Clicking the ignition on the SOTO Micro Regulator Stove in the dark of our bothy, the first thing that struck us was the width of the flame that it generates, when running at full throttle. Canister stoves are light and deliver fast boil times but they don’t always sustain power output, because the gas in the canister cools as it’s burnt, which reduces internal pressure and slows the delivery of gas to the burner. For the same reasons their performance can also suffer in the cold, but SOTO, a new brand to the UK, has developed an innovative gas regulator that promises an even flame down to -5 deg C. And that’s what we found, with a strong and even flame that only dropped off as we tapped into the final third of the gas reserves.
This regulator also promises more efficient fuel use, so while the £75 price tag is high compared to rivals like the Optimus Crux Lite (£42) it could be a good investment if you use the stove regularly through the year because you’ll buy and carry less gas.
While external piezo lighters can be fragile, SOTO has built its inside the stove, making ignition reliable and robust. The pan supports lock into place and are sufficiently wide to give stability with most lightweight pots – and the whole thing packs down to palm size in its own robust carry case.
In light winds the stove performed better than my Jetboil, with faster boil times as the canister hit the halfway mark, while a windshield was required with stronger winds. But towards the end of the canister I could only get the roaring performance of running on full gas by warming the canister in my hands. As with all canister stoves you can improve performance by insulating it from cold ground.
The SOTO Micro Regulator Stove is certainly an impressive piece of kit that’s worth checking out. It’s light, it’s a welcome advance for gas canister stoves, it’s robust and it comes with fast and efficient boil times.
Power delivery 2800kcal/h or 3260W
Burn time around 1½ hours with a 250g canister
Pack size 5.2x5.2x8.1cm
Made in Japan
Stockists (0191) 284 8444; www.allcord.co.uk
The SOTO Micro Regulator Stove is not cheap, but it’s an innovative stove that offers superb performance at a range of temperatures in a compact and exceptionally lightweight package.
Review by Matt Swaine
First published in Trail magazine May 2011