Flat Cat Gear Ocelot Canister Stove Windscreen Review

Flat Car Gear Ocelot Canister Stove Windscreen Review

Boiling time vs fuel efficiency, which is more important to a backpacker? If you’re a long-distance backpacker hiking a remote route without access to easy resupplies, you probably care more about making your stove fuel last as long as possible, and not whether you can shave another 30 or seconds off the time it takes you to boil 2 cups of water.

How to Conserve Stove Fuel

If your stove burns isobutane canister fuel, you can maximize your fuel supply by turning your stove “down” so it takes longer to boil water, but uses less fuel to achieve the same result. It’s the same principle at work as the time the government imposed a 55 mph speed limit to help conserve fuel during the gas crisis. You’ll get there eventually, but just a bit slower and without burning as much fuel.

The other thing you can do is to protect your stove from the wind, which is the biggest threat out there to canister stove efficiency. But windscreens can be a little tricky with canister stoves because the heat they reflect can make a canister overheat and explode like a hand grenade. That’s why most canister stove companies don’t offer them and go out of their way to warn people about using them.

Melting snow with the Kovea Spider Ocelot Windscreen
Melting snow with the Kovea Spider Stove and an Ocelot Windscreen. The Spider is an inverted canister (liquid feed) stove suitable for winter use down to about 0 degrees.

Canister Stove Fuel Efficiency

John Fong, the owner of Flat Cat Gear, set out to optimize canister stove fuel efficiency by creating a safe windscreen for canister stoves that would conserve fuel and be easy to pack inside of mug-sized cook pots 700-750 ml in size. If you know John, this is the kind of problem that he likes to tackle. He’s good at assembling alcohol, Esbit, and canister stove systems that are really efficient, pack up inside their cook pots (no small feat) and can be used from everything from simmering and pan-frying, to dry and steam baking. If you want a taste of what I mean, check out his freely downloadable “Epicurean Cookbook“. It has recipes for biscuits, deep-dish pizza, lasagna, quiche, and many other palate pleasers that you can cook with backpacking stoves when you get tired of eating freeze-dried meals.

John’s goal in making the Ocelot Windscreen System was to minimize the amount of canister stove fuel needed to boil two cups of water from a starting water temperature of 70 degrees in real-world conditions, including wind. To this end, he benchmarked the effect of wind on canister stove performance with wind tunnel tests, comparing stoves with and without an Ocelot windscreen.

PocketRocket Deluxe Wind Tunnel Test Results
The test was run at ambient with and without the Ocelot windscreen. In all test, 2 cups of 70 F water was used and heated until boiling (210 F at our elevation). At 3.5 mph wind, the Ocelot Windscreen saved 5 grams of fuel per boil. In all cases, the stoves were turned to 1/3 power, increasing the power, lowers the fuel efficiency. (Graph courtesy of Flat Cat Gear).

He found that wind just kills canister stove fuel economy. Take the MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe, which has one of the best wind-shedding stove head designs out there and similar to the stove head used on the Soto Windmaster. Add a little wind, and the fuel required by the Pocket Rocket Deluxe nearly doubles.  MSR also notes, “For open-flame-burner canister stoves, like an MSR Pocket Rocket, a 5 mph (8 kph) wind can cause as much as three times more fuel use in a given cooking period” (source MSR: How Much Fuel Should I Carry?).

The wind tunnel benchmarks that John has run against other less sophisticated stoves like the BRS300T show an even bigger impact of wind on their fuel utilization.  The bottom line is that a windscreen can save a significant amount of canister stove fuel if you cook in windy conditions, which many of us do. While it’s true that can buy a stove like an MSR Reactor or MSR Windburner which are 100% windproof or a Jetboil which is somewhat less so, these units are much heavier and bulkier than the ultralight mug-based stove systems used by many hikers.

