Tested extensively by Cairngorm Treks from March 2017 to June 2017 during high multiday trekking in the central Cairngorms with groups of up to 8 people. Both 1.8L and 1.0L used.
The first thing to strike you about the MSR WindBurner is its compact nature, packing neatly with both its gas canister and burner within the pot. This will appeal to anyone who has struggled to get all of their cooking equipment gracefully and efficiently into their rucksack, particularly after a mountaintop brew break in driving rain. The system includes a cup, which while can be useful, is actually quite difficult to remove from the base of the stove where it is stored. This is a minor design flaw but a future solution from MSR would be welcome. There is also an extremely handy stability tripod for uneven ground included, allowing for sturdy use of the stove wherever you set up.
Once set up with the easy-to use canister tripod, it has excellent stability with no fear of losing your much-anticipated hot drink to the rocky Cairngorm plateau ground. There is no ignition, but in our view this maintains the simplicity of the WindBurner and allows for easy maintenance. We used a power lighter to get the WindBurner going, which was easy and effective, especially due to the heat indicator that allowed us to see that the gas was clearly lit. It’s apparent that other lighting methods would work just as well. A bit of sheltering from the wind with a cleverly positioned knee or rucksack, and you’re good to go. Once lit it became clear that it would remain that way irrespective of the weather.
For boiling water, the WindBurner is extremely fast and efficient. We effortlessly managed 1L of water within the 3.5 minute expected time frame. When you’re cold and hungry, this is an extremely welcome feature. When using the WindBurner to cook, we were very impressed with the valve control and its ability to simmer consistently and accurately, and the pressure of the gas from the canister was good and steady until the end, fully emptying it and ensuring all of the gas was used.
The lid is a fantastic feature, offering both pouring and straining options as well as clearly minimising boiling time and adding to the stove’s efficiency. It fits very snugly and securely to the top of the pot, which further weather-proofs the system, however it also means adjusting between the pour and strain options once hot is somewhat difficult, so forethought before is definitely required when setting the WindBurner up. The pot itself is well insulted with its cover so can be handled with bare hands, and the insulated handle offers further security when pouring. This is very useful, as using the handle with winter gloves can be a little tricky at times. The insulated cover is also excellent at keeping the pot’s contents hot for longer, so two hot drinks in a row is certainly an option.
The efficiency of this system is impressive. We used the WindBurner extensively on a number of multi-day treks, boiling water for food and drinks using the 1.8L version multiple times each day and in varying weather conditions. Across 3 days we only used 2 and a half medium gas canisters to boil water for all meals and hot drinks for seven people.
Our Verdict: MSR's WindBurner is a high efficiency stove system impervious to wind. An outstanding piece of kit that is simple and functional with super-fast boiling times and very frugal use of gas. An absolute must for lightweight multi-day trekking, whether with the 1.8L for a small group or the 1.0L for a single person or couple. This is our go-to stove and used on all our treks whether for brews on the go or minimalist meals.
Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...