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MSR WindBurner Review: Fuel-Sipping Stove

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The MSR WindBurner Combo is the latest stove system in the brand’s growing lineup. Over the last few months, I’ve used it to cook all of my camp favorites from sunrise pancakes to late night pasta.

Building on the success of the previous WindBurner, the updated model offers high-efficiency heat output with an improved low-to-ground stance. The new design reduces the risk of a dangerous tip-over and now accommodates an expanded range of pots and pans.

In short: The WindBurner Stove System Combo increases the usefulness of MSR’s most advanced cartridge-fuel stove. The new kit is light enough for solo trips but capable of feeding a group of hungry hikers. For users inclined to push beyond boiled water and rehydrated eats, the ceramic-coated pot and skillet are up to the challenge of real meal prep.

Radiant Burner Technology

The new WindBurner stove unit uses MSR’s proven radiant heat technology. It is the only burner on the market to operate exclusively on 100 percent primary air. Whereas other burners use exposed air (secondary) in the final burn to feed the flame, MSR’s system mixes all of the required oxygen and fuel inside the stove assembly. The result is a steady flame that remains protected from wind.

The flame burns beneath a patented heating disc protected from the elements. Although the burner creates a modest temperature of 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the efficient transfer of heat produces fast boil times. Better still, it will do so in a stiff breeze.

MSR WindBurner: Low-Temp Regulator

Unlike many cartridge fuel stoves, the WindBurner has an integrated pressure regulator. It delivers a continuous flow of fuel to the combustion chamber to maximize fuel efficiency and improve cold weather performance. On a recent frost-covered morning, the stove fired instantly and burned hot with no need to preheat the fuel canister.

The most significant change over the previous WindBurner is the remote fuel source. With the fuel moved away from the burner, the unit has a lower center of gravity for improved stability. And the control knob’s placement on the remote canister eliminates the need to reach under a hot pot to adjust the flame. Plus, collapsible legs allow the stove and a fuel can to nest inside the 2.5-liter pot.

WindBurner Stove: From Pancakes to Pasta

The WindBurner Stove System Combo includes a 2.5-liter sauce pot and 8-inch skillet. Made of ceramic-coated anodized aluminum, both pieces are sturdy but lightweight.

The sauce pot with lid weighs just 12.7 ounces, and the skillet only 7.7 ounces. Both have attached folding handles. If I have but one concern, it lies with the thin aluminum construction. Despite careful handling, the skillet developed a small dent in the first month of use.

msr windburner stove

But for cooking performance, the WindBurner is highly efficient. The key is a proprietary interface between the stove and cookware. MSR’s heat-capturing ring performs two key functions. Primarily, it shields the burner from wind for optimal heat transfer. But the ring also keeps the cookware securely centered on the heat source.

This results in excellent simmer control and a wide heat pattern that help prevent scorching hard-to-cook foods like rice or fluffy omelets.

WindBurner: Solo Cooker or Crowd Feeder

To increase utility, this stove is compatible with an expanded line of optional cookware. The new burner fits within the 1-liter pot for solo travel.

And for large feeding frenzies, MSR now offers a 4.5-liter stock pot with integrated heat exchanger. On a recent trip to Guatemala, the stock pot fed our rowdy crowd of eight hikers every night.

To see it in action, watch MSR’s WindBurner video below.

Who Should Buy MSR’s WindBurner Stove?

The new WindBurner has the same fuel-sipping performance of the previous system, but with increased versatility. If all you do is boil water, it’s overkill. But for camp cooks preparing real meals for groups big and small, it’s tough to beat.

Before You Buy

As great as it is, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. At $260, the three-piece Stove System Combo is not cheap. Plus, if you need it, the stock pot adds another $100, and the smallest 1-liter pot fetches $70. And because of MSR’s proprietary stove and pot interface, you can’t use just any cookware – you’re limited to WindBurner pots and pans.

Finally, there are lighter products on the market. But not many are built to MSR’s expedition standard.

MSR WindBurner: The Wrap-Up

If you can get beyond the price tag, MSR’s latest cooking system is ideal for people with changing needs. For camp chefs with high culinary aspirations, it is a capable cooker and not just a water boiler.

With its price also comes some bulk in the pack. But it’s tough to beat the WindBurner’s cooking versatility, flame control, protection from the elements, and fuel efficiency.

And with the new range of available cookware, the WindBurner could be the last stove system you ever buy.

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