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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > SOTO Outdoors Storm Breaker Stove Combo > Test Report by joe schaffer


SOTO Storm Breaker Stove Combo


Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - May 8, 2019
FIELD REPORT - July 6, 2019
REVIEWER INFORMATION:
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 71
GENDER: Male
HOME: Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.


all parts
INITIAL REPORT

Product: Storm Breaker Stove Combo

Manufacturer:  SOTO USA, Inc.

    Website: https://www.sotooutdoors.com
    Features and claims from package & website:
        Wind resistance
        Easy-care jet
        Dual-purpose jet
        Canister fuel
        Liquid fuel
        No pre-heating or priming
        Inverted or upright canister
       
Package includes: Stove, hose, pump, stabilizer, heat reflective sheet, maintenance kit, carry bag, fuel bottle and instructions.

Dimensions / 150 x 130 x 90 mm / 6.0 x 5.2 x 3.5 in (When in use, the main body)
65 x 65 x 90 mm / 2.6 x 2.6 x 3.5 in
(when stowed, the main body)
Pot Support Outside Diameter /
170 mm / 6.8 in
Weight / 225 g / 7.9 oz
(body only)
Total weight:
448 g / 15.8 oz
(main body
225 g / 7.9 oz + gas valve 53 g / 1.9 oz + pump 170 g / 6.0 oz)
Heat output
* 1 / 3.5 kW 3,000 kcal / h 11,780 BTU
Liquid Fuel / Use exclusively with the SOTO Wide-Mouth fuel bottle white gasoline
Usage time
* 2 / approx. 0.8 hours (when using one SOTO 250g gas canister)
approx.
1.6 hours when used with 480ml white gasoline.
Accessories / exclusive storage pouch, heat shield base plate, maintenance kit
* 1 Calculated for 5 minutes from ignition in ambient temperature of 25 ℃ (77 F)
* 2 Calculated for 30 minutes from ignition in ambient temperature of 25 ℃ (77 F)

720ml Fuel Bottle Specifications: (Purchase separately for
US$20.95)
Volume:
720 ml (24.3 fl oz; filled to the fill line of bottle)
Volume:
1000 ml (34 oz)  (total volume of the bottle)
Weight: (including the cap)
178 g (6.3 oz)
Height: (including the cap)
290 mm (11.4 in)
Diameter of the mouth:
34 mm (1.34 in)
Diameter of the bottle:
74 mm (2.91 in)
480 ml (16 oz) bottle also available separately for US$18.95

Returns: 30 days.

Country of origin: Japan

MSRP: US $179.95 (As of 5/6/2019, website indicates bonus 480 ml (16 oz) with first 1,000 units)

My Specs: 

        Weight: Stove = 7 7/8 oz (225 g) + Pump = 6 oz (170 g) = total combined weight of 13 7/8 oz (393 g); or
                     Stove = 7 7/8 oz (225 g) +
Smart Pump Connection = 2 oz (56 g) = total combined weight of 9 7/8 oz (280 g)
                     Wind screen = 3/8 oz (10 g); Maintenance kit = 1 oz (27 g); Bag = 7/8 oz (26 g); = 2 1/4 oz (63 g)
                     23.7 fl oz (700 ml) Bottle (use-capacity 16.2 oz (480 ml) = 6 1/2 oz (185 g)
       Measures:
                   Fuel line = about 11 in (28 cm) Pump = about 6 1/2 x 3 in (16 x 7 cm) Smart Connection = about 4 x 1 1/2 in (10 x 4 cm)
                   Stove, smallest = about 2 1/2 x 4 in (6 x 10 cm)
                   Stove, in use Height: 3 5/8 in (9.2)  Width = about 5 1/8 in (13 cm) 
                   Pot Support Diameter = about 6 1/4 in (16 cm) Pot Support metal rod = about 1/8 in (3 mm)
                   Burner Head Diameter = about 2  5/16 in (6 cm)

Received: May 4, 2019

My Description:
    This primerless-ignition stove can burn either white gas or cansiter fuel without changing the jet, or making any modifications other than connecting the fuel source in the appropriate port. The technology to do this comes from a separate adapter piece (pump connection). This piece has a port to screw in a canister; and a slide ring to connect the fuel line.

