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Is the SVEA 123 still a viable stove option for winter?
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Paul Ashton
(PDA123) - F

Locale: Eastern Mass
snow use video on 05/21/2013 16:23:58 MDT Print View

This a good video of using a SVEA in snow

I have a SVEA 123 and think it is great for solo use in any weather. My work colleague who doesn't count any mountain under 6K metres, laughed when I showed it to him. He thought it "wimpy" and inadequate for snow melting for a climbing team of 3 or 4. He uses an MSR NGK.

Edited by PDA123 on 05/21/2013 16:28:49 MDT.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Strange example of cold-weather capability on 05/22/2013 14:39:29 MDT Print View

The tank of the stove is frozen in a block of ice. The guy primes it and it lights right up. Interesting use of a wick.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Last Question - really on 05/22/2013 17:33:26 MDT Print View

> Do you need an insulating pad under the stove on the snow, or does it work better without one?

I always use a small bit of light 3-ply under my stove in the snow. It prevents the snow from melting and allowing the stove to fall over!


Craig Rowland
(craigr) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Is the SVEA 123 still a viable stove option for winter? on 09/28/2014 17:19:51 MDT Print View

This is an old thread, but I was looking up what people were now using for winter camping and came across it.

First, I'll say I'm the guy in the videos that several people linked to reviewing the Svea 123R:

Just to clarify, I do use the Svea 123R for winter camping from time to time. It is plenty fine for melting snow for 1-2 people. Any more than that I'd want either a second stove, or something with more output. I also use canister stoves for winter camping as they tend to be easier/safer to use in confined areas vs. any whitegas stove.

All these stoves have pluses and minuses. For the Svea:


1) Extremely simple. It has one moving part: the valve.

2) The only part I bring for a repair kit is a spare cap in case the gasket on the operating cap is damaged or the safety valve were to activate. I also bring a wick, but I've never had to use it either.

3) The only reason the safety valve will activate is user error getting the stove much too hot. Don't surround it with a wind shield and it will be fine. If you can't touch the fuel tank without getting immediately burned, you are running the stove incorrectly and you should shut it off and allow it to cool.

4) Heat from the stove vaporizes the fuel. The fuel tank gets warm/hot during use, but should never be so hot that you can't hold your finger on it for a bit. The design is quite ingenious as it eliminates external pumps and maintenance.

5) It was made in Sweden where it's cold. So yes, it does work fine in the winter!

6) For an overnight or two, you can just use the built in fuel tank and not bring an external tank with you so you save weight/space
in your pack.

7) Very compact design and extremely rugged.

8) No heavier than an MSR stove when you include all the MSR extras you need with the stove like windscreen, spare parts kit, etc.


1) In very cold temps it can be harder to start. You need to give it a good hot prime to get it going. Maybe even two primes sometimes.

2) I carry a little 4x4" piece of foam I place the stove on if there is snow or a very cold ground. This foam weighs almost nothing and
can also double as a pot holder. The foam allows the stove to reach operating temperature and it will reliably burn even in cold weather no problem.

3) Heat output is not as much as an external pump stove like XGK. So if you are thinking very cold weather expedition or high mountaineering, the Svea may not be the best choice. Although it would still probably work, just slower.

4) I wouldn't use it inside a tent vestibule or near anything flammable just as I wouldn't any white gas stove. I also angle the release valve away from people just to be extra safe in case it were to activate.

Overall, I am drawn to simplicity of the Svea 123R when needed. Mostly I use an alcohol stove for three seasons and I'll even use alcohol for four seasons if I know I won't need to melt snow. Otherwise, I bring the Svea or canister stove.

But the Svea is not down and out and compares very favorably to modern pump stoves. In terms of weight, I think it is a wash once all the extra MSR bits are factored in. In fact, I trust the Svea more and unlike MSR stoves, I've never had the Svea spray fuel all over the place, throw a big fireball, or break due to a pump failure.

Hope that helps...

