for a small canister stove. You get what you pay for in this sense. More on backpacking stove weights in our Guide.
Stove Type Small Canister Stove This stove screws onto an isobutane canister and uses that as its base. More on backpacking stove types in our Guide.
Fuel Type(s) Isobutane These fuel cans can be bought in outdoor stores and in come in 4-ounce, 8-ounce, and 16-ounce varieties. More on backpacking stove fuel types in our Guide.
Output 10,000 BTU/r (2800 W) Standard output for a small canister stove. Quite powerful. More on backpacking stove output and BTUs in our Guide.
Simmer Ability Excellent The Classic Trail stove knows how to simmer, and with its wide burner head you can get a low, wide heat for cooking. More on backpacking stove simmer ability in our Guide.
Boil Time 3 minutes per 1 Liter of water (claimed) Our testing showed boiling times in five minutes, not three, but we weren’t using Primus fuel. Overall it boils water decently fast, but these claimed times may be hard to reproduce. More on backpacking stove boil time in our Guide.
Piezo Ignition? No A budget stove doesn’t have a built-in Piezo. More on how Piezo ignition works (and what it is) in our Guide.
Included Items Stove head, valve piece, nylon carrying case The stove and valve piece are separate pieces that need to be screwed into each other. This is different than other stoves, so don’t lose either of these pieces!
Dimensions Opened Size: 4.9 x 4.9 x 2.2 in. (12.4 x 12.4 x 5.5 cm) The Classic Trail stove has a large burner head and crossbeam pot supports. It doesn’t fold in on itself.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited One Year Warranty Primus only offers a year of warranty on this stove, which is less than ideal. You get what you pay for in terms of warranty, but one of the stove’s strongest traits is quality craftsmanship, so you may never need to use it.
Retail Price $19.95 About half the price of the usual competition. Great price for a well-made stove.

Gear Review of the Primus Classic Trail Stove

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

A few years ago, as I began investing in outdoor gear, I had trepidation about choosing a stove. I was unsure of how I wanted to harness the power of flame in the wild, so I went on trips without a stove, relying on pre-made or packaged foods, like LÄRABARs (so many LÄRABARs).

After realizing I needed to cook food, I experimented with a few different types of stoves and eventually settled on a metal canister backpacking stove, the GSI Outdoors Glacier Camp stove. My initial choice was based on simplicity, sturdiness, and, most importantly, cost and weight. I enjoy the idea of owning reliable, reusable, long-lasting equipment. Yet I found I did not like the spiky pot supports or the flimsy fuel adjuster knob of the new stove! As if the Outdoor Manufacturer gods heard my dismay, they cast upon me the Primus Classic Trail Stove.

Primus Classic Trail Stove review burner vid
The Primus Classic Trail Stove. Shiny, large, and durably built.

Why am I so amped on this little heat-producing dude? The stainless steel is sturdy and the pieces are made like classic hardware — strong, reliable, and durable. I think this is key above all else when it comes to a stove — if it doesn’t work for a long time, what’s the point?

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-off-with-pot
The Classic Trail Stove about to boil. See how it holds that pot?!

We have already shared many hot moments together and it has proved to be a solid backpacking companion in rain, sun, and wind (I haven’t tried it in the snow yet). There was not one single moment that fostered admiration of the Primus Classic Trail Stove, but rather the overall experience with its solid set-up.

Digging Deeper

Stability

The Primus Classic Trail stove affixes to the top of an isobutane propane fuel canister, and just as gravity has proved to exist before, it exists here. While this stove does have the potential to tip, that potential is not any more than other small canister stoves. Actually, it’s less, because it has such a large surface area.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-off-with-pot-and-water-bottle
The Classic Trail Stove about to boil water. It’s solid, specifically because of the large pot supports that go all the way to the center.

The Primus Classic Trail stove held a sauce pot, tin pans, and corn tortillas. The stove itself has wide cross-beams for support, which are more serious than many other tiny backpacking stoves. Provided you don’t set up the stove on an unstable rocky surface, the Primus Classic Trail stove can likely win many stability competitions.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-scenic-shot-with-stove
Wide pot supports that go right to the center. And a view.

Simmer

When you need a little bit of heat — but not too much! — the Classic Trail has a smooth twisting fuel adjustment knob that gets quite low. When on the low setting the stove holds the flame, as long it’s not being harassed by wind.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-cooking-tortillas
Yes, you can fit a tortilla on the Classic Trail Stove. Stability, a solid surface area, and a great simmer all come included. The ring of flame and great simmer allow a very fine, wide cooking surface.

At the top of a climb I was greeted by gusts of cold wind, so I hid behind a slope on the east side of the peak and tested the Classic Trail. I protected the flame with my body and was impressed with the flame’s resistance to faltering. My water simmered, my heart melted.

