This year I entered the Original Mountain Marathon, prompting me to look for a light stove with a large boiling capacity. I eventually decided to buy an Optimus Crux Stove with the Weekend HE Cookset from Above and Beyond, and when the stove arrived I was excited to see how it measured up to my expectations.
Straight out of the box, first impressions are good. The HE Cookset is a well-made hard-anodised aluminium pot and pan/lid combination with a heat-exchanging ring on the bottom of the main pot (which is where the HE in the name comes from). The largest pot has a useful little spout at 90O from the handles which fold back onto the side of the pot when not in use. The Terra Weekend Cookset pots also have a greater diameter than similar cooksets which allows a medium (230g) gas canister to be carried in the main pot.
When compared to the excellent, but fairly standard pots, the stove is something else. The burner head is mounted on a hinge which allows the whole unit to be collapsed down in order to fit into the dished bottom of the gas canister, inside its own little neoprene “stuffsack”. This set-up provides a snug fit between the gas canister and the pot, whilst protecting the pot from being scratched by the gas canister and burner. The added gas means that the total stove/pots/gas weight is a little more than similar set-ups from other companies, but in my view is well worth it, especially if you have a large appetite.
So to its performance; I found the whole package to feel sturdy, well made and satisfying to use. The burner unfolds with a satisfying and confidence-inspiring click as the collar fits into place to hold it in the correct position. The attachment to the gas canister is a standard screw-on which appears to be nice and robust, although the stove is currently too new to comment properly.
All these features aside, the most important aspect is how well the stove actually performs, and in that it certainly did not disappoint. The burner head is a decent size, producing a larger burn area than most other lightweight stoves, and when turned up to 11, boil times are impressively short. It must be added that both times this stove has been used have been outside in windy conditions (the first time was on top of a 500m peak in Nothumberland, with no shelter aside from the tent), and in both cases water was boiling within two minutes . For all you tech nerds out there – only about 400ml was boiled at a time; enough for 2 boil in the bag meals. As I hadn’t actually timed the boil times whilst out, a quick test in our breezy Newcastle garden boiled 400ml in an impressive 1 minute 12 seconds! I’d probably stay away from doing anything other than boiling water with it though, as the Crux would be likely to incinerate your food and ruin your pans leaving you hungry and annoyed.
To boil it down to the basics – the Optimus Crux stove teamed with the Optimus Terra Weekend HE Cookset is an impressive lightweight stove/pot-set. Boil times are ridiculously short, even in windy conditions, and an increased pot diameter means that a larger gas canister can be carried to avoid any worries of running out of gas.
Importantly – how does the Crux compare to the competition? Incredibly well; the Crux is now my stove of choice for trips where weight and volume are at a premium.
Post by Johan
[More photos to follow]