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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: the BRS-3000T – the World's Lightest Gas Stove


At just 25 grams (0.9 oz), the BRS-3000T is unquestionably the world's lightest canister gas stove.  But is it any good?  I thought I'd see for myself.

UPDATE 02 March 2017:  Failure #2 of the BRS-3000T
UPDATE 05 March 2017:  Failure #3 and #4 of the BRS-3000T
The tiny BRS-3000T – only 25 grams!!
Classification
I think that it's fair to say that the BRS-3000T is the worlds first true super ultralight (SUL) canister stove.  What do I mean by "super ultralight?"  Well, take a look at the below chart.  The BRS-3000T is the first known canister stove to come in under one ounce (about 28 g) in weight.
Canister Gas Stove Weight Classes
(Less Than or Equal To)
Ounces Grams
Heavy
 4+
113+
Moderate < 4 < 113
Light < 3 < 85
Ultralight (UL) < 2 < 57
Super Ultralight (SUL) < 1 < 28

Basically:
  • If an upright canister stove weighs less than or equal to an ounce (28 g), that's SUL in my book.
  • If it weighs less than or equal to two ounces (57 g) but more than one ounce, then it's UL.  
  • If it weighs less than or equal to three ounces (85 g) but more than two ounces, then it's light.  
  • If it weighs less than or equal to four ounces (113 g) but more than three ounces , then it's moderate.  
  • If it weighs more than a quarter pound (113 g), then it's heavy.  
I think that's a reasonable categorization, given the state of the art and the stoves commonly used.

Size
So, just how small is this thing, anyway?  Well, for comparative purposes, I thought I'd put it side-by-side with some other stoves.
  • On the far left is an MSR Pocket Rocket, a moderate weight stove at 3.1 oz/87 g.
  • Next to the right with the red base is an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, a light weight stove at 2.6 oz/73g.  
  • Next with the yellow base is a FMS-116T (also sold as the Monatauk Gnat and the Olicamp Kinetic Ultra), an ultralight stove at 1.7 oz/48 g.  
  • Last on the right is the BRS-3000T, a super ultralight stove at 0.9 oz/25 g.
Left to right: an MSR Pocket Rocket, an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, a Fire Maple FMS-116T, and a BRS-3000T.

"Bench" Testing
Adventures in Stoving is all about testing, ideally in the field.  I do typically test at home before taking a stove out into the field.  To that end, I fired it up at home.  Right away,  I noticed that there was a lot impingement of the flame by the pot supports.  The pot supports had a fairly dramatic impact on the flame, as shown by the color change in the flame in the photo, below.  Put this into the back of your mind.  We'll come back to this later.
The flame of the BRS-3000T hits the pot supports, transmitting a great deal of heat to them.
Note how the far pot support glows in the heat
Other stoves did not affect the flame as much even though their pot supports were also in contact with the flame.
The pot supports of an FMS-116T stove have no where near the impact on the flame as do those of the BRS-3000T.
Pot Stability
I was also interested in pot stability.  The BRS-3000T is a tiny little stove and of all the stoves I've got has the smallest span to its pot supports.
Top row:  An MSR Pocket Rocket 2, left, and an MSR Pocket Rocket, right.
Bottom row:  A Fire Maple FMS-116T, left, and a BRS-3000T, right.
The BRS-3000T has the smallest span to its pot supports by far.

Field Testing
Intrigued by the odd flame pattern I had seen at home, I moved immediately to field testing.  I had heard that the BRS-3000T did not perform well in wind.  I therefore chose a day with moderate winds for testing.

Arriving in the field, I began setting up to test.  Out of curiosity, I flipped over a 110 g canister of gas.  The pot supports fit easily into the underside of the canister.  The BRS-3000T is a small stove, and the pot supports don't have a particularly wide span.   Pot stability is definitely an issue with this tiny little stove.
The pot supports of a BRS-3000T are so small that they will fit in the underside of a 110 g canister.
The nice thing about such small pot supports is that they will work well with small vessels, for example the 250 ml Sierra cup shown in the photo below.
The BRS-3000T is a good match for a Sierra Cup
Pot stability is a little tougher with a larger (but not particularly big) pot like the 1300 ml Evernew UL pot shown in the below photo.  I probably wouldn't go larger than a 1.5 liter pot on a BRS-3000T, and you'd be better served by keeping your pot size under one liter.  The best fit would probably be for pots (or mugs or cups) from about 750 ml to 250 ml in capacity.
A 1300 ml Evernew UL pot on a BRS-3000T
I put approximately 750 ml (three cups) of water into the pot, fired it up, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about 10 minutes the water came to a low boil.  The stove was not able to achieve a full roiling boil.  I had heard that a BRS-3000T would struggle in wind, but I had no idea it would be this bad.  All open burner upright canister stoves are impacted by wind, but I have never seen a stove this wind sensitive before.  Even at highest output it could not bring 750 ml of water to a roiling boil, and this was not a particularly windy day.  I would describe the winds as moderate.  I had to put a weight on my ramen noodle wrapper to keep it from flying away, but it wasn't like cups were being pushed over by the wind, and the trees around me were not blowing way over or anything like that.  These were pretty ordinary, common outdoor conditions, conditions that I probably wouldn't even take particular note of normally.

