The Optimus Crux is a top 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 Windmaster OD-1RX ($70). Or for $10 less you can get the larger and heavier MSR PocketRocket 2. Of these three options, we favor the Crux because of its folding stem and excellent case design.
Optimus Crux Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, very compact, creative case design.
Cons: Burner oxidizes.
Our Analysis and Test Results
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 PocketRocket's hard case. 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 PocketRocket 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.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale