If your adventures and treks take you into the mountains or even in the deserts, where usable firewood is hard to find (or you are simply trying to follow Leave No Trace Principles) your going to need a stove to cook your food and boil water. The stove should be powerful, efficient, lightweight and durable. You will also need some form of container to hold that water, and that can sustain the powerful flame of that stove without complaint. One great option on the market that encompasses all of these things is the Optimus Crux Burner and its companion cook set the Terra Weekend HE. This stove and cook set combo was made as a complimentary set that works perfectly in tandem.
The first major benefit of this little stove is that it is extremely lightweight! The Optimus Crux weighs in at only 83 grams, which makes it a quarter of the weight of an MSR Whisperlite. The Whisperlite is a great stove as well with benefits over the Optimus Crux, but in terms of weight, it is very hard to find a stove on the market that beats it. Along with being low weight, the stove it is very small and packable. The stove itself, when folded up, can fit in the palm of even the smallest of hands and will take up very little space inside of your pack. A really brilliant feature that Optimus included with this stove is a pouch that allows you to nest the stove underneath an IsoButane canister. Even the smallest canisters work with this system and it serves to keep the stove protected as well as contained. When nested together with the stove and canister bundle then nests nicely inside of the Terra Weekend HE. There actually is a bit of room above or below the stove/canister bundle, depending on how you pack it, and I usually keep my space blanket in there to provide added cushion, preventing the stove/canister bundle from jostling around inside of the pot while on the move.
Another major plus of the Optimus Crux is that it is a very powerful burner for its size, producing 3000 watts. The product description claims that it can boil 1 liter of water in about 3 minutes (depending on altitude). After multiple extended uses in varying conditions, this is accurate. Despite the power of this stove, it has relatively low fuel usage. The average burn time given for the Optimus Crux is 90 minutes on high. The power it puts out and the speed that allows you to boil water in means that one small canister of Isobutane will last you many meals and several days of normal use. Also, it is very easy to use! Screw the burner onto the top of your fuel canister, spark it and twist the valve. Boom. Flame. use the same valve to adjust the intensity of the flame and close the valve to turn the stove off. Simple. The Terra Weekend HE is complimentary to the stove’s burning power as well. Underneath the cook pot is a heat\rexchanger which Optimus claims “reduces time to boil by 20%”. The under structure helps to reflect and trap the heat coming off the stove underneath the pot and concentrate that energy on heating the liquid or food inside rather than escaping into the air with the wind.
Despite its diminutive size, it has an effective burning platform. The prongs extend to a diameter of 2.2” (57mm), and while you won’t be boiling a stew for 20 on this little guy, it can handle most backpacking size cook pots and pans with ease. I highly recommend getting the Optimus TERRA Weekend HE Cook set to go with this little bad boy because they were literally made for each other. The cook set is made of Anodized Aluminum, which is strong and lightweight. The Terra only weighs 275 grams. At 4.9”x6.5” (12.4×16.5cm) it can just under 1000ml of water.
Another benefit of the stove and cook set is their low cost. Compared to some backpacking stove/burner systems this is very fairly priced. Current internet retailers are charging 39.99 for the stove, and if you want to get it with the Optimus Terra Weekend HE Cook set, it will only run you back $55 (the cook set is $29.99 on its own, so if you get them together from the jump you will save yourself a couple dollars). Not half bad for the performance that they provide.
They are also very durable, which is a strong selling point for most of us who, despite our best intentions, abuse the crap out of our gear. I have had and used mine for over 3 years, many trips and countless burns and they show no signs of diminishing effectiveness, leaks, or other technical issues. They have gotten wet, fallen over, and all to no ill effect.
The reason why you should add this to your gear locker/shed, hell, gear barn if you got one? If you want ultra-lightweight without sacrificing reliability, ease of use and quickness in preparing hot food, the Optimus Crux is a fantastic option to consider. Only the most extreme conditions (high altitude) will stop this little fire-breather, but this is to be expected of a unit that can be had for so low a cost. I have had my Optimus Crux for over 3 years an have used it on countless backpacking trips and car camping trips alike. It is a work horse that continues to perform and it hasn’t failed me yet. The Terra HE is an equally great option to add to your kit, even as a stand alone set with another backpacking stove. You can use it with a burner or if you have the option of making a cooking fire you can always place it on a bed of coals to cook/boil whatever you put inside of it. Both are well worth their low price point and provide performance and benefits that are often found with much higher priced options. Optimus Prime would be proud. Come on, I had too.