The MSR WindBoiler Stove System utilizes MSR's Reactor® technology. It boils a liter of water quicker than you or I can be ready to eat, about 2.5 minutes. And, it does that every time in seemingly all weather conditions. We found this stove is perfect for a weekend in your local National Park or for weeks on the trail on your next thru hike. The WindBoiler is the one-stop shopping of backcountry cooking.
The MSR WindBoiler is a compact integrated stove system that is ideal for those looking to travel light. At less than one pound the WindBoiler is perfect for backpackers looking to trim weight, but still have the ability to eat well! Unlike its main competition it’s made in the USA, which in our book is a pretty good tiebreaker if you’re on the fence between this stove and its competitors (looking at you Jetboil and Primus). It is very compact as everything nests neatly inside the 1L pot for ease of storage. Also, we noticed that the WindBoiler's tight nesting made for essentially no rattle noise as we were hiking. Which is often an overlooked annoyance with integrated stove systems.
The stove features a radiant burner and an enclosed, windproof design which improves performance in sub-optimal conditions. MSR's concave radiant burner allows the WindBoiler to live up to its name and boil water even in the most windy of conditions. Radiant burner stoves do not use traditional flame jets but rather a wire screen that glows bright orange. This technology makes the WindBoiler impervious to wind.
Keep everything nice and tidy; the stove packs away neatly and compactly. Stayed nice and quiet while hiking too.
The MSR WindBoiler stove is not cheap, but then again, you pretty much have everything you need to launch your backcountry gourmet operation (stove, pot, serving bowl). Since this is one of the most efficient stoves on the market you’ll likely save some money in fuel costs over the years as well. It is slightly more expensive than comparable stoves in this genre, but on the flip side of the coin it is more fuel-efficient. A tradeoff we reckon.
This stove's bread and butter - dehydrated gourmet in less time than it takes your hiking buddy to pitch the tent.
We tested the MSR WindBoiler on cool spring hikes in Yosemite and a bunch of longer day hikes throughout the Bay Area. We did not notice any appreciable drop in performance in windy conditions or at altitude, as MSR promises. Our only questions and concerns are: (1) Why no ignition switch? You’ll have to bring a lighter or flint (but the stove does light easily, and you should probably be carrying these things anyway), and (2) the insulating sleeve could work a little better - sometimes the container stays hot to the touch and needs to cool a bit before handling. (3) Can’t simmer, not the end of the world, however would be a nice perk.
We’ve reached out to MSR and would like to thank them for their quick response to our questions. Here is what they had to say.
1) Ignition Switch: “The WindBoiler didn’t include a piezo ignition because of the burner technology involved. The burner technology uses a very lean fuel mixture, which can be difficult to light with a spark. Given that ignition switches can be unreliable to begin with (as we’ve probably all experience on other stoves or our BBQs) and the lean fuel mixture, it didn’t make sense to include an ignition device on the WindBoiler.”
2) Insulating Sleeve: “ With regard to heat transfer, it depends largely on the conditions you use the stove in. For instance, using the stove in cold temperatures, the heat after a few second of turning the stove off is totally bearable – if not pleasant on a cold morning or evening. If the stove is used in moderate or warm temps without any wind, it’s best to wait 30 seconds to let the stove cool itself down before grabbing it. You’ll also notice that the vents on the pot do not wrap around under the grip itself to prevent the exhaust from venting up onto the handle.”
3) Simmering Ability: “As I mentioned during our call, the technology involved is difficult to get to a low simmer point. Simmering or doing fine sautéing is more suited to our liquid-fuel stoves, which have a higher degree of adjustment. This stove is primarily for boiling, but with the insulated mug, one can boil, add food, cover and turn off to let the food cook with the remaining heat – with an added few seconds of heat if you’re in cold temperatures.”
Overall our first impression is essentially what we’ve come to expect from all MSR products. This seems like a great product that we can see ourselves using for years to come! Anyone who has ever owned or owns a MSR stove knows you don’t really ever *need another per say, because they are built to last! But the catch, when MSR releases an integrated, incredibly efficient, windproof, compact and powerful personal backpacking stove (yes we still love our Whisperlites) we have got to try it!
As with most first impressions… it sure is purdy on the surface. But we want to get to know it a little better before we get too emotionally involved. We want Proof of Performance.
What is a Proof of Performance review? It’s TrailMob’s gear philosophy. No one really knows how a piece of gear is going to perform after one dance. That’s why believe in Proof of Performance. The MSR WindBoiler isn’t going to be just tested once. We are going to continuously test it all hiking season! Different testers, different conditions, different locations! We are going to compare it to its competition. Because we all don’t hike and backpack in cookie cutter spots! Up next for the MSR WindBoiler… from the Sawtooths to the Owyhee Canyonlands, we are testing in Idaho’s rugged backcountry.
Curiously, MSR elected not to use a push-button ignition system.
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This gear was provided to TrailMob.com free of charge by the manufacturer in exchange for our fair and unbiased review.