SOTO OUTDOORS STORM BREAKER STOVE COMBO
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
INITIAL REPORT - May 13, 2019
FIELD REPORT - July 15, 2019
LONG TERM REPORT - September 07, 2019
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: SOTO Outdoor
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: www.sotooutdoors.com
Made in Japan
MSRP: US $179.95
The StormBreaker Stove Combo is a dual-fuel (gas - butane/propane and liquid - white gasoline) one nozzle/jet stove. It is designed to easily change from one fuel to the other. The stove design includes a concave burner head with over 300 individual opens with efficient and quiet combustion.
Total: 15.8 oz (448 g) - main body, gas valve and pump
Stove Body: 7.9 oz (225 g)
Gas Valve: 1.9 oz (53 g)
Pump: 6 oz (170 g)
Listed weights confirmed with digital home scale to within 1 g (0.04 oz)
I also weighed the following items.
Liquid Fuel Bottle: 7 oz (191 g) *empty*
Carry Case, Heat Shield and Repair Tools: 2 oz (64 g)
Stove Body: 6 x 5.2 x 3.5 in (150 x 130 x 90 mm) - in use / 2.6 x 2.6 x 3.5 in (65 x 65 x 90 mm) - stowed
Pot Support Outside Diameter: 6.8 in (170 mm)
The listed dimensions are also confirmed by my measurements.
Heat Output - 3.5 kW 3,000 kcal/h, 11780 BTU *
Approximately 1.6 hours use with 480 ml (16 fl oz) white gasoline
Approximately 0.8 hours use with 250 g (8.8 oz) SOTO gas canister**
*calculated from burning data for 5 minutes from ignition in ambient temperature of 25 C (77 F)
**calculated from burning data of 30 minutes from ignition in ambient temperature of 25 C (77 F)
My scale and ruler are not equipped to make the measurements listed above. The closest I will get is measuring the amount of time it takes to boils water (read on).
StormBreaker Package Includes:
- StormBreaker Stove with Hose
- Smart Pump
- Heat Reflective Sheet
- Maintenance Kit
- Carry Case
- Liquid Fuel Bottle 700 ml (23.7 fl oz)
Superior wind resistance
- Optimal distance between the pot and the burner head.
- Concave burner head guards flame from the wind.
- Built-in windscreen
- Downward facing air intake gives uninterrupted supply of air for improved combustion.
- No need to remove jet for cleaning.
- Remove the screw cover and clean the mesh filter with brush.
- Generator unit constructed of only three parts requiring minimal replacement parts if needed.
- Switching the fuel from gas to liquid is a breeze.
- One jet for either liquid or gas fuel.
Canister liquid fuel
- Inverted gas canister for colder temperatures.
- Generator heated gas does not depend on canister pressure for constant output.
The SOTO StormBreaker Combo arrived neatly packed in a small box with a 700 ml (23.7 fl oz) fuel bottle inside a plastic display sleeve. Removing the plastic sleeve from its shipping box revealed a SOTO product catalog and stickers. The catalog provides information about SOTO, their products and related features. I had not seen their full line before. They have some very neat and intriguing items. I think the Stormbreaker is one of them.
Opening the box containing the StormBreaker stove I also found the Smart Pump or fuel pump, Stabilizer or gas valve, heat shield, repair kit, carrying bag and instructions. Here's a quick run down and brief description of each piece.
The heat shield is a thin piece of aluminum that unfolds to a round 8.5 in (21.5 cm) to place under the stove while in use.
The carrying bag is made of black nylon with a piece of nylon dividing the bag in two inside and a small inner zip pocket (perfect size for repair kit). The bag closes with a drawstring and plastic sliding push lock.
The repair kit includes an extra o-ring, two small wrenches, needle cleaner, extra fuel filter and silicone grease.
The gas valve has two hinged legs that swing out to support gas canister when inverted. The connector to the fuel hose is a slick little quick connect, push the brass fitting to connect or disconnect and release. The control to turn the gas on and off is a sturdy and easy to grasp loop of wire.
