For the ultimate in basic water heating performance there is nothing that beats a dedicated pot and burner system, where the components can be optimised to work together for maximum efficiency. For many years the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System has dominated the solo backpacking market, but with the release of MSR’s WindBoiler Stove System the heat of the competition is rising!
The MSR WindBoiler incorporates the ultra-efficient radiant burner that the brand included in its Reactor Stove for alpine and winter users. The enclosed design means that wind does not have any effect on the burner, and the result is outstanding efficiency in windy as well as cold conditions. This efficiency also means less fuel is burned, and so you can make more brews from a single canister of gas than with a conventional stove. The problem with the Reactor was that it involved quite a large burner and pot, making it heavy and pricy.
All the drawbacks of the Reactor Stove have been removed with the MSR WindBoiler as this model is only £110 and weighs in at 440g, which compares very favourably with the Jetboil Flash (£105 and 431g). There is no piezo ignition on the MSR stove, however – a feature that you do get on the Jetboil Flash.
The MSR burner screws to a conventional gas canister in the usual way and the dedicated 1 litre pot slots very neatly onto the top of the burner. MSR has cleverly provided a series of openings in the base of the pan to locate on the three pins of the burner, and this makes it much easier to lock the pot in place than on similar stoves.
As with all these personal cooking system designs the pot is quite tall for maximum efficiency, making it slightly less stable than a lower-profile burner that attaches to the gas via a hose. For more stability MSR provides a plastic stabiliser foot, as do most other manufacturers these days. A plastic lid fits neatly on the top of the pan, and you’re ready to go.
When you fire up the Wind-Boiler it takes a few seconds to really roar, and then the metal grid begins to glow red. Put the pot on top with water inside, and what is noticeable is that there is very little heat loss around the burner and you cannot see the flame. In fact the only way you know it is working is that there is an orange glow visible around the base of the pan, and the roar of the burner is amplified by the enclosed design.
Once the water is boiled you can remove the pot from the burner, and synthetic insulation is provided to make this more comfortable. However this insulation is not quite as efficient as the Jetboil’s, and so I found I needed to be a little more careful when handling the pot.
Includes burner, dedicated 1 litre pot with lid, foot support, cup
Pack size 17x10.5x10.5cm
Weight without fuel 440g (199g burner + 193g pot and lid + 31g cup + 17g foot support)
The MSR WindBoiler Stove System sets a new standard for this type of stove; but as with all its competitors it is less stable than lower-profile designs, and wider pans are better for cooking rather than pure water heating.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2015