Edited by craigr on 09/28/2014 17:29:30 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Is the SVEA 123 still a viable stove option for winter? on 09/28/2014 17:35:34 MDT Print View

I agree with what Craig says about the SVEA 123 for winter use. It's viable for a 1-2 people. And/or as a backup or second stove in a larger group. I'll add that there is (was?) a little pump that aided priming it, especially in cold weather. Not necessary, but it made it all easier.

I also agree with Roger - a small piece of 1/8" / 3mm plywood makes a more stable and compact platform than a piece of foam. More heat resistant, too. PM if you need a piece sent to you, I keep a few sheets around at all times. It could potentially double as a handy cutting board (leave it home when in bear country in the summer).

A while back, we got into a discussion of a modern 123 from titanium. I looked at density, thermal conductivity, etc, and it appeared to be problematic - conducting enough heat downward while gaining the weight advantage of titanium. More likely to make aluminum work.

Craig Rowland
(craigr) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Gas canister folding legs work for the Svea... on 09/28/2014 17:40:36 MDT Print View

I finagled one of those foldout three legged gas canister stands to fit on my Svea. A little dremel would probably make it fit perfectly. So I carry that in my kit and it gives a 1/2" gap from the ground, stabilizes the stove, and lets it work on colder ground. Although the foam still works better directly on snow.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Is the SVEA 123 still a viable stove option for winter? on 09/28/2014 17:43:41 MDT Print View

"a small piece of 1/8" / 3mm plywood"

Another alternative is Masonite in this thickness. If you want to make the Masonite virtually fireproof, then cover it with aluminum foil. Then, even if you manage to dribble some white gas, it survives.


Craig Rowland
(craigr) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Svea Pump on 09/28/2014 17:46:36 MDT Print View

Also, I did have a pump for my Svea 123R, but sold it as I never used it. I just carry a few coffee stirrers I use as fuel droppers. I dip them in the fuel tank and drop the fuel into the depression on the top of the tank. I then replace the cap and light the fuel. This always works for me to prime the stove even in some pretty cold weather.

Phillip Asby

Locale: North Carolina
aesthetics on 09/28/2014 20:22:57 MDT Print View

I don't have once but find the 123 and Coleman all in one units (422 533 etc) to be strangely alluring due to their aesthetic qualities and drop dead functionality. I use mostly canister and alcohol stoves depending on the trip and have a white gas stove for cold weather (primus express lander vf) but would like to have a 123 and Coleman. I really appreciate the engineering and design even if inverted canisters arguably make them sort of obsolete.

Leland Fraser
(dgrman) - M
Old school cool. on 09/28/2014 23:51:18 MDT Print View

I'm just the same. I've got the Svea 123r, Coleman 550B and 533. Something about the look of these stoves drew me to them. Lovely combination of old school cool in the looks, simplicity and reliability. I'll acknowledge that a cold hard analysis of my needs would have me using alcohol or canisters, and I mostly this is what I do. But as you said there is something fascinating about these old designs.

Edited by dgrman on 09/29/2014 05:06:16 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Is the SVEA 123 still a viable stove option for winter? on 09/29/2014 06:52:03 MDT Print View

Yes, the SVEA 123r is a nice little stove and is especially usefull at higher altitudes. It works fine for solo or two person excursions. Dependible, rugged, and efficient. As efficient as any WG or canister stove on the market. (Typically, I get between 10-13g/L.) So far no one has mentioned the packing volume. It is very small to carry, about 2" less than a Nalgene bottle in height and around the same diameter, soo, it fits into a pack pocket easily.

I carry a small soda bottle for fuel. These come in several sizes making it easy to taylor them to the length of trip I will take. For short overnight trips, I often don't bring one, using a small straw(1-2g) to get priming fuel right from the tank.

A spare cap is made up from a piece of 12ga wire shieth or an empty pen ink casing. A small hole is drilled and the tube is warmed, then pushed into the cap. I used to glue it in but quit doing that because nothing really sticks to the plastic that well. The friction fit works as well. I leave about 1-1/4" sticking out to aid in priming and filling. I aim the tube down into the stove for priming. This also lets me recover extra fuel when I overfill it. It saves the mess and fuss of spilled fuel. A typical 12oz bottle of fuel, including the bottle and cap, weighs about 10oz.

