This year I carried an ultra light weight Soto Windmaster Stove on a 5 day back packing trip to the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Soto stove is a masterful piece of lightweight back packing equipment. At 2.3 ounces and small enough to toss inside my Finnum coffee infuser, I was impressed.
The Soto Windmaster stove simmers food as well as my home cook top range. We prepared custom made dehydrated back packing meals without having to adjust the flame every few seconds. We fried fresh caught trout without burning it. Macaroni and cheese dinners cooked up without scorching the bottom of the pan. Most lightweight back packing stoves boil and burn. The Soto Windmaster stove is a gourmet trail chef's delight.
This Windmaster back packing stove cooks food and boils water efficiently.
It includes a Piezo igniter that works without fail. I talked to real folks that have used Soto stoves for years and not one complained about reliability. A sales person at REI advised me not to purchase a competitors stove with the Piezo igniter because most stop working after a few days on the trail.
The Soto Windmaster Piezo is replaceable if you are worried about it malfunctioning. I usually carry a light weight Bic lighter for emergencies.
Soto Windmaster Stove Packs Into A Tiny Space
It may not be the smallest back packing stove, but it fits inside a Finnum coffee infuser that nests inside my Toaks 750 ml titanium coffee mug and cook pot. For coffee lovers, it does not get any better than this!
This unit sips fuel. The three of us burned slightly more than one 220 gram fuel canister after 5 days on the trail . We were not conserving fuel. I fired the stove up every morning in weather cold enough to freeze our water bottles.
Are Fast Boiling Times An Accurate Test For Back Packing Stoves?
Under perfect conditions, fast boil times are important. No-one that I know back packs in perfect conditions. I am usually too busy fighting mosquitoes, fishing for trout, or reading a good book to be concerned with super fast boil times. Cooking is not a timed event.
Forget the 1 liter water boiling specs that manufactures boast about. Read blogs and reviews from real experiences that are captured outside of a sterile indoor work bench. Wind, temperature, and other variables constantly varies on the trail.
The Soto Windmaster canister stove boiled water for my 500 ml cup of coffee every morning in in less than 3 minutes. The water was usually boiling before I measured my coffee and placed it in the coffee infuser. It boiled water in 30 degree weather fast enough for us without causing any concern for slow boil times.
A Lightweight Back Packing Stove That Functions Well In Various Conditions
I want a stove that works without having to adjust or relight the flame. In 5 days of hard use on the trail, the Soto never blew out while simmering.
We based camped at 9400 feet. Not only does the this stove work in cold weather, it performed flawlessly at moderate elevation. The Soto usually had my 500 ml of water boiling before I filled the tea infuser with 2 scoops of coffee. Never bothered to time the boil time as I find that useless. Who cares if one stove takes 30 seconds longer? I never read a stove review with real laboratory control standards at 9,000 feet.
With less than a week before departure, I was stuck with Kovea Power Nano isobutane stove with 4 pronged pot supports that did not fit our Stanley stainless cook sets. A quick trip to REI revealed that the MSR Pocket Rocket barely fit our small cook sets. Frustrated, I called the guys at Sea To Summit as they know their stuff. Chris from Sea To Summit said to check out the Soto Micro Regulator. When Sea To Summit makes a recommendation for a product, I usually buy it without reading reviews.
With pot supports small enough to handle both my Toaks and Stanley cook pots, I ordered the Soto Windmaster stove.
I tested the Soto Wind Master once before departure and was impressed.
My friend Argyl carried 2 Soto Micro Regulators to cook food for his 5 hungry boys. His 2 stoves performed as well as the Soto Winemaster Stove. He used about double the amount of fuel as us and was not concerned about running out of fuel. He bought the Soto on recommendation from an Army Airborne Ranger.
Here is what I like about the Soto Windmaster
- A true simmering stove. I like to cook gourmet meals on the trail such as Thai Curry Chicken, Fiesta Chicken tortilla soup, and fresh trout.
- Light weight. 2.3 ounces about the weight of a Cliff Bar.
- Boils water fast enough to make your morning coffee in 30 degree temperature.
- Tiny. It folds up small enough to fit into coffee mug and cook pot.
- Piezo igniter. The Piezo feels as durable as the unit in my Weber Go Anywhere BBQ grill that sits outdoors year round and still works.
The Soto has funky removable 3 prong pot support that is interchangeable with a 4 prong pot support. While the idea is smart that you can choose what size pot support, I think Soto is short sighted that most of us have the potential of loosing the removable pot support on the trail. I almost did not buy the stove for this reason. The pot supports fold beautifully small and if you accidentally drop it, you may be out of luck. I did not let my teenage boys take apart or set up this stove in fear of them loosing the pot support.
My recommendation is buy the Soto Windmaster Stove for your next outdoor adventure. I bought my Soto Windmaster from Campsaver. Go there or to Amazon.com for the best outdoor equipment deals. REI does not carry this stove and I am not sure why as it seems to outperform nearly every stove on the market. Of course, I am very biased. I have used the Jet Boil, MSR, and Coleman stoves over the years and this may be the last back packing stove that I ever buy.