It’d be interesting to see a comparison of the new Jetboil Stash with the Stash Stove and an Ocelot. While the Stash is impressive and only weighs 7.1 oz, it is still pretty bulky to pack compared to mug-based stove systems.
The windscreen still provides plenty of air to the burner head and keeps the canister cook when run on lower power.
The Ocelot windscreen still provides plenty of air to the burner head and keeps the canister cool when the stove is run on lower power.

Ocelot Windscreen Components

The Ocelot Windscreen System consists of one or two parts depending on your stove. If you have an upright canister stove, you need a burner plate, which is positioned below the stove head and is used to suspend the 360-degree windscreen. If you have a Kovea Spider, which is a remote inverted canister stove, you just need the windscreen which is supported by the pot stand’s arms. All of the windscreen parts are designed to fit inside your pot for packability.

The Ocelot Windscreen has two components
The Ocelot Windscreen has two components: a burner plate that rests on the stove arms and holds the windscreen in place. Different stoves require slightly different burner plates. Both components fit inside your mug along with a fuel canister.

It takes a little practice to mount the burner plate on your stove, but it’s a simple task to pick up. John’s written documentation could probably benefit from some short instructional videos that show how to set up each stove, but it is pretty intuitive once you see a video of how it all works.

The windscreens are much shorter than you might expect and still provide ample air supply to the burner heads without causing the canisters to overheat, as long as you run the stove at low power. I can’t emphasize that point more. For optimal fuel efficiency, you want to run your stove at one-third to one-half of its full power. The goal is not boiling speed, but fuel efficiency.

Usage

I’ve used the Ocelot with a Pocket Rocket 2/Evernew Pasta Pot combination and a Kovea Spider/ Amicus Cookset on backpacking trips found and both units to be easy to use and effective. I didn’t keep track of the amount of fuel I used or the wind speed when I used both units but I did run the stoves on low power and they operated fine, without blowing up and causing a fireball.  The packability of the components is outstanding and there’s no reason not to use the Ocelot windscreen system if you use a canister stove regularly.

That said, I’m probably not the ideal customer for the Ocelot windscreen since I’m not a habitual canister stove user and prefer using Esbit, Wood, or Liquid Fuel stoves on my trips instead. It’s much easier to predict how much fuel I’ll need on a trip using them, it’s easy to see how much fuel I have remaining, and they’re much more compact to carry than a gas canister (or 2, 3, and 4 gas canisters at once). But for longer trips, more remote trips, or if I had to cook for multiple people, I could see using an Ocelot to lower my fuel consumption and improve my ability to forecast how much fuel I need to carry.

Ocelot Stove Compatibility (Current)

  • MSR PocketRocket (Original), PocketRocket 2 & PocketRocket Deluxe
  • BRS 3000t
  • Soto Amicus, Soto WindMaster (3 Flex & 4 Flex)
  • Kovea Spider
  • Fire Maple 300T (Hornet or Wasp)

Ocelot Cook Pot Compatibility (Partial)

  • Snow Peak Trek 700
  • Evernew Small Pasta pot 700 ml (ECA521)
  • Evernew Ultralight Ti 500 Mug (ECA266)
  • TOAKS Titanium 600 ml
  • TOAKS, Titanium 650 ml Mug
  • TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot
  • Imusa 10 cm Mug
  • And many more (click for full list)

Recommendation

Flat Cat Gear’s Ocelot Canister Windscreen System is easy to use and packs away into mug-sized cookpots for easy and compact transport. It is designed for people who use canister stoves with 700-750 ml mugs because they’re so lightweight, compact, and packable. Fuel optimization is achieved by using a stove-specific windscreen and by cooking at one-third to one-half of full power. As long as you don’t mind waiting a little longer for your water to boil or food to cook, it’s a great way to make a canister of isobutane stove fuel last longer, by eliminating one of the chief factors that make canister stove use inefficient, namely the wind.

Disclosure: Flat Car Gear provided the author with this product for review.

