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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Soto OD-1R Micro Regulator Stove > Test Report by Mike Curry

SOTO OD-1R STOVE
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - March 24, 2010
FIELD REPORT - June 01, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 04, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Curry
EMAIL: thefishguyAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 40
LOCATION: Aberdeen, Washington
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: SOTO Outdoors
IMAGE 1
SOTO OD-1R

Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.sotooutdoors.com
MSRP: None Listed
Listed Weight: 2.6 oz (73 g)
Measured Weight:
Stove: 2.5 oz (71 g)
Stove in stuff sack: 3.1 oz (88 g)
Stuff Sack: 0.6 (17 g)
Other details (from manufacturer's website):

OUTPUT: 2800 kcal/h 3260 W 11000 BTU
Duration: Burns approx. 1.5 hours with 250 g canister.
Dimension when in use: 9.6 cm x 9.4 cm x 8.6 cm (3.8 x 3.7 x 3.4 in.)
Dimensions when stowed: 5.2 cm x 5.2 cm x 8.1 cm (2.0 x 2.0 x 3.2 in)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The SOTO OD-1R stove arrived in its retail packaging (a small box), which included a fold-out flap on the back of the box that provided information about the stove's features and components.

Inside the box were the stove, a stuff-sack, and the instruction manual. My initial impression of the stove was that it appeared very well designed, and intuitive in terms of setup. I didn't need to look at the instructions to figure out how to extend the pot supports (which are clearly marked with "slide" and arrows to indicate how they work). Folding out the gas control "knob" (really a loop of wire) was likewise intuitive. The red pushbutton near the base of the stove appeared, to me to be the igniter, which a quick push quickly confirmed.

MATERIALS

The stove uses a variety of materials. The lower half of the stove appears to be an aluminum-type material, whereas the upper half is a shinier metal. The pot supports appear to be made of yet another material, and the burner head is a black metal with a silver screen-type material underneath. The adjustment knob body (with the exception of the wire loop I turn to control fuel flow) appears to be made of brass, and the igniter assembly is made of several different types of metal and plastic. The threaded base, which attaches to the fuel canister, appears to be made of brass, and has two black o-rings . . . one inside above the threads to seal against the top of the fuel cylinder stem, and one around the outside edge to seal against the raised rim of the fuel cylinder. The stuff sack is made of a relatively heavy Cordura-type material, with a lighter weight material near the drawstring with toggle. All materials appear well suited for their purpose from what I can see.

IMAGE 2
SOTO as received
CONSTRUCTION

The stove seems very well constructed. All components feel very sturdy, and my overall impression of the stove's construction is that it seems remarkably stout for such a light stove. I also find that all the moving parts operate smoothly, and it appears to be of very high quality construction.

FEATURES

The pot supports are extended by swinging them up and out, then sliding them toward the stove body to lock them into place. When returned to the lower position by reversing the process, they lock into the lower position so long as the stove remains upright, making it easy to slide the stove into the none-too-large stuff sack.

The fuel supply valve operates very smoothly with very little pressure, and the wire handle extends and retracts easily simply by flipping it in the direction I want it to go. More importantly, once extended, it remains in place, having enough spring to keep it secure without it being difficult to return.

The igniter is operated by pressing the red button near the base of the stove in until it clicks, approximately 0.25 in (6 mm). A blue electrical arc is produced between the electrode in the center of the burner and the black metal burner head. It has functioned reliably and consistently so far.

The micro-regulator is a component that can't be seen, but appears to be housed in the lower portion of the stove body at the end of the control valve. The manufacturer describes it as being designed to allow the stove to maintain a consistent output and improve cold-weather performance.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instruction manual contains mostly warnings about how serious injury or death may occur if I do stupid things with the stove. Many are standard warnings . . . don't leave fuel canisters in the sun, don't invert the stove while burning or lighting, how to attach and remove fuel canisters, etc..

The one exception to the "standard" isobutane stove instructions that is apparent relates to igniting the stove. Due to the presence of the microregulator, instead of cracking the fuel supply valve open slightly, it is necessary to turn the valve up to 1 1/2 turns to ignite.

