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MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System Review

MSR Windburner Personal Stove System Review

MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System

Fuel Efficiency
Weight
Simmering Ability
Time to Boil
Ease of Use

Super Efficient and Windproof

The WindBurner is a windproof integrated canister stove system that's optimal for boiling water in windy conditions. Unlike conventional backpacking stoves, radiant burners don't have flame jets, which makes them impervious to windy weather so that they burn hotter and longer on the same amount of canister fuel.

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The MSR WindBurner is a canister stove system built around the wind-proof and super fuel-efficient radiant burner technology that MSR originally developed for its snow-melting powerhouse Reactor Stove. Unlike conventional backpacking stoves, radiant burners don’t have flames, which makes them impervious to windy weather so that they burn hotter and longer on the same amount of canister fuel. Even the slightest breeze can cause a big loss in the performance of other stoves and stove systems.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 15.5 oz
  • Liquid capacity: 1 Liter (33.8 fluid oz)
  • Average Boil Time (1L): 4:30 min
  • Regulator: Yes
  • BTU: 7000/hour
  • Fuel: Isobutane-propane
  • Burn Time 8 oz. canister: 1 hr. 35 min.

The WindBurner radiant burner has a rounded concave surface, covered by a wire screen, that looks like the surface of the sun when it’s been lit and burning gas. The burner pulls in air through side ports to enable combustion, but is completely enclosed when covered by the unit’s cook pot. This makes the WindBurner an excellent stove for cooking in windy and unprotected campsites, especially in mountainous or desert terrain.

The WindBoiler Radiant burner has no visible flame
The WindBurner radiant burner doesn’t have a flame like a Jetboil or standalone canister stove.

The MSR WindBurner is a packaged as a complete personal stove system with everything you need to boil water, cook, and eat your food except a spoon. This is an important distinction when comparing the WindBoiler to individual stove and cooking components, since you’d have to acquire many different parts to replicate its out-of-the-box functionality.

The WindBurner includes a radiant burner, an anodized aluminum cook pot, a pot cozy with an integrated handle, a canister stand, a locking lid w/ strainer holes, a combination measuring and drinking cup, and an absorbent cleaning cloth, that also helps dampen any rattling sounds when the unit is carried in a backpack. The stove is also regulated, so that it will provide consistent heat output for the life of the canister and not weaken in intensity as the amount of fuel and pressure inside the canister drops.

When packed, all of the WindBurner’s stove components fit together inside the cook pot and are held in place by the pot lid, which snaps into place and stays shut (nice!) in your backpack. There’s also enough space inside the pot to store a small fuel canister, making the stove easy to transport in your pack.

The WindBoiler pot has an insulating sleeve with a built-in handle
The WindBurner pot has an insulating sleeve with a built-in handle and a locking lid

Boiling Water with the WindBurner

To use the stove to boil water, you need to light the burner manually using a match, lighter, or fire steel, since there’s no built-in igniter. The absence of an igniter is no great loss, since they have a tendency to break or fail quickly. Your best bet is to use a fire steel to create sparks to light the MSR WindBurner, because it can be used to light the stove in windy conditions, at any temperature, or elevation. A match or a Bic lighter can also work, but they are far less wind resistant.

The MSR WindBurner does not have an integrated Piezo igniter. Using a fire steel is the best way to ignite it because it won't run out of fuel and works in any temperature or elevation.
The MSR WindBurner does not have an integrated Piezo igniter. Using a fire steel is the best way to ignite it because it won’t run out of fuel and works in any temperature or elevation.

Once lit, operating the WindBurner is simple. There’s a thin wire running across the front grill of the burner that will begin to glow (see photo above), so you can tell that the stove is lit and burning fuel. Cover the burner with the cook pot, locking it to the burner with a twist. Cover the pot with its lid and turn the wire fuel valve that controls the gas flow counterclockwise. When your water boils, turn the fuel valve clockwise to turn it off. Add dehydrated food to the cook pot to rehydrate it. It will continue to cook even when the stove is off because the pot cozy and the pot’s heat exchange fins hold onto the heat. Of course, you can also just pour the hot water into a meal pouch if you don’t feel like cleaning the pot.

Simmering with the WindBurner is possible, although it depends on your definition of a simmer. The WindBurner can be dialed down from roiling boil to a low boil, but not a true simmer like the one you can get on your gas range at home. If you turn down the gas too low, the WindBurner will go out. You can’t see the radiant burner head when it’s covered by the cook pot, but you can tell if the gas is turned too low by the coughing or gasping sound that the burner makes when it’s not getting enough fuel. If the stove accidentally goes out. Let it cool before relighting it.

