When I originally purchased this hard anodized single person cookset with heat exchanger, I was reasonably impressed but struggled to figure out a good way to use it (Edit: It shaved about 30 seconds off water boiling time compared to my Snow Peak Trek 900, if I used the right stove and windscreen combination, competitive with JetBoil times, thus saving fuel). But it’s become, over time, my preferred set when solo backpacking where I plan to do light cooking.
The Heat Exchanger on the HE set really makes this a powerfully efficient stove, and the anodized aluminum really gives confidence on a bomb-proof cook-set for 1 person, and even acceptable for two light eaters.
Another thing I really like about the Optimus HE Weekend is the pan handle. Unlike some other camping pan handles, the Optimus HE Weekend’s handle locking works very well, and allows for a very natural hand grip without fear of unlocking it by accident (and thereby spilling contents). The depth of the locking guard is what makes the difference.
My problems were:
– It boils water faster than a other pots, but titanium is lighter
– It seemed to be designed for gas canister stoves, but wasn’t as fast as a JetBoil or MSR Reactor (at first)
– It didn’t match up with wood stoves real well, because the heat exchanger is be difficult to clean
– It wasn’t good with kerosene stoves, again because of the soot.
Over the past few years, I’ve gone on three day backpacking trips once every month, and a few of week long trips, sometimes alone, sometimes with 1 or 2 other people, and a couple of times with larger groups, and I’ve learned much about various types of stoves and cooksets, their uses, ideal fuels, etc. etc.
Though my opinion constantly evolves, here’s where I stand now:
– Last year, I commented that this really needs a wind screen, but a raised windscreen on legs. (Because you didn’t want the LPG can to overheat. Silly idea, but what did I know….) It initially never occurred to me to use this stove without a gas canister stove (e.g. Soto Windmaster, Snow Peak Gigapower). So a good wind screen/heat reflector would be above the rim of the Terra Weekend rim at the top, and go down to just below the flame.
At the time, I didn’t really know about the Optimus Vega, nor did I really understand liquid fuels (white gas, kerosene, diesel, unleaded low octane gas, klean-heat, heet, de-natured alcohol, etc.).
Then, I discovered the Primus Omnilite and I thought it was a pretty good combination. Have been on quite a few trips with this setup and a wind screen. It really works well, and I continue to think this is a great setup (was my favorite for a good while), but white gas stoves really shine with more cooking focused pot and pan setups since they simmer so well. (Note: The Omnifuel is also shown for reference, but the top pan would not close all the way, hence, my decision to use the Omnilite with this set)
For consistency’s sake, I used the Nova+ for a little while as well. The Nova+ is a great stove (As is the Polaris Optifuel), but when trying to shave weight, the Primus Omnilite matched better with this set. For reference, here are two photos of the Optimus Polaris Optifuel and the Optimus Nova+. Both fit without problems.
Later, I discovered the Optimus Vega, and thought, this is perfect! Since the LPG can is separated by a fuel line, I can use a windshield around the stove end and still benefit from the ease of an LPG stove (Yes, the Omnilite can use LPG stoves too, but still….). Excellent. I used this combination for a few trips and was pretty happy with it. One tiny little complaint was that the Optimus Vegas had really wide pot stand legs making the Vega a better fit with larger cook sets.
The Trangia alcohol stove also proved to be a real powerhouse when paired with the Optimus HE Weekend.
My favorite setup (used on 3 trips) was a trangia, a bushbox outdoor pocket (which also reflects heat upwards), and an aluminum 10.5″ multi-panel wind screen/heat reflector. A killer combination.
Using this setup, and keeping the windscreen closed in fairly tightly around the stove with pot, just 0.85 oz of denatured alcohol can get 24oz of 60 degree water to an aggressive 212 degree rolling boil in 5 minutes.
I have multiple alcohol stoves, some purchased from niche market manufacturers, and some DIY, and not one of them, can boil 24 oz of water from 60 degrees in under 6 minutes with 0.85 oz of alcohol. The fuel savings means I can have instant noodles AND tea with just 0.9 oz of water. Basically I fill the Terra Weekend HE, boil the water, pour out some for tea, and use the rest for instant oatmeal, noodles, or soup.
I tried using the Trangia with the Evernew cross bars, as it was great to have the stand fit inside the pot for storage, but I had a couple of spills, so went back to the Bushbox setup.
The great advantage of alcohol is the environmental safety. Alcohol being non-toxic and all.
Still, at the end of the day, with a BTU rating far lower than white gas or LPG (propane/iso-butane/n-butane mix), and the need to be very accurate with fuel usage, I just found that alcohol usage didn’t make much sense for me beyond a one night trip. I just wasted too much fuel, and had to bring extra to compensate.
Some time in mid 2014, I discovered the Optimus Windshield. And this changed everything.
With the discovery of the Optimus Windshield, all of a sudden, the Soto Windmaster became a viable option, so my new setup is now
- Almost as efficient as a JetBoil, under 3 minutes to boil water
- Not quite as light, but about the same compactness
- light cooking duty options are much better
- Pan frying spam works great
- Simple stews work great
- Simmer control is phenomenal thanks to the Soto Windmaster
- Fits inside the Optimus HE Weekend, even with an LPG can in there
Before this setup, I struggled for a long time to really figure out a perfect setup for the Optimus HE Weekend, and also struggled for the best setup for the Soto Windmaster, both amazing pieces of tech in their own right, but never quite able to really shine. While I tried a bunch of different combinations, and they all worked to some degree or another, there was always something that just didn’t feel quite right. The Optimus Windshield changed all that and was the bridge that brought these two together and made this setup perfect.
NOTE: Many may wonder why I don’t pair the Optimus HE Weekend with the Optimus Crux. I have an Optimus Crux, but I don’t like it, and the reason is simple: At 10K BTU, it is actually less BTU than the Winemaster, and yet it burns through LPG gas canister really fast, and simmer control doesn’t work well. I used the Optimus Crux on one camping trip, and will never use it again. It’s just too inefficient and wasteful.