MSR have been performance leaders in fuel efficient gas stoves since they launched the Reactor stove and its variants – all based on the same burner and close coupling system. The market hasn’t really recognised this with some other brands taking the plaudits.
Reading between the lines MSR launched the Windboiler based on a slightly reduced size Reactor burner unit but with some features found on competing stoves of this type – i.e a fitted pot cosy with a handle.
Not sure how useful it is to determine which is faster among this class of stove as the difference in performance is likely to be less significant than other differences between the stoves – so I’m not doing that!
Suffice to say it’s fast. The Windboiler comes with a 1.0L pot, which is big for one person and will provide for two in most cases depending on what you’re preparing. These days I tend to almost exclusively use my stove to boil water – that’s not to say I’m always eating freeze dried meals, because I’m not – but other food that I buy often just requires boiling water, e.g. cup a soups, mashed potato for corned beef hash, pasta etc..
When only boiling half a litre of water the stove is lightning fast. This stove doesn’t have a piezo igniter – so you have to light the stove using a match or flint then once it’s lit put the pot on top of the burner. The coupling of the pot to the burner unit is well designed and its easy to lock in and subsequently lift off.
The handle on the pot/cosy is one of the best I’ve used – and some of them are poor bordering on dangerous. When stowed away the base of the pot is covered by a transparent plastic eating bowl with graduations in millilitres and fluid ounces, this is great as you can accurately measure out the water you need – a task which can be difficult if the graduations are inside a metal pot – or worse, you don’t have any at all.
The lid of the pot snaps on and is transparent, in the cold weather though it shrinks and is virtually impossible to snap round the pot – I ended up just laying it on the top. Later, when cooking at normal temperatures the lid had expanded back and was easy to fit again.
I found myself with more food that required cooking than not, so I decided to make up a freeze dried meal at lunchtime – it happened that we were on the summit of Carn Dearg with a squall in the offing and the stove took a while to light with my firesteel – but when it was going it performed well. I wasted a lot of gas in this operation because the firesteel took a few strokes to get the burner lit – all the time it was pumping out gas at full pelt – in fact if you want to get the best out of the gas I would recommend using a lighter or match to light it as then you can waste the least amount of fuel as the flame can be present as soon as you turn the gas on.
After checking the weight of my 100g gas can after the trip I reckoned the gas would last five days – using a lighter to fire up the stove would probably extend this to perhaps six days – of course this depends on usage, however I can tell you I had porridge and coffee each morning, soup, main course and coffee in the evening – with a dessert on one of the days and a cooked lunch on one of the days also.
The Windboiler is a good stove for solo use or two people, I’d like to have seen a piezo igniter and if there was a version with a 0.75 Litre pot for solo use I’d go for that one.