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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > GSI Pinnacle 4 Season Stove > Test Report by Brian Hartman

GSI PINNACLE STOVE
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 06, 2017

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Central Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors, Inc
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gsioutdoors.com/
MSRP: US $79.95
Listed Weight: 5.8 oz (164 g)
Measured Weight: 5.8 oz (168 g)
Travel Dimensions: 2 x 1.8 x 3.2 in (51 x 46 x 81 mm)

Other Details:
Output: 7829 BTU/h (1973 kcal/h)
Boil Time (per manufacturer): 3 min 55 sec for 1L (33.8 oz) water
Product Use: Ultralight Backpacking
Includes: Stove, Stove Bag

The GSI Pinnacle 4 season stove (hereafter called Pinnacle or stove) is a remote canister, all-season backpacking stove that GSI claims to have optimized for quick boil times and reduced fuel usage.

GSI designed the Pinnacle stove with a wide base and equally wide pot support arms to help provide a more stable cooking platform. The stove legs and pot support arms create a 5.4 in (138 mm) diameter base and cooking surface when extended yet fold up to a compact size for transport. The micro control valve, which I will evaluate during Field Testing, is purported to provide exceptional flame control.

One really nice feature of this stove is that it offers liquid feed mode, which allows the canister to be inverted for improved performance in cold conditions. Liquid feed mode, as the name implies, allows the stove to run off liquid fuel versus gas vapors for stronger and more consistent fuel pressure which results in a better flame in cold weather. However, because this mode is much less fuel efficient it is not recommended for normal use. The manufacturer recommends using only GSI brand IsoButane fuel canisters of IsoButane and Propane mix (4 oz / 110 g or 8 oz / 230 g).

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The GSI Pinnacle 4 season stove arrived in a small cardboard box. Contents of the box included the stove, instruction manuals, and a small black stove bag with the manufacturer's name and logo on the front. The picture below shows everything that was included in the box.

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The stove itself has five permanently connected parts: the burner head, pot support arms, stove legs, flexible fuel line and control valve. The burner head is stainless steel and is 1.3 in (3.3 cm) in diameter. As seen in the photo above, approximately 0.5 in (1.3 cm) of copper tubing extends above the burner head. The purpose of this design is to preheat / vaporize the fuel for better efficiency. Vaporized fuel exits the burner though the holes on top of the burner head.

Surrounding the burner assembly on the top and bottom respectively, are three pot support arms and three stove legs. The arms and legs are approximately 2 in (5 cm) long each and appear to be made of stainless steel. Both swivel out from a nested position to create what appears to be a very stable base and cooking platform. When unfolded they create a respectable 5.4 in (138 mm) platform diameter. One final note about the arms is that they are serrated on top to help prevent pots or pans from sliding around. Given the stove's low profile, I expect it will be plenty stable in use. In fact my preference is for the remote canister design versus stoves that sit directly on top of their fuel canisters because I've found the remote canister stoves to be much more stable and less prone to tipping.

The fuel line is 12 in (30.4 cm) long with braided stainless steel construction. It is fully flexible with a permanent rotating brass connection at the burner assembly and a second permanent rotating connection at the valve body. Because the fitting on the valve body allows it to rotate 360 degrees around the fuel line, it prevents the fuel line from getting twisted and it also makes it very easy to invert a canister if necessary.

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As seen above, the flame adjuster valve has a wire handle for opening and closing the valve assembly. The handle takes one and a half turns to open or close the valve completely but GSI recommends opening it a maximum of three quarter turns when lighting the stove and only one quarter turns during use for optimum efficiency. A small O-ring sits inside the valve body and it allows canisters to seal tightly to the valve body so that no fuel leaks occur. Of note is that the O-ring is a maintenance item and will eventually wear out so it is important to check it on occasion to make sure it is not cracked and still forms a tight seal to a canister. I am excited to see how well the handle and the 'micro control valve' can regulate the amount of fuel flowing to the stove. It would really be nice if I can use this stove to simmer foods.

