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Thursday, November 17, 2016

What's All This About the Soto Amicus?

OK, so, what's all this about the Soto Amicus?  I mean why all the fuss?  There are dozens of upright canister gas stoves available out there.  Primus, MSR, Optimus, Snow Peak, Jetboil, etc. – in short, all the major stove companies – have upright canister stoves out on the market, in fact, most of those companies have multiple stoves available.  So who cares about just one more upright canister gas stove?  Big deal.  Yawn.

Well, maybe.  But maybe not.  Maybe there's more to it than that.  Let's keep reading, and we shall see.

UPDATE 18 December 2017:  My finalized Review of the Soto Amicus is now available.
The New Soto Amicus
OK, so why am I excited?  Well, I'll tell you.  But rather than a long winded technical explanation, just watch this short, three minute video, and then let's go from there.

OK, now did you see that in the video?  The stove on the left, the Soto Windmaster, beat the stove on the right by almost a full minute.

And did you catch what I said?  The Windmaster won every time.  And believe you me, I ran test after test after test.  Due to the circumstances of my life, this stove, the Windmaster, is probably the most thoroughly tested of any stove I own.

Let me explain:
I had a job end a few years ago.  I had been with the company for over 21 years, but they let me go.  I hadn't looked for a job in a long, long time.  The world had changed.  There really wasn't much of an internet when I had last looked for job.  Now I was a tech worker around 50 years old.  There's a tremendous prejudice in the tech sector against older workers.  I had three mouths to feed.  I was desperate for money.  When I had work, I would work as many hours as humanly possible.  So, sorry stove hobby, but you're on hold.

But of course I never stopped hiking during that time.  Job hunting is the very worst sort of mental torture.  My escape was to set aside one day per week for hiking.  And I brought stoves.  And on many of those trips, this rather intriguing Windmaster.  So this stove is tested.

OK, so, um, weren't we talking about the Amicus?  Why are you going on and on about the Windmaster?

Oh, right.  Now, the Windmaster is actually the best upright canister stove available today in the US market (in my opinion) – and it isn't selling well.  Why?  Well for one, it's pretty expensive for an upright canister stove.  At $75 MSRP, it's tough to sell stoves when one can just go get an MSR PocketRocket or a Snow Peak GigaPower for about $40.  [Note:  Campsaver* has the Windmaster and the Amicus for way less than MSRP].  Two, the Windmaster has a detachable pot support (easy to lose) which just about nobody likes.  Three, the Windmaster is a pretty tall stove and doesn't fit into a lot of smaller pots.

*Disclosure:  I have no relationship whatsoever with Campsaver.  I don't get a nickel for telling you about them.  I'm just telling you because they've got a frickin' steal of a deal going on right now as I write this. 

So, enter the Amicus.

Why am I excited?  I'll tell you.  Just look at the burner head.  It has the same type of burner head as Windmaster.
The recessed burner head of the Soto Amicus.
Gone is the detachable pot support, and the MSRP is now thirty dollars less at $45.00.  Now, that's a competitive price when you consider that the new MSR Pocket Rocket II (coming in 2017) also has an MSRP of $45 and the new JetBoil MightyMo has an MSRP of $50.  Soto has finally gotten real with their prices.

So, if this stove has significantly better features and wind handling properties than the competition, then I think that Soto could really go places with this one.  I'll report more on that as I go through my review process.  Stay tuned.

Summary and Next Steps
The above video shows why I think the Soto Amicus has real potential.  Soto really has developed a wind resistant burner technology.  Will the Amicus be as good as the Windmaster?  I honestly don't know. Yet.  But I should have a pretty good some time later this year after I've taken it out into the field over the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

Good points about the Amicus:
  • The price is good ($45 MSRP with piezo* vs. $75 for their last stove).
  • The weight is in range with the competition (about 2.7 oz/75 g) – and the Amicus has a piezoelectric ignition* whereas many of its competitors do not.
  • Far more compact than its predecessors.
  • Good pot supports (finally!)
  • Best in the business piezoelectric ignition*. Nobody even comes close to Soto's engineering here, not even close.  
  • Potentially outstanding wind resistance (I haven't completed my field tests yet, so it's just "potentially" at this time). 
Soto may have a real winner here.

