MSR Windburner Hands on Review
The MSR Windburner stands apart from its competitors by using a primary air combustion system in the radiant burner, as well as having a design so simple and economical that each of the detachable parts has multiple uses. The insulated cozy is also a nice touch and can keep your food or drink warm hours after taken off the heat. All of its parts can be compacted into the size of the 1.0-liter pot for easy cleanup and storing for later use.
When you are out hiking a multi-day trail, a canister stove with better fuel efficiency can be the difference between you and a hot meal on the final day of the trek. With its protective design to keep what’s cooking inside safe from the outside world, it is one of the more efficient camping stoves currently on the market.
This is a great feature for campers who are used to harsher conditions, or any wishing to save some money on fuel in the long run. The only feature that could make this little stove more efficient would be a built in ignitor. Having to remove the pot to light the stove exposes it to the elements, thereby making it vulnerable and sometimes irritating to light.
The Windburner stove according to MSRs own tests will use about 6g of fuel to boil half a liter of water under calm conditions and in windier conditions (around 12mph), about 8g of fuel. That equates to about 14-18 half liter boilings on just a single 4 ounce (110g) fuel canister.
While not the most efficient on the market, it certainly beats out the majority of the competition. However, due to the lack of integrated ignitor, you may likely lose some of the fuel gains while trying to get the stove to light, especially under windy conditions.
Time to Boil
It can boil water fast, with a boiling time of around two and half minutes for a half liter of water. While that is comparable to some other stoves, once you have the stove lit and pot attached it is certainly more wind resilient than many of the competition; boiling water at a rate of a half liter of water in under three minutes.
The versatility of a stove can be important for hikers and backpackers of all skill and commitment levels. The more versatile your stove, the less equipment you have to lug around. The maximum versatility of the Windburner can be harnessed by using it along with other attachable parts made by MSR like the 1.0 L accessory pot, hanging kit, and coffee press.
If used strictly by itself, it is still a highly versatile device. The secure locking pot can double as a personal mug or bowl for eating or drinking, and the included lid also can be used as a strainer when boiling noodles. These alone are enough to give the Windburner a high score in versatility, as with most standard camping stoves cookware and dishes must be bought and used separately.
One downside to this, however, is that the size of the stove is rather small when compared to that of the MSR Reactor, which can boil nearly twice as much water. In this regard, the Windburner is best suited for the individual camper. Otherwise, you may be stuck taking turns to cook your meals.
Weight & Packed Size
You don’t have to be an ultra-lighter for weight and packing size to matter. We all want gear that’s as light and as easy to pack as possible. You only have one backpack, after all.
The Windburner stove is a bit heavier than other similar products, coming in at just over fifteen ounces, but where it shines is in its packing size. It features a smart, compact design in which the 4 oz. canister, folding canister stand, and pack towel can all be fit inside the 1.0 L pot, and the full-size bowl snaps on the outside.
The Windburner stove is a bit heavier than other similar products, coming in at just over fifteen ounces, but where it really shines is in its packing size. It features a smart, compact design in which the 4 oz. fuel canister, folding cannister stand, and pack towel can all be fit inside the 1.0 L pot, and the full-size bowl snaps on the outside.
In the end, the whole stove takes up as much room as a one-liter thermos. This is particularly useful for backpackers who like to pack in all of the gear they can, although the one downside is the added weight, which as we know, is a larger issue for camping equipment than any home appliance. Most products fall somewhere between three and four ounces lighter than the Windburner.
It’s more of a personal choice, however, as the difference in weight can be seen as negligible to similar products like the Jetboil Flash, which is only a mere one-ounce lighter.
An unfortunate reality is that sometimes the gear we buy is not as durable as it should be. And yet still, many of us run into products now and then that perform well, but fall apart within a few months. This is one problem that the MSR Windburner stove does not share with its cheaper competitors.
With its heavier design, you don’t have to worry about breaking it if dropped. As far as stability during use, however, you may want to keep an eye on it while it is on, especially in windy conditions. The 1.0-liter pot stands tall and makes the canister stand a little top heavy. Perhaps this was why it was built a little heavier so that it could withstand such teetering over and multiple impacts with the hard ground.
