Long term review: Soto WindMaster cannister stove. This little stove must be doing something right as it has rendered most of my other stoves completely redundant!
Our Verdict: the headlines
The keyword for the Soto WindMaster is consistency. It is reliable and consistent in windy conditions (thanks to its burner shape and low pot stand) and across a great temperature range (thanks to the microregulator). The wide burner spreads the flame out nicely and you have good control over the heat for its size. I used it to cook pancakes in my garden during Storm Malik, and throughout a year of use it hasn’t been blown out once by the wind. The Piezo Ignition has also been very reliable, and although my lighter has always been in my bag I’ve never needed to use it.
The Soto Winmaster weighs 87g, so whilst it’s not the lightest, most compact stove on the market it does fit inside most 900ml pots with an 100g cannister. I use mine with a MytiMug 900. It feels well-made and robust, and is also well-featured. Any lighter and I think it would be at a detriment to its quality and functionality.
The 4Flex pot stand is detachable, which you’ll either love or hate, and is wide enough for a frying pan. Personally I really like it, the way the 4Flex folds down is really satisfying and I really like fried bread when I’m camping. Of course anything detachable is easier to lose, so it’s a case of creating a system where you don’t lose it. I’ve seen a few good ideas on the internet, but my favourite is a mini carabiner to attach the support to the valve handle when you’re not using it.
I haven’t done this, but if you do want something lighter you can swap it out for the more compact TriFlex (sold separately) for a total weight of 67g and a max pot size of 800ml.
In the past I’ve used an Alpkit Kraku (45g micro cannister stove) as my lightweight option and an Alpkit Koro (remote cannister stove) for everything else. These days I just take the Soto WindMaster. It may be nearly double the weight of the Kraku, but the excess 42g is more than made up for by the WindMaster’s performance, reliability and features. It’s an excellent, reliable and good quality all-round backpacking stove for up to two people.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, read on. Otherwise you’ll can pick up a Soto WindMaster here for £55.
A wind-resistant cannister stove?
Cannister stoves suffer in windy conditions as they sit high off the ground. Unlike a remote cannister stove (such as the Spider Kovea), you can’t surround your burner with a windguard as this will risk the gas cannister overheating and exploding.
So what’s the solution? The Windmaster burner is concave with a protective rim that shields the flame from the wind. It also has a low pot support, which means the burner is closer to the bottom of your pot. This means that the burner doesn’t just stay lit in windy conditions, but the heat is still being directed towards you pot (rather than whichever way the wind is blowing).
As a bonus, the wide burner spreads the flame across the base of the pot so it heats evenly.
Consistent performance in a wide range of temperatures
When a gas cannister gets cold it loses pressure, which means your stove works less efficiently in colder conditions. Soto overcome this using a microregulator in the Windmaster, which regulates the pressure through your stove so that it is consistent. This means that the boiling time at, say, -1°C isn’t a great deal longer than it would be at 20°C. Ultimately this means you get your brew quicker and use less fuel.
Detachable pot supports
Soto Windmaster features a detachable pot support, which you’ll either love or hate. The downside is that you’re at risk of losing your pot support. The upside is that you get a nice wide pot support that still packs down compactly. The way it fits together is very satisfying too.
As a standard, the Soto Windmaster comes with the larger 4Flex pot stand. If you want something lighter you can pick up a TriFlex for about £8. This takes the maximum weight of the stove from 87g down to 67g.
One touch ignition
I always carry a lighter just in case, but I haven’t needed it yet as the Piezo is very reliable. The WindMaster also features Soto’s stealth ignition. This means the wire runs inside the burner column and into the centre of the burner, where it is less likely to snag or warp. This makes for a really reliable set up.
To sum up
I’m a big fan of the Soto Windmaster. It feels like a well-made stove, performs well in wind and the piezo igniter is a really great feature. It is now my first choice for wild camps most of the year round, and I’d recommend it for Mountain Leader Training and Assessment expeditions.
If you’d prefer a remote cannister stove for your ML, read Alex’s Kovea Spider review here.
Or browse more products from Soto Outdoors here: https://sotooutdoors.com/