Optimus Crux Lite Stove Review
Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to start looking at smaller, more lightweight options, in terms of backcountry gear. I feel like I say this to myself every time I set off for a new adventure. As the saying goes, “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.” Right off of the bat, I thought of my cook set. Not necessarily for the weight(although less can’t hurt), but for the size. The one I have been using is rather bulky and takes up more room than I’d care for in my pack. So, my goal was to find something that was efficient, lightweight, and more compact. I looked at a ton of different options and finally landed on the Optimus Crux Lite stove.
The Optimus Crux Lite comes in a small stuff sack. It has been said that the stove is so small that it can fit in the dead space underneath your fuel canister. I haven’t found this to be true, but it is definitely on the small side. Before even picking this little guy up, I couldn’t help but notice how sleek this thing looked. Not that it matters, but I have to admit, the stove is appeasing to the eye. This isn’t just for show though, and has a purpose. Optimus provides you with a color coding system. The awesome vibrant green areas, are areas that you can touch, that wont get hot. This should help to minimize accidentally burning yourself before dinner. Another simple, but aesthetically pleasing part is the black curved pot prongs. Most other stoves on the market have straight pot prongs. I’m not sure why Optimus chose to do this, other than the fact that it looks great.
Once I actually picked the stove up, I was even more impressed. The claimed weight is 3.3 ounces. After weighing it myself, it actually came out to be less at 2.6 ounces. Can’t complain about that! Don’t let the small numbers fool you. For how compact and lightweight this is, it is extremely well built and durable. This does not seem like a piece of gear I have to worry about breaking anytime soon. That weight is JUST for the stove. Once I added a fuel canister, piezo igniter, and pot my system is sitting at 13 ounces. That is almost half the weight of my previous set up, not to mention, less than half of the size. Optimus also offers an actual cook set called the Solo. With the full kit, you will be sitting at 1 pound with a fuel canister and piezo igniter. If you ditch the small cup that comes with it, you will be at 13 ounces, which is what I did.
It’s pretty cut and dry how this little powerhouse works. Extend the prongs, make sure your green lever is closed all of the way, connect the fuel canister of your choosing(butane/isobutane), twist the green lever to release the fuel, and light the stove with either an igniter or lighter. You can set the height and strength of the flame by turning this lever up or down. This lets you either simmer something or go full blast to boil water quicker. That’s it and your off to the races. Before you do this, make sure you find a semi flat surface to set your canister on to cook. Because, this set up doesn’t lock the pot in place, it is quite easy to bump it off and lose your water. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but just be careful. After your water is boiling, turn the green lever all of the way off to stop the fuel from being released. Let the stove cool down before you put it away. You don’t want to burn yourself. Remember, only touch the green areas when the stove is hot.
The claimed boil time for 1 liter of water is right around 3 minutes. That sounds insanely impressive, but I have not had the same results. It might be because I don’t set the stove to full blast. Maybe I should. The reasons I haven’t though, is because I don’t want the flame to come up and melt the rubber on my pot handle and I have this notion that I will save fuel if I don’t. I could be wrong, but it’s just my theory. My results have been about 3 minutes for 16 ounces of water. To me, that’s not bad at all. Where I have found that the boil time suffers though, is in the wind. If you don’t find a good wind blocker, you could be looking in upwards of double the minutes to boil 16 ounces of water. This also might be remedied if you run the stove at maximum output. For me, it’s not a deal breaker, because I can usually find something to block the wind. Optimus does sell a wind stopper, but I have yet to pick it up. This could solve the issue entirely.
I have found the efficiency to be surprisingly good, even with some windy days and longer boil times. This sets me at ease a bit, knowing that the stove isn’t going to suck up all of my fuel like a van from the 90’s. Realistically, I think it is safe to say that you could get by on 1 small fuel canister on a 5 day trip making coffee in the morning and dinner at night. I’d add onto that and say I think you might be able to get a week out of one small canister if you were just cooking dinner. The claimed total boil time for this is 60 minutes with an 8 ounce canister at maximum output. So, if your boil times average out at 3 minutes a pop, you are looking at 20 cook sessions with an 8 ounce canister. With a small canister you will be looking at about half of that.
- Very affordable. ($39.99 for the stove)
- Durable Contruction
- Does not have a built in igniter(Optimus sells a piezo igniter accessory)
- Suffers in high winds(Optimus sells a windshield accessory)
- Easy to accidentally tip pot off of the stove
All in all, I think this is a huge stove in a small package. Coming in at 2.6 ounces, I don’t think this is going to be weighing me down on and off of the trail this year. It meets everything I wanted in a more lightweight cook set and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It looks great, works great, and packs great. The small drawbacks that I’ve mentioned I think are outweighed by the benefits and I am eager to use this in the coming months as the fall hunting seasons approach. I’ve spoken to a few friends that have been using this same stove in upwards of 5 years and have no complaints about it. I think that alone speaks volumes to the quality of what Optimus has given us here. Learn more about this stove and others from Optimus at www.optimusstoves.com.