If you are heading for remote and / or cold climates, perhaps the StormBreaker stove from SOTO is the one to take with you, writes Mike Gormley.
The choice of fuel for your camping stove can be a tricky one. Factors such as the general climate of your travel area and, more important perhaps, the availability of the chosen fuel must be considered.
Gas, in convenient and varied size canisters, has become the stove fuel of choice for many, if not most. It is clean, easy and generally totally able to do what we need it to – make a brew and / or heat up our food – and is now also available in mixtures to better accommodate lower ambient temperatures. However, once the area of travel becomes more remote and the ability to drop into a local outdoors supply shop (appropriately Soto or 外 in Japanese translates to Outdoors in English) diminishes, replenishment fuel becomes more of an issue. So, this multi-fuel stove from SOTO of Japan starts to look like a very interesting possibility.
Aptly designated the StormBreaker, it is designed for those that head out into the wilder and possibly colder areas of this planet. The name suggests an association with the much smaller Windmaster, reviewed here a while ago, and indeed there are some similarities but the StormBreaker is more powerful rated at 3500 Watts / 11780 BTUs. These stoves from SOTO are certainly well-engineered; it takes just a few seconds with one in your hand to see that. Less obvious, and on the inside, the detail engineering continues and the likes of the valves are well able to offer fine control.
The box of goodies you get when you purchase the StormBreaker is really everything you need to head away to far-off lands, especially if they are likely to be cold or even Arctic. Just add the fuel of your choice and you are quickly on your way to the first brew. With a pack weight of 443gms and the ability to fold down into very compact elements, StormBreaker is a very ‘packable’ and powerful stove. This stove can be packed into its supplied pouch or divided up to fit into suitable spaces alongside other items in your kit.
The main elements of the stove kit include:-
- The folding stove unit itself. This has the universal connector pipe and bayonet coupling that fits into both the liquid fuel supply or the gas conversion unit. This can be done as you might say ‘on the fly’ to allow a change from gas to liquid fuel if required.
- The gas conversion unit, into which a standard gas canister is screwed, can accommodate any size cartridge. This has its own folding legs and control valve. Worthy of note the canister is inverted so to feed liquid gas to the stove, which is preferable in very cold ambient conditions. The liquid is then converted into gas in the generator unit. Doing things this way gives you full performance even as the gas level reduces until empty.
- The fuel bottle comes with a spare screw cap to enable it to be transported without the pump assembly attached. This also means you can carry a spare or two if in more remote areas or when a lot of cooking needs to be done. This has a real advantage in that you do not have to transfer fuel into the stove when ‘in camp’. Much more convenient, less messy and importantly much safer.
On the subject of safety. Particularly important when in remoter places, safety is paramount. A stove with a pot of boiling water can do a lot of harm. Just imagine a scalded hand on a high snowy mountain! The setup of the StormBreaker is probably as safe as you can get. Stoves that stack the fuel, then the stove and then the pot on top, have to be inherently unstable with a high centre of gravity. All too easy to get knocked over especially when on ‘mother earth’ or snow. The setup of the StormBreaker allows for a much lower CoG. The three legs fold out to give a good base and they also have serrated tops where the pot sits. These will cater for small or larger pots. The fuel source, whether gas or liquid, is set on its own away from the stove itself. About 30cm or one foot distant. Importantly, the control valve for both is on the fuel source so your hands are well away from the heat and, more importantly if things boil over, and we have all been there, you can turn the heat off without risk of getting scalded! The pump and control unit that screws into the pressure fuel bottle is where a lot goes on; pump, control valve, pressure indicator, feed pipes from the fuel bottle and bayonet connector.
Also supplied is a basic tool kit with some useful spares included. The stove operation for gas is straightforward enough using a conventional gas canister. If using the wet fuel system, it is a little more involved. There are a number of ‘wet fuels’ that can be used with the StormBreaker. Unleaded petrol – this can include aviation petrol or White Fuel which can be known as Coleman fuel or Naphtha – which are commonly used by the military such as the Royal Marines on winter deployments. This makes the StormBreaker a pretty flexible stove to take on your wider and more adventurous travels especially to colder areas of this planet.
There will be many places where gas canisters cannot be found but in general, petrol can be acquired almost everywhere and is generally the cheaper option overall. And you don’t hear that very often, in the UK for sure. Certainly, if I were heading off on a multi-day expedition where the refuel supply was uncertain, this would be a very strong contender for the stove of choice.
New Heights of Bonnybridge, who distribute the SOTO range (and also Blå Band meals) in the UK have offered JOINT-FORCES.com readers with a UK / BFPO address a special discount of 20% if bought through their e-commerce site. Just go to the SOTO StormBreaker page, [Add To Basket] and enter the coupon code COM 21 at checkout. This offer is valid until Wednesday 15th December, unless stocks run out before this.
[images © Mike Gormley]