SOTO AMICUS STOVE
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
March 23, 2016
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a lightweight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) and use a tent, stove and quilt.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: SOTO Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sotooutdoors.com
MSRP: Not Listed
Listed Weight: 2.9 oz (81 g)
Measured Weight: 2.8 oz (78 g)
Size when stowed: W 1.7 x D 1.6 x H 3.0 inches (W 4.3 x D 4.0 x H 7.5 cm)
Size when in use: W 3.0 x D 4.0 x H 3.4 inches (W 7.6 x D 10.0 x H 8.6 cm)
Output: 2600 kcal/h = 3030 W = 10210 BTU
Duration: Burns approx. 1.5 hours with 8 oz (250 g) canister
Made in Japan
Soto means outdoors in Japanese
The Soto Amicus stove with stealth ignitor is a steel compact foldable stove for use with fuel canisters of an isobutane/propane mix. The 'stealth ignitor' means that it has a piezo electric ignition unit at the base with a hidden electric line up to the electrode on the burner surface. The burner surface is concave in order to help improve performance in the wind. Also there is a raised lip above the burner surface to keep the wind from directly blowing across the burner.
There are four pot supports which are spring-loaded and pivot out to clip over a small tab for a positive lock. The pot support surface is toothed in order to provide traction with the pot.
The on/off and flame adjustment control is a wire handle which extends out away from the stove.
There are two sealing areas at the base: one is an external O-ring to provide seal with the neck of the fuel canister and one is an internal O-ring to provide seal with the threaded portion of the fuel canister.
The stove came with a small drawstring storage bag.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
An instruction sheet was included with the stove that outlined how to assemble the pot supports, mount the stove to the fuel canister, use the flame adjustment and turn it off. It also explains how to stow, clean and maintain the stove.
They recommend a maximum pot diameter of 5.5 in (14 cm) to be used with this stove for safety based on the extended diameter of the pot supports.
There is a note that at elevations above 10,000 ft (3,050 m) that the ignition will be affected. In that case, I should release a small amount of gas first and then ignite the stove.
It is recommended to use a 70% butane / 30% propane mix gas canister with this stove.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
I first opened the stove and folded out the pot supports. They are spring-loaded so they naturally want to click into place over the tab that holds them. It was very easy to do this and to get the supports in place with confidence that they were secure.
I then found a fuel canister in the garage with some fuel left in it. It was a Snow Peak Giga Power gold 8 oz (220 g) version. SOTO recommends using a 70% butane / 30% propane canister mixture. I found it difficult to get specifics on the Snow Peak mixture or any other popular brands. It seems that they vary by brand and even the same brand varies by country. The best that I could determine is that Snow Peak is a 65% isobutane / 35% propane mix. I'm going to buy some other brands in order to compare performance.
I measured out 16 oz (1/2 L) of water and left it along with the cold fuel canister on the kitchen counter to warm to room temperature of approximately 70 F (21 C). Both the water and the fuel canister were at room temperature before the test.
The stove was easy to thread onto the canister and I didn't feel any problem with possible cross-threading. From force of habit I went looking for a lighter or matches before I remembered that the cool feature of this stove is the ignitor! That worked out perfectly because for some reason my lighter wasn't in my pot where it usually is. It's nice to know that I can forget my lighter and still have hot meals.
The ignitor worked with the push of a button on the first try. I then placed my 4.75 in (12 cm) diameter titanium pot filled with 16 oz (1/2 L) water on the supports and turned the flame up to maximum. In just 1.5 minutes there were bubbles forming and the water was hot enough for a hot drink. In 2 minutes it was at a low boil and in 2.5 minutes it was at a full boil. The water heated so quickly that I never even bothered to put a lid on it to help with the heating.
There was a little chemical aroma during and after the first burn and the stove color changed from nice bright silver to a light brown in the flame area. In the photo above the flame doesn't have a level appearance. I'm not sure that this is meaningful at all at this point but is just something that I noticed.
I'm anxious to get this stove out in the field and see how well it performs in the wind, whether it meets the advertised burn time per canister and how the cold weather affects the performance.
The Soto Amicus stove with stealth ignition is a lightweight compact canister stove which appears to be very well-made.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the Field Test period I used the SOTO Amicus stove on a four-day backpacking trip, six snowshoe day hikes and one four-wheel drive overnight camp. Temperatures ranged from 14 to 45 F (-10 to 7 C) with sunny to snowy conditions. Two fuel brands of isobutane canisters were used: Snow Peak gold and Primus. All testing was done with a 900 ml titanium pot.