Ease of Setup

The Classic Trail comes in two pieces: the stove and the valve piece, which are separate. This is different than most small canister stoves, so take note. They are nicely packed in a thick nylon pouch that protects the crosshatched pot supports from damaging other gear.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-stove-pieces-1
The burner head and the valve piece are separate. This is unique, so be careful not to lose the smaller piece!

The valve piece is a small, yet solid piece of metal that you screw into the stove. And, making sure the valve is completely turned off, you then screw it into the canister. Do not be alarmed by the hiss once fully attached to the canister — it’s just a little gas.

The set-up process takes only a few seconds, just make sure not to misalign the threads on the stove and fuel piece — those need to lock in perfectly or you’ll be in trouble. Also make sure not to lose the smaller valve piece — the stove won’t work without it.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-stove-pieces-2
Thread the valve piece into the main stove and ensure the knob is turned all the way off before attaching to the fuel canister.

Side note: keep a few lighters and matches in the pouch at all times to ensure quick lighting.

Boil Time

Have you ever had the experience where, after slaying an intense hike, covered in sweat, freezing from the chilly air, and hungry for food and warmth you patiently wait for your stove to boil water but…nothing happens? I have, and it sucks.

Do not fret, the Primus Classic Trail stove is not going to disappoint you in your moment of need. I tested this dude’s boiling capability in my kitchen, at a mild-tempered campsite, in a damp forest basin, and on the top of a cold, windy mountain. The Primus Classic Trail stove made all my liquids (in eight or 16 ounce capacities) hot and bubbly.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-pot-of-boiling-water
Water boiling.

Please note that if you’re at the top of a windy mountain, I suggest going to the sheltered side, or creating shelter, so that the flame doesn’t get blown out. And use a lid.

I got two cups of water to a slight boil without a lid in ten minutes at the top of a windy mountain overlooking the Cascades, which is not desirable, but doable. When I was out of the wind, in the chilly night air, I used a lid and the water boiled within 5 minutes, which is just a little longer than most small canister stoves.

Weight

While the gram watching backpackers of the world might dismiss the Primus Classic Trail Stove as a hefty option that weighs eight ounces, this stove holds its value (and offers a bit more) for the price.

For reference, if someone is watching their weight (gear weight, that is), lightweight backpacking stoves typically weigh three to six ounces. Personally, this does not bother me because if I were concerned with shaving off 4 ounces (one-fourth a pound!), I would need to reassess all of my gear. (Did I ever tell you about the time I gutted a coconut and carried it in a glass jar on an eleven mile hike?)

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-pot-supports
Not the lightest stove in the world. What you lose in weight you gain in stability and a very wide flame. Oh, and the price.

The weight is manageable, and the extra size of the stove (if you can fit it) actually helps with stability.

Grievances

For the price and convenience I have no major qualms about the Primus Classic Trail stove. In fact, this stove warmed my heart after I broke up with my other stove.

That said, one annoyance is that giant silver plastic tag, which warns us to not cut it off. Its obstructive nature rubs me the wrong way and may inhibit the pleasantness of your experience with the Primus Classic Trail Stove. That said, it’s commonly found on other stoves, too, so the Classic Trail is not entirely at fault.

Primus-Classic-Trail-Stove-review-cooking-and-camping-stove-close-up
The stove boiling well during a car camping trip. Note the giant tag, which is annoying and way too large.

If you can handle the weight and size, which are larger than more expensive small canister stoves like the Snow Peak GigaPower or MSR PocketRocket 2, this here’s a winner.

Final Word

The Primus Classic Trail stove is like a piece of classic, traditional piece of technology, reminiscent of backpacking before the boom of solar-powered gadgets and uber-thin space fabrics. It doesn’t offer crazy and unexpected features or insane claims of its flaming potential. Rather, it’s a solid stove looking to be a reliable source of warmth in your time of need.

Where to Buy Primus Classic Trail Stove

Primus has offered the Classic Trail Stove for a long time, and they only offer the one version. It costs $20 retail, which is a great price for a reliable stove.

Compare Primus Classic Trail Stove prices below.

Melanie MacDowell Bio Pic

Melanie MacDowell

Fueled by sunshine, old school hip-hop, and coconut water, Melanie is a self-proclaimed amatuer adventurer ready to take on whatever is thrown at her and her big yellow backpack. With enthusiasm for the endless pursuit of knowledge, she encourages getting lost, talking to strangers, and practicing acts of kindness. Get lost with her on Instagram.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

Enjoying the new Backpackers.com?
Help us improve by answering 3 questions.

Yes, sure

No thanks