OK, enough discussion.  I need to get out there and complete my field trials.

As always, I thank you for joining me,

HJ

*A version of the Amicus without a piezoelectric ignition is available for $5 less.

The best in breed "Stealth" ignition of the Soto Amicus.  Nobody else even comes close.
No little ceramic doohickey to break.  No unsupported, exposed wire constantly in the flame.
No big plastic or metal thingy glommed onto the side of the burner.

11 comments:

  1. Great report Jim. I sure like the size and price.

    How would you rate this vs. the Jet Boil systems?

    Best,

    Blake

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Blake,
      Well, they're really two different classes of stove. The one exception being the new Jetboil MightyMo which is just a regular upright canister similar to the Amicus.

      If you're talking about the most common type of Jetboil, the kind where the specialized heat exchanger pot fastens to the burner, it's really about trade offs. Jetboil is fast and convenient and has great fuel economy, but it's heavier and more expensive.

      The Amicus is lighter and has a FAR superior ignition system (if you get the version with the built in ignition, but it's a little slower and won't have the same fuel economy.

      However, you would seldom find circumstances where the Jetboil's fuel economy will save you enough weight to the point where the Jetboil will be lighter overall. Amicus + fuel required will almost always be lighter than Jetboil + fuel required. I wrote a post here on my blog that considers this very issue.

      So, I don't know if that answers your question(s), but just shoot me another question here if I did not.

      Take care,

      HJ

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    2. Oh, and I guess I should say something about windproofness. The Jetboil isn't particularly wind proof. I've seen Jetboils blow out, multiple times, in strong winds. The Amicus is designed to shed wind, and my testing with this type of burner indicates that the design works. However, I have not conducted head-to-head testing with an Amicus and, say, a Jetboil Flash. I tend to compare stoves of the same class.

      HJ

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  2. DO you think this would fit into a evernew pasta pot or a 900ml with a gas canister?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have the EV Pasta pot, however I am about 95% sure that it would fit with a 110 g gas canister.

      I have a BPL Firelite 550 mug pot. It fits into the pot with a 110 g canister, and almost but doesn't quite fit. It fits in terms of width, but it's about 1.25 cm too tall, and I can't close the lid.

      As for a 900ml pot, it would depend a little on the proportions, but if it very nearly fits in a 550 ml pot, I'm pretty sure it would fit in a 900 ml. It really is compact.

      HJ

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    2. Hi stm,
      I have the Amicus stove (love it by the way). It will easily fit in an oversew 900 pot (the short wide one) with a 110 canister. In mine, I currently have inside a 110 canister (you have to put it in upside down), the amicus in its small stuff sack, a foldacup, and a folding spork.

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    3. Thank you, Dan. I thought it would fit. :)

      HJ

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  3. I currently have a BRS-3000t that I've only used a few times and hasn't been great in the wind, but sufficient. Do you think this is worth the upgrade considering the extra cost, weight and bulk?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cost of an Amicus isn't bad right now, $30 to $35 or so at Campsaver.com.

      But if your BRS -3000T is doing the job, there's no absolute reason to upgrade.

      The Amicus will give you better pot stability, better fuel economy, and (if you get the version with the ignition) more convenience. You'd have to decide what those are worth.

      HJ

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  4. Is there anything else you would recommend over the amicus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, personally I like the Soto Windmaster. It's the upright canister gas stove that I use the most. It's not quite as compact, but it has good pot stability, and it really does handle wind better than other stoves. I have review of the Windmaster here on this blog.

      The Windmaster is lighter than the Amicus, but nothing will be as light as a BRS-3000T.

      HJ

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