Optimus Vega Stove Review

March 24th, 2013 No comments

Summary

The Optimus Vega is a small, lightweight remote canister stove billed as a high performance four season stove because of its ability to easily flip the canister upside down into what the manufacture calls “4 season mode.” This mode allows the stove, with the canister flipped, to more efficiently burn fuel with consistent pressure for faster boil times in cold weather (i.e. winter). Of course it can be used in warmer temperatures as well.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Design allows canister to be inverted in cold weather for faster boil times
  • Includes wind screen and storage bag

Cons

  • Can be a bit fiddily
  • Burns fuel fast with canister inverted



Real world winter test

Product Weight & Accessories:

The stove is quite small and light, folds neatly, and is stored in an enclosed heavy duty canvas bag.  It comes with a folded aluminum wind screen which is also stored in the same bag. The stove, windscreen, and storage bag weighs in at a respectably light 8.4 ounces / 237 grams.  The bare stove weighs in at paltry 6.3 ounces / 179 grams.  The flexible fuel line is just shy of 12 inches long. The stove can easily handle an eight inch wide pot.

Setup:

Using the stove couldn’t be easier.  Simply screw on any standard Butane, Propane, or Isobutane canister (such as MSR, snow peak, or the Optimus brand), stabilize the canister and stove and light.  I should mention here that care should be taken when attaching the canister to the stove as it’s easy to forget to fold out the fuel adjustment knob, trapping it between the canister and the fuel line connector.  Once done, you must remove the canister and start over.  I did this on three occasions.  Once lit, the Optimus Vega has a very nice flame adjustment which allowed me to reduce the flame to a simmer or really crank it up to produce a roaring flame.

Care must be taken not to trap the adjustment knob

Usage:

This stove can be directly compared to the MSR Windpro II, which also has the ability to turn the fuel canister over.  One nice feature the Vega has is the built-in feet to stabilize the canister when it’s inverted.  Flip out the wire feet and you instantly get a 4 inch wide, three point base, to hold the canister.  I found that this worked very well, even in the snow and on slanted surfaces.

I had planned on using the stove on a winter trip to Death Valley National Park, but when a freak winter storm dropped 8-10 inches in the nearby Laguna Mountains, I grabbed the opportunity for some cold weather camping and to test the Optimus Vega as well.  The ambient temperature the morning of the test was taken was 24 degrees Fahrenheit / -4.4 Celcius.

Canister in normal position

Boil Times:

I have hot tea and instant oatmeal most every morning when camping.  My small stainless steel pot holds three cups of water.  I heated water two times, once with the canister in the regular position, and once inverted.  Both the fuel in the canister and the water was cold, having sat in the tent all night.

The first boil, with the canister in the regular position, took almost 10 minutes; a tad longer than I was expecting.  The second boil, again with three cups of cold water, but with the canister inverted so it was in “4 season mode” took eight minutes.  Two minutes less.  Not a substantial amount, but as the old saying goes, “a watched pot never boils,” so the shortened boil time was appreciated.

It should be noted that the manufacture states that the boil times per liter of water is approx. 4.5 minutes. While I did not get anywhere near that time in snowy, winter conditions, I did experience similar times when using the stove on a subsequent trip in much warmer weather and with no wind.

Canister Inverted


Inverted canister showing feet

Cons / Problems:

I ran into a minor problem when using the Optimus Vega with the canister inverted.  Because the stove is now burning actual liquid fuel instead of gas, I ended up with a fuel leak (flare up) just before where the fuel enters the burner, by the vent hole.  To be honest, I was a tad worried something might catch on fire (or blow up!).  After about a minute this problem rectified itself and never happened again.  Thinking back, I’m reasonable sure this was “pilot error” and not a design flaw.  But it was a lesson learned and something that should be mentioned; always light the stove with the canister in its normal position, then, if needed, slowly turn the canister over to take advantage of the “4 season mode.”

Stove Flare Up

Conclusion / Best For:

Personally, I think the Optimus Vega stove is a winner.  It’s small, lightweight, and works well in both warm and cold climes.  Its small size is ideal for the weight-minded hiker and takes up very little room in your pack.  The stove can handle both a small or fairly large pot, which makes it suitable for small groups or just a single hiker. Highly recommended.

