Crusader Cup and Cooker - A review

The requirements

The Crusader Cup and Cooker nested with a NATO 1L water bottle

For a while now I have been looking for a suitable stove to carry on day hikes and weekend hikes. I wasn't after anything massive, just something that would be able to make coffee, warm meals, warm soup, etc... It also had to be:

  • Light Weight
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Have a decent enough heat output
  • Wind Proof
  • Indestructible (or as near as damn it)

The Crusader Cup and Cooker fulfils all of the above quite admirably.

The Cup

Boiling Soup with the Crusader cup and cooker

The cup is a very well made unit, of stainless steal coated in a nonstick Teflon coating, it has a fold out wire handle which keeps cool, even when the cup is on the cooker. The cup holds about 500ml of liquid, which is more than enough even for the thirstiest tea drinking hiker.

The Teflon coating makes cleaning an absolute breeze, but does require you use non metallic utensils. It also scratches off very easily.

The cup is designed to fit underneath the NATO 1L water bottles and when fitted you hardly notice its there. Its very light, and fitted to the bottom of the water bottle very compact. The bottle and cup fits nicely in the PLCE (Personal Load Carrying Equipment) water bottle and utilities pouches.

My only gripes with the cup are its price, 15 ukp currently, and the Teflon coating doesn't hold up greatly, but if you look after it, then this cup is going to last a long time. Even if the coating does come off, you can still use the cup, just needs that little extra cleaning effort.

The Cooker

The Cup on top of the cooker, boiling some water (to make gravy)

The cooker is simplicity itself. Teflon coated like the mug it comprises of an outer wind shield with a small crucible holds the fuel(see below). A small fold down wire cup rest is also incorporated into the cooker, being the only moving part. With the cup rest folded down, the cup sits on this, with the fuel burning in the crucible below. A small vent in one side provides an air intake. When not in use the cup rest folds up and the whole unit sits underneath the cup, which fits under the NATO water bottle. All three then fit nicely in the PLCE pouches, as noted above.

The only real downside to the cooker unit is the cost, 6 ukp seems quite a lot for something so simple. However it is kinda worth it, there is pretty much nothing to go wrong, and even if the Teflon coating comes off over time, this is no real hardship.

The Fuel

The cooker is designed such that it can run on two types of fuel, Hex tablets, or ethanol Gel. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so I thought I would give a quick comment on each one for completeness

First, Hex tablets. More correctly called Hexamine, Hex tablets are a solid fuel tablet. They seem to come in either packs of 24 small round tablets, or 8 Larger square tablets. Hex Tablets burn with a nice flame and are very resistant to wind and provide ample heat for most functions. One tablet burns for just about long enough to warm the entire contents of the crusader mug (depending on starting temperature and wind). Hex tablets are considerably cheaper than Ethanol Gel, coming in at about 12.5p a tablet when bought in packs of eight. Hex tablets have been the staple heating mechanism for British Military stoves for decades, they are well proven, and well tested. The downside of the Hex Tablets are

  • Can Blacken utensils
  • Toxic, absorbed through the skin, doesn't affect everyone, causes a rash
  • Non Biodegradable
  • Need to be kept dry

Advantages of Hex Tablets are:

  • low cost
  • Light easily with a single match
  • You can use part of a tablet easily
  • Doesn't leave a mess in the cooker

The cooker burning Ethanol gel, the flame looks orange in this, but is in fact more blue.

Ethanol Gel is a relatively recent product. It comes in small green sachets. Each sachet contains enough fuel to heat one large mug full of food (be it stew, coffee, etc...). The gel burns with a nice clear blue flame, produces no smoke and no smell. The gel oozes out the packets in a most satisfying manner and sits in the well in the bottom of the cooker quite nicely. It lights really simply with a single match. Ethanol Gel is expensive tho, at around 5 ukp for 12 sachets giving a cost of about 42p a sachet, over 3 times the cost of the Hex Tablets. The downside of Ethanol gel are:

  • Expensive
  • Leaves a horrible residue in the cooker after use
  • Clear flame is hard to see when lit in bright conditions
  • Once open, you have to use a whole sachet

Advantages of Ethanol gel are:

  • Easy to light
  • While in sachets, waterproof
  • light weight
  • Biodegradable (the sachet ISN'T)

Final Comments

A 1L NATO Bottle, Crusader Cup and Cooker

The Crusader Cup and cooker has proved itself to be a very worthy device. Simple, and to the point, it does what it is supposed to and for a relatively affordable, lightweight and compact unit. It improves quite considerably over the old tommy cooker and aluminium mess tins. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cooker with the same requirements.

And finally, where to get it from. I got mine from Strike Force Supplies, a company that has proved helpful, friendly and very punctual, I can recommend them as a supplier. If they don't have something you are after on their site, drop an email or phone them, they may be able to order it in for you

About this Document

This page last modified Saturday, 11-Sep-2010 22:39:22 CEST.