Canister Stove Wind Screens and How to Make Your Own

Soto Microregulator Stove and Windscreen Attachment

Soto Micro Regulator Stove and Windscreen Attachment

I’ve been using a canister stove as my primary cook system for the past 3-4 years. I like the fast boil times, and the fact that you can light them and turn them off in seconds. While there have been endless debates about whether canister stoves and fuel canisters are “ultralight” or not, that doesn’t really matter to me. The convenience of the stove trumps gear weight for me and I have a light enough gear list that I can afford to bring a few luxury items.

In all the years of using a canister stove, I’ve never bothered using a wind screen. In fact, I didn’t even realize these existed until last winter when I came across one for my titanium Snowpeak Gigapower stove while browsing the aisles at REI. It’s a chunky plate-like thing thing weighing 2 ounces and made out of stainless steel. That’s ironic when y0u consider that the stove itself weighs 3 ounces. Soto’s Micro Regulator stove windscreen (shown top) is much lighter in comparison, only weighing 0.6 ounces while the stove itself weights 2.4 ounces.

Why wouldn’t you just use a tin foil style windscreen that surrounds the canister and pot, like you do with an alcohol stove?

The stove manufacturers strongly warn against this because the canister can blow up like a hand grenade if the air inside the windscreen were to get too warm. You’re free to disregard this warning, but the potential risk is too great for me. I’m chicken when it comes to shrapnel.

So how well do these canister stove windscreens work and are they even worth using?

I can only share my anecdotal observations here and say yes, at least in the case of the Soto windscreen where the increase in fuel efficiency is probably break even in terms of carrying the extra weight of the windscreen¬† for short trips. I’ve read that this is on the order of 20% fuel savings, but I don’t have the tools available to give you a quantitative breakdown of the fuel efficiency benefits (and I’m not about to engage in laughably pseudo scientific analyses.)

Here’s an anecdotal test of using the Soto windscreen on top of West Bond Mountain (new Hampshire) to make tea. It worked pretty well with 1o mph winds although it is still effected by wind gusts. You can’t really see the flame very well in this video so treat it more like a sound recording and listen to the flame when the wind gusts. When the flame is pushed downwind, it flickers, the heat is vented up the downwind side of the pot, and there is a loss of efficiency.

If you want a fuel efficient canister stove, why wouldn’t you just buy a Jetboil, which already has a fully integrated wind screen.

That’s certainly an option. I prefer using separate components (stove, gas, pot) because I think they’re more flexible that way and because can I use best of breed items rather than get locked into all-in-one system from a specific manufacturer. From what I understand, the Jetboil is a bit heavier than a component based system, particularly for shorter trips where there’s not enough time for any fuel efficiency savings to have any impact on the extra weight you need to carry.

Can’t you make your own canister stove windscreen?

Indeed you can, and it’s something I’ve been experimenting with lately. Furthermore, I like my latest prototype a lot more than the commercial options available.

MYOG: Canister Stove Windscreen and Pot Insulator

MYOG: Canister Stove Windscreen and Pot Insulator

Weighing 1.6 ounces, I made it cutting up an old aluminum windscreen I had lying around.¬† I like it because it’s a combination windscreen and pot insulator, and doesn’t compromise the amount of oxygen accessible to the stove. It’s held on the pot by notches that fit over the pot handles and a paper clip to keep it from popping open. It also folds up flat making it easy to pack.

Ryan Jordan reports a 100% increase in fuel efficiency using this style of canister stove windscreen for winter use, which is extra relevant because I plan on using the Soto MicroRegulator in cold weather. It’s specially designed to maintain constant gas pressure in cold temperatures, which is where other canister stoves stumble.

What about you? Do you use a canister stove windscreen?

Disclosure: Soto Outdoors provided SectionHiker.com with a complementary MicroRegulator stove and windscreen. SectionHiker owns a Snowpeak Gigapower stove and windscreen and purchased them with his own funds.

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16 Responses to Canister Stove Wind Screens and How to Make Your Own

  1. Brandon October 6, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    I use a Jetboil, but have been considering getting a canister stove and pot, I just always worried about the fuel consumption. I like the convience of the Jetboil, but it is a pain to clean (I have the very first model). If you only plan on boiling water and doing freezer bag meals, then it's great. Just don't plan cooking anything in the pot that might stick. You will spend an hour scrubbing and cussing!

  2. Earlylite October 6, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Brandon – check out the non-stick titanium pots made by Evernew. They're made with a ceramic coating that is far more tolerant to abrasion than other non-stick coatings.

  3. PaulO October 6, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    I don't own a canister stove, but I do own an alcohol stove that I use a windscreen for. If I keep it close to the pot like you do then it is much more efficient. All that extra heat to travel up the side of the pot makes for better heat exchange.

