The MSR WindBurner (WindBoiler)

Hiked it. Liked It.

The WindBurner (formerly WindBoiler before JetBoil’s protest) is an all-in-one canister stove system consisting of a burner, windscreen, pot/mug, lid, cup, and fuel canister support. It’s made by MSR and is intended to be a convenient stove system for the solo hiker that handles windy conditions without issue. I won (via a random contest entry!) a Windboiler back in 2014 and despite being more of an ultralight stove proponent, I’ve been using it exclusively since then. The following are my thoughts on it thus far…

Specs at a Glance

All specs as claimed unless *noted otherwise…

  • Mug Volume: ~ 4 cups (1L)
  • Max Recommended Fill Volume: 2 1/2 cups (~600ml)
  • Weight: 16.5 ounces (468g) on my scale
  • Boil Time: About 2 minutes for 2 cups depending on conditions
  • Fuel Efficiency: About 4 grams to boil 2 cups depending on conditions
  • MSRP: ~$130
The Windburner

The Windburner

Impressions

This is the third MSR stove I have owned, the other two being the Pocket Rocket and the Wind Pro. Both of those systems are great and I would usually take the Pocket Rocket if I didn’t need the capability of the Wind Pro which can simmer, cook, and melt snow for an individual or a group and can operate in winter in inverted canister mode. Having said all that, I favor taking a small alcohol stove because they are so lightweight and simple. Due to the very dry weather we’ve had in California the last few years I became somewhat forced to adapt to using canister stoves more often and soon after I realized I didn’t miss the persnickety nature of alcohol stoves all that much. Although I never imagined myself to be a user of this type of stove system it’s always fun to win something, so I figured I should at least use the thing a little, and lo and behold I have grown to like it very much!

The Burner

The Burner

Windscreen and Heat Exchanger

Windscreen and Heat Exchanger

The Mug

The Mug

The stove did come in a little over the stated weight of 15.25 ounces… but having a dedicated all-in-one stove system is pretty nice so I have forgiven MSR on this point. Although there are some ultralight stoves that slot into this category as well (Caldera Cone for example), they’re alcohol (or esbit, wood) stoves which are banned many places currently. I like that I can fit everything into the pot/mug. More importantly, I don’t have a separate windscreen to set up and I’ve found that the stove handles wind superbly as the name would imply. In sustained 15-20 mph winds I have had no problem getting it lit or keeping it lit. Gusts which I’d estimate at 25-35 mph do not blow it out. By using a protected cooking area I’m sure this can be improved on even more but I have not found the need. The video below is an attempt to demonstrate the stove’s performance in the wind.

In practice the stove is simple and just works like it should. I have not had any issues what so ever with mine. The cozy is secure and insulates well enough that a mug full of boiling water can be hand held. The handle seems very secure and has not presented any issues. The fuel support keeps everything stable. The mug is easy to secure and remove from the burner. The lid fits securely and doesn’t leak, plus it has a nifty strainer built into one side, though the pour spot seems effective enough for that purpose. One minor niggle with the lid, it’s so tight fitting that sometimes it can put up a fight when putting it on the mug, I have always prevailed however! The only other minor complaint about this stove is that it doesn’t simmmer, which would be ideal for those who want to cook with the WindBurner. Hikin’ Jim has done a thorough review of the WindBurner and also reports on the lack of simmering capability.

MSR provides a couple of accessories for the WindBurner. One is the coffee press (1.3 oz / 37g, $20), which I have purchased. The other is a hanging kit (1.1 oz / 31g, $30) which I probably will purchase but don’t yet own. The coffee press works like a charm. I get my water boiling, turn off the heat, add freshly ground coffee, wait about 3 minutes, then press and pour. The grounds get rinsed out of the pot later. It does a pretty good job of keeping the grounds out of my cup. The press nests into the cup and the stem of the press can go inside the mug with the stove. It’s all very tidy. As I understand it the hanging kit can remain on the stove as well while it’s being stored. Kudos to MSR for making it a truly all-in-one kit.

Coffee Press

Coffee Press

Hanging Kit

Hanging Kit

I have added an unofficial accessory as well. The pot support from JetBoil (1.2 oz / 34g, $9) just happens to fit the WindBurner. I had to make a very slight tweak to a couple of small tabs on the pot support which took all of a few seconds to do. Because this is an unsupported accessory it could cause premature damage to the burner, but I’m not personally convinced it will be an issue, especially for occasional use. I’ve been able to make bannock, pancakes, heat tortillas, and scramble eggs using this pot support and a non-stick aluminum frying pan. With a low flame this works out pretty well and has added to my overall enjoyment of using the WindBurner.

Making Bannock with Pot Support and Pan

Making Bannock with Pot Support and Pan (credit: Adam Criswell)

JetBoil Pot Support

JetBoil Pot Support

Top View with Pot Support

Top View with Pot Support

Pot Support In Use

Pot Support In Use

Liked…

  • Fast and easy to set up and get water boiling.
  • Moderate winds are not an issue, set it and forget it.
  • Thoughtful design by MSR
  • Made in USA

Not So Much…

  • Versus competitive systems, the WindBurner is on the heavy side.
  • The fit of the lid is very tight and can be hard to get seated.
  • Pricey

Famous Last Words

The simplicity of using an all-in-one is nice and being free of worrying about a stiff breeze makes the process of boiling some water a no-brainer. MSR has nailed the design and left very little to scrutinize. The weight however is one of those things. It’s several ounces heavier than competitive stove systems and maybe 3 times the weight of a 900ml ultralight cooking set up. The trade off of that though is in the fast boil time and fiddle free performance, even in windy conditions. MSR (Cascade Designs) does have an excellent track record when it comes to customer service so that is something else to consider. It’s hard to say whether a stove system like this is worth the weight and expense, however one can certainly get spoiled using it! Hike It. Like It.


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