This apology used to be part of my food prep ritual, offered up every time I fired up my stove and had to stop all conversation for the next three minutes or so. My old stove sounds like it's taxiing for takeoff, rather than bringing water to a boil.
Then I switched to the Soto WindMaster Stove with Micro Regulator and 4Flex—aka the stealthy one. The quiet feature was the first thing I came to love about the WindMaster: It doesn’t demand to be the center of attention.
Even better, this stove doesn’t waste a gram of gas. On a car camping trip, I threw in three gas canisters that were down to the death rattle. You know the ones: You shake the cans and can tell they hold some gas, but how much? Enough to maintain a flame hot enough to make coffee?
Paired with the Soto WindMaster, the canisters had some literal gas left in them, and then some.
If I’m being completely honest, my cooking rarely requires more than boiling water, so the efficiency of a quick boil is spot on for me. One night, I made rice according to the instructions; that is, I brought the water to a boil, added the rice, then let it simmer, which the WindMaster gladly allowed, for seven minutes. For the first time, my trail rice was cooked through, no crunchiness.
Overall, I cooked seven breakfasts and six dinners with my WindMaster, all on those three dying cans of gas. No gradual fade here; there was solid heat until there was nothing and the canister was truly empty (which also makes my local recycling center happy).
I also appreciated the minimal exposure of the stove’s flame, thanks in part to its concave design. This feature is supposed to make it easier to cook in windy conditions. Truth be told, I was camping in the still conditions of a Southern Appalachian summer, so I wasn’t able to put that attribute to the test.
The WindMaster comes with a piezoelectric igniter, sparked by an electric charge striking within the device. My experience with these is that they work for a few dozen lights, then spaz out. So far, this one has fired up on at least 15 occasions.
My only gripe about the stove: The pot supports can be a challenge to unfold and hook to the stove itself.
How will the Soto WindMaster Stove sell in stores?
For retail purposes, I see the WindMaster as the heir apparent to the MSR PocketRocket (though I’ve not used the new PocketRocket2). My suggestion would be to display the stove (with canister) with the Soto Navigator and/or Thermostack Cook Set Combos. The nesting displays will surely get backpackers’ attention—even ultralight backpackers who generally shop online. This hands-on opportunity will give them a chance to let their imaginations run wild with meal possibilities, as well as to appreciate the efficiency of the quicker and quieter cook time, portability and weight savings. Plus, the low price point—$64.95 for the WindMaster Stove—will appeal to both backpacking newcomers and veterans of the trail.
This review is part of our Retailer Review series, written by retailers, for retailers to help guide their buying decisions and provide brands honest feedback from those selling their products.