The fuel pump sure looks smart. It's solid and robust with very little plastic. It also connects to the fuel hose with a quick connect and has a small rubber stopper inserted to protect the fitting. The pump has an easy to hold ergonomic feel between my thumb and first and second fingers. There is also an indicator that pops out when the fuel bottle has reached the proper pressure. There is a five setting control dial for managing the stove, Start for lighting the stove, Run with a range of flame control, Air for running fuel out of the hose and extinguishing the flame, Stop for stopping flow from the fuel bottle and lastly Lock for enabling and disabling the Smart Pump.
The stove itself is compact and sleek. The three legs swing out and then lock in place smoothly. A gentle push up on the leg allows it to swing back to its stowing position. The fuel hose is quite flexible and feels like braided steel. At the end it has a removable plastic cap to protect the insertion tip. It looks simple but purposeful. It feels solid and sturdy.
All parts and components of the StormBreaker Combo are impressive. It all feels and looks well designed and made. All parts move with precision and click into place. I am most wowed by the Smart Pump. I usually use a simple cat food can alcohol stove which is low tech and low effort. But when with a group or winter camping I use a white gas stove. About half the time I fuss with either the fuel pump, priming or removing the pump from the fuel bottle. The StormBreakers quick connect for the fuel hose, the pressure indicator and control dial seem like game changers for me. While the added features and ruggedness means added weight to the stove the benefit of function and ease of use are well worth it.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are rather intense. But a little more than a quarter of that is safety regarding flammable, combustible fuels. Almost another quarter is care and maintenance. Cleaning is suggested after 20 hours of use for gas and after 10 L (10.5 qt) for gasoline. I read through all of it once and it was clear and understandable with good illustrations and concise wording. Then just before using the stove the first time I reviewed the sequence of steps for using the Smart Pump. I had no problems getting the stove to work properly. I did not bother going through the steps of cleaning. At most it involves removing three nuts, cleaning carbon build up with brush and cleaning needle, inspecting o-rings, applying grease and replacing the nuts.
TRYING IT OUT
I had liquid fuel at the home but did not have a chance to get any gas fuel. So I filled the fuel bottle per the instructions which was quite easy to pour fuel into the 1.25 in (3 cm) wide mouth fuel bottle. I do feel it is worth mentioning a warning from the instructions. Do not fill the fuel bottle above the line indicated on the side of the bottle. While I understand this is necessary to pressurize the fuel bottle it is hard to visualize. A line inside the bottle as well would be extremely helpful. Additionally of the 700 ml (23.7 fl oz) volume of the bottle this allows for a maximum carry of 480 ml (16.2 fl oz) of fuel.
From first use I like the Stormbreaker. After pumping the bottle till the pressure indicator popped up and turning the control dial to start I struck my lighter and there was flame. There is no priming! I waited till the red flame turned blue, about 30 seconds and turned the control dial to run. I was ready to boil water.
I used two pots of different diameter and material, a 6 in (15 cm) aluminum and a 5 in (13 cm) titanium. I filled both with 600 ml (20 fl oz) of tap water. The outside temperature was 50 F (10 C). Both fit nicely on the StormBreaker. They were balanced and held in place without sliding around. The flame covered the bottom of the pots well with the 5 in (13cm) diameter pot having the slightest flame over the sides. Full rolling boiling for both runs was 3 minutes. There was no wind so I blew as hard as I could at the flame. It moved around under the pot but never stopped making contact with it.
After removing the pot I turned the control dial to Air. The fire went out after about 30 seconds and the stove made a hissing noise. I then turned the dial to Stop and push down on the dial with a click to Lock it. Turning the dial to air allowed the pressure to be released from the fuel bottle. Then a push of the quick connect and the fuel hose easily pulls out. The Smart pump can now be removed from the fuel bottle.
From start to finish this stove is really well done. Pressurizing the bottle is smooth and fluid the indicator takes the counting and guessing out. There's no priming or soot. The control is easy to turn and clicks in each position. The fuel can be easily run out of the hose and the pressure from the bottle. There's no spitting or dripping of fuel. The wide mouth fuel bottle is so easy to pour into so no spills there.