The stove bag is 4 x 3.5 in (10 x 8.9 cm) and is easily large enough to hold the stove when compacted, as seen in the photo - above right. The bag has a draw string that can be tightened to prevent the stove from falling out.

The stove came with two small manuals, one printed in English and the other in French. I discarded the French manual and briefly paged through the other one. It did a good job of describing the setup and operation of the stove, and it included several drawings which were informative. A few things of note in the manual, it cautions to never use cookware with a diameter larger than 9.5 in (24.2 cm) and height greater than 6 in (15.2 cm). It doesn't mention a weight limit for the stove. Setup instructions are as follows:

1. Fold out control valve handle and make sure it is fully closed
2. Fold out the stove legs
3. Screw canister onto valve housing
4. GSI recommends using a windscreen with the Pinnacle stove but they do not provide one. I tend to use a windscreen most of the time, for fuel efficiency and so the flame doesn't blow out when cooking on low heat in windy conditions.
5. Open control valve three quarter turns counter-clockwise and light the burner
6. Adjust control valve to one quarter turns

TRYING IT OUT

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The Pinnacle was easy to set up and I like the fact that it is remote from the canister which means it sits lower to the ground. In my opinion this cooking arrangement is more stable with large pots and pans. It also means that the windscreen doesn't have to be nearly as tall.

Next I filled a pot with 1 liter (34 ounces) of water to see how quickly it would boil. It took about 5 and one half minutes to achieve a rolling boil with the canister turned upright in normal mode. After turning the stove off, I let it cool down for 5 or 10 minutes before placing it back into its bag.

Despite all of the things I like about the Pinnacle of which there are many, I wish GSI would have included a Piezo igniter on this stove. I would gladly trade an ounce of weight to avoid having to remove my gloves when it's 15 F (-9 C) outside in order to strike a match, or waste 4-5 matches and several minutes of time trying to light the stove in windy conditions or when it's raining. I also don't always have matches handy since many nights I don't make a campfire, so usually they are buried away in my pack where they won't get wet. In my experience Piezo igniters have been very reliable so I know that skews my opinion as well.


SUMMARY

The Pinnacle 4 season stove appears to be well-made and sturdy enough for trail use. During Initial Testing, it was very easy to set up and light. I look forward to putting it through its paces and seeing how well it does.

This concludes my Initial Report for the Pinnacle stove.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

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During Field Testing I used the GSI Pinnacle stove on three backpacking trips. My pack weight during these outings ranged from 35 - 38 lb (15.8 - 17 kg) and I used the stove to cook various hot meals while on the trail.

Oldenburg, Indiana: This was a two-day backpacking trip totaling 6.5 mi (10.4 km). Skies were clear and daytime temperatures were in the mid 70's (23 C) on this off-trail backpacking trip. My meals consisted of oatmeal and eggs for breakfast, salmon for lunch and soup for dinner.

Oldenburg, Indiana: I hiked approximately 7.5 mi (12 km) on this two day backpacking trip. Temperatures ranged from the low 80s F (27.2 C) during the day to the upper 60's F (20 C) at night with partly cloudy skies throughout. The terrain was consistently hilly with mature forests and open fields. My meals were similar to the trip above.

Hoosier National Forest, Indiana: The weather was partly sunny on this two-day backpacking trip with highs in the upper 70's F (25.5 C) and lows in the low 70's F (21 C). On this trip I hiked approximately 12 miles (19.3 km), mostly on-trail. On this trip I made oatmeal for breakfast and tuna noodle casserole for lunch while dinner consisted of various snacks I had brought with me.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the past two months of testing I found the Pinnacle to be lightweight, compact, and easy to set up and use. When not in use, I wrapped the stove in a dish towel and stored it inside my cook pot along with my spork and a pack of matches where it took up very little room and was barely noticeable thanks to its light weight. Although the stove looks quite rugged I still treated it gingerly and the pot and dish towel helped protect it from bumps and bruises on the trail. Knock on wood the Pinnacle has never failed to start and I've had no mechanical issues with it so far nor do I expect to. Setting up the stove was always a simple process and in most cases I had it ready to go in a few minutes. While camping in Southern Indiana (IN) I appreciated the fact that the stove sat low to the ground and had a large platform for cooking as the terrain there isn't level. The Pinnacle's wide base is reassuring when cooking on the soft ground or when there's no level surface to set the stove on. I also tried several different pots and pans with this stove and none of them slid or made the stove tippy. The pots and pans ranged in diameter from 4.5 in (12 cm) to 9 in (23 cm) and the stove had no problems with any of them.

