Optimus Terra Cookset
TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
INITIAL REPORT - October 19, 2007
FIELD REPORT - January 13, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT - March 2, 2008
5' 9" (1.75 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids
are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do a few weekend
hikes per year, although now that my sons are older, I have had the pleasure
of 2 weeks backpacking at the Philmont Scout
Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and 2 weeks of canoeing in the Canadian wilderness.
I like to travel "in comfort", so I often
pack a little heavier than needed, but I'm trying to cut down. With all of my
investment into this trip, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…
October 19, 2009
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.optimus.se
MSRP: Not listed (approximate list price US $59.95)
Listed Weight: 23 oz (650 g)
Measured Weight: 23 oz (650 g)
Dimensions: 8 in diameter x 4 in height (20 x 10 cm) (NOTE: the manufacturer's website lists official
dimensions as 20.6 x 10.1 cm)
I received the Optimus Terra Cookset, and was somewhat surprised to note that
it looks EXACTLY like it does in the photo on the Optimus website. (It seems that
items rarely look the same as advertised).
I removed the cardboard wrapper and the plastic sleeves covering each pot. The
set consists of a 1.65 L pot (56 oz or 1.74 qt), a 1.7 L pot (57 oz or 1.8 qt),
and a small frying pan.
It also comes with the insulating cover (which fully
envelops either of the pots, but not with the pan) and plastic handle, which can
be used on any of the other pieces.
(Here is the pot grabber attached to the skillet)
The 1.65 L pot and the pan are Teflon coated,
and each came with a round paper in its bottom describing Teflon and its care and
usage. Briefly, Teflon (trademarked by DuPont) is a non-stick surface, but it is
somewhat susceptible to scratching, which ruins the integrity of the non-stick surface.
Both of the Teflon-coated parts have concentrically grooved bottoms, which (in addition
to being rather psychedelic) are supposed to prevent them from slipping on narrow
surfaces such as the tops of backpacking stoves. The figure shows the small pot with the
grooves on the left, with the larger, ungroved, pot at the right.
In any event, the cookset comes as it is meant to be carried on the trail: The
smaller pot fits snugly in the larger pot, and these are wrapped by the insulating
sleeve, which is then covered by the inverted frying pan. A set of buckles from the
sleeve goes over the pan and holds the whole assembly together. It is not obvious,
but the sleeve also has a large pocket on its top which holds the pot grabber.
When assembled, the whole set-up is completely quiet, as the pots cannot move and
bang into each other. However, when they are together, they form a nice container,
and it seems a shame to waste the empty space on the inside of the pot. There is
plenty of room for a small flashing, cooking/eating utensils, and in fact I was able
to stuff my Optimus Stella+ stove (the subject of a different test) into the middle
of the pots before closing everything up. The only caveat to using the pots this
way is that it would be important to make sure that whatever was placed in this
space was wrapped to prevent scratching of the interior of the pot.
EXPECTATIONS AND CONCERNS FOR THE GEAR
For now, the Optimus Terra Cookset meets my expectations, and I look forward to
the test. One concern I have is that the clasp holding the affair together is
rather slight (see picture below). This may hold up fine, but I am a little concerned it may be on the
flimsy side. I will keep an eye on this during the test.
As I write this IR, I haven't taken the cookset out yet, but I am excited to do so.
I will take the Terra cookset with me on my upcoming treks and see how they work.
The pots really are a little smaller than I usually use, as I usually travel with
the Boy Scouts in a group of 6-8. These pots appear better suited to 2 people
(or maybe 4), so I will try to get a sense of how much food can be reasonably cooked
in pots of this size. Given the fragility of Teflon, it will also be important to see
how they hold up, especially if I fill the cookset with other gear and/or food, to save
space elsewhere in the pack.
Please check back in 2 months for my Field Report on this item.
Back to the Top
January 13, 2008
To date, I have carried the Terra cookset with me on only one trip, a long dayhike in the Mohegan state forest. It was about 60 F (16 C) and windy, but there was no rain. I used the pots to boil water for lunch, and also made some soup in the pot. To get some additional cooking experience with the cookset, I have also use some cooking at home with it, both on a stovetop and on my camping stove. In this setting, I have made pancakes, French toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, and more soup (although not all at the same time).
To date, my experience with the Terra cookset has been very good. I like the way the pots fit together, and when I took them on the trail, I used the inside of the pot to keep all my spices and other cooking utensils in a convenient spot. They were wrapped inside a small carry bag, and I did not notice any marking on the inside of the pots from it. The set is very easy to take apart and select the proper pot for cooking. I also like the fact that the arrangement of the various pieces makes it simple to take out one pot for use, but to keep the other ones covered up so that no dirt and/or other goodies gets inside the pots.
In terms of the things I have cooked so far, the pots function fine for boiling water, but this is not a stretch. When I made soup, I didn't have any trouble as long as I kept stirring it to prevent the bottom from burning. I suppose this is due to the fact that the pots are fairly narrow at the base in order to fit on a camping stove. The pancakes and French toast (at right) were made in the skillet, and it did take me a few minutes to get the hang of holding the pot grabber in my left hand as I used a plastic spatula in my right. Nevertheless, everything came out fine (i.e. not burnt) and was gobbled up.
Although I haven't cooked anything really heavy like chili so far, I have found that the Teflon coating on the inside makes cleaning the pots very simple. I always take a non-abrasive cleaning pad with me, and everything I have cooked so far has wiped out with just a minimal amount of soap and effort. Because the pots are fairly thin, they cool off fairly rapidly once empty, so that I don't have to wait too long after cooking to clean and pack them away.