Well, I was hungry, so I put my noodles in, and, after a bit... what the heck?  Did I put the pot on wrong or something?  My pot was clearly listing to one side like a sinking ship!
My Evernew 1300 ml pot – canted off to one side atop a BRS-3000T
Quickly, I grabbed my pot before my lunch took a tumble!  Examining the stove, I realized that the pot support had bent.  It may be a little hard to see here, but the pot support on the right in the below photo is bent outward and down with a slight twist.
Note the bend and partial twist in the pot support on the right.
All I had in the pot was about 750 ml of water and some ramen noodles.  I mean c'mon, that is a very normal load for a stove.  If I had put a 3 liter pot on a little stove like this maybe I'd understand, but 750 ml?  That's trivial.  A stove should be able to handle 750 freaking little milliliters.  750 ml is only 0.75 kg (1.7 lbs).  Do not get distracted by the pot size.  This is not a pot size issue.  Read the Analysis section below.  The real issue in this case is the wind and the design of the stove.

Yes, I tested the stove on top of the picnic table.  Yes, it would have been better to set it on the ground behind a rock or something, but c'mon!  I ought to at least be able to boil water after 10 minutes on high.  This stove is a really poor performer in wind, and there certainly shouldn't have been any deformation in the pot supports after 10 to 12 minutes.
The pot supports of a BRS-3000T are exposed to a great deal of heat.
Remember that photo I posted earlier?  The pot supports absorb a lot of heat from the flame.  After 10 minutes on high, they had absorbed enough heat that the pot supports deformed even though they weren't under a particularly heavy load.

Analysis
I noticed during use that the wind was blowing the flame toward the pot support that eventually failed.  Said pot support was glowing brightly while the pot support opposite was barely affected. So much heat was channeled into the one pot support that even under a relatively light load of less than a kilogram, the pot support experienced "creep deformation" (or "creep failure"), the tendency of a metal to slowly deform under stress – a tendency that increases when both stress and heat are present.

The way that the flame and supports are configured, the pot supports are blasted with heat.  Magnify that effect with wind directing the majority of the heat to a single pot support, and you get creep deformation.  Yes, I realize that 10 to 12 minutes is a little long to be running a stove, but, it's not a grossly unreasonable time to run a stove, particularly in wind.  A stove shouldn't deform due to its own flame in such a short time.  The stove should not have been designed such that the pot supports are blasted with heat – or they should have been made a little more heat resistant.  Remember that photo I posted of the flame?  Most stoves don't have that kind of discoloration in the flame.  There's something peculiar about this stove and its design.

However, there are plenty of people using the stove that are not experiencing any problems.  It looks like quality control may not be quite what it needs to be with this stove.  Combine poor quality control with a design that blasts the pot supports with heat, and you have a recipe for pot support failure.

Links:

Recommendations
I can't exactly give a good recommendation to a stove that failed during testing. Neither can I give a stove that handles wind so poorly a good recommendation.

Again, however, I'm aware that there are plenty of people who are using the stove and are not experiencing problems.  It’s an inconsistent stove.  Maybe you'll get lucky.  Maybe you won't.  Clearly there are duds out there, and even if you don't get a dud, the right wind conditions could still cause a pot support failure.  Also, your pot supports could fail over time, as they did in Failure #3, above.

I suggest the following:
  • Run the stove  for 15 minutes on high with 2 cups of water on before taking it out on the trail for the first time.  If your stove can handle a 15 minute run on high at home, then it's probably going to be OK out on the trail.  If it fails at home, just buy another one.  It's not like they're expensive.  The chances of getting two duds are fairly low I would think.
  • Make absolutely certain to shelter the stove from wind.  If you fail to shelter the stove, wind may channel heat to a single pot support which may deform and fail.  You should always shelter a stove anyway so that you're not burning through an inordinate amount fuel, but it's particularly critical on the BRS-3000T.
  • Run the stove at about 50% to 75% of full flame to avoid overheating the pot supports.  It'll take a little longer to boil, but you'll actually save gas this way, and you won't have so much heat blasting the pot supports.
If you wanted to really play it safe, you could limit the amount of water boiled at any one time to, say, 500 ml.  You could also run the stove for no more than maybe 5 or so minutes at a time, give or take, and you could let the stove cool a bit between successive boils

Long Term Reliability
What impact will repeatedly blasting the pot supports with high heat have?  I have received reports from people who had good results at first but whose pot supports deformed over time.  So, there is the possibility that even if your stove is good at first that it may experience problems over time.