I am really liking the StormBreaker already. It is built solid and looks sleek. Best of all though it is so easy to use. This was the smoothest white gas stove operation I have experienced. The Smart Pump removes all the hassles I've had with white gas in the past. The StormBreaker burns hot, clean and quiet. The stove combo is heavier than other stove set ups I have used. But the ease of use and confidence of robust components is worth it when it matters in the woods. The one and only ding I can put to the StormBreaker at this point which is nitpicky is the lack of a fill line inside the fuel bottle. While I did not have gas fuel at the time of writing I am eager to try the stove in canister mode.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Two day, one night backpack
Mount Waumbek and Cabot Traverse - Jefferson, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 28 mi (45 km) from 1700 to 4167 ft (520 to 1270 m)
Pack Weight - 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 77 to 55 F (25 to 13 C) breezy drizzle to clear and calm
Three day, two night backpack
Chimney Pond and Katahdin - Baxter State Park, Maine
Distance and Elevation - 14 mi (22.5 km) from 1500 to 5267 (460 to 1600 m)
Pack Weight - 35 to 25 lb (16 to 11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 80 to 50 F (27 to 10 C) clear and sunny to hot and humid to thunderstorm with hail
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My Mount Waumbek and Cabot trip was a solo endeavor to hike two more of New Hampshire's 4000 ft (1220 m) summits. I have fourteen more to go of the forty eight. Most people will drive to each trailhead and hike the roughly 8 mi (12 km) roundtrip for each mountain. I opted to make it more fun and connect the two with a 14 mi (22.5 km) transverse between the two. The trail between sees little traffic and I saw no one on this segment while travel out or back.
I packed the isobutane gas canisters for this trip. After a long damp, gloomy day of seeing just three other hikers I found a nice camp spot off the trail. I was super hungry and very happy with how quick the Storm Breaker set up and boiled water for my evening meal. Just three quick connections of the fuel line to the stove and gas regulator/stabilizer, then twisting on the fuel canisters and I was ready to spark a flame. It was damp but calm and the stove performed flawlessly. In the morning it was pretty chilly outside of my sleeping bag. Wanting to maximize my cozy time in my bag I cleared a spot outside my tent and set up the stove. I boiled water for oatmeal and coffee in a matter of minutes and had breakfast in bed. The Storm Breaker cools down relatively fast and was ready to pack away by the time I was finished eating. Disassembling the stove is just as quick and easy as setting it up. It does not leak or spray fuel nor leave soot residues.
The Baxter State hike was a family affair. Katahdin is kinda iconic in northern New England. It's the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest summit in Maine. For me it's the remoteness of the park and the classic glacial cirque of the northeast side of the mountain. I have wanted to visit this area for several years. We were not disappointed; Chimney Pond is a amazing and special place. We all sat at the pond for long periods of time taking in the view, watching the light and color change on the mountain and taking pictures. We hiked in and stayed two nights as we factored in a bad weather day. I did not want to be rained out and off of the summit. This proved very prudent as thunderstorms were forecast for day two. And it delivered with lightning, thunder and hail just as we scurried back to our lean-to shelter. Day three dawned beautiful and clear and we had an amazing day on Katahdin. We all felt so good we even hiked out via the Knife Edge Trail which involved totally exposed ridge line for a full mile with some rock climbing mixed in.
We packed the white gas liquid fuel for this trip as we had four meal times four to cook. I reasoned the white gas might pack a bigger punch. Our first night it was warm but windy as we boiled up at the shelter. The first morning was chilly with a light breeze. The second night the bugs (black flies specifically) were ferocious so we retreated to an unoccupied cabin. The last morning was almost cold as we cooked breakfast. Set up and break down of the Storm Breaker using liquid fuel is a little more involved than gas canister fuel set up. By no means is if difficult though and boil times were really fast. I was making water almost faster than the "kitchen crew" could prep the meals. The one windy evening did push the flame around a bit but never enough to disrupt its contact with the pot. I had one mishap with the stove. I forgot to switch the dial on the pump to "air" before extinguishing the flame. There was no apparent problem doing this until starting the stove the next time. It seems some fuel remained in the fuel hose as the stove produced a very tall flame. I was very glad I cleared our cook area before lighting the stove. After correctly turning the dial to "air" this flaming issue resolved and the stove functioned properly again. Additionally I like that the "air" setting allows the fuel bottle to depressurize. This prevents fuel from being sprayed when removing the fuel pump from the bottle.