The 123 works well at 10,000'. With the wind screen, it is possible to boil about 1L of water without popping the saftey. I use this all summer for my regular one and two week trips. (I'm retired so I get to go whenever my wife will drop me off somewhere, >60 nights so far...) I typically use about 10oz for two weeks at about 1.5-2L per day. I usually cook some sort of stew/soup/rice/pasta for supper. 29-30oz total starting weight for two weeks out. This is competitive with most at my usage.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
A wick around the stem improves priming on 09/29/2014 09:07:07 MDT Print View

I discovered that a short length of wood stove door gasket, (1/4" diameter from ACE hardware), really improves cold-weather priming. Tie it or wire it one at the base of the stem at the indentation. Use a straw to draw out some fuel and soak the wick.

And the stove definitely burns hotter if you keep the tank bottom off the snow. And if you are worried about popping the valve while using a big pot in the hot summer, let the tank sit in a pan of water, or in a puddle.

Love the simplicity. Love the shiny brass. But I've only used mine for 2 seasons, so I'll need to check back in 25 years.

Christian Edstrom
(bjorn240) - F

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Svea 123/Snow Peak Trek 700 on 10/15/2014 06:36:05 MDT Print View

Quick SVEA 123 tip:

A Snow Peak Trek 700 mug fits directly over a SVEA 123 if you eliminate the supplied cup. This provides a compact, practical and self-contained white gas option for cold winter trips where canister stoves aren't ideal.

Brad A
(bradmacmt) - F

Locale: Montana
Re: A wick around the stem improves priming on 10/15/2014 17:05:48 MDT Print View

I got my Svea 123 in May of 1975... it's still going strong!

I just douse the spirit cup with fuel and light her up.

I've used it at -20*F and 100+*F and it's always worked, and worked well.

Not as light or convenient as my Jetboil Ti, or as stables as my MSR Whisperlite Int'l, but it's a wonderful little contraption that has the other two beat in terms of sheer simplicity and long-term durability.

Edited by bradmacmt on 10/15/2014 17:09:58 MDT.

Jeffrey Wong
(kayak4water) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
1.5 cents on 10/16/2014 01:13:13 MDT Print View

I used to carry an eye dropper with me when I camped with the Svea. I'd open the fuel tank, fill half the eyedropper, close the tank, put the cage back on the stove, fill the spirit cup with the fuel from the eyedropper, light the fuel and I'd have almost an instant prime. The eye dropper doesn't weight much compared to the pump, which I had once and never used--I didn't know how the cage could fit with the pump installed--maybe you had to cut away part of the cage to use the pump.

Nowadays, I don't camp much where I have to melt snow. Alcohol and canister stoves cover me.

Christian Edstrom
(bjorn240) - F

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Svea 123 on 10/16/2014 04:31:17 MDT Print View

I do the same, but carry a cut-off drinking straw. UL and all that! :)

Brad A
(bradmacmt) - F

Locale: Montana
eyedropper on 10/16/2014 07:26:19 MDT Print View

Jeffrey, I still use an eyedroppper (albeit a slightly oversized one) to prime the Svea... never did the pump thing, and never had an issue getting the Svea roaring to life, despite the temperature.

jeff martin
(rain) - M

Locale: oregon
SVEA 123 on 07/19/2015 14:46:53 MDT Print View

I like mine for cold /wet weather. my other stoves are jet boil and vargo wood. I've actually owned 3 Sveas because I've gifted the 1st 2 to people who hiked with me and loved them. I've never owned a new one , a pump, nor the R model. They have never failed to light. I usually just fill the stove and can go for an overnight without extra fuel. When I do take extra fuel i only take 1/3 of a small MSR bottle. THe stove will fit in some snow peak titanium pots and the is a slightly larger titanium cup that can replace the one that the stove comes with, but i usually just carry the standard set-up in a ditty bag in a side pocket. If i could only own one stove this might be it.