We are often asked which of our gas stoves perform best in windy conditions. We tend to have our own personal favourite stoves, so our suggestions are very subjective based on our experiences.
We decided to have a bit of fun performing an ‘in-house’ group test of some of the UOG team’s favourite stoves. The test would aim to be fairly scientific and objective in its approach but we are not scientists, so please forgive any mistakes in our methodology.
We haven’t included every stove or brand on the market but we can try to test more in the future and add their results.
Stoves: The MSR Windburner is one of the best selling stove systems on the market. They have a reputation for fast boil time and excellent performance in the windiest conditions. We have a couple of their stoves amongst the team – the Windburner Solo stove system and the Windburner Group Stove system.
The Group stove system keeps the mesh burner of the Solo but is a remote stove so more stable with its larger 2.5 litre pot. The pot doesn’t have a heat exchanger like the smaller 1.0L solo pot and the flame is more exposed compared to the Solo. How would they compare when the wind picks up?
The Soto Windmaster is synonymous with Japanese technical design and flawless machining. It’s a favourite amongst the team at UOG as it combines light weight with excellent cold weather performance thanks to its regulator. The burner head also incorporates a concave design that keeps the flame out of the wind.
Finally, the Fire Maple Hornet is a reasonably priced and very light gas stove. It doesn’t feature any of the clever technology of the other stoves like regulators or concave burners. How would it cope when the wind picked up?
Pots: The Windmaster stoves use their own integrated pots - a 1.0L pot with a heat exchanger on the Solo Stove and a 2.5L ceramic coated pot for the Group Stove. The ceramic coating on the Group Stove hints at its intended use – a cooking stove rather than one used for simply boiling water.
For the 2 conventional canister stoves, we would use 2 pots – an aluminium 1.0L Fire Maple pot and the Fire Maple Typhoon 1.0L. The Typhoon has its own integral heat exchanger which Fire Maple claims can boost efficiency by up to 30%, a claim we would put to the test.
Each stove would be timed to boil 500ml water – the tap would be run for a minute to ensure consistent water temperature.
Each stove would be tested using a new gas canister to begin with so that reductions in gas pressure due to the canister emptying could be somewhat mitigated. Each canister was allowed to return to room temperature before being re-tested with the same stove.
Before and after each test, the gas canister was to be weighed to give an idea of gas consumption. Our scales are only accurate to 1 metric gram but it would be indicative of efficiency.
The test would then be repeated with a desk fan running on full power located 50cm from the stove burner.
When there is no wind present the Soto Windmaster is by far the fastest to boil 500ml. Not only is it fast, it also completes the task very efficiently. It was the fastest on test with both pots used but combined with the Typhoon pot it was almost 30 seconds faster than the next best time.
The MSR Windburner Solo stove was hot on the heels of the Soto but couldn’t quite match it for speed, especially when the Soto was paired with the Typhoon pot.
The results suggest that the Windburner Group Stove is not as efficient when used to boil water fast. It’s not really what this stove is about, this is a stove to cook on. It has a sensitive level of adjustment allowing it to simmer without burning your ingredients.
The Fire Maple Hornet is a little bit quicker than the Windburner Solo when paired with the Typhoon pot but slower with a conventional pot.
Placing each stove 50cm from a desk fan on full power changed everything.
The Fire Maple Hornet had been competitive before, but add in a wind and it was unable to boil 500ml. The stove was run with both pots for almost 10 minutes before abandoning the test in both cases. A bit of a fail from the Hornet – this result would no doubt be repeated with any regular screw on canister stove.
Next up, the Soto Windmaster was able to boil the 500ml with both pots. However, it took over 2 minutes longer to achieve a boil with the Typhoon compared to non-windy conditions. The time with the regular pot was only 5 seconds slower and used the same amount of gas. The problem here lies with the design of the Windmaster, it achieves its excellent wind performance by placing the burner very close to the base of the pot so that the wind cannot effect the flame.
With the Typhoon pot there is a large gap between the burner and the actual pot base allowing the wind to interfere with the flame.
Once it gets windy the Windburner stoves come into their stride. The Windburner Solo took only 10 seconds longer to boil 500ml, with no measurable reduction in efficiency compared to calm conditions. That is frankly amazing.
The Windburner Group system lacks the heat exchanger of the Solo stove and the flame is more exposed but it still performed strongly in the windy conditions. This demonstrates that the mesh burner head on the Windburner plays a key part in their performance in the wind.
Boil Time - Calm
|Boil Time - Windy||Time Difference||Gas Use|
|Fire Maple Hornet - Regular 1L Pot||169 seconds||Failed||NA||NA|
|Fire Maple Hornet - Typhoon 1L Pot||130 seconds||Failed||NA||NA|
|Soto Windmaster - Regular 1L Pot||126 seconds||235 seconds||+86.5%||+75%|
|Soto Windmaster - Typhoon 1L Pot||103 seconds||230 seconds||+123%||+133%|
|MSR Windburner Solo Stove - 1L Pot||141 seconds||150 seconds||+6%|
|MSR Windburner Group Stove - 2.5L Pot||220 seconds||255 seconds||+16%||+18%|
This test demonstrates the issues with using a conventional canister stove in windy conditions. Without a means of sheltering the stove, it will simply be unable to boil water.
The Soto Windmaster is an incredibly powerful stove that does offer stronger performance in the wind compared to a regular stove. If you shelter this stove then it’s the fastest here. If you want a small and lightweight stove that will still operate in windy conditions then the Soto is a great option.
The Windburner Stove Systems are unbelievable in the way they seem to be totally unaffected by the wind. If you want a stove that will boil your water or cook your meals, regardless of the conditions then the Windburner should be high on your list.
Finally, the Fire Maple Typhoon pot definitely improved the efficiency and boil time compared to a standard pot. Both stoves used around 25% less fuel to boil 500ml and boil times were reduced by around 23%. There is a weight penalty for this performance with the Typhoon weighing 222g but on a longer trip you would need to carry less gas.
Future Tests: This test was conducted using our teams stoves, we are aiming to test more stoves from some of the other brand leaders in the future too.