The instructions are clear, easy to understand, and comprehensive.
IMAGE 3
SOTO on 4 oz (113 g) fuel canister

TRYING IT OUT

I must admit, the first thing I did upon opening the box was not examine the stove or read the instructions, but rather shove the red igniter button in several times and watch it spark. The bright red button just called out to me, and as I tend not to trust these types of igniters, I wanted to see how strong the spark seemed. I was very, very impressed.

After looking the stove over, I attached it to a 4 fl oz (113 g) fuel canister. After extending the pot holders and wire fuel control "knob", I was ready to give it a try. Following the instructions, I turned the valve open 1 1/2 turns (I could hear fuel just past 1 turn) and pressed the igniter. Poof! I made fire! The stove fired up flawlessly with an impressive blue flame.

Adjusting the fuel supply, I was able to generate a brilliant blue flame that rose about 1 ft (30 cm) above the burner head, and dialed it down to a flicker not much larger than a candle flame. Adjusting the flame anywhere in between was easy to do.

Next I grabbed a 1.3 L (44 fl oz) titanium pot, and put 1 liter of cold tap water in it. I set the stove up in an exposed location, with a breeze of about 5-10 mph (8-16 kph). The ambient temperature was 50 F (10 C). Turning the fuel up all the way and leaving the pot uncovered I was able to bring the water to a rolling boil in 5 minutes flat. I was pretty happy given the wind and uncovered pot.

In the breeze, I found it challenging to maintain a candle-level flame, however I was able to reduce the flame to not much more than that and have it hold. It provided enough heat to keep the water "just warm." I was very, very pleased with the initial performance and heat control.

SUMMARY

My initial assessment of the SOTO OD-1R stove is all positive. It appears well-designed, has performed well in initial tests, and has operated reliably. It appears to be very well made, and engineered for high performance.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 3
OD-1R just fired up
I have tested the SOTO OD-1R stove for a total of 5 nights backpacking during field testing. Two nights were on the coast strip of Olympic national park, and three nights were in the southern Olympic mountains within Olympic National Forest. Weather conditions were rainy on all but one night, and temperatures have been unusually mild, with overnight lows around 48 F (9 C) and daytime highs around 58 F (14 C). Winds have varied, with the strongest winds encountered being around a steady 20 mph (32 kph). Elevations have ranged from sea level to 1,500 ft (457 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

SERVICEABILITY/EASE OF USE:

Overall, the OD-1R stove has proven to be a quite serviceable little stove. I have used a variety of pots on it ranging in base diameter from 3.75-7 in (10- 18 cm) and have found all to be reasonably stable (the smaller pots need to be well centered, obviously, but I haven't had any problems using reasonable caution). Setting up the stove is quite simple . . . spin on the fuel canister, flip up the pot supports, and flip out the fuel control handle and I'm ready to go.

The ignition system on this stove has really impressed me. I've gotten into the habit of listening for fuel flow rather than counting turns when opening the fuel valve. Once I hear fuel flowing, I click the igniter, and it fires right up. Every time. I have never had to push it twice. I wish every pushbutton igniter was as crisp and reliable as this one. It is remarkably convenient (compared to using matches or a lighter), though I still carry both matches and a lighter as backups. I have lit the stove with a torch lighter just to try it out, and didn't encounter any problems.
IMAGE 4
Minutes later at a rolling boil


One other item of note is that the OD-1R cools down rather quickly when turned off. This is important to me, as in the morning I tend to break camp quickly, have a cup of coffee, and want to head right out. I've never managed to finish

COOKING:

Cooking over the OD-1R has been a real treat, especially since I'm usually a "boil water" kind of guy when backpacking given I usually use a homemade side-jet pop-can alcohol stove. Testing this stove has encouraged me to branch my menu out a bit, and include a number of "bring to a boil, then simmer" meals to my repertoire. With my kids this summer I'm going to expand the culinary treat options even further.

Most of my cooking has been done either over full heat (boiling) or at a simmer. This stove does both very well, and I will comment on that more below under heat output. Suffice it to say it boils water well when that's what I need it to do, and it simmers well when that's what I'm looking for.

