If your camp food menu revolves around Beanie Weenies and Ramen noodles, stop reading this review. If you consider yourself and aspiring gourmet, a “foodie,” or just the kind of car camper who likes to be able to adjust the burners when you’re whipping up a meal in the woods, meet your new best friend. Brunton’s Wind River Range (great name, by the way) is one of the best-performing double-burner stoves we have ever hauled along on a car-camping trip.
When we set the thing up at a mountain-biking base camp in a Colorado campground everyone who passed by stopped to ooh and ah at the slick, shiny extruded aluminum and stainless steel camp range. When one tester’s wife saw the double-burner camp stove, her immediate reaction was, “That looks better than the stove we have at home.” Technically, it’s pretty damn close. Hook the Wind River Range up to a propane tank (either a full-size grill tank or a portable Coleman bottle) and you can access 30,000 BTUs (15,000 per burner) of flame-on power. That’s the same thermal output you can find per burner on a good home gas range. With the Wind River Range, you can make a stir-fry meal or pasta sauce with the same care and efficiency you’d use when cooking in your own kitchen.
But it’s not just the high output that’s important. The single best aspect of the stove is the adjustability of the burners. We have often laughed at camp food directions that suggest simmering or adjusting the heat. The usual adjustment on our old double burner fluctuates between full-force and sputter. With the Wind River Range, we were able to adjust the heat to prepare a delicate cream sauce and also heat oil to perfection in a wok. Another big plus was the removable burner plate that made it easy to clean off the cream sauce that spilled. In addition, there are places to hang a set of nicely crafted accessories ($46.40 extra) in easy-to-reach places, which made our cooking experience that much more enjoyable.
In fact, the more we used the stove, the more we appreciated the thoughtfulness of the design. An additional washbasin ($30.60), fits into the lid, and we used it to soak and clean fresh spinach. The sturdy windscreen packs away effortlessly into the stove, and there is enough storage space within the stove box to store all of its components. When folded for transport or storage, the stove unit measure 13.5 inches by 21.5 inches by 7 inches and weighs 23 pounds, 4 ounces. It proved sturdy enough to surviving being piled and tossed along with the rest of our camp gear into the back of a Subaru and then shoved somewhat carefully into the garage.
The only problem we had with the stove was getting the hose-to-tank adaptor to screw on a small Coleman propane bottle. The manufacturer’s directions are a bit vague, and it’s very easy to strip the threads on the adaptor (three burly dudes tried and all gave up). Putting the adaptor on the bottle was something we should have tired first at home, but it’s also easy enough to mess it up and find yourself with no stove at camp. It would be a good idea for Brunton to include better directions for the process. The same adaptor, it should be noted, went on a large propane bottle with no problems.
Yes, $631 is a hefty price tag for a camp grill, but if you’re looking for an exceptional high-quality cooking and eating experience, it’s well worth it. And considering how solid, durable and easy-to-use the thing is, it’s a worthwhile long-term investment, especially for guides, outfitters, boy scout troops, schools, or anyone else who spends a lot of time running a camp stove for a lot of people. Hey, we have spent more than this one a single four-person meal before.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $631.80
For more information: www.brunton.com