Marble/Cottonwood Canyons, Death Valley National Park, California: 4 days, 21 mi (34 km); 2,120 to 3,500 ft (646 to 1,067 m) elevation; 15 to 45 F (-10 to 7 C). Clear with breezy conditions. Overgrown unmarked trail conditions with mostly sand and rocks. Used for heating water to make oatmeal, hot drinks, and dried dinner. Used Primus fuel canister.
4WD Car Camping:
El Paso Mountains, California: 2,850 ft (869 m) elevation; 14 to 41 F (-10 to 5 C); sunny and clear. Used for heating soup.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 3.5 mi (5.6 km); 6,327 to 6,478 (1,928 to 1,974 m); 32 F (0 C) with sun and a light breeze. Boiled water for hot drinks.
Sierra-at-Tahoe, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 mi (4.8 km); 7,200 to 7,370 ft (2,195 to 2,246 m); 30 to 34 F (-1 to 1 C) with overcast gray skies. Boiled water for hot drinks.
Ellicott Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 3 mi (4.8 km); 4,700 to 5,000 ft (1,433 to 1,524 m); 32 to 36 F (0 to 2 C) with light snow and gray skies. VERY wet with snow melting. Boiled water for hot drinks.
Van Vleck Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 5.0 mi (8.0 km); 6,327 to 6,500 (1,928 to 1,981 m); 28 to 30 F (-2 to -1 C) with partly sunny to stormy skies. Boiled water for hot drinks.
Donner Rim Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 3.5 mi (5.6 km); 6,414 to 7,111 ft (1,955 to 2,167 m); 30 F (-1 C) with light snow all day. Boiled water for hot drinks.
China Wall OHV Area, Sierra Nevada, California: 4.0 mi (6.4 km); 4,900 to 5,100 ft (1,494 to 1,554 m); 30 to 34 F (-1 to 1 C) with light to heavy snow all day. Boiled water for hot drinks.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
On the first snowshoe hike to Loon Lake I had a couple of nearly empty Snow Peak 220g canisters that I wanted to use up. I screwed the stove onto the first canister and proceeded to heat some water. It didn't last long and I realized that the canister was empty. The stove cooled quickly in the cold temperature so I didn't have to wait long to remove it from the canister. The second canister was able to heat the water more but the drink was still not hot enough so it took the third canister to finally get a hot drink. This long delay in getting hot water wasn't a problem with the stove at all. But this is one thing that I dislike about fuel canisters. I always seem to end up with a fraction in the bottom of several and on this day hike I had to carry three 220g canisters just to use them up. I also don't like having to figure out where and how to appropriately dispose of the empty canisters.
It took some getting used to for me to not bother looking for a lighter or matches when I was preparing to use the stove. It is just such a force of habit for me! My husband was even doing it. We had a conversation about whether we remembered a lighter but 'oh don't worry, I have matches' before we even remembered that the stove has an ignitor! And the ignitor has been a fantastic feature. It works flawlessly even in very cold temperatures and wind. There were only a few times the stove didn't light on the first click. When this happened, I opened the valve to let out some gas, closed the valve and then re-opened the valve and pressed the ignitor. This method never failed.
I used the stove with a windscreen just for efficiency but in light winds I just had it off to one side as a wind block. In stronger winds I tried to wrap the windscreen around most of the stove. The stove performed remarkably well in the wind. It seems that the design features like the raised ledge and concave burner surface actually work. They protect the flame from moving in the wind thereby maintaining more heat under the pot.
At first I carried the stove in its pouch inside my drinking mugs which nest inside my titanium pot and then changed to carrying it in a bandana instead of the pouch. I like having the stove wrapped in something to keep it from rattling around and to protect it. But the pouch only serves one purpose so I use a bandana which gives me a dish towel also. I usually put a heavy piece of aluminum (cut from an old windscreen) on top of the pot as my lid but sometimes the water was boiling so quickly that I didn't even bother.
I really like the way that the arms fold out and want to clip into place with a spring action. And the fuel control lever folds up nicely and almost snaps into place. My old stove has a fuel control lever that won't stay folded up and has to be in a slightly open position to even fit into its case. So every time I use it I have to remember to close the valve before I assemble it to the fuel canister. I love not having to do that with this stove!
I timed the stove for how long it took to heat 25 to 30 oz (0.74 to 0.89 L) of water to a nearly boiling state. Using Primus fuel, it varied from 4.5 minutes in the warmest temperature (48 F = 9 C) to closer to 10 minutes at the lowest temperature (24 F = -4 C). The longest boil time was also with water that was slushy from freezing overnight inside the tent. It was so cold that our 4L water supply froze solid outside the tent. With Snow Peak fuel, it varied from 8 to 12 minutes in temperatures generally around freezing. So far, I think the Primus fuel works better with this stove.
|Water froze overnight|
I was usually using the stove to boil water for hot drinks, oatmeal or freeze-dried meals although on the overnight camp trip, I used it to heat soup. The soup was already prepared, so I needed to simmer it. The stove did an excellent job at a very low simmer setting.
