Simple, clean, lightweight and efficient, the canister-mounted stove is justifiably popular. Most stoves in this category are simply a burner head with pot supports that screws on to the top of a pressurised canister containing a blend of propane, butane and/or isobutane. Simply open the valve and light. No priming, no smelly fuel and it’ll all fit into your cooking pot for transport. What’s not to like? Well – as the gas is in a liquid state in the canister it can be a struggle to get any gas out of the canister in cold weather, so a liquid fuel or remote canister stove would be more appropriate in winter as well as being much more stable. Volatile propane has a tendency to burn off first, leading to good performance with a new cartridge, tailing off as the propane decreases. The longer the stove burns, the colder the cartridge becomes, until performance tails off noticeably, so for group cooking there are better options. But for one or two people the simple canister-mounted stove is ideal.
In this review we’ll be looking at two types of canister-mounted stoves – the basic burner-with-pot-supports and the new stove ‘systems’ which combine a burner head with a pot, usually incorporating heat exchanger fins on the base for improved efficiency.
Edelrid Kiro TiRRP £45
As is to be expected from German climbing brand Edelrid, the Kiro Ti manages to be both lightweight yet rugged and stable. This stability stems from the clever folding serrated arms at the end of three folding pot supports which deploy smoothly and quickly and can support wider pots than some, though they don’t lock in position. The burner head is small, and produces a narrow flame which can lead to a hotspot and burnt food if attempting to simmer rather than just boiling water. The simple wire bail flame adjuster is pleasingly sensitive and remains far enough away from the flame to avoid overheating. It can be operated easily with gloves on and folds back around the stove for stowing. The packed size is tiny, and the big plastic cordlock on the supplied storage pouch seems awkward and clumsy in comparison to such a nicely engineered stove. Due to the frantic stirring required I would choose an alternative stove for simmering food, but if your cooking requirements are limited to boiling water this is a fast stove, bringing one litre of water to the boil in around three minutes. There is no piezo ignition which may be off-putting.
Coleman F1 LiteRRP £25
For £25 this is an excellent buy – the weight is comparable to the other stoves in the category and performance is equal, boiling a litre of water in three minutes under calm conditions. The wide burner head makes an acceptable attempt at a simmer, and the pot supports cope with wider pots. These legs lock into position but can be folded flat by slightly unscrewing the burner head to release them from their slots. By fully unscrewing the burner head the legs and burner can be separated from the stove body to create an even smaller package that fits into the cavity in the base of a gas canister. A really neat package. The flame adjuster is a glove-friendly wire bail that fold flat against the stove for travel. There really is very little to fault, but perhaps the serrations on the pot support arms could be a little more aggressive to prevent pot slide? A wonderful little stove which even includes a storage pouch, but there’s no piezo ignition.
SOTO Micro Regulator StoveRRP £75
For £75 you would expect something special from a canister-mounted stove, and the Micro Regulator Stove certainly epitomises Japanese design and construction. It’s immaculate and will delight stove fans (I know you’re out there). SOTO suggest that the inclusion of an innovative regulator allows this stove to function in the winter conditions that make canister-mounted stoves such a nightmare to use. I can’t work out how a stove can alter the gas blend within a canister (as mentioned before, it’s the propane burning off first that can lead to sluggish performance in the cold) and in use below 0°C there was little discernible difference in performance between this stove and others. However – the regulator does function differently to those fitted with the usual needle valve, and simmering performance is superb, especially when coupled with the wide flame pattern and pot supports that accept wide pans. The piezo ignition is hidden within the body of the stove to prevent damage and it works well. It’s a well-engineered and lightweight stove, but don’t expect miraculous performance in cold weather, despite the high price.
MSR Reactor 1.0lRRP £140
Ooh, now this is clever. The MSR Reactor represents a complete cooking ‘system’, consisting of a one litre pot, lid and removable/folding handle. The cleverness begins with the burner, which is the full width of the pot, and instead of the familiar burner head consists of a grey gauze beneath a dome of wire mesh. Upon ignition (there is no piezo so you’ll need a match) this gauze begins to glow to produce a pretty uniform heat across the diameter of the burner. The pot is a snug fit on top, and fitted with heat exchanger fins on aid heat transfer, as well as vents which help to utilise hot exhaust gases to further improve efficiency. Everything is of a suitably high quality, with components feeling well-made and durable. The folding handle is a delight to use and integrates well with the plastic lid which has drainer holes and a knob that locks into the slot in the handle. Interestingly, this rubber knob can be replaced and a lightweight coffee press fitted for the ultimate in outdoor luxury. As you’d expect, performance is excellent, with a rolling boil achieved in around two minutes, and cold weather performance also good. It’s heavy, but if boiling water fast in windy conditions is a priority then it’s an excellent choice, particularly for more than one person.
Jetboil Sol (Aluminium)RRP £130
A more conventional ‘system’ stove than the MSR Reactor, the Jetboil Sol has a fairly standard burner head surrounded by a housing which supports and secures a tall aluminium heat exchanger pot. A titanium version is available, but at a premium for very little weight saving. The pot is fitted with substantial heat exchanger fins on the base, plus a ring with bayonet fitting to lock into the burner. A series of vents provides the necessary ventilation for combustion but also allows wind to affect the flame if used in an unsheltered position. The tall pot is insulated with a thin neoprene sleeve which includes an odd fabric loop that might be a handle but is fairly ineffective, which also applies to the ‘temperature indicator’ strip. The pot and burner combination works well, but isn’t as fast as the Reactor and is quite affected by a breeze. The plastic stabiliser feet which fit onto the bottom of the canister are a nice counter to the top heavy design and add little weight to the package. In addition, the pot support allows the Jetboil burner to be used with conventional pots and slots into the same bayonet fitting. The low system weight is good.
Weight: 300 g (not including pot support and stabiliser feet)
Primus Eta ExpressRRP £90
I find wide and shallow cooking pots more efficient than tall and narrow designs (but they’re not as easy to drink from!), so the one litre, non-stick (but surprisingly scratch-resistant) pot supplied with the Primus Eta Express immediately appeals. Fitted with confidence-inspiring silicone coated handles and a neat strainer lid this pot is a real star. The heat exchanger fins and vents on the base integrate nicely with the included windshield which attaches magnetically to the conventional burner head assembly. This burner – with piezo ignition – and windshield can be used with other pots, but (as you’d expect) the heat exchanger on the included pot appears to add to the efficiency and creates a low centre of gravity to prevent pot topple. The whole system is supplied with a nesting plastic bowl and fits into a tidy mesh stuffsack. A nice combination at a good price – closer to a conventional canister-mounted stove but still offering the efficiency of a system stove.