The SOTO Storm Breaker Stove has served me well thus far. I enjoy ease of use and efficiency of gas canister for solo camping. The option of using the same stove for group cooking with liquid fuel is a bonus. It is simple to set up, use, break down and pack away. After years of using a cat food can alcohol stove for solo hiking or a white gas stove in the winter with only prime, on and off the Storm Breaker is a step or two more complex. However after one minor flare up I quickly learned and appreciate the added features/functions of this stove. The Storm Breaker is a solid stove. It is robust and performed strong during this phase of testing. I am excited to continue this series and bringing it along on my next backpack.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Three day, two night backpack
Mounts Wildcats, Carters and Moriah Traverse - Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 22 mi (35 km) from 780 to 4830 ft (238 to 1472 m)
Pack Weight - 25 lb (11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C) Clear and calm to raining and windy
Three day, two night backpack
Mounts Jackson, Pierce and Hale - Crawford Notch, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 18 mi (29 km) from 1900 to 4310 ft (579 to 1314 m)
Pack Weight - 25 lb (11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 38 to 70 F (3 to 21 C) Clear and sunny
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Storm Breaker stove accompanied me on two more backpacks during Long-Term testing. The first one was a solo trip so I packed the propane canisters. The stove worked quickly and effortlessly. Each time it fired right up and boiled all the water needed for all my meals. On the second night it rained on and off while making up camp and cooking. I cooked under the protection of a tarp but the Storm Breaker still had to contend with the strong winds blowing through. The flame on the Storm Breaker was buffeted a few times but never blown from the surface of the pot. It still performed very well in the wind with no noticeable increase in boil time.
The second trip was the family and I for a total of four hikers. We stayed at two different AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) huts which provide dinner and breakfast so our cooking was greatly reduced. Continuing with this luxury backpacking we opted for lunches of warm soup and sandwiches with hot tea. I fired up the Storm Breaker using liquid white gas fuel. The extended break was very refreshing and warm lunch an enjoyable change from our usual snack bars and trail mix. The stove again rapidly boiled water for all with ease. I really like the dial on the Smart Pump, with the various settings I almost feel like I am using my kitchen stove. However the alfresco setting provides an addition level of charm.
The Storm Breaker stove performed flawlessly throughout the test series. I am pleased with the convenience of the dual fuel use and ease of switching between the two. I am impressed with all components, features and function of the stove. The gas canister Stabilizer with built in gas valve makes using propane gas fuel extremely simple and quick. The Smart Pump greatly reduces the quirks of using liquid white gas fuel. I didn't experience any fuel spray when removing the pump from the fuel bottle. I didn't have any flare ups when igniting the fuel and there was lightest amount of soot after use.
After all use during testing I used 12 oz (350 ml) of liquid white gas fuel and approximately half of an 8 oz (227 g) propane. The propane gas fuel configuration is definitely faster to set up and easier to use but for group cooking I think the liquid fuel packs a bigger punch. I really like that the Storm Breaker can serve two purposes.
The SOTO Storm Breaker stove has proved itself to be an excellent stove. It performed great in all settings under all conditions encountered. I like the convenience of easily switching from solo to group cooking in one stove. Additionally I am very eager to use the Storm Breaker in cold winter conditions. At the end of testing the stove works as well as it did on day one. All parts and components remain in good condition without any signs of wear. While I am still undecided if the Storm Breaker will replace my Super Cat alcohol stove for solo backpacking it will definitely be on all my group trips. I also have a strong suspicion I will be carrying it on my winter hikes too. In closing the Storm Breaker is a great stove. It is well designed and made for easy use and supplied boiling water fast every time I fired it up.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. I would like to extend my appreciation to SOTO Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for making it possible.
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