Alternatives
BRS has a history of problems; some BRS stoves have been banned by countries in Europe due to repeated safety problems.

If you really want a good ultra light canister gas stove, look into Fire Maple stoves.  Fire Maple has a pretty good reputation.  Their FMS-116T (sold in the US as the Olicamp Kinetic Ultra) weighs 48 g/1.7 oz.  The Fire Maple FMS-300T (sold in the US as the Olicamp Ion Micro) weighs 45 g/1.5 oz.  They're not super fancy stoves, but at least they don't channel so much heat to their pot supports that they deform and dump your dinner.

Note the nomenclature on that last stove, the 300T.  Sound familiar?  That's right, the BRS-3000T is a cheap imitation of the FMS-300T.  Do yourself a favor; get the real thing.  Yeah, it's 0.8 oz/20 g more weight, but at least it doesn't bend after ten minutes of use.  My opinion.  YMMV.

And of course there's the Snow Peak LiteMax stove at 1.9 oz/54 grams, which is very compact while still having good pot stability.

Best Use
I can't recommend a stove that failed during testing even if, yes, the circumstances were a little bit unusual.  However, if anyone were to use a BRS-3000T, it should be a soloist. This is not a good stove for two people, and it is clearly not a group stove.

I would not recommend the BRS-3000T for snow melting.  Snow melting usually requires that a stove be on for longer periods of time although there are people who are doing just that, snow melting, and are not having problems.

Summary and Conclusion
The BRS-3000T
What's good about it?
  • Cheap.  Prices vary, but I think I paid about $15 for it, including shipping, on Amazon.
  • Light.  Twenty five grams (0.9 oz)!
  • Compact.
  • Fits small cups, mugs, and pots well.
What's not so good about it?
  • Absolutely abysmal in wind.  A windscreen will help, but there are times where even a windscreen may not be enough.
  • Pot supports get heavily hit by the flame and could fail.
  • Poor pot stability.
  • Overly short valve control handle.
The BRS-3000T:  Not recommended.

Sorry I couldn't give a better report.  I was really hopeful about this stove but am now quite disappointed.  Had I bought it locally instead of from China, I would demand my money back.

HJ

Disclosures
I purchased this stove with my own money on Amazon just like anyone else would.  I have no financial relationships with either BRS or Amazon.  If I did, I might be giving a much nicer review, don't you think?  I am an independent stove reviewer.  This is my review; it is no one else's.

19 comments:

  1. Hi Jim, I have one of these stoves for a year now and used it numerous times. I have only ever used it with a 650ml Evernew pot. I have not had any problems with the pan support bending. I have never even suspected it. However I can understand how it may happen with bigger pans and longer burn times. That's no excuse I might add.
    I still think it's a good stove and now I know it's limitations I will bear it in mind. I have used it on backpacking trips and will continue to do so. Thanks for testing it and finding out its limits and for sharing your findings. I might do a mod.

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    1. Hello, Alan,

      Thank your for sharing how you've experienced the stove. I'm quite sure that a lot of people have had the same experience, i.e. perfectly normal operation. Still, I can't get the image of the pot supports in the flame that I posted early on in my review. It's not normal for pot supports to affect a flame that much. I think that it's an accident waiting to happen. Someone is tired, the come to camp late, it's an exposed area with not much to shelter the stove, a steady but not overly forceful wind is blowing from a consistent direction. They fire their stove, turning it up as it does not boil quickly, and some minutes later, their food is on the ground.

      Not fatal, but hardly the hallmark of a good stove.

      HJ

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  2. Mine did the same under moderate workload. I waited till the parts cooled and bent them back in to shape.

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    1. Interesting! Thank you for letting me know about that. Has the stove worked well since then? or is the pot support weak now?

      HJ

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  3. Like AlanR I have had my BRS3000-T for over a year now and have used it around x 350 boils and all with no issues, I do use a bit of alfoil as a wind wrap but its no big deal, I never run a big flame with it as I try to get the most boils per gas canister, a couple of minutes extra time is a no biggy, I use it with a Toaks 550ml Ti pot.......all good. For me its great stove, great value and I love the UL weight !! :)

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    1. Good results and good information. Thank you.

