Oh the ongoing discussion of backpacking stoves and trying to decide on which stove is the best to use in the backcountry. I see all the time in forums and facebook groups people talking about how one stove is better than another. But let’s be honest, there isn’t a stove that trumps them all and can be defined as the best. However, there are some stoves out there that are amazing, and the Soto WindMaster is one of those amazing stoves worth checking out.
Why the Soto WindMaster and not other stoves?
I have been backpacking for many years and over that time, I would guess that i’ve used a dozen or more backpacking stoves. The funny thing about it is, every single one of them has been good and cooked/boiled water with no problem. So what is it that makes a stove better than another? Well, for me it’s pretty easy to define and it’s the exact reasons that the WindMaster sits at the top of the list as my favorite backpacking stove. A stove needs to be lightweight, effective against wind, and efficient in fuel consumption. I feel like the Soto WindMaster fits the bill for all of these requirements, where other stoves fit the needs of some of those, but not all of them.
In the past five years i’ve used stoves from MSR, like the Pocket Rocket 2, Olicamp, and others. All of them have been great, but when I was working hard to save weight in my backpacking gear, I said goodbye to my MSR Superfly and went to the extreme with the Olicamp Ion Micro stove. What I found is that the Ion Micro was difficult to maintain in windy conditions. So I set out to find a stove that would check all of those boxes for me. That is when I found the WindMaster, and I haven’t looked back on it.
I’ve now been using the WindMaster exclusively for the past several trips that I’ve been on, and can say that it has been one of the best cooking experiences i’ve had with a stove. Let me explain. The WindMaster design features aspects that are hard to find on other backpacking stoves, namely a built in windscreen, concave burner shape and achieving a small form factor. These aspects are really what set the WindMaster apart from everything else on the market.
WindMaster Design And Use:
As mentioned above, the design of the WindMaster is what makes this stove unique. So let’s discuss these features and why they are important.
One of my favorite things about this stove is the introduction of the micro regulator. This little regulator at the base of the stove allows the stove to pump consistent fuel into the burner as the canister of fuel gets cold and loses pressure. Without this regulator, the stove would lose significant burning capacity and is the struggle that many other canister backpacking stoves suffer from. When cooking at high altitude this feature becomes even more important as stoves struggle to be efficient, but the WindMaster with the micro regulator allows this stove to be even more efficient than stoves that don’t have it.
Concave Burner Design:
This design aspect is one of my favorite things about the WindMaster because it’s so different from everything else i’ve seen. Rather than the burner having an exposed top, the center of the burner sinks in. This accomplishes a few things. First is it concentrates the flame into the center and makes it more difficult for wind to carry the flame. Second is, Soto has added a small metal lip/screen around the edge of the burner that acts as a mini wind screen. All of these design features allow the stove to be more efficient which results in quicker boil times.
Pot Stand Height In Relation To Burner Position:
Whether you’re using the 4 flex pot stand or the tri flex pot stand, Soto has designed the stands to sit as low as possible. This allows for your pot to sit as close to the burner flame as possible. Not only does this improve boil times, but again works as another barrier for wind to be stopped.
With all of that said about the WindMaster, there are more aspects to the stove that could be discussed but I won’t take the time to do so in this review. However, as good as this stove is, it’s far from perfect. In the time i’ve been using the WindMaster i’ve had one big struggle with it. The Piezo ignitor has been less than consistent and reliable, so I have made it a point to always carry a lighter to make sure I can get the stove fired up for cooking.
There is so much more that could be written and discussed about this stove. We could talk more about the stoves efficiency, it’s long term use, and how it fits into your backpacking system. But in order to not share too much, I’ll just say that this stove is simply awesome, and worth the investment. Check out my video review of the stove below for more info too.