Lastly the durability of the stove has been very good. There have been several times while snowshoeing that the conditions have been very wet with heavy wet snow falling from the trees, water dripping and my pack being generally soaking wet. Likewise the stove has gotten very wet during use and stayed fairly wet in my pack for several hours before getting home. It doesn't show any signs of rust or other oxidation from the water.
Although I'm not a big fan of fuel canisters, I am very impressed with this stove. It is quick and easy to use, easy to store and performs very well in windy and cold conditions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the Long-Term Test period I used the SOTO Amicus stove on an overnight snowshoe backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada and a three-day backpacking trip and overnight car camp in Florida. Temperatures ranged from 30 to 74 F (-1 to 23 C) with sunny to snowy conditions. I only used Primus isobutane canisters as fuel during this test period. All testing was done with a 900 ml titanium pot.
Overall I've used this stove in temperatures ranging from 14 to 74 F (-10 to 23 C), elevations ranging from sea level to 7,370 ft (2,246 m) with some wind, light rain and snow.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days; 8 mi (13 km); 6,327 to 6,478 (1,928 to 1,974 m); 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C) with mostly sunny spring conditions turning to dark stormy conditions on the hike out. 6 to 8 ft (1.8 to 2.4 m) of snow depth. Boiled water for hot drinks, made soup and oatmeal.
Cayo Costa Island, Florida: 3 days, 13.4 mi (21.6 km); nearly sea level; 58 to 74 F (14 to 23 C). Partly cloudy with one huge thunderstorm. Usually light breezes with some high winds during the storm. Heated water to make hot drinks and dried dinner. No lid on pot.
Manatee Springs, Florida: 2 days; 32 ft (10 m) elevation; 50 to 65 F (10 to 18 C); mostly clear with some windy conditions. Heated water to make oatmeal, hot drinks, and dried dinner.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With a trip to Florida during this test period, I was able to get some testing done at much warmer temperatures. The stove boiled water MUCH more quickly in these conditions due to both the water and air temperatures being warm. The water boiled so quickly in Florida that I stopped using a lid on my pot. With a lid I was unable to monitor the water and ended up with a rolling boil before I knew it.
|Cayo Costa, FL|
On the snowshoe backpacking trip, I made egg flower soup for dinner. To do this I heated the water for 4 minutes at which time it was beginning to form bubbles on the pot bottom. Then I added the soup consisting of ramen noodles (no spice packet) and soup mix. I was able to turn the flame down enough for a nice low simmer. Then I mixed water into my powdered eggs and squeezed it from a plastic bag into the soup. The ability to low simmer was key to being able to do this with only two hands. With other stoves, I'd need help from my husband to hold the pot up away from the flame.
On this snow trip at higher elevations, the time to get water hot enough for drinks and oatmeal was from 7 to 11 minutes using water around 38 F (3 C) in air temperatures around the same. This was similar to my experience in the Field Report but again it seems that the Primus fuel works slightly better than the Snow Peak brand with this stove. I didn't use Snow Peak fuel during this test period for just this reason.
I found myself not bothering with the windscreen unless the wind was fairly brisk. Otherwise in light breezes the flame just didn't seem to be affected. I'm really impressed with how the shape of the burner protects the flame.
I continued to pack the stove in a cloth or bandana inside a coffee cup inside my pot. This kept it from banging around while providing a dish cloth in camp. The stove has performed impeccably with no failure to ignite although in colder conditions I used the recommended method of releasing a bit of fuel, closing the valve and then re-opening the valve and igniting. This worked well every time. The condition of the stove is very good with no signs of wear or damage. The heat has discolored the burner and there is some oxidation/rust on the pot supports and edge of the burner.
I haven't used a canister stove for many years after being hooked on alcohol stoves, but this stove has me back on the edge between deciding which I like better. I don't like the hassle of disposing of fuel canisters and always having fractions of fuel canisters left. But this stove performs wonderfully. I'll likely continue to carry my alcohol stove on long backpacking trips so that I can carry exactly the amount of fuel that I need. But on shorter trips I'll opt for the SOTO for its much faster boil times, the ability to simmer and resistance to wind. Canister stoves are also a must at times in California due to alcohol stoves being banned during late-season dry periods.
The Soto Amicus stove with stealth ignition is a lightweight compact canister stove which has the convenience of an ignitor and functions well in the wind. Overall I'm so impressed with this stove that I'm back to being a canister stove user at least part-time.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
Compact - arms and fuel control fold nicely and 'snap' into place
Works well in the wind
Ability to low simmer
None other than those associated with fuel canisters
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to SOTO Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.
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