The Soto Stormbreaker is a multi-fuel stove that works from both gas and liquid fuel sources. Weighing in at 454 grams excluding the fuel bottle, it’s a weight and size we would look to use for group cooking rather than solo expeditions.
Soto have certainly made a name for themselves offering high quality stoves without the added price tag attached. A personal favourite for lightweight solo adventures has been the Windmaster which is solidly built stove in a compact size. The Stormbreaker follows suit being beautifully crafted throughout. The attention to detail is one of the best we have used with a stove of this type and to fit each little area into this review would take us too long, so we have picked out a few key areas that we believe stand out the most.
As a complete kit you receive:
Stormbreaker Stove with Hose, which is made up from a mixture of stainless steel, aluminium, and brass. The stove is fairly compact when folded and will fit inside the included carry case along with accessories into a small cooking pot for easy transport. When opening the legs lock into place with slip resistant supports keeping the pot securely in place. The hose is long enough to be placed away from the burner without overdoing it, whilst the tip has a plastic molded protective cover. We really like this extra touch from Soto as if this part of the hose was damaged it would be very hard to fix. The concave burner head is what earnt Soto its reputation, and its resistance to cold weather and increased windspeeds is impressive. It packs in 300 micro flames which makes for a large heat source. We used various sized pots and frying pans depending on the size of group and the food choices and could easily cook for a max of around 8 people from this single stove.
Smart Pump and 480ml Fuel Bottle. This is a wide mouth fuel canister in which you place a liquid fuel source inside. Coleman liquid fuel is what we used for this review. It’s an advisable option to keep your stove in top condition whilst also giving a high heat, but alternatively you can use paraffin or petrol. The smart pump threads onto the top of the fuel bottle and with the use of a support stand sits the bottle flat onto the ground. The control dial is then positioned on top ready for use. It needs to be noted that with all stoves of this type you must remove the pump whilst travelling, as dirt particles can clog the pump which in turn means more time spent repairing and cleaning. We liked to include a small piece of cloth or a lint free paper towel to wipe down any excess fuel from the smart pump before storing. The weight including the bottle comes to 644 grams and when full of fuel brings the total weight to around 1000 grams.
The Screw Top Gas Canister Stabilizer is a more compact and straight forward option for lighter and less complicated travel. The stabilizer folds open to reveal a small stand to invert the canister, making for a stable seating and improved performance. Both the smart pump and gas stabilizer use the same valve connection which is a fantastic piece of innovative thinking from Soto. The ability to quickly swap fuel sources whilst using the same hose makes for a truly versatile stove system. With the stabilizer being so compact, we would definitely pack it along with the fuel bottle for extended trips abroad as it would cover almost all sources of fuel you would come across. For this reason alone, it’s easy to see why the Stormbreaker is currently sold out with a large back log of orders in the USA.
To protect the stove from scorching the ground there is a lightweight Heat Reflective Sheet. This folds neatly into a pocket in the carry case and again is great addition to have, especially considering we intended use this type of low-profile stove in areas of the UK in which fragile vegetation is present.
Maintenance Kit, the key ingredient to any stove in which many working parts are present. This tends to be an off-putting element to anyone not wanting to purchase this type of stove. Simple is generally better, although functionality in all environments is why you would choose the Stormbreaker, so getting familiar with making general maintenance and repairs will ensure a hot meal will be available to the group, whilst also keeping this stove ticking on for many years. The maintenance kit includes 2 O-Rings, Backflow Prevention Valve Unit, O-Rings S-3, Backflow Prevention Valve Spring, O-Ring 13.8 x 2mm, Pump Filter, Multi-Tool, Silicone Grease and a Pump Shaft Gasket. This may seem like a lot of items and a bit of confusing, but after spending just a short amount of time getting familiar with ‘what goes where’ is becomes very straight forward. We didn’t have a manual included but tips for maintenance can be found online.
Over the course of the year we have had to make no major repairs at all, although did carry out general maintenance after each extended trip to keep the Soto Stormbreaker in the best possible condition. This would include on our return to base giving each section proper time to air out and dry, clean the small hole located at the tip of the hose, and add a small amount of grease when needed in the moving sections. This all takes around 5 mins max and will ensure the Stormbreaker is ready for use on the next adventure.
The carry case is a nylon pouch which includes dividers for each section of the stove and accessories. It’s a simple design, lightweight, which importantly keeps the entire system together.
To use the Stormbreaker you approach both fuel types with a separate procedure:
Soto Stormbreaker with Fuel Bottle and Smart Pump
Firstly, its noticeable that the bottle is quite a bit larger than its 480ml capacity might suggest. This is because when the Smart Pump is placed inside this is the amount of fuel it will accommodate. The bottle includes a fill line on the side and the wide mouth opening makes it easy to fill without the need of a funnel. At 190 grams, adding around an extra 500 grams with the added fuel, it is a noticeable difference in terms of weight and bulk compared to using a gas canister.
To get the Stormbreaker ready to ignite replace the lid with the Smart Pump, making sure not to bend the filter tube. Pay attention not to overtighten as it can be hard work to remove afterwards. Place the bottle on the ground using the built-in stand, so that the operation dial is facing up. The dial has a safety feature so that it cannot be operated until you pull it outwards to engage each mode.
A fantastic feature with the Stormbreaker is you do not need to prime it! Although it does require a bit of extra effort in the number of pumps it takes to achieve the correct pressure. Soto have really made this a great go-to stove for anyone with little to no knowledge of using a stove of this type, as they include a little indicator to let you know the fuel bottle is ready to use.
You do have to be careful where you place any stove using liquid fuel as they can be unpredictable with the initial flame. Never use this in the awning of a small tent as the initial flame could catch the fabric. The more open the space the better, although compared to many stoves we have used that burn liquid fuel, the Stormbreaker is fairly calm in comparison, with a large orange flame that turns blue within a short amount of time.
It’s personal choice, but for us a pressurized stove has a satisfying sound that you just can’t beat, especially on a cold winter’s morning. Letting you know a hot drink is on its way. Loud enough that it arises everyone at camp, but not too much that you can’t have a conversation.
The ‘run’ mode then lets you choose you desired setting from fast boil to a gentle simmer. Once you are done turn the dial to ‘stop’, and if you are finished with the stove turn to ‘air’. This has to be one our favourite features as it not only depressurizes the fuel bottle but also blasts air through the hose to the burner, cleaning out any unwanted soot. Simple design features like this go a long way not only in the efficiency of the operation, but also the longevity of the stove.
With a full bottle of fuel, we managed to cook meals for 3 days with a group size of 6 people and still have a small amount of fuel left over. We were conscious about the amount of fuel we would use due to the cold temperatures at the time. Generally boiling snow would take around 16 minutes to achieve a rolling boil, whilst on warmer days using water at around 2/3 degrees the time sped up to around 11 minutes for approx. 2 litres of water. The estimation from Soto is approx. 1.6 hours of burning time with an ambient temperature of 25C, and the times above with increase significantly in a warmer climate.
Whilst cooking more substantial meals such as pasta, or a stew, the ability to control the heat output was much easier than with the gas canister. We were surprised as we thought this would be the opposite, and although we did have to add a few extra pumps from time to time to keep a steady pressure, this was a really nice set up to create those morale boosting meals. This type of cooking just can’t be replicated using a dehydrated meal. It also makes for better group dynamics allowing each individual to take part in the preparing and cooking of meals.
Soto Stormbreaker with Screw Top Gas Canister Stabilizer
The process is certainly easier with the stabilizer and should be a fairly straight forward task for anyone who has used a gas stove before. Simply attach the canister to the stabilizer, fit the hose using the male to female locking connector, turn the valve a little, ignite, and then turn to your desired temperature setting. This was our much-preferred option for lighter travel and for group use is very manageable in size. Compared to other stoves we use we would say fuel consumption is ok, typically over 3 days boiling water, and preparing basic meals for 6 people, we would go through three medium sized gas canisters. (MSR IsoPro 227g) In temperatures of approx. 5 degrees, at 1100m, in light/moderate windspeeds (unshielded), with water collected from a nearby stream (2 litres) we found the Stormbreaker to take around 16.5 mins to reach a steady boil. When compared to modern backpacking stoves which are for purely boiling water, this is a considerable gain in time and gas usage. We also found the gas option to struggle in below freezing conditions when compared to the fuel bottle.
The Soto Stormbreaker is possibly one of the most versatile stoves we have ever used. It may not be the lightest, fastest to boil water, or have the lowest consumption of fuel, but it’s the stove you can rely on as the base camp work horse. Multi-fuel options, large burner, and wide pot supports make this a fantastic group option. The construction is stunning with a high amount of care taken in every aspect of the Stormbreaker, our personal favorites being the single hose with the same quick release valve for the two fuel types, and the ‘air’ function on the smart pump. It’s also easy to operate and maintain so would make a great option for anyone looking to use a stove of this type with little or no prior knowledge of how to use one.
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