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My Review of Sea To Summit iPOOd! Trowel

August 14th, 2010 No comments

It’s more than just a clever name—the Sea To Summit iPOOd!™ trowel makes backcountry bathroom trips a breeze.


iPood in the Woods

By JimDoss from Tecate, CA on 8/14/2010
 
4out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Effective, Easy To Use

Describe Yourself: Backpacking

Primary use: Personal

What can one say about a small little trowel, designed to dig cat-holes in the woods to bury c**p in? Well, how about it’s well designed, has a really fun name, and does what it’s supposed to do?

This thing is not designed to dig trenches around your tent in a rainstorm, make fire pits, cut kindling, mine for gold, or stir your scrambled egg breakfast. It’s designed to dig small hole in the ground. Remember that. Remember, too, that while the iPood Pocket Trowel is a really neat item, it’s not 100% perfect.

The handle is designed with a removable plug in the end to store a lighter and a bit of TP. Sounds good, but in practice, it’s not very practical. Paper just gets wedged in there, making it difficult to remove. It’s faster and easier to keep any “necessaries” you might need, along with the iPood, in a separate stuff sack in the top of your pack. Just grab and go. I tend to wait until I really have to “go” before I “go” and just taking the time to dig a cat-hole takes enough time already. It’s better to have everything handy, as it were.

The iPood Trowel does a fine job digging a hole in softer ground, but add in some rocks and roots and it falls short. Still, you must remember that this is a hand trowel, not a shovel. It won’t cut tree roots and you won’t be able to use it to pry our large rocks. It does a fine job making a small hole, but that’s all. I wish that the iPood was a bit pointier. I think that would make digging holes a bit easier.

I do like the included stuff sack and the nifty way the head comes off the handle. It makes it a bit smaller for storage. The blade is strong. I’ve yet to damage it, even when digging holes in a glacial moraine in the Grand Tetons. The spring clip that holds the head to the handle, so far, has worked flawlessly, though I can see keeping it dirt-free is important to its continued functioning.

Overall, I’d say the Sea to Summit iPood Pocket Trowel is a winner, especially considering it only weighs 3.8 ounces, packs well, and does a fine job digging small cat holes, even in somewhat rocky soil.

My Review of Keen Pyrenees Hiking Boots – Men’s

August 12th, 2010 No comments

Built for lasting performance, the Keen Pyrenees hiking boots feature tough leather uppers, waterproof, breathable protection and comfort-minded construction to keep feet happy mile after mile.


Great Boot

By JimDoss from Tecate, CA on 8/12/2010
 
4out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Secure Fit, Great Traction, Comfortable, Lightweight, Ankle Support

Best Uses: Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

I purchased these boot to replace a very worn out pair of Merrill low top hikers. I was looking for something a bit tougher, though it didn’t need to be a high top boot. The one thing that was a must have, though, was a full-leather boot or shoe. My primary outdoor activity is geocaching, though I do a lot of backpacking and hiking, too.

The reason for the need of a 100% leather boot is that most of my geocaching is done in the deserts of California. I’ve found that non-leather boots and shoes let in an exorbitant amount of dust and dirt, either over the top of through mesh that is so popular on shoes these days. Also, here in SoCal, there are fields of foxtails and a full-leather boot is the only thing that will keep them at bay.

When I was shopping for new boots I tried on several pairs and brands. I love the way Merrell boots fit my feet, but just couldn’t find anything in their line that I was happy with (and willing to pay for). When the salesman suggested the Keen Pyrenees, I was a bit turned off by the styling. They have a bit of a funky look about them. But the second I put these boots on my feet, I was sold!

Breaking in the boots took a couple of days. I had a bit of a pressure point along the tongue, on the top of my foot. By the end of the second day, that disappeared completely. A few more days wearing the boots, I knew I had a real winner on my hands…er feet.

