When it comes to ultralight stove, there are few more diminutive units than the Elektra from Optimus. My previous stove was an MSR Pocket Rocket and I loved it – stable, reliable and fairly boring. The entire Elektra FE kit is a completely different animal with a rapid-boiling, fuel-efficient integrated pot that’s a perfect match for fast-and-light alpine expeditions.
Optimus Elektra FE Features:
- Average boil time: 3min/L
- Dimensions: 4.9-6.5
- Butane/propane gas canister
- 10200 BTU
- Weight: 16.05oz
- Kit includes: Crux Lite stove, Piezo ignitor, Terra Weekend HE pot, Clip-on windshield
- MSRP: $94.95
Miniature package, huge punch
Everyone needs a tidy, compact stove system for their adventures. Backcountry cooking has come a long way since the days of chuck wagons and dutch ovens and, in many ways, the Elektra represents quite the culmination in technology. It’s an absurdly tiny cooking element in the form of a Crux Lite stove, an anodized aluminum pot with a heat-exchanging bottom and a nifty lid that doubles as a miniature frying pan. It can use either butane or propane fuel, and I primarily used MSR’s IsoPro fuel mix and it was a great fit for high altitude, cold-weather cooking.
At the heart of the Elektra system is its Crux Lite burner apparatus. This tiny little stove weighs just 2.5 ounces, cutting my old Pocket Rocket down to size by around 5oz. It’s really a remarkably trim piece of craftsmanship with slender fold-out supports and a carefully shaped fuel lever that folds back onto the stove for storage. This small of a burner means that the pot tends to form something of a hot spot which can make cooking difficult, but this effect is somewhat mitigated by the efficient heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot.
I do wish that the Crux Lite had a built in lighter, but perhaps that would sacrifice some of its ultraight, minimalist aesthetic. For that matter, it’s tough to fine-tune the flame; it seems rather all-or-nothing at times. This is fine when you’re just boiling water and want full heat, but it makes cooking something of an adventure.
The included pot is, as I mentioned, a sturdy anodized aluminum that can fit 800mL of delightful glacial runoff, or enough water to cook two standard freeze-dried meals. It features twin fold-out handles that offer a lot of support and are siliconized to prevent burns. The lid itself is an excellent design with a clasping handle that offers a ton of security. My one frustration is that it’s tough to seal the pot well with the handle extended. It has the potential to function as a frying pan, but it’s almost laughably small for that function; it would fit one single fried egg perfectly, though.
The clip-on windscreen is a great feature and one that’s invaluable in alpine environments. In calm conditions I found that the windscreen blocked too much airflow, though, and often caused the burner to sputter or die. But, when the wind starts moving down the glacier at night, popping the windscreen onto the fuel canister provides a very secure placement that will have water boiling in no time.
I really enjoyed my adventures with the Elektra FE system. I took it to several beautiful destinations in the North Cascades, culminating in a weekend on Mt. Baker’s Coleman glacier. It handled everything I threw at it with aplomb and its quick boil time was invaluable when I was melting snow for my two fellow climbers. It packs so small and weighs so much less than comparable systems that it’s an ideal way to cut weight from cumbersome mountaineering packs.
Good Elektra FE:
- Incredibly light Crux Lite stove element is a wonderful foundation
- Overall weight is very manageable at just over a pound
- Heat exchanger and windscreen combine for very short boil times (2-4 minutes)
- Sturdy pot with an excellent handle on the lid as well
Bad Elektra FE:
- Stove lacks an integrated ignitor
- Intensity is tough to fine-tune for cooking
The Bottom Line: Optimus Elektra FE
It’s important to remember that any ultralight cooking system will have its limitations: hot spots, limited cooking potential and the like. So, in an ultralight stove system I look for a product that maximizes the many benefits the genre has to offer. The Elektra FE really is a maximizer – it’s light, simple and sturdy for heavy use with no superfluous components to break or lug around.
Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com