Although it was never difficult to light the stove with matches there were a few times during my trips when it took me several attempts to get it going due to wind or me just not getting a clean strike with my matches. Granted conditions during my last three outings were pretty darn good. For outings where conditions are not ideal due to cold, wind or rain and because no windscreen is included with the stove, I wish GSI would have added piezo electric ignition. In tough conditions it is so nice to simply push a button and have the stove light up without having to mess around with matches. And given that the technology has been around for awhile, why not take advantage of it.

On to more things I like about the stove, I really like the fact that it doesn't need to be primed like my liquid fuel stove. The copper tubing that extends above the burner head must have done a great job vaporizing the fuel for better efficiency as the stove was very judicious with fuel. I am still on my first canister and expect to remain so for at least one or two more outings. Another feature of this stove that I really like is its liquid feed mode which allows the canister to be inverted in cold weather for improved performance. Since I couldn't test this feature in the field due to the fact its nearly summer in the area I'm located, I decided to put my canister in the freezer for a few hours last weekend and then try out the stove in my backyard. After five hours in the freezer the canister and fuel was near -5 F (-20 C) so I headed outside to test it. With the canister upright the stove actually went out on me twice. When I flipped the canister upside down the stove flame was more consistent and easier to regulate.

On two of my trips I cooked eggs and had no problems regulating the flame so I didn't burn them. I also heated some salmon and sauteed some vegetables one day and once again had no problems turning down the flame so as not to burn anything. The next thing I think I will try is cooking pancakes to see how that goes. All in all the micro control valve on this stove seems to work really well and I love the fact that this stove requires virtually no maintenance at all other than checking the rubber o-ring every once in a while.

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One thing I don't like with canister stoves is having to keep track of how much fuel is left in the canisters; granted that's not a ding on the Pinnacle stove, just a fact of life with canister stoves. Some people weigh their canisters after each trip or float them in water to measure how much fuel is left. I always just carry an extra canister with me now because I ran out of fuel on two separate occasions and don't want that to happen again; once because I pushed my luck on a solo trip with a canister that was mostly empty and a second time because I didn't properly estimate how much fuel would be needed to cook for multiple people on a multi day trip.

As for cook times, when boiling water for oatmeal or noodles I found that I can boil 8 - 10 oz (237 - 295 ml) of water in a little over two minutes without getting too aggressive on the flame. For 1 liter (34 oz) of water I usually average just over five minutes.

SUMMARY

The Pinnacle stove performed very well during this test period. it is small, lightweight , sturdy, and has good heat output. I also had no problems controlling the stove's heat output by simply opening and closing the fuel valve.

This concludes my Field Report. Please come back in two months to see the results of my Long Term testing. In the meantime, thanks to GSI and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this stove.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During Long Term Testing I went on three trips with the Pinnacle stove for a total of five nights and 21 mi (34 km) of backpacking. Conditions during my outings included everything from sunny skies to thunderstorms with temperatures that varied from the mid 60's F (19 C) at night to the upper 80's F (31 C) during the day. Finally, I hiked at elevations ranging from 520 to 805 ft (158 to 245 m) above sea level.

