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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Brunton Optimus Crux > Owner Review by Chad G Poindexter

OPTIMUS CRUX STOVE
By: Chad Poindexter
OWNER REVIEW

March 21, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Poindexter
EMAIL: chad (DOT) poindexter (AT) yahoo (DOT) com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I am a fairly new hiker and have hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, and at a few state parks in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. Initially I have obtained slightly heavy gear, but I am making efforts to go lighter. I love my tent and appreciate a warm drink in the morning, as well as a warm meal at night. So far my distance has averaged around 10 mi (16 km) per day, depending on terrain. My wife or my son typically tag along with me on my hikes.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

IMAGE 1
Manufacturer: Optimus Of Sweden
Year of Purchase: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.optimus.se
MSRP: (US) $ 49.95
Listed Weight (Stove Only): 2.9 oz (83 g)
Measured Weight (Stove Only): 3.1 oz (88 g)
Measured Weight of Stove in Stuff Sack: 3.8 oz (108 g)
Listed Measurements Folded: 3.3 x 2.2 x 1.2 in (84 x 57 x 31 mm)
Measured Measurements Folded: 3.4 x 2.5 x 1.4 in (86 x 64 x 36 mm)
Listed Burn time: Up to 60 minutes maximum output (220 g canister)
Listed Rating: 3,000 W (Watts) / 10,200 BTU (British Thermal Unit)
Listed Boil Time: "As little as 3 minutes / liter."

IMAGE 4The Optimus Crux (hereafter referred to as the "stove" or the "Crux") is marketed as an ultralight, high output stove which features a large burner and folds flat for easy and convenient storage. With so much focus on the ability of the stove to fold and become more compact the stove is stated to be so small that it actually disappears. (While the stove doesn't actually disappear, it does fold up small enough to easily fit in the palm of my hand ~ see picture to the left.)

The stove came packaged inside a cardboard box with loads of information and points of interest detailed all over the box. Included inside the box is the stove, a black stuff sack which is very unique in itself, and of course a small booklet with instructions on attaching the stove to a canister, lighting the stove and controlling the gas flow. Also included in the booklet is maintenance instructions as well as other general information about the use of canisters with this stove, and of course the warranty information. The information comes printed in about seven different languages, so just like the stove, it covers a wide variety.

The stuff sack is made to fit around the bottom of an 8 oz (227 g) canister, which gives reason and meaning to the stoves ability to fold up flat and tiny. By doing this the concave bottom of the canister actually becomes a storage space instead of wasted space. In order to do this, the stuff sack was made to cup around the bottom of the canister while nestling the stove in the hollow space beneath the canister . At the bottom of the stuff sack there is a black pad. The pad is nylon on one side with the "Optimus" logo printed on it and the other side is comprised of a neoprene sleeve. The sleeve is actually a slit down the middle of the neoprene material and the stove is slid into one side and then the other side is pulled over the stove which completely covers the stove. There is a black stretchy mesh netting that is sewn to the edges of the black pad which extends slightly up the sides of the canister. Sewn in the entire circumference of the top of the netting is a black circular piece of elastic cord. This cord extends out one side of the netting and forms a loop. Once the stuff sack is cupped over the bottom of the canister, this loop is used to stretch over the top of the canister and loop around the lip of the canister, securing the stuff sack with the stove to the canister. Also on the mesh netting a strip of nylon is sewn down at each end which forms pull tabs and are located on the front and back side of the stuff sack as well as one at the end of the black elastic loop.

IMAGE 8

ANATOMY 101

Starting at the bottom of the stove, there is a black-colored valve housing with "Optimus of Sweden" printed in white letters on one side and "Crux" on the other. The threads within the housing enables this stove to be connected to canisters which use the threaded valve per the EN 417 standard (Lindal style self-sealing valve). Looking up at the threads, there is a small pin which juts down in the center of the threads known as the valve actuator. When the canister is screwed onto the stove, this valve allows the fuel to flow from the canister into the stove.