Regarding the grooved bottom and its stated purpose of making the pots more stable on small surfaces, I didn't really notice that the pots slipped any more or less than others. This is not a bad thing, but I just don't think this feature adds much. I actually used the pots on my Optimus Stella+ stove, which I figured would be a good fit. However, the grooves on the pot do not line up with the raised areas on the burner support, so I'm not sure how much value I would place on this feature in particular.
WEAR AND TEAR
So far, the insides of the pots have held up without any problem. Because I was aware the Teflon can be a little fragile, I have taken special care not to scratch or dent the inside surfaces, including using only plastic utensils to touch the inside of the pot. One thing I have noticed is that the outsides of the pots have begun to stain with blackened pigment, likely soot or burned food. I don't think this is anything other than a cosmetic issue at present, but I will continue to monitor.
To date, the Optimus Terra cookset has functioned as well as I had expected, although I have only been able to accomplish a modest amount of field testing. I have really come to appreciate the innovative but simple way the pots are fitted together for the trail, and they have held up well so far. Now that the holidays have come and gone, I expect to have the chance to use the cookset much more in the field. I will specifically continue to monitor how the Teflon surface holds up with more regular usage, especially as I will be using and cleaning it in the field over the next 2 months. I also want to see how much blackening occurs on the outside of the pots and if this affects their function at all. As I do more backpacking with the Terra, I want to get a better sense if the cookset will take dents from other gear being carried around inside my pack.
Overall, I have been very happy with the way the Terra cookset has functioned so far, and I will try to push them more over the period of the Long-term report. My plan is to continue to use these pots exclusively as I experiment with different cooking techniques and recipes, and see how the Terra pots hold up.
This concludes my Field Report on the Optimus Terra cookset. Please check in back in about 2 months for my final report on this item.
Back to Top
LONG TERM REPORT
March 2, 2008
I have now had the opportunity to use the Terra cookset fairly extensively, including on
a weekend outing in January, where I brought it to cook for 4 guys on a cold-weather outing.
Much of the other usage has been on solo day trips, where I was only cooking for myself. All told, I
have probably used the cookset on 5-6 trips, and have cooked 10-15 meals using these pots and pans,
in addition to using them for heating water for oatmeal, cocoa, etc., on many other occasions. Although I had
mentioned above that there is enough room on the inside of the cookset to carry a backpacking
stove, I found that I worried too much about this arrangement, and have taken to carrying
my utensils and spice containers inside the pots. This has worked well, with no worries and no problems.
Over this time, I have tried to vary my cooking, including a couple of soups, chili,
beef stew, eggs, and many types of warm sandwiches. All in all, I have been quite
impressed with the behavior of this set. With more usage, I have come to appreciate
that the pots are fairly thin, which means that they transfer heat very rapidly. This means
that not only do they heat up rapidly, but they also cook and cool down quickly. In cases
where I have not wanted the pots to cool too quickly (i.e., when second helpings
are on the way), I used the insulating cover. This is also handy just for keeping water
warm after boiling; although the water does not stay at a boil, it is easily hot enough
for most uses, including cleaning. There was never any problem with taking the pots
directly from a stove into the cover, and it does a good job of keeping the food warm, particularly
when I use the unused pot or pan as a cover. I never did try cooking things halfway, and letting
them complete the cooking process in the cover.
Also, it is worth noting that, although the pans are thin, I have not had any problem with bending or denting of the pots.
Similarly, I pointed out in my IR that I wanted to make sure there were no problems with
the fastening clip which holds the set together. I can report that as this test
concludes, the clip looks the same now as when I first opened the set.
Regarding the Teflon cooking surfaces, I have tried to take care of the set while
using it, as loss of the coating would make cooking and cleaning more difficult.
Over the course of the test, I have used only plastic cooking utensils, and for cleaning
I exclusively used a green/yellow scrubbie pad. Even after
cooking fairly heavy meals like chili or beef stew in the pot, most of the cooked food comes
off easily with hot water, but on the rare occasions when this hasn't been the case,
just a small bit of soapy water and a little rubbing has been sufficient. With this moderate
level of care, the coating on the inside of the pots has held up extremely well, and there are
no obvious defects in the coating at this time.
Although I would like to go on complementing the Terra, I think it is worthwhile pointing out that
I felt that it was very tight when I was cooking for 4 people with these pots. For things that just required
hot water, there was no issue, but for something like soup or stew, the largest pot was really not big enough to cook a full
meal for 4. When I was out by myself, there were no issues, but I would be wary in the backcountry if I had planned
to cook for 4 (or more) with this set of pots.
I have found the Optimus Terra cookset to be a sturdy, high-quality cookset.
I also found that with a modicum of care, the Teflon coating
held up well and allowed a quick clean up for all meals. I will continue to take
the Terra cookset with me on treks, at least on ones where I am not expecting to cook
for 4 or more people.
Things I liked about the Optimus Terra cookset:
Things I disliked about the Optimus Terra:
- Packs conveniently (especially considering the size and variety of pots)
- Very easy to clean
- Insulated cover allows me to keep food warm longer
- Pot grabber works very well and is handy around a camp kitchen
- Allows me to pack spices (or other stuff) within the pots
- Nothing really, although I wouldn't use this set to cook for 4 or more (unless heating water was all that was needed)
Back to Top
This concludes my report on the Optimus Terra cookset. My thanks once again to
Optimus for providing this new piece of equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org
for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.
Read more reviews of Optimus gear
Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner