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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The New MSR Windburner Remote Canister Stove – Review Supplement

MSR has come out with a remote canister version of their popular Windburner stove.
The new remote canister version of the MSR Windburner 
I've posted a full review of the new remote canister Windburner on the SectionHiker.com website.

This blog post is a review supplement where I will post extra photos and a chart of weights that didn't make it into the review.


Chart of Weights



The new burner is about 52 grams/1.8 ounces heavier than the original.  Interestingly, the new burner packs down into about the same amount of space as the original.

Note that the original canister stand weighs 0.6 oz, and the canister stand on the 1.8 L version weighs 0.7 oz.  One would not need to take a canister stand with the remote burner, so the real difference between the two is about one ounce – if you typically bring the canister stand.  I personally don't always bring the canister stand on the 1.0 L version, but I typically do bring the canister stand on the 1.8 L version.


What's the difference?  

What's the difference between the original burner and the new remote burner?  Well, take a look at the photo below.  The original burner, left, is an upright (top mounted) type burner that screws directly onto the canister.  The new burner, right, is a remote type burner that is connected to the fuel by a hose.
Original upright burner, left.
New remote burner, right.
A remote style burner sits a lot lower, especially on larger sized fuel canisters, and is generally more stable.  A remote burner can support larger pots.  Notice in the below photo how much lower the remote burner sits.
Left:  New remote burner, with 2.5 L pot.
Middle:  Original burner with 1.0 L pot
Right:  Original burner with 1.8 L pot
With the introduction of the remote burner are two new pots, a 2.5 L and a 4.5 L pot, both pots that are much larger than would be practical on the original burner.  However, any Windburner pot will fit on any Windburner stove.  MSR will continue to offer both the original upright burner and the new remote burner.  Also introduced is a new Windburner frying pan with a ceramic based non-stick coating.  The 2.5 L pot also has the non-stick coating.  In my cooking, I have to say that the non-stick feature really works well.

Mix and Match
As I said, any Windburner pot (or pan) can be matched with any Windburner stove.  It's up to you to decide which combinations are practical.  In the below photos, I've swapped the 1.8 L and the 2.5 L pots, placing the 1.8 L pot on the remote burner and the 2.5 L pot on the upright burner.

I'm not sure how many people would put the 2.5 L pot on the original upright burner, but the 1.8 L pot on the new remote burner is definitely a winner.  MSR will be selling this combination, the 1.8 L pot with the remote burner, as a standard set – although you can still buy the 1.8 L pot with the original burner if you prefer.
Here, I've switched the 1.8 L pot (left) over to the remote burner.
The 2.5 L pot (right) is now on the original burner.
Firesteel
Several people have asked, "can I use a firesteel to light the stove?"  Yes, absolutely.  In fact, the wide burner of the Windburner is just absolutely perfect for use with a fire steel.  The rim around the burner helps retain the gas at the burner head and helps funnel the sparks right into the burner.  The Windburner is one of the easiest gas stoves that there is to light with a firesteel.

Incidentally, MSR makes a really nice firesteel, a firesteel I actually prefer over the Light-My-Fire brand.  MSR's lanyard is longer and easier to use.  Light-My-Fire's lanyard always seems to be just a tad too short which I find aggravating.  MSR's lanyard is long enough to slip it over one's neck while working around the "kitchen" area of one's camp, which I find convenient.
A fire steel is the perfect way to light a Windburner.
The fire steel shown here is the excellent MSR firesteel which I actually prefer over Light-My-Fire.
Who wants it?
Well obviously groups.  The new remote burner will support a 2.5 L and even a 4.5 L pot.  For any use other than snow melting, I generally recommend about 750 ml capacity per person (I recommend 1.5 L capacity per person for snow melting).  Thus, the 2.5 L pot is more than adequate for three people and would do for four if you were just doing simple cooking (i.e. just boiling water type cooking).

The 4.5 L pot would be suitable for up to six or seven people.

Not only would groups want the larger pots but also families with children, Scout groups, or any group that wanted a more stable pot set up than the tall original burner provides.
The new remote burner provides a stable cooking platform for the more junior hiker.

Cooking ability
I mention it in the full review, but I just want to reiterate that the new 2.5 L pot on the new remote style Windburner is an excellent cooking system.  On New Year's Day, I made a really nice, fluffy frittata using nine eggs.  It's hard to get a frittata with nine eggs cooked all the way through without burning the bottom.  The new Windburner with 2.5 L pot did an excellent job of it.  The new remote burner with the new 2.5 L pot (or the optional frying pan, sold separately) is a greatly improved cooking system, a system upon which one can do some real cooking.  It may not be the ultimate Gourmet set up, but it does a danged good job on things beyond just boiling water.

As always, thanks for joining me,

HJ


Appendix I – Product Information and Technical Details

Manufacturer: MSR, a division of Cascade Designs.
Date available: Currently available.
MSR Website: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/MSR
MSRP: $199.99 (USD)
Stated Weight: 598 g/21.1 ounces
Measured Weight: 598 g/21.1 ounces
Materials: Aluminum pot with steel (primarily) burner.
Burner Dimensions:  9 cm/3.5" tall, 9.5 cm/3.75" wide. (Packed)
Pot Dimensions:  15 cm/6" tall, 18 cm/7" wide – with approx. 1 cm (0.4”) additional for pot handle hinge.
Size/Model tested: 2.5 L/84 fl. oz.  pot with remote type burner.
Requirements: A standard threaded canister of gas (sold separately).
Warranty info: See MSR website, above
Colors Available: Gray


Disclosures
The stove in this review was provided at no cost to me by Section Hiker with the understanding that I would review the stove as I saw fit, in other words, with no restrictions or preconditions.  I have reviewed the stove accordingly.  Neither I myself nor Adventures in Stoving have any financial relationship with MSR, the manufacturer of the equipment reviewed.  In addition, I receive no remuneration for the writing of this review nor do I receive any benefit from the sale of any stove discussed in this review.



Sunday, December 3, 2017

Deal Alert! (Soto WindMaster on sale)

The Soto WindMaster is on sale for $55 on Massdrop (a "group buy" site) – if just ten people sign up.  That's an outstanding deal for a stove that often retails for $20 more (i.e. $75 is normal).

Adventures in Stoving is typically about evaluating stoves, not about promoting sales, but a lot of people have expressed interest in the WindMaster, and this is as good of a deal as I've seen.

Please understand that I derive no percentage of the sales.  There are no "affiliate links" or anything like that.  This is just a good deal I noticed.

Links

Note that if you use that link (if you aren't already a member), you get a $10 credit, and I also get a $10 credit. 
Cold weather testing the WindMaster.

The Stove
It's no secret that I consider the Soto WindMaster to be the best quality upright canister stove on the market today.  See my review of the Soto WindMaster.  It's wind resistant in a way other stoves of this class just aren't (well, except for its budget minded cousin, the Amicus), and it's a good balance of versatility, efficiency, and weight.  Not only that, it's just quality in every respect.

The Soto WindMaster
Rumor Control
There were rumors that Soto was going to discontinue distribution of the WindMaster in North America, but, no.  I spoke to the Soto rep, and Soto has no plans to discontinue the WindMaster.

Simul-testing the WindMaster against a "control" stove.
The WindMaster is at left.
No matter the conditions, the WindMaster always came out ahead – while using less fuel.

I hope this is helpful to someone, and I do hope you will forgive the commercial intrusion on this, a site focused on what we do in our lives outside of work (well, unless you're a guide or something).

HJ


Performance testing the Soto WindMaster against a "control" stove.
Note:  The individual in the photo is a highly trained stove professional.
Don't try this at home (seriously, go for a hike; you have a much better stove already in your kitchen at home).
Apologies for the waste generating food shown in the photo.  We got a free case because they were due to expire.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Kovea EZ Eco – "Canisterless" Canister Stove

Last year, I wrote a review of the EZ Eco version of Kovea's Alpine Pot.  At the time, the EZ Eco was having some "technical difficulty."  Kovea did not market the product at that time and went back to the drawing board to work out some of the kinks based on my feed back.

A few months ago, they sent me a re-worked version.  I have reviewed the stove, and there is now a New Review of the Kovea EZ Eco on SectionHiker.com.

The stove I used in my review was sort of a pre-production version, the version they started selling in Korea before they started selling them here in the US.  Just after I finished my review, I got a production US version, with the same markings and color as the version now commercially available in US.  Naturally, it had to come a week or two after I had already written and submitted my review, lol, but other than the color and some other cosmetic changes, the stove I reviewed is the same stove as is now for sale in the US. I will include a couple of photos here of the production version just so you can see what it looks like and exactly what you will get if you buy one.
What's in the box?
Top, L to R:  Stove bag, pot, and lid
Bottom, L to R:  Cup, burner, and instructions
Between the instructions and the lid, notice the adapter.  See review for details.

Here's a top down look at the whole assembly.
Note the rubber band like "straps" to retain the lid.

OK, not a whole lot to see here, so head on over to Section Hiker and have a look at the full review.

Thanks for joining me,

HJ

Monday, August 21, 2017

Interactive Canister Gas Estimation Spreadsheet

I've put together something that I hope will be useful.  It's an Excel spreadsheet that you can customize to fit your particular stove and your particular situation.  You can use Google Sheets if you don't have Excel on your device.

This spreadsheet should work for conventional stoves (e.g. Pocket Rocket, GigaPower, Crux, etc.) as well as high efficiency stoves (e.g. Jetboil).  The download link will be down at the bottom of this post, after the explanations

Headed out for a week? Nice!  Uh, how much fuel do you need?
Purple Lake, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Sierra Nevada, California.
Enter Your Numbers
So, it's relatively straightforward. You, based on your needs and your experience, enter four numbers into the spreadsheet as listed, below.  I'll go through some examples after the list to hopefully help you understand how this works.  It's pretty simple, really.
  1. The number of cups (about 250 ml per cup for those of you who prefer metric) of water you plan to boil per day, on average.
  2. The number of grams of fuel your particular stove burns to boil one cup of water.  If you don't know, I recommend that you use 4 g for conventional stoves and 3 g for high efficiency stoves (like a Jetboil) until you get a better idea of what your stove requires.  You might add a gram (i.e. 5 g and 4 g, respectively) for water temperatures around 5 C/40 F or lower.  Double the estimate (i.e. 8 g and 6 g) if you're melting snow.
  3. The length of your trip (number of days).
  4. Your margin for error.  This is sort of a "fudge factor".  You add a bit more extra gas in case it's windy or maybe you just underestimated how much water you'd need to boil.  As you gain more experience, you can dial this back.
Remember, all four of these numbers are under your total control.  You set the parameter, and the spreadsheet will tell you what size canister it thinks you should bring.  Note that I have the following canister sizes programmed into the spreadsheet:  100, 110, 220, 230, and 450 grams.
Isn't this a great spot?  Say, we did bring enough fuel to have dinner tonight, didn't we?
Duck Lake, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Sierra Nevada, California.
Example 1.
In this example, I'm going to go out for five days.  See the chart, below.  I'm going out with a partner.  Say, on average, that we both boil about five cups per day and that we have a conventional stove like, say, a Pocket Rocket.  We're going to enter all the numbers that describe our trip and our needs in the gray shaded cells.  The spreadsheet will then recommend in the yellow shaded cell what size of canister at a minimum that you should bring based on the parameters that you've entered.

Let's go through the example:
Line 1.  If we both boil 5 cups each, then we'd boil a total of 10 cups per day, on average.  Enter the number 10 on line one in column "B" in the gray, shaded area on line 1.

Line 2.  Since we have a conventional stove, we'll use "4" as the number of grams we expect to burn per cup on line 2.  Now, this assumes that you know the Basics of Stove Fuel Economy.  If you're not familiar with how to get good fuel economy with a backpacking stove, I suggest that you read through the Basics of Stove Fuel Economy.

Line 3.  Next, let's enter then number of days our trip will be.  I said five, but I'm going to enter just 4.5.  Why?  Well, I'm planning to exit on the last day well before supper time.  Really, the last day is only going to be a half day, so I'm adjusting the amount of fuel I think I'll need by dropping the length of the trip by 1/2 a day.

Line 4.  Do not touch line four.  Remember, only enter numbers into the gray shaded cells.

Line 5.  Now, Line 5 is your "fudge factor," your safety margin.  We are NOT going to estimate the number of grams we think we'll need and cut it off exactly there.  No, we're going to add just a bit more in case something goes wrong or we're off somewhere.  Now, if you really know your stove, your usage, and the Basics of Stove Fuel Economy, then have at it.  Cut the margin down to zero if you like.  It's your spreadsheet once you download it, but I'm going to recommend a 10% safety margin until you know differently.

Based on our estimate that we, on average, will boil 10 cups of water per day (line 1) and that with our conventional stove will need 4 g of fuel per cup boiled (line 2) and that our upcoming trip will be 4.5 days long (line 3) and that we want a 10% margin for error (line 5), the spreadsheet determines (line 6) that you need 198 g of fuel.  The spreadsheet then, in line 7, tells you what minimum canister size you should bring in order to have that 198 g of fuel.  In this case the spreadsheet recommends that you bring at least a 220 g sized fuel canister.

Now, notice line 8.  This is the amount of fuel we will have over our estimated need.  We need 198 g but our canister holds 220 g which means we have 22 g of fuel in excess of our estimated need.

The spreadsheet then tells you (line 9) about how many extra cups that excess fuel will give you if you need it.

Lastly, the spreadsheet tell you how many additional cups you could boil per day based on this excess fuel (line 10).

Why might you want to know how many additional cups per day you have the capability to boil?  Well, half way through our last trip, someone gave us some coffee they weren't going to use.  Suddenly, we had enough coffee to have not one but two cups of coffee each morning.  But do we have enough gas?  Hopefully, with line 10 of the spreadsheet, you'll know if you have the gas for that second cup of coffee.

Let's see, it's three more days until we re-supply.  You did bring enough gas for three more days, right?
The Silver Divide, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Sierra Nevada, California.
Example 2.
In this example, I'm going to go out for three days.  See the chart, below.  Again, I'm going out with a partner.  Again, let's say, on average, that we both boil about five cups per day, but this time we're going to be sharing a Jetboil type stove.

Let's go through the example:
Line 1.  If we boil 5 cups each per day, then we'd enter "10" on line one in column "B" in the gray, shaded area.

Line 2.  Since we have a Jetboil stove, we'll use "3" as the number of grams we expect to burn per cup, on line 2.

Line 3.  Next, let's assume our trip lasts a full three days.  Therefore, I enter "3" on line 3.

Line 4.  Do not touch line four.  Remember, only enter numbers into the gray shaded cells.

Line 5.  Let's just stick with 10% as our safety margin.

Now, on line 6, our baseline estimate + our margin for error comes to a total of 99 g.  The spreadsheet therefor in line 7 recommends that you buy a 100 g canister.  Is that cutting it too close?  Probably not.  Remember, that we've already got a 10% margin for error in there.  However, 110 g canisters are typically just as cheap as 100 g canisters.  I personally would just get the 110 g canister just so I have a slightly larger margin for error, but each to his or her own.

But notice line 8.  You only have 1 g in this example of "excess" fuel.  Just one gram.  In other words, if someone gives you coffee or something, you may not have the gas to boil water for it.  This is important!  I wouldn't want to eat a cold backpacking dinner in the evening because I had burned up all my fuel on a second cup of coffee in the morning.  If I don't have the gas to do something, then I want to know, in advance.  This estimation spreadsheet gives you an idea of how much slack you do – or do not – have.

Conclusion
Thanks for bearing with me through all the explanations.  I hope I was reasonably clear.  If it wasn't clear, please use the comments section, below, to ask questions.  There are no dumb questions.  If it's not clear, ask.

Now, the link.  You can download the Excel spreadsheet using Google Docs.  If you don't have Excel on your device, you can open the spreadsheet with the Google Sheets app.

Please let me know in the comments, below, if you have any problems with the link or the spreadsheet.

Thanks for joining me,

HJ
The author at Sallie Keys Lakes on the John Muir Trail.
You're danged right I had enough gas!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What is a Light (or Ultralight) Canister Stove?