Attached to one side of the housing unit is a large, green, wire, gas-control valve that is able to be folded out when the stove is in use. The control valve can also be folded back in, making the stove more compact for when the stove is being stored. Printed above the wire gas-control on the housing unit in white is a "+" and a "-" symbol which represents the direction for turning the fuel up or down. One other object of importance is encased within this housing, and that is the actual burner jet.
IMAGE 2
Just above the housing unit is the shaft of the stove. From the bottom up, there is a gold locking nut that secures the shaft to the valve housing. Next is the blending pipe which is silver in color and has 4 holes punched in it to allow the fuel to mix with oxygen while making its way to the top of the stove. Next up is the latch sleeve which is black in color. The sleeve latch rest over the top of the blending pipe and on a housed spring. This sleeve latch features 3 rivets that completely encircle the sleeve and has 2 wings at the bottom of the sleeve. These rivets and wings enable a firm grip which enable me to slide the sleeve latch down the blending pipe (against the spring). The sleeve latch springs back up after release and locks in place from the pressure applied by the spring.

This is where I get to the jewel of the Crux. Just above the sleeve latch is the ball joint housing, silver in color. The ball joint housing works in conjunction with the sleeve latch. As the sleeve latch is pressed down the ball joint is visible and the head, or burner, of the Crux is allowed to swivel. This is the component that gives the Crux its ability to be compact for storage or lock steadfast in place for dinner time.

Next, resting at the top of the stove is the workhorse, the burner (or head). The burner actually consists of 4 pieces. From the bottom: First is the burner tray which is simply a flat, smooth tray that rest on the bottom of the burner and measures 2 in (5.1 cm) in diameter. Next are two pieces of wire mesh, an inner and an outer, nested one on top of the other. These pieces of mesh are shaped like a short cone with a flat bottom and set inverted inside the burner tray. (These pieces of mesh are not seen unless looking through the jet holes in the burner top.) Covering these pieces of mesh is the actual burner top. The burner top is a metal covering with 4 rings of jet holes encircling the entire head. Each ring consists of 36 jet holes making a total of 144 jet holes.

Finally, the stove features three foldable pot support arms which are secured to the top of the stove at the center of the burner top with a single screw that runs into the shaft of the stove. When an arm is fully extended it measures 1.4 in (3.5 cm) beyond the burner. This gives the stove a 4.8 in (12.2 cm) wide pot support. The pot supports also feature serrated edges enabling the supports to bite a little bit into the pot, which aids in increased pot stability.

FIELD USE

I have used this stove many times, but just for a count I estimate the use of this stove at around 50+ times in the field, and quite a few more times in pinches around the house. I have carried this stove with me on every backpacking trip I have been on since I began backpacking at the beginning of last year. The Crux has accompanied me on day hikes, overnight trips and on one trip for as many 5 days straight. It is used for 2 people most of the time and on occasion for up to as many as 4 (me, my wife and my two kids). I typically use the stove for breakfast and dinners on every trip.

I have used the Crux in the rainy backwoods of Big Hill Pond State Park in Tennessee while in temperatures that have ranged from 50 - 80 F (10 - 27 C) and at an elevation of around 500 ft (152 m) as well as next to the rivers at Sipsey Wilderness in Alabama with temperatures near 10 F (-12 C) and an elevation around 700 ft (213 m). I have used this stove in temperatures near 90 F (32 C) and at an elevation of 4,450 ft (1356 m) while atop Blood Mountain on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in North Georgia, however my most memorable as well as most recent trip was atop Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Elevation 6,593 ft (2010 m), temperatures near 20 F (-7 C) and snow, snow, snow!

IMAGE 5
At Mt. LeConte Shelter

SUMMARY

When I bought this stove I was very excited. When the UPS (United Parcel Service of America) driver drove up to my house, walked up and handed me the box containing the Crux I immediately came inside and ripped it open. The first thing I noticed was the folding head. That was just neat, couldn't be beat! Next I played with the swiveling pot support arms. The arms were just a touch tight but opened easily enough. I played with the green gas-control valve and found that it turned very smooth, like it was a finely oiled machine. After a few minutes of playing with it I decided to take it for a burn.

First I filled my 1.8 L (61 fl oz) GSI cook pot about half way full with water and set it aside. Next I carefully screwed the brand new 8 oz (227 g) canister of fuel tightly and securely to the stove and set the stove down on a flat smooth surface. Now I gave the gas-control valve a little turn and listened to the fuel lightly spray out of the burner and then quickly turned it back off. It worked! Now was the time. I found a lighter, turned the green handle again, just enough to hear the fuel slipping out, lit the lighter and then brought the stove to life. It was wonderful, beautiful. So far, so good. After playing with the gas-control valve and watching and listening to the flame rise higher then lower, I decided to add the pot of water to the mix.

