Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, very compact, creative case design.
Cons: Burner oxidizes.
Best Uses: Spring, summer and fall backpacking and camping.
The Optimus Crux is our favorite small canister style backpacking stove for warm weather use. It's tiny, durable, fast, and has a very convenient case that stores the stove under a fuel canister. If you plan to bring a small canister stove to high elevations, opt instead for the more expensive Soto OD-1R ($70). Or for $10 less you can get the larger and heavier MSR Pocket Rocket. Of these three options, we favor the Crux because of its folding stem and excellent case design.
If environmentally harmful fuel canisters and tiny unstable stoves aren't your thing, we recommend the stable, versatile, and durable MSR Whisperlite. This liquid fuel stove will last you a lifetime.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Optimus Crux is the most compact stove we reviewed. It's also our favorite canister stove for warm weather backpacking. Two unique features set it apart from other canister stoves. First, a folding stem allows the burner to flip down into a tiny overall package. Second, the stove's pot supports extend up and out from the burner, creating a durable and compact design. Our favorite feature of the stove is actually its case. This supremely innovative yet intuitive case puts the folded stove in a padded neoprene sleeve that attaches to the bottom of a fuel canister. This case fills the hard-to-pack void beneath each canister. We believe this design protects the stove nearly as well as the MSR Pocket Rocket's hardcase. Furthermore, when the stove is packed under a canister it takes up virtually no additional space in your pack. We think this is awesome.
The Crux weighs 2.92 ounces, just 0.32 ounces more than the lightest stove we reviewed. Boiling a liter of water in just over three minutes, the Crux is the fastest small canister stove we reviewed.
The burner on the Crux oxidized after our first use. This turned it from shiny factory black to crimson rust. While this is purely aesthetic, it did not happen to either the Pocket Rocket or OD-1R.
The Crux is best for fast and light backpacking at elevations under 12,000 feet.
The Crux is the best value of the three small canister stoves reviewed here.
Optimus also makes the Optimus Crux Lite, a non-folding version of the Crux that weighs one-half ounce less. This is a great option if saving even the smallest amount of weight is your top priority. We still prefer the Crux because it folds into a smaller package and takes up less space. You can buy the Crux and Crux Lite with custom fitting pots for an extra $20 in the Optimus Crux Lite with Terra Solo Cook System, $60. The Crux Lite Solo Cook System combines the Crux Lite and the Terra Weekend Cook Set.
If you're looking for a backpacking stove that is full-featured and has a durable multi-fuel option, check out the Optimus Nova, $150.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 27, 2014
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