The words "light" and "ultralight" get thrown around like so much chump change.  Marketers play fast and loose with those terms hoping to score a few more gear sales.  Is there a way we can assign real meaning to these terms?
An FMS-116T "Gnat" stove weighs less than two ounces.
Actually, there is.  We can "grade on the curve."

What the heck do I mean by that?  Well, when I was in school, some instructors would look at the scores on their tests, expecting to see a "normal" (bell shaped) curve.  If the center of the curve didn't line up with "average" performance, they might adjust the test scores.  In other words, students were judged not just on their test scores alone but on how well they did in relation to the class as a whole.  This is referred to as "grading on the curve."

So also, we can judge canister stoves not just on their weight alone but also on how their weights compare to other stoves in their class.
Some stoves today weigh under one ounce, giving new meaning to the term "ultralight."
With that in mind, take a look at the below chart.  This chart applies to upright (top mounted) canister stoves only.  Obviously "integrated" canister stoves (like a Jetboil or Reactor) and remote canister stoves (like an MSR WindPro or Kovea Spider) have to have their own categories in order for those categories to be meaningful.
Upright Canister Gas Stove
Weight Classes
(Less Than or Equal To)
OuncesGrams
Heavy
 4+
113+
Moderate< 4< 113
Light< 3< 85
Ultralight (UL)< 2< 57
Super Ultralight (SUL)< 1< 28

Upright canister stoves today weigh as little as 25 grams – less than one ounce! There are five commercially available stoves that weigh less than two ounces.

Given the light weight of stoves available today, it's reasonable to insist on that a stove be truly light in order for it to belong to the class of "ultralight" and to be even more demanding of weight savings for a stove to earn the title "super ultralight."
We give meaning to terms like "light" and "ultralight" by categorizing stoves relative to one another.
Here then are four examples:
Top row, right:  MSR Pocket Rocket, 3.1 oz (Midweight) 
Top row, left:  MSR Pocket Rocket 2, 2.6 oz (Light)
Bottom Row, left:  FMS-116T ("Gnat"), 1.7 oz (Ultralight)
Bottom Row, right:  BRS-3000T, 0.9 oz, (Super Ultralight)
In summary, based on what is available today, real meaning can be given to terms like "light" and "ultralight" by looking at a given stove's weight in relation to other stoves.  Based on those relative weights, I have created the following upright canister stove weight classes:
  • SUL:  If an upright canister stove weighs less than or equal to an ounce (28 g), it's super ultralight.
  • UL:  If a stove weighs less than or equal to two ounces (57 g) but more than one ounce, then it's ultralight.
  • Light:  If a stove weighs less than or equal to three ounces (85 g) but more than two ounces, then it's light.  
  • Moderate:  If a stove weighs less than or equal to four ounces (113 g) but more than three ounces , then it's moderate.  
  • Heavy:  If it weighs more than a quarter pound (4 oz/113 g), then, by modern standards, it's heavy.  
The above is a reasonable categorization, given the state of the art and the stoves commonly available today.

Next time you read an ad or hear a salesman say that a three (or more) ounce stove is "ultralight," just nod your head and say "unh hunh, sure," and have yourself a little chuckle.  Now, you know better.

Thanks for joining me,

HJ

For Further Reading:
The Purpose of this Post:
As a brief post script, let me just reflect for a moment.  I wrote this post with two things in mind:
1.  To let people know, particularly those less familiar with backpacking stoves, what's out there.  There are stoves being marketed as "ultralight" that are above three ounces in weight.  That's actually on the heavy end of the scale.  It's not even light let alone ultralight.  If you're shopping for a stove and trying to get your base weight down, you need to know that you can do better.
2.  ALL WEIGHT CATEGORIES ARE ARBITRARY including those that talk about total base weight. I like weight categories insofar as they give me a goal that I can challenge myself with, but I don't like weight categories if they lead to one upmanship or a loss of focus on the true bottom line:  enjoyment.  Reduced gear weight should facilitate the enjoyment of one's hiking.  Increased enjoyment of hiking is the true bottom line, not some arbitrary weight class.