      If you're protecting your stove from wind, you're doing the right thing. The wind focused the heat on the pot support, and that caused the failure that I experienced.

      I don't think this is going to happen commonly, but it can happen, and it's something to be aware of.

      HJ

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  4. I have used this hundreds of times -obviously never with an enormous pot this seems common sense. It's an ultralight stove for ultralight hiking where a pot half that size is considered large and heavy.

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    1. Matt,

      Don't be distracted by the pot size. This is an issue of wind. The wind moved the flame such that it directed the majority of its heat on to the pot support. I've talked to guys now that have boiled more than double the amount I boiled. It's just not a pot size issue. It's an issue of wind -- and of poor stove design.

      I think deformation can be avoided if people are just really careful to shield the stove from wind.

      HJ

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  5. Have used the BRS-3000T for a year on trips up to 6 & 7 days boiling water for 1-2 people. Haven't had any problems. I normally use a windscreen unless it is calm or nearly so. Given it's weight and size it offers nice cooking system volume and weight efficiencies. These make it easier to throw in the stove in case of an emergency on a day trip and as a back up to a another stove on a lengthy group trip. It is also inexpensive. I agree it is not very robust and am mindful of that limitation. Thank you for your testing and I will be further mindful of issues you experienced.

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    1. Doug,

      I think the great majority will have your experience. I had a sort of stove 'perfect storm' here. The wind forced the flame over directly onto the pot support. The high heat combined with a relatively long burn caused the creep deformation to occur.

      Without wind, I don't believe that this would have happened.

      The lesson here is to shield the BRS-3000T from wind.

      HJ

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  6. Jim, I love reading your reviews - I may have a thought as to their design and it's flaw... the way the supports are angled remind me much of how a jet boil works - spiraling the heat - now as evident by the pictures thats not the case, the flame just engulfs the support. They probably angled them to allow them to fold more compactly - that being said, I wonder if they did a few vent style cuts that could redirect the heat at an angle if that would create a more intense flame and dissipate the heat from an individual support... I also don't think it was designed as a multiple person long use - probably better used for heating water to dump into a dehydrated meal bag, regardless, well written review my friend - I'm gonna still stick with my heavy primus :)

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    1. Thanks, Jeff.

      Yeah, I'm thinking this is mainly for soloists doing straightforward boils. Multiple persons and detailed cooking are not this stove's strengths.

      HJ

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  7. I've now done some testing and you are correct, it is a wind issue. I don't get that flame dispersion indoors but it is possible if the stove is not shielded. I think I will cover my pot supports with some quality tooling foil and see how it goes.

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    1. Alan, that's a very interesting idea, to cover your pot supports with tooling foil. I suspect that the heat is coming in from the hinge area of the pot support. The flame hits directly on the hinge and then the heat is going to be transmitted along the pot support. The pot support thins beyond the edge of the hinge area. Titanium being a poor conductor of heat, the support just can't dissipate the heat fast enough, the support goes beyond the tolerance of the metal, and a creep deformation occurs.

      It would be interesting to see if the Al could prevent a deformation from occurring, but I don't want you to ruin your stove by any means!

      HJ

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    2. Whoops, no, I'm wrong. I just looked at my own photos. The area of greatest heat is where the pot support meets the pot. Your idea bears merit – if the tooling foil can withstand the heat. I'd be very interested in hearing about your results.

      HJ

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  8. Hi Jim;
    I commented on the Failure Test 3, and finally read the full review here. If it's acceptable, I'd like to address the issue of quality control you brought up. Although it's easy to dismiss things made in China as "cheap" knockoffs of other products made elsewhere, it IS sometimes hard to remember those same things made in China are made by workers who have no incentive to do a good job, and where "that's good enough for government work" is more than just a joke. After all, they work under a system that neither incentivizes, or rewards individual initiative, or even excellence. So, to you point of it being a crap shoot as to whether you get a good one or bad one, is pretty much true of anything that comes from China. Although there are Chinese billionaires, they're still Party members, and they're not the only ones getting that wealth. I've had one of these for over a year and have not experienced any issues, but then I haven't fully tested the other two I bought to see if THEY have an issue.

    Good review though and as you say, Caveat Emptor for this stove.

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    1. Hi, Don,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Yeah, I'm not trying to pick on the average Chinese worker. I'm just stating the facts as best I can pick them out. If there's a QC problem with the alloy, which I believe there is, that's a management issue, not a worker issue. It's up to management to source the proper quality of materials for their workers to use.

      HJ

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  9. Thanks Jim just wont I needed a good report not made my mind up yet to add to my collection thanks again

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