  4. Earlylite October 6, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    I started making prototypes using an old Caldera Cone I had sitting around, which leverages that exact principle – insulating the pot and heat retention. But I abandoned that design early on because it kept sliding down the pot and really only works if it can sit on the ground – which would be too dangerous with a canister stove. Still I'm not sure why the stove manufacturers don't have windscreens that are taller in height like mine. Having something that looks like a Jetboil (which is amazingly similar to what I have here) has to be easier to sell! I plan on lightening this variant by using oven liner tine foil in the next iteration.

  5. Matt October 6, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    I use heavy-duty aluminum foil. But then again, my system has a remote hose for the canister. Check out the Primus Express Spider or MSR Windpro. These types of stoves keep the burner closer to the ground, allowing better and easier screening options. Aluminum foil is cheap, lightweight, readily available and malleable enough for multiple uses.

  6. Jeff October 6, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    The way I do it: use some aluminum flashing from home depot, a hole punch, and some small snap buttons like are on jeans. You pop it apart and then roll it up smaller and stick it in the pot.

  7. eddie s October 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I use a Snowpeak Stove myself and when I bought mine, it came with a wind screen that looks more like a small slotted salad plate with slighted curved up edging which I had to file down a bit with a metal file because it was so sharp..

    After taking a couple of trips I was very happy with it's performance until a Sierra trip with the wind was a major problem. When I got home I was looking at my line up of Backpacking stoves on my storage shelf when my eye fell on my very first backpacking stove my old SEVA 123R which I bought in 1970 for $16.95 via mail order from A-16. And it still works!

    I created a better windscreen for my windy High Sierra Trips from a aluminum paint can after trying a size #10 Juice can which was heavier than the Aluminum paint can. I slotted the cans in a similar fashion to what the Seva Stove came with. This avoids the dangerous heating up of the tank and was very happy with the results. Cutting it up one side so it folds flatter was another addition and I used the same Clips you are using to hold it together which I first used for keeping Freeze Dried DInner Bags clamped shut. I since have gone to these very tiny Clothes pins I found at Walmart which I guess are really supposed to be used for posting Notes or clipping notes to something..Their lighter in weight than the metal clips..

  8. eddie s October 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I forgot to mention, I see you mark your fuel cans with a Sharpie pen. Do you keep track of the time this way? And have you done a Test burn off of the small can and the large can of Snow Peak Fuel?

    With my type of cooking I average about 10 meals or boils on the smaller can and average 24 with the larger can..Unless I am frying Trout, then I lose about half the Cannister. So I always bring two smalls with me or one large and one small..

  9. Earlylite October 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    eddie – I'm not that regimented about keeping track, but it's useful for me to mark when I bought them to know how old the canister are and to help me guess how much fuel is left. They pile up unless you use them up.

  10. eddie s October 7, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I do now, after bringing two partially used cannisters with me on a winter trip..Not good..So I try to keep pretty accurate records of the time on the cannisters…

  11. jarra October 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    I use a Primus 734670 windscreen (62 g) with my Micro-Regulator. Unfortunately, I haven't yet experienced any adverse conditions that would allow me to make an informed comment on its effectiveness.

    I know a guy who did a bunch of performance measurements of various windscreens and heat exchanger pots and his opinion is that a full surround (like MSR) is the most effective. I like the idea of aluminum flashing and some snaps that Jeff described so I may have to build one of those.

    Have you seen the new MSR Whisperlite Universal? It solves the windscreen problem but it's a pretty heavy stove compared to the ultralights.

  12. eddie s October 9, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    With a smile on my face,,,are we getting back to the point, that with all these accessories and windscreens and such, like that Jet Boil thing and do dads, to the same weight that we had for the famous that Blowtorch the SEVA 123R at 19 ounces?

  13. Earlylite October 9, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    I don't think it's quite that bad yet. My stove's about 4 oz with the windscreen. :-)

  14. Earlylite October 9, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I backpacked with a guy who had the whisperlite universal a few weeks ago. It looked rather huge and heavy, still I guess one purchase is better than two.

  15. marco October 10, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Yeah, you guys think I am crazy, but I still use my SVEA. The stove only weighs 17oz without the cup. This past week I used it, a wind screen and a grease pot to get 1.6oz per day of fuel use for general cooking, morning and night…about 2.5L but the burn at night was for cooking stew…about 20-30 minutes.

    Yeah, it IS heavy. But, in 41 years it has never failed to work, at ANY temps. In winter, toppers, like the Primus or Soto, will start failing at about 20F. At about 10F, many times they won't even light or just burn with a weak yellow flame. (Yes, I have tried several.)

    The wind screens can be made from a simple wide sheet of foil. It doubles as a pot lid draped over the pot and long enough to cover the top of the canister. Two or three pieces can be carried for the cost (in weight) of the lid. It works with minimal fiddle factor.

  16. eddie s October 10, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    I for one do not think you are crazy. I just enjoy the conviennce of the Cannister Stove and being able to pack it away with a fuel cannister inside of my Solo Cook Kit… I have a choice of four other "Backpacking" Stoves I bought over the years, which I still have and they all still work, for a total of six and just prefer the conviennce of nesting it..

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