Optimus Elektra FE Cook System ReviewJune 19, 2018
- Wind performance
- Fuel control dial
- Cooking flexibility
- Fry pan/lid
Like the Jetboil MiniMo and MSR Windburner, the Elektra FE is designed to be most efficient when paired with its companion, heat-exchanger equipped pot. Thus, it boiled 10, two-cup pots of tap water in average of 2:11. Testing used Jetboil’s Jetpower 4-season isobutane mix, and conditions were calm, sunny, and 55º.
The Elektra can’t match the MiniMo’s 1:51, but it did secure a place in the top half of all backpacking stoves tested to date in this category. It’s faster than the highly regarded MSR Windburner, Primus Eta Spider, Kovea Power Nano, and GSI’s Pinnacle Canister stove.
The Elektra FE system uses a semi-circular aluminum windscreen that safely attaches under the lip of a standard canister’s Lindal valve, ensuring the canister itself isn’t subjected to dangerous external heat. The screen can be swiveled around the pot to follow wind direction, and the stove’s burner head, at almost 2 inches wide, creates a flame that covers the entire base of the short, wide pot while resting about an inch below it. It should be noted that the Weekender HE (heat exchange) pot uses a tightly coiled heat exchanger that increases surface area and wind resistance.
This stove’s performance is all about disparate parts coming together to form a more perfect union.
Testing produced surprises in this rating, too. Against real and lab-produced breezes, the Elektra FE boiled five, two-cup pots of tap water in 2:27. Clearly the windscreen is a factor, as are the other components that help contribute to its average boil times.
The same Jetpower fuel was used in the wind test, and it was done in warmer temperatures at an elevation of 5,774 feet.
This test demonstrated that distance between pot base and burner help increase efficacy against wind, as it reduces the space for excessive outside air to enter the heat exchange. The aforementioned, and the pot’s shape, help it capture and transfer heat faster.
The Elektra FE system performed well when it came to preserving fuel, using 2.9 ounces of Jetboil’s Jetpower gas to heat the 10 two-cup pots of water used during the boil test. That makes it more efficient than the Jetboil MightyMo, Kovea Spider, and SnowPeak Geosheild. The efficiency test was done in unison with the average boil time test, meaning all conditions were the same.
This means that in a backpacking scenario with reasonably tame and consistent weather, users of the Elektra FE can expect to get through “around” five days of camping with a 4-ounce canister of fuel if only boiling water to rehydrate most commercially-available dehydrated meals. Obviously consider extra fuel for coffee, longer simmers, etc.
The Optimus Elektra FE system performed as expected in this category. The level of control is good, and the wind protection helps it maintain consistency while warming things like oatmeal, rice, and basic backcountry foods; and nothing burned or required testers to scrape the deep corners of the pot during cleaning.
The Optimus Crux is a small stove, intended to boil and cook solo meals. The lid can function as a fry pan (sort of), but its size is limiting. A piece of bacon ended up bathing in its own fat, which spattered about during cooking, once or twice into the burner.
This isn’t the stove you bring in trips where multiple people expect you to fire up a few breakfast burritos. In fact, the windscreen is designed to be effective only with the included, or similarly shaped pots from Optimus. Typically, this system would be graded against stoves like the MightyMo or SOTO Windmaster, but its included accessories suggest shoppers should compare it to the MiniMo and Windburner. The latter two have pot-adaptors and native pots and pans to accommodate their form factors.
In summary, this stove system does what it’s designed to do well, but not as well as others in its specific class.
With stuff sacks and a stand-alone, piezo wand, the Elektra FE system weighs 1 pound, 1 ounce, which is about an ounce more than the company states. These fluctuations are not rare, and it still weighs less than the Jetboil MiniMo, but two ounces more than the Primus Eta Lite, which is 14.8 ounces.
Weight has become a major issue for hikers in the light & fast crowd, so if this is you, stoves like the OliCamp Kinetic Ultra Titanium, Soto Windmaster, and other stand-alone, upright canister stoves might be a better fit.
The Optimus Elektra FE is ideal for those hikers who don’t use weight as the primary driver for what they pack, but still want an all-in-one system that is plenty packable.
Guide, writer, Truckee local, pub trivia host, and inventor of TripTarp®, Craig Rowe is the Gear Institute's chief stove and insulated jacket tester.