At first glance the new MSR WindBoiler looks like just another JetBoil-style personal cooking system, but it has one huge difference - rather than a conventional burner, it utilises a slightly smaller version of the flameless radiant burner unit first seen on the astonishingly effective Reactor stove.
That means not only should it pump out a whole bunch of heat, but on top of that, it chunders happily away in breezy or windy conditions. In fact, MSR claims that it will still boil half a litter of water in 2:45 in a 19kph wind, while leading competitors exposed to the same conditions won't even be able to bring water to the boil.
- £110 / 458g (including lid etc)
- Lid with Drinking and Straining Ports
- Insulated Cozy with Handle
- 1.0L Pot with Heat Exchanger
- Secure Connection with Stove
- Ultra-Efficient Radiant Burner
- Pressure Regulator for Consistent Performance
- Full-Size Bowl: 16 oz. / .47L
- Folding Canister Stand
Like we said, initial impressions are that it looks like 'just another one-pot stove', but despite the familiar touches including a heat-exchanger pot with a hard anodised finish which clips onto the burner unit, transparent straining lid and a pot cosy with integrated handle, the WindBoiler has one important difference.
The incredible radiant burner borrowed from the Reactor mountaineering stove is both improbably powerful, but also virtually impervious to wind, which makes it a real low hassle option in real world use. No faffing with windshields or hiding inside porches necessary.
Assembling the stove is easy enough: clip the canister onto the tripod stand provided to give maximum stability, screw the burner onto the valve then simply light the burner using a lighter or match - no piezo here - and clip the pot on with a press and turn motion.
To get an idea of just how fast the WindBoiler works, we brought 500ml of water to a rolling boil outside on a moderately breezy day. After just 60 seconds the water was starting to steam and bubble and by 1:55 it was pretty much boiling.
To put that in perspective, the last time to tried a JetBoil Flash and the Primus ETA Solo back to back, their respective times were both over the three-minute mark and while that's not directly comparable and we need to test the stoves in identical conditions with the same fuel, we still reckon the MSR is significantly quicker particularly in the wind.
So it boils water like a rampant volcano in all conditions, but what else do you need to know? The lack of a piezo igniter will annoy some users, but you can always use a separate one or simple resort to lighters and/or matches. Nest, in common with most one-pot systems, the MSR isn't the best simmering weapon out there and finally, the one-pot system does limit what you can cook and the deep pot shape isn't always spoon friendly.
It all fits together neatly enough though and an appropriately sized MSR fuel canister will store away inside the pot along with the burner. One thing we did notice is that at 458g all-in including lid, bowl and so on, the WindBoiler is a around 60g heavier than a Reactor stove with one-litre pot, though leaving the bowl at home will take 30g off that deficit.
The pros of the one-pot system are its neatness along with compatibility with a hanging system for bivi use, but you don't have the Reactor's versatile ability to choose between different pot-sizes - 1.0, 1.7 and 2.5L pots are available. So basically you pays your money...
Oh, and one more thing, our stove came with a handy coffee press which converts the pot into a handy coffee-bewing resource and weighs 37g. To be fair, there's also a version available for the Reactor, but the WindBoiler one works very nicely thanks. Just as well as a stove top espresso maker isn't going to work with this system.
So far we're impressed. There's nothing super original about the WindBoiler's format, but the burner technology is a little slice of genius giving the stove both impressive, class-leading boil times but also,and just as importantly, the ability to shrug off windy conditions that conventional stoves can struggle with. Not cheap, but initial signs are that it's very good indeed.
The MSR WindBoiler is due in store in the UK on 1 November 2014 - more at www.cascadedesigns.com.