The bottom of the WindBurner Cookpot has heat exchange fins which absorb heat and keep the pot warm even after the burner is shut off.
The bottom of the WindBurner Cookpot has heat exchange fins which absorb heat and keep the pot warm even after the burner is shut off.

With a capacity of 1.0 liters, the WindBurner pot can double as a mug and bowl to drink and eat from. The effective capacity of the cook pot is much smaller though at 20 ounces max (recommended by MSR), not 32 ounces, in order to prevent messy boil overs. The inside of the cook pot has graduated fluid markings in both fluid ounces and liters for measuring the water you want to boil, as does the accompanying plastic cup, which can hold 16 ounces/470 ml of liquid.

The WindBurner Pot comes with a BPA-free plastic lid, that has a built-in strainer, pour spout, and pressure vent. The lid locks over the contents of the pot quite securely, and won’t come undone inside your pack. It also fits over the top of the plastic cup so you can carry liquids in it without spilling.

When fully assembled and filled with water, the WindBurner stove system is top-heavy and unstable if you cook on an uneven surface like the ground or a rock. While many people discard the canister stand as unnecessary weight, it really is a valuable safety feature if you’re the slightest bit prone to knocking over your stove. Ask me how I know. I always carry mine now.

It's easy to cook oatmeal and other soupy foods that you just need to add hot water to, straight from the cookpot
It’s easy to cook oatmeal and other soupy foods that you just need to add hot water to

When separating the pot from the stove, grip the black plastic collar under the burner head, which gets very hot and may burn you.

How does the WindBurner compare to the MSR Reactor Stove?

The WindBurner stove scales down from The MSR Reactor in both heat output and form factor. The Reactor is optimized for melting snow for drinking water and blasts out 9,000 BTU/hr, while the WindBurner throttles that back to 7,000 BTU/hr and sips fuel more slowly. The WindBurner is also a lot more user-friendly for general purpose cooking. It has pot cozy for warmth retention, and a drinking and straining lid, allowing it to double as a mug and eating vessel. The WindBurner Personal pot locks onto its stove burner for improved stability, and it features a black heat-resistant grip on the burner that makes it easy to hold while you’re removing the pot. See the SectionHiker MSR Reactor Review.

WindBurner Group Cook System uses a satellite stove for greater stability when using higher volume cook pots.
WindBurner Group Cook System uses a satellite stove for greater stability when using higher volume cook pots.

How does the WindBurner Personal Stove System differ from the WindBurner Group Stove System?

The WindBurner Group Stove System is designed for group use and larger cookpots. It has a satellite stove that connects to the canister using a hose, for greater clearance and stability. The higher capacity MSR WindBurners pots designed for the Group System are also not compatible with the WindBurner Personal Stove System. See the SectionHiker WindBurner Group System Review.

Comparable Canister Stove Cooking Systems

 Pot CapacityCanister StorageWeight (oz)Price
Fire-Maple X11L100g18$47
Fire-Maple X21L230g21.2$65
Fire-Maple X30.8L100g21.2$63
Jetboil Flash1L100g13.1$100
Jetboil MicroMo0.8L100g12$140
Jetboil MiniMo1L100g14$135
Jetboil Sumo1.8L230g16$150
Jetboil Zip 0.8L100g11.75$80
MSR Reactor 1.0L1L100g16.7$220
MSR Reactor 1.7L1.7L230g19$240
MSR Reactor 2.5L2.5L230g20.7$260
MSR WindBurner1L100g15.5$150
MSR WindBurner Duo1.8L230g21.1$180
MSR WindBurner Group2.5L230g20.8$200

Recommendation

The MSR WindBurner Personal Cook System is a highly efficient canister stove for boiling water and rehydrating meals on backpacking trips. While it weighs a few more ounces than a Jetboil, it is completely windproof, making it ideal for mountainous routes or locales with an absence of protective trees or vegetation. The WindBurner radiant burner is also super durable stove doesn’t have a lot of moving parts that can fail in the field. If you’re hard on your gear like me, this is one stove system that can take a licking and keep on ticking. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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3 comments

  1. How does the Windburner compare to a Jetboil?

    • There are many jetboils to choose from. I think the best two to compare it to are the Jetboil Flash and the Jetboil Zip.
      It’s more windproof than both of them and boils water faster. It’s also a sturdier stove that won’t fall apart after a couple of years of use. But it’s heavier and more expensive.

      • Why you wonder does it matter if your stove is windproof. If you hike in the desert, or terrain that doesn’t have vegetation, you will use a lot more gas if your stove is not windproof. That can be a big issue if its a major distance between your resupply points.

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