This is where I ran into my first set back. In my opinion when I set the pot of water on the stoves pot supports I found the head of the stove to be slightly unstable. I played around with the stove and the pot trying to determine why it was this unstable. I made sure that the pot was squarely on the pot supports and that the stove was on a smooth level area. Finally, I turned the stove off and let it cool down. A little later I studied the stove with a little more detail. What I found was that there was a small space between the sleeve latch and the ball joint housing which allowed the head of the stove to rock back and forth just slightly while the head was erected. I assumed that this was a small price to pay for the ability of the stove to fold and become compact, as well as another feature to keep me aware while I was around my stove during use.

I used the stove many many times after that. With the recently mentioned "feature" in mind, I always took great care to be sure the stove was on a good solid level ground and that I always set my pot securely on the stove. I was also careful not to be active near my stove when in use. As for the stoves performance as to flaming up and cooking, it did beautifully, every single time. In all the varied conditions and temperatures that I have used the stove in the stove performed super. The flame on the burner is easily adjusted from a fast hot burn for simply boiling water, to a slow steady simmer in which I easily maintained for 15 straight minutes to cook red beans and rice in my cook pot while atop Blood Mountain on the AT with a simple twist of the green wire handle.

I have mainly used this stove with the above mentioned 1.8 L (61 fl oz) GSI pot in which I have cooked things such as Macaroni and Cheese with tuna, cheesy rice with chicken, and red beans and rice to name a few. I have also recently used it with a 700 ml (23.7 fl oz) titanium pot in which I only boil water in. On a few rare occasions I have used it with an 8 in (20.3 cm), small frying pan (the base of the frying pan measured 5.4 in (13.7 cm) in diameter) to cook things such as fried eggs and pancakes. In my experiences with the Crux, this stove performs in such a way as to provide a wide variety of cooking options. Here is a picture of the set up at Sipsey Wilderness.

IMAGE 6
At Sipsey Wilderness

JUST A FEW NOTES

1. I don't use the provided stuff sack. In my opinion, while it is neat and different, it is not practical for me to use because it makes the canister set uneven. The stuff sack (with the stove inside) does not fit entirely inside the hollow space beneath the canister, making the canister sit lopsided. I usually pack my stove and canister (along with other things) inside my cook pot and the lopsided canister just irks me. It would fit, but I just don't like it.

IMAGE 3
Compared to a regular size Bic Lighter


2. Even though I don't use the provided stuff sack, I am inclined to state that the stuff sack is not made to fit around a 4 oz (119 g) fuel canister. The stuff sack is simply to large and does not stay put.

3. I had read some other reviews and heard others talk about their Crux. After 11 months I came to the conclusion that the slightly unstable stove head on my Crux may not have been intended to this degree. I simply emailed Optimus explaining my situation. Within another day they returned my email simply stating for me to return it and they would ship me another to replace it. No questions. I didn't even have to go through the company I actually bought the stove from. Optimus took complete control of the situation, and fixed it. This is a plus, a company that stands behind their products, period.

As promised, the replacement stove was back in my hands within one full weeks time from the time that I mailed the initial stove back, which in itself was impressive. I was afraid that it would take a few weeks for me to get the replacement stove, but Optimus burned through that fear easily with a very timely turn around!

A quick rundown of the new stove: The new stove is the same in appearance as the initial stove and is made to function in all the same ways that the initial stove did. Upon inspection of the new stove I immediately checked the stability of the stoves head when erected. Immediately I noticed the difference in the tightness of the latch sleeve in conjunction with the ball joint housing on the new stove as compared to the initial stoves latch sleeve and ball joint housing configuration. While the latch sleeve is not too tight to maneuver down or spring back up, it is noticeably tighter which allows less rocking movement at the ball joint resulting in the head of the stove to remain much more stable while erected. Perfect.

I must make note of one other thing which involves the new stove. This stove is much more touchy when the stove is turned down to a low flame setting. For this I have been told to inspect the nooks and crannies for dust, so I will inspect the stove further for dirt around the jets and O-rings and other such things. While I am no stove expert I will see what I can do with it.

My overall experience with the Optimus Crux stove, as well as Optimus as a company has left me very satisfied. I will continue to use this stove and feel secure in knowing that I can rely on this stove, even amongst the wide variety of situations that I could be presented with. I feel very comfortable recommending the Crux to anyone searching for a great canister stove, but will provide a word of caution and encourage anyone to personally check the stove if at all possible. As for me, I plan on enjoying many more meals with this awesome little stove!

SIGNATURE

IMAGE 7
Chad Poindexter
"Stick"

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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