Judy Armstrong awarded the Optimus Vega ‘best buy’ in her full review of camping stoves. Here, she puts it to the test.
This exquisite little camping stove is a thing of beauty in performance, aesthetics and build quality.
The Optimus Vega is a lightweight, remote canister stove with ‘integrated 4-season mode’ which simply means you can invert the canister when cooking in cold temperatures or at altitude, or when extra fast boil times are needed. The difference with other remote stoves is that this has two wire loops on the canister connection valve which form supports when the canister is upside down. Because this completely inverts the canister, every gram of liquid gas can be used, which is a huge bonus. Of course, cooking this way is hungry on gas, but if you’re at altitude or in freezing conditions it’s the only way. For fuel efficiency and precision cooking on a lower flame, the canister stands the right way up (Efficiency mode); see panel for output details.
The Optimus Vega has a very low profile, with three long, curved legs and pan supports which extend into the burner centre so even with large pans it’s properly stable. The generous dimensions of these supports make the stove versatile for use with all sizes of pan, including a camping frying pan which I use a lot on expeditions (seriously, dehydrated meals are a last resort). The flame control is a glove-friendly wire loop which gives beautifully predictable, tiny increment changes for simmering. There is no piezo but I carry a lighter with piezo stoves anyway in case of spark failure. The legs fold back in a sweep to lie along the fuel line and the unit packs into a compact, almost-flat bag. A windshield is included and it was used while assessing boil times. For me, the stability, flame control, ability to safely invert the canister absolutely outweigh the extra weight compared with a stacking stove, unless I’m ultralight backpacking or bikepacking, where every gram counts.