HEAT OUTPUT:

Under ideal conditions, the OD-1R stove really cranks out the heat. Not only is the heat output great (I can boil 1 liter of water in about 5 minutes fairly consistently) but the heat is remarkably even . . . when the pot begins to form bubbles on the bottom, they are distributed very evenly across the bottom of the pot (no hot spots). The only factor that seems to really limit this is wind speed. When completely exposed to the wind with no sheltering (on a beach), a relatively light wind (about 15 mph/24 kph) has actually prevented the stove from achieving a full boil (I quit trying at 12 minutes, where it was almost to a simmer at full heat). Even partial sheltering, however, makes a tremendous difference and generally allows full boils in the 5-8 minute range, depending on how well sheltered the stove is. With my smaller base diameter pots I did find myself turning the head down well below "high" to keep the flame from wrapping too far up the sides of the pot. Boiling time did not seem to be adversely impacted, and the OD-1R was certainly faster to boil with these pots than my alcohol stove.
IMAGE 1
Very even heat when calm


One of the great features of this stove is its ability to maintain a simmer. I have simmered water for over 15 minutes without having to adjust the fuel flow at all (there was no wind at all). It took some practice to develop the touch to get the fuel setting where it was where I want it (it seems that at simmer levels the fuel adjustment is fairly touchy) but once its there, it seems to stay put. Once I got the knack, it seems quite easy for me now.

FUEL EFFICIENCY:

Due to a mix up in fuel canisters, I can't provide an objective "an xxx gram fuel canister lasted me xx minutes of burn time," though I'm not certain how useful that would be, anyway, since I have found myself simmering a lot of things. I will say that it doesn't appear to use more fuel than other stoves I've used, and even seems to use a little less, especially when I'm just boiling water and am using the stove in a wind-sheltered location.

SUMMARY

IMAGE 2
Still pretty even heat when breezy
Overall, the SOTO OD-1R Stove has been a great performer. It boils quickly, holds a simmer nicely, and is very easy to set up and use. An old alcohol stove guy like me could really get used to this whole simmering thing if I'm not careful! So far I have found many things I love about the stove, and nothing that I can really say I don't like. I look forward to it seeing much more use during long-term testing, as well as the opportunity to test in under much colder conditions and at higher altitudes.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Long term testing has included 7 days/6 nights of use in the Olympic Mountains and the Olympic National Park coastal strip of Washington State. Elevations have ranged from sea level to approximately 5,000 ft (1,500 m). Temperatures ranged from 40 F to 80 F (4 C to 27 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The SOTO OD-1R stove has continued to perform wonderfully during long-term testing. Long term testing has afforded me the opportunity to test the stove at colder temperatures and higher elevations than encountered during initial field testing.

What has continued to make the SOTO OD-1R stove such a top performer has been its consistency. Within the ranges I was able to test, the stove seemed unaffected by temperature or elevation. It boils quickly, sips fuel, and is able to simmer well. All this has continued through long-term testing.

I did track the usage of an 8 oz (227 g) 80/20 isobutane/propane fuel canister on an extended trip and roughly tracked its time of use. I used the stove to boil water for coffee, boil and eat meals, and meals that needed to be simmered for up to 10 minutes each for a party of 3. After 3 days, the canister finally died, but not until after firing the stove for well over an hour of total burn time, only about 30-40 minutes of which was simmering. While this isn't in any way scientific (the stove was operated at a variety of settings) it exceeded my hopes regarding fuel use.

The only negative thing I have to report is that my non-stick titanium pot has a 1 in (2.5 cm) scorch mark in the center of it from the stove. I believe this occurred while simmering a meal, and while I don't blame the stove for it happening (most scorching I've had has been my own fault) I was surprised that it was so clearly isolated in a single location, leading me to believe the heating may not be quite as even as I'd thought.

SUMMARY

The SOTO OD-1R stove is a great performer, providing consistent heating across a wide range of temperatures and elevations. It seems very fuel-efficient and offers good temperature control. While an isolated scorch mark on my pot leads me to believe heating may not be perfectly even, it is even enough that I didn't notice a performance issue while actually cooking.

Overall, it's one of the very nicest canister fuel stoves I've ever used, especially given its compact size and light weight.

CONTINUED USE

The SOTO OD-1R stove has definitely earned a spot in my preferred gear stash. For general three season use it is the first stove I will reach for when backpacking with my family or when cooking for others. While the light weight of my pop can alcohol stove will win out for most solo trips, and the cold weather performance of my white gas stove will likely win out for cold winter trips, the Soto OD-1R is what I am most likely to grab for everything in between.

I would like to thank SOTO Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the OD-1R stove. This concludes my report.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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