If you’re looking for an integrated canister stove system that is a bit more stable, you may have better luck with the MSR Reactor, Jetboil Flash, or Jetboil Sol, which are all built wider and sit lower than the MSR Windburner stove system.
|Burn Time (Max Flame)||110g canister: 95 minutes|
|Average Boil Time||1 liter: 4.5 minutes|
|Dimensions||8.3 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches|
|Liquid Capacity (L)||1 liter|
|Liquid Capacity (fl. oz.)||33.8 fluid ounces|
By far, the greatest limitation of this product is that it restricts your diet. Ramen, other noodle-based dishes, and stews are the most filling meals it is best at delivering. Although there’s nothing wrong with this, if taking a trip longer than a day or two, there is no doubt that it would get old.
Between having to light it and it tipping over from the wind, it would be more useful to have a self-lighting integrated stove. Otherwise, you can find a rock or other natural windbreak to protect it, but this would be little different from any other stove system designed for normal conditions.
When taking all other integrated stove systems into consideration, the Windburner stove finds its best application as a personal stove good for longer individual trips, or as a secondary stove in group trips used strictly for preparing coffee, soups, or meals like oatmeal, where you only have to add water.
Included in the integrated stove system are several parts to assemble your french press, which makes it perfect for coffee. This is where the it shines brightest, in my opinion. Every sleepy and cold camper needs coffee, and it works great as a designated French press during larger group trips. A good one to stow away for colder and more breezy trips, but not necessarily one you would want to bring out during strong gusts.
The MSR Windburner is a bit more expensive than other integrated stove systems like the Jetboil’s Flash or Flash Lite, both of which come in cheaper. It stands significantly under the MSR Reactor, however, which is significantly more expensive. What you get with the Windburner makes up for the price with its radiant burner, but somewhat evens out when you consider the difficulty it has lighting, as well as its proneness to tipping over when hit by the wind. Well worth the price if you light it and watch it with care.
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Other Versions & Accessories
Another version of a similar product is the MSR Reactor. This model also features a radiant burner like the Windburner. It weighs one ounce less, is more expensive, and tends to take about one minute longer to bring water to a rolling boil. It is available in 1.0, 1.7, and 2.5-liter pots. The Reactor would be a good choice over the Windburner if you typically camp with a larger group or family, as it comes in larger sizes and is less likely to tip over. The downsides are of course longer wait time and a larger size that makes packing a bit more cumbersome.
Accessories for the stove include a coffee press attachment for making french press style coffee, a hanging kit to keep it secure and stable while in use, and an additional accessory pot, which allows two to use the Windburner system while taking turns, leaving each with their bowl or mug to drink or eat from. Lastly, if you can’t go without your morning bacon, then the MSR Windburner Skillet attachment can you help you russle up a couple rashers in no time
The most valuable of all these accessories, in my opinion, is the hanging kit, which eliminates one of it’s more annoying downsides by keeping it upright even when hit with full blasts of wind.
The MSR MicroRocket is by far the best pick for campers on a budget. It is extremely light at 2.5 ounces and comes equipped with a piezo igniter. Despite these perks, however, it is less fuel efficient than integrated stove systems like the Windburner, can be unstable, and does not do well in windy conditions.
With all this said, however, the MicroRocket does what the Windburner does better in some ways. It is lighter, cheaper, and easier to pack, all while maintaining nearly all the same disadvantages as the Windburner. The biggest downside is that you need to purchase pots, lids, and bowls for the MicroRocket, where they come included in the Windburner.
The MSR WhisperLite is a longtime favorite of backpackers all over the globe. It beats the Windburner in price. It is small, simple, durable, versatile, and easy to repair if broken. On the downside, it is a little heavy, although still lighter than the Windburner by three ounces. Like the Windburner, it can also be difficult to simmer while using. This one would be a toss up were it not for the price, so I have to give the edge to the WhisperLite.
BEST IN CLASS
Jetboil Flash Lite
Simple, lightweight, and cheaper than the Jetboil Flash Lite, it does everything the competition doesn’t. It has a push button igniter and uses a real flame, which leaves it susceptible to the wind, but costs less than the MSRs stove, weighs eleven ounces less, and still boils in under three minutes. The Flash Lite features a larger pot, but loses some of its functionality with its size, as it is more prone to tip than the Windburner stove.