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19 comments

  1. Langleybackcountry

    Very interesting. I notice it’s made for MSR Rocket stoves, but doesn’t list the MSR solo pot you get as part of a kit. Is it assumed that works, or do you actually have to buy a different pot?

  2. Never understood the “psychosis” around speed of boil times.
    Pull up for the day, put stove on to boil water or whatever first up.
    Tootle around, set up accommodation/sleeping arrangement at your leisure.
    Plonk yourself down, water good to go for whatever your eating preference is.

    For me the great outdoors is about winding down, not getting wound up
    over a few seconds saved here or there….

  3. Wow, I did not know this product exists. Seems well thought of, light, compact and effective. Not cheap but I guess with its fuel saving ability it will pay off in no time.
    Thanks for the review.

  4. I have one of the Ocelot windscreens for my BRS 3000t/Toaks 750 setup. It works well, although I think I will modify it a bit to fit more closely around the Toaks pot. It’s also reasonably lightweight. It makes the BRS a contender, although I’m still dubious about depending on the BRS. It’s a lightweight piece of Chinesium, with all the reliability that implies. :) I seem to have gotten a good one; the arms are only slightly deformed from the heat, and no sign of stress fractures (yet).

    As many will no doubt mention here, you can make your own windscreen without too much trouble, but John makes a quality product.

  5. I use the pocket rocket deluxe & the evernew 900ml pasta pot. Do you know if this will work with the 900ml?

  6. Thanks Philip, I just sent Jon an email. I’ll let you know for sure.

    • @Steve H – Ocelot windscreens supports mug up to 4.2 ” in diameter. Unfortunately, the Evernew Large Pasta Pot is 4.92″.

      @Philip Werner – The quality of the Fire Maple 300T is very good and cost about $10 more than the BRS 3000t. It also is a fair weather stove as it will be sensitive to the wind due to the large burner to pot distance (about 1″).

      • I have had significant quality issues with my FM300T, my review follows:

        “Compare to more established names (MSR,Soto) and notice the difference in construction, welded joints on the reputable brands versus threaded joints with jam nuts on this item. After using the stove for a while I noticed the pot would be tilted although the canister base was level. I realized the top nut was loose, and then it became obvious that every one of the 3 threaded joints was loose with a sloppy fit. I assume due to heating/cooling cycles and/or permanent dimensional changes in dissimilar materials and/or poor machining tolerances. I wrapped the gas pipe top and bottom with teflon tape and reassembled but it was working loose again very soon after. Yesterday I tripled down on the tape and also wrapped the valve body threads where it screws into the gas pipe. It is solid now but I have little confidence that it will last. In the beginning I was ready to give the stove 5 stars, now I’m at 2 stars and there’s nowhere to go but down from here. “

  7. Nope. Supports 4.2 but large pasta pot is 4.92.

  8. One way to save fuel concerning hot water is how hot do you need it, if water is safe, no need to bring to boil

  9. Two questions:
    – Can the top 1/4′ of the windshield be cut off to make it flush or slightly lower than the pot supports, to allow a slightly larger diameter (2 litre) pot to be used?
    – Why is this required for a Kovea Spider? It’s a remote canister stove and so can be safely used with full height windshield that encloses the entire stove and the lower half of the pot. I’m thinking of the MSR aluminum windshields that just have a cutout for the tube that goes to the canister, or a substitute made from an offcut of roof flashing. I think typical users of this stove would be using a a larger pot.

    • @ Ken McNair – Can the windscreen be made flush to support larger pots? IMO, canister topped stoves are ideal for use with mugs. Larger pots tend to have a stability issue with this style of stove: picture a 2 liter pot on top of a BRS stove while using a 4 oz canister. That being said, the Ocelot windscreen is a first generation product and if the demand is high enough, we will look into it.

      YEs remote fed stoves like the Kovea Spider can easily be used with full height windscreens. The advantage of the Ocelot Kovea is that the windscreen can be made much smaller and lighter (20 grams). Additionally, everything (windscreen & Stove) will nest inside your mug keeping your pack volume down.

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