The big test for these boots was a recent backpacking trip in the Tetons. We hiked 20 miles in two days, up and over Paintbrush Canyon Divide and out via Cascade Canyon to the truck, completing a loop. Our packs weighted close to 30 pounds. At about the 10,000 foot level, we started hitting snow. The last section of the divide was a steep headwall, approximately 70 degrees, and snow covered. We had to kick steps across this for about 100 feet to the safety of the rocks on the other side. The boots worked great in the snow.

Later that day it started to rain, which continued all the way back to the truck. The trail was a muddy mess, our packs were soaked, our pants wet, but my feet were nice and dry in the Pyrenees boots.

For me, this boot is a 100% perfect fit for both my feet and the type of terrain I travel in. They are comfortable, offer plenty of support, are completely waterproof, and stylish (yes, I’ve grown to like their funky look). If I had to make one complaint, it’d be that they are a warm boot (especially for the desert), but that’s just the nature of the beast. You can’t get a leather boot that is waterproof without having it be warm, too.

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My Review of REI Lite-Core 1.5 Self-Inflating Pad – Regular

August 9th, 2009 No comments

Travel light and sleep comfortably—weighing less than two pounds, our ultra-compact pad takes up little space in your pack.


Good Not Perfect

JimDoss Tecate, CA 8/9/2009
 
3 5

Gift: No

Pros: Compact Roll Up, Lightweight, Non Slip

Best Uses: Weekend Trips, Backpacking, Extended Trips

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I purchased this pad to replace a Big Angus pad that I thought was going to be comfy. At over 2.5 inches thick, it seemed promising, but fell short.

Anyway, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been trying to lighten my loads, and while this isn’t the lightest pad out there, at 27 ounces, it’s far from heavy.

I recently used this pad on a Zion National Park Narrows Top Down hike. I found it easy to unroll and to inflate. Just unfold, open the valve, and throw it in the tent for a while. Come back later, add a few puffs of air and you are ready to go.

I was concerned that with the pad being only 1.5 inches thick I was going to bottom out and feel the ground. Didn’t happen. I sleep both on my side and back, and was comfortable in both positions. The grippy silicon on the pad kept me in place all night.

The following morning I opened the valve before getting up, letting my bodyweight force most of the air out of the pad. Getting all the air out of the pad wasn’t too difficult, something I found impossible with the BA pad. Still, it took two tries before getting it flat enough to go back into its stuff sack. But to be fair, the ThermoRest pad I use for car camping takes the same.

I’m not sure how this pad will hold up, especially considering the centerline fold. I’m considering purchasing a long stuff sack so I can roll it up without folding it. It will no longer fit inside my 65 liter backpack, but I think it’s add life to the pad.

All-in-all the REI Lite-Core 1.5 self-inflating pad does what it was designed for, landing if firmly in the middle of the rating system, with no big flaws or extras.

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The Most Annoying People on TV

August 6th, 2009 No comments

I don’t know about you, but there are people on television that really get on my nerves  Here’s my list in no particular order.

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul

What is it with the woman? She can hardly speak a complete sentence.  You know Simon wants to just smack her silly!

Randy Jackson

Randy Jackson

Dog, just grow up already!

Gordon Ramsey

Gordon Ramsey

If this idiot were to yell at me like he does the people on his TV show, I’d stick a knife in him somewhere to see if he’s done.

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy

SHUT UP ALREADY!

Whoppi Goldberg

Whoppi Goldberg

The first time I saw Whoppi I remember thinking she was too ugly for television. Now she’s spouts forth her dogmatic, left-winged crap for us on The View.  She’s still ugly.

Vince Shlomi

shamwow[1]

Better know as the ShamWow Guy, Vince must have been a used car salesman in a former life.

Donald Trump, aka The Donald

22717, ABERDEEN, UNITED KINGDOM - Monday June 9 2008. US billionaire Donald Trump arrives in Scotland in his private jet to attend the public inquiry into his proposed $2bn golf course project near Aberdeen. Trump flew in to argue his case for the luxury golf resort after months of acrimony between the entrepreneur and local residents. Donald's never-entirely-convincing hair suffered somewhat in the Scottish breeze! Photograph: Donald Stewart, PacificCoastNews.com **FEE MUST BE AGREED PRIOR TO USAGE*** UK OFFICE: +44 131 225 3333/3322 US OFFICE: 1 310 261 9676

Dude, cut it or get a toupee.

Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Lagasse

BAM! That was me hitting you in the head with a frying pan!

Sherri Shepherd

Sherri Shepherd

Would someone please run over this overstuffed, over-opinioned, big-mouthed, pea-brained, waste of skin with a Mac truck, please?

Dick Clark

Dick Clark

I’m sorry, Dick, but it’s time to crawl off somewhere and retire.

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

Dear Joan, please see Dick’s comment above.

Regis Philbin

Regis Philbin

The most annoying game show host of all time, with the possible exception of Richard Dawson on Family Feud.

Bonus

All Real Housewives from Orange County, to Miami, to New Jersey

NUP_102184_1185rf 

What a bunch of spoiled brats.  You all need spanked and your allowances taken away.

My Review of Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad – Regular

July 10th, 2009 No comments

REI

The insulated Big Agnes pad doesn’t live up to its reputation.


Not Up To The Hype

JimDoss Tecate, CA 7/10/2009
 
2 5

Gift: No

Pros: Lightweight

Cons: Difficult To Inflate, Uncomfortable

Best Uses: Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Comfort Driven

I don’t get the hype. I’ve been camping, backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, hunting, fishing for most of my life and am pretty well versed in things outdoors. So, after reading all the great reviews on this pad, I thought I’d give it a try. I want to lighten my load some and to get a comfortable night’s sleep and thought this pad might fit the bill. – NOT.

Yes, it is lighter than my other Thermorest pads and packs up nicely too, at home, but is all but impossible to get all the air squeezed out at camp, making it impossible to get it back into its stuff sack. I had to fold up up and put it on top of other stuff in my pack.

Also, and more importantly, after sleeping on the Big Angus pad, I’m most unhappy to say that I spent the most uncomfortable night I’ve ever had while camping. And yes, it was properly inflated. I tossed and turned all night, my hips hurt when sleeping on my side and may back hurt while laying on my back.

I will give the pad kudos for being thick enough to keep me from touching the ground and I didn’t experience any of the slipping that other people mentioned.

All-in-all, in my opinion, the Big Angus failed in two of the three features I was looking for: lightweight, yes, but I found it impossible to repack and uncomfortable. I will be returning the pad ASAP to REI.

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My Review of Princeton Tec Apex LED Headlamp

June 15th, 2009 No comments

REI

Princeton Tec Apex™ LED headlamp has a number of smart features that make it a great choice for the hardcore adventurer.


One Bright Light!

6/15/2009
 
4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Long battery life, Bright, Durable

Cons: Heavy

Best Uses: Backpacking, Car Camping

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

I’ve been using headlamps for many, many years and have never been satisfied with the light output and longevity of the batteries – until now!

My primary use these days is for abandoned mine exploration and around camp (with the occasional nighttime geocaching adventure). Underground, it’s very bright. I rarely even use it on the highest setting. It fits well over my head and also over a helmet. Around camp, I have to be sure to not shine the light in someone’s face.

Battery time is exceptional. I go through about one set a year, using Duracell or Costco brand batteries.

Power buttons are easy to reach and use, though might be difficult with heavy gloves.

The Apex is a bit heavy, due mostly to the fact that it needs four AA batteries. But the little extra weight is far worth the ease of use, brightness, and power consumption.

Highly recommended.

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My Review of Aluminum Hook Tent Stake

May 29th, 2009 No comments

REI

This aluminum tent stake is lightweight and can be used to stake down just about any tent.


It’s a Stake

5/29/2009
 
4 5

Gift: No

Pros: Lightweight

Best Uses: Car Camping, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Avid Adventurer

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

I purchased 10 of these to replace a lost bag of stakes that went with my REI Taj 3 tent, which I use for car camping. In planning an upcoming backpacking trip, I started looking around for some light tent stakes to go with my 1-man tent, checking weights online at REI. This stake is listed at weighing 0.35 ounces, but in reality weighs 0.5 ounces/14 grams. Picky.

All-in-all, this is a generic, lightweight tent stake that works well in dirt, fairly well in the desert, and not at all in loose sand.

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