We loved the MSR Reactor, and the new WindBoiler is even better for solo or small group travel.
Over the last several years there has been increasing popularity in the use of personal stove systems. The benefits of these compact burner and pot combinations are many-fold, beginning with their compact size, efficiency, and ease of use. They lend themselves well to travel by bicycle, motorcycle, and even earn space in monstrously large vehicles where those considerations are normally inconsequential.
MSR is no stranger to this category of stoves with their venerable Reactor regarded as one of the most expedition-worthy systems on the market. I have used my MSR Reactor 1L over the past year in a variety of settings from the sands of Baja to the fringes of the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic. It has become one of few trusted tools that accompany my every adventure. When I first learned of MSR's newest personal stove system, the newly released WindBoiler, I knew I had to have one.
Like the Reactor, the new WindBoiler uses MSR's proven radiant burner technology which is an internally regulated and enclosed flame source designed to thwart wind. That seems like an innocuous detail until you take into consideration that many other stoves with exposed flames fail to achieve a boil in even the most modest of breezes. Having used MSR's burner technology in full gales, I can tell you it not only works, it works better than expected, and always when you need it most.
Just because something is small and simple, doesn't mean it can't also be full featured. The cup and pot lid snap together to create a great drinking cup. The wire burner adjuster is long and keeps your hands away from the heat source.
Notes from the field
Although I have only had a chance to use the new WindBoiler a few times, I can say it is easily my favorite one-person cooking system on the market. I also know what many of you are thinking, and yes, it does look very similar to a JetBoil. I think even the name borrows a bit too much from the stove and pot combo that effectively created this category of stove. That said, the WindBoiler is without questiona step above. I couldn't begin to account for how many cans of fuel I've burned in my various JetBoils, and after just a few uses of the WindBoiler, declare it a far superior product.
Assembling the stove is easy, and while the WindBoiler lacks its own ignition source, my good old Bic lighter has never failed me, something I can't say is true of most built-in piezoelectric lighters. The stove primes in seconds and produces a reliable heat source every time. The heat exchanger mates to the stove without any fussing, and everything just feels superbly manufactured and refined. Fuel efficiency has been on par with other stoves and my own expectations, and even the French Press accessory works as advertised. It's another home run for MSR, and one of my favorite products of the year.
The 1-liter cooking pot houses the fuel can, stove and leg supports. The lid has a built-in strainer and drink port. The heavy-duty handle and sturdy insulation sleeve make it easy to handle the pot even when filled with warm fluids.
The new WindBoiler, like many one-person systems, uses a blended isobutane and propane canister for fuel. In our field tests it has proven to be a very fuel efficient system with excellent temperature modulation. Boil times are remarkably fast at an average of just two minutes and thirty seconds. The materials and construction are superior to most systems in its class, a hallmark of MSR quality. Even the insulated sleeve is made of durable nylon in lieu of the more delicate neoprene used by other brands. The heartily constructed heat exchanger at the bottom of the cooking vessel mates to the stove without any awkward fussing, and the entire system nests inside the pot for easy transport. $129 msrgear.com 206-505-9500
Radiant Burner Technology
When selecting gear for the harsh weather of Iceland, I knew I had to pack an MSR Reactor 1L. The radiant burner paired to the well designed heat exchanger on the pot meant I could maximize my meager fuel supplies and get water boiling in no time at all. The burner primes in just seconds and has been 100% reliable in all weather.
by: Christophe Noel
Christophe Noel is Expedition Portal’s Editor and the Senior Editor for Overland Journal. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.