My first trip during Long Term Testing was a two-night backpacking trip to Southern Indiana (IN). I carried a smaller backpack on this trip and so to save space I only brought one fuel canister along with the stove. I had used the canister on previous trips so it was mostly empty but after weighing it and putting it in water to see how high it floated, I figured I could get two more days out of it before it ran out. Worst case, if I ran out of fuel on the second day, I would have to hike back to my car on a mostly empty stomach. As it turned out, I had just enough fuel to heat water for oatmeal on the second day before the stove ran out of fuel. As for my lunch, which was supposed to be beans and rice, that would have to wait for another trip. Thankfully I was well rested in the morning and only needed to hike a few miles back to my car in the afternoon so missing lunch was not a big deal.

My second trip with the Pinnacle stove was an overnight trip to the Hardin Ridge area of the Hoosier National Forest. I had a full fuel canister on this trip and no plans for extensive hiking, so I opted to carry some additional food and spend more time cooking. On this trip, I made scrambled eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, tuna casserole for lunch, and chicken and rice for dinner. The following morning, I attempted an omelet which was only partly successful due to me trying to break camp and cook at the same time so I overcooked it a bit. Temperatures during this outing ranged from 89 F (31 C) during the hottest part of the day to 67 F (19 C) at night.

I got caught in an extended thunderstorm during my last trip of this test period and that made things interesting. I spent most of the time huddled under my rain tarp trying to stay warm and dry but did cook a few meals, mainly out of necessity. I really appreciated the low center of gravity of the Pinnacle stove on the slick, muddy ground under my rain tarp. I'm pretty sure that a top mount canister stove would have tipped over in these conditions. All told it rained nearly 5 in (12 cm) during this weekend.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Durability: The Pinnacle performed well during this test period. First off, it was durable. When not in use it survived being stuffed in my backpack and jostled around on the trail. During use it was subjected to dirt, mud, rain and general unpleasantness. Every morning, afternoon, and evening it was assembled and subsequently torn back apart only to be reassembled the following morning. I didn't 'rough house' with it on the trail but I also didn't handle it with kids' gloves either. By accident it fell off a picnic table while in Hardin Ridge but was no worse for wear. All in all, it held its own and had no failures or issues whatsoever.

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Setup: Regarding setup, I was able to unpack and setup the stove in a few minutes with no effort. The leg and pot supports were easy to extend and retract and I had no problems connecting or removing canisters from the fuel valve. Backpacking stoves are precision items with intricate parts, so the fact that the Pinnacle sets up so easily says a lot about how well it's made.

Flame control: I cooked many meals during Long Term Testing and was always able to adjust the stove's flame height to my exact needs. The control valve allowed me to dial in the flame for the exact amount of heat I needed, at which point the stove simply stayed at that setting. The flame was always consistent other than a minute or two before my canister ran out of fuel, which is what I expected to see. I was able to cook a number of different meals, some of which required delicate heat so as not to burn my food or scorch the bottom of my pan. When I needed to simmer food, I was able to do so without a problem. The only negative I found was that moderate to strong winds caused the flame to dance around and several times I was worried it would go out. For that reason, I wish the manufacturer included a windscreen with the Pinnacle. It would make it easier to control the flame in windy conditions and I think it would also make the stove more fuel efficient during those times.

Efficiency: Speaking of fuel efficiency, I was able to get a fairly long life out of my canisters. I didn't measure their weight before and after every outing and keep track of it in a log book but I tried to be consistent in how much I used them and how long I cooked during each meal. In general, I was happy with the efficiency of the stove's burner assembly and its ability to vaporize fuel. As fall and winter approach, I plan to continue using the Pinnacle and I'm anxious to see how well it does in cold weather.

SUMMARY

During Long Term Testing and throughout this test call the Pinnacle was a solid performer. It was durable, quick to set up, provided a consistent flame that was easily adjustable up or down, and it was fuel efficient. I look forward to using it on future backpacking trips and seeing how well it does in temperatures that are below freezing.

This concludes this test series on the Pinnacle stove. Thanks to GSI for providing this stove for testing, and thanks to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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