    The canister must be inverted about 5 seconds after lighting the stove. Supports for stabilizing the inverted can are rather cleverly engineered into the adaptor. A fixed-in-place black plastic arm extends from the adaptor just below the fuel line port. A metal arm 'nests' against each side, and these swivel out and away to provide a three-point support. The adaptor also contains the flame control valve, operated by a wire loop that folds in and out.

    The burner head is a cup about 5/16 in (8 mm) deep, the slightly concaved bottom of which is perforated almost to being a coarse screen. A generator tube about 3/16 in (4 mm) outside diameter extends up inside one side of the cup, over the burner head and down inside the other side of the cup. There is no primer cup as the stove is designed to light without priming.
   
    The pump features a round, knurled control knob (dial) about the diameter of a US quarter (23 mm), 1/4 in (6 mm) thick. Markings on the face of the knob provide a clear indication of where to set the control for starting, running, stopping and for air. Pushing in at the stop position locks the dial. Pulling the dial outward from the pump unlocks the dial so it can be turned. A red mark is to appear on the pressure indicator when the fuel bottle is adequately pressurized. Both pump tubes have a filter which is replaceable and directions say may at some point need to be. With the fuel bottle in use the short air tube is positioned above the fuel level; and the longer fuel pickup line aims to the bottom of the fuel level. Pump arm travel is about 3 1/2 in (9 cm). Liquid fuel inlet port has a removable plastic plug attached to the pump. The pump appears to be user-serviceable. A steel support loop attached to the pump helps maintain the fuel bottle in the proper position, i.e., level and control knob facing up.

    Three pot supports rotate out and 'snap' into place. Each support is a single piece of steel rod with a single point of attachment at the stove base. From the base, the support extends straight down about 3/4 in (2 cm); then outward at about a 45 degree angle for 1 3/8 in (3.5 cm); then runs perpendicular to the ground for 1 3/8 in (3.5 cm), which is the ground contact point; straight up for 3 1/2 in (9 cm); and finally bends at a tight right angle to provide a 1 3/4 in (4.5 cm) level pot support aimed inward. To rotate supports back around the stove body, they must be pushed up slightly.
   
Impressions:  
    This stove appears and feels like it is built to industrial specifications. It offers so many interesting features I felt compelled to read directions in order to discover and engage them.

    My lightest canister-only stoves are over a quarter-pound lighter than the SOTO burner and adaptor, but being able to choose either canister or white gas can be a handy feature, especially being so simple to connect one or the other. Not so wonderful is the separate piece (adapter) required. Most (if not all) of the time I'd leave home knowing which kind of fuel will be taken on the trip, and probably rarely if ever both. On liquid fuel trips it won't be necessary to carry the adaptor; but on canister fuel trips I'll have to remember it and find it. Of course when using canister fuel it is then not necessary to carry the pump or fuel bottle. I'd like to see some kind of protective covers for the canister fuel port and the fuel line port on the adaptor when not in use. The plastic tip cover for the end of the fuel hose makes great sense. News to me is that the canister is to be used in the upright position only to ignite and extinguish the flame; inverted while stove is in use. (I thought canisters were to be inverted only for cold temperature/high altitude operation; and left in that position.) Vendor specifies EN 417-certified fuel. Looking at three different major brands, I find that reference on one. The other two make no mention of it. None gives note of the fuel ratio.

    Having demarcations on the control valve makes big sense to me. It seems the valve can release air pressure, which a lot of stoves will not accommodate. I hate fuel spitting out of the bottle when I crack it to take the pump out. Interesting as well will be to discover if the air release empties out the fuel line and generator.  A pressure indicator is a new thing I've never seen before. Getting the right pressure in a fuel bottle is critical to performance, which I'm most used to finding by pumping until the flame sounds/looks right. Directions suggest about 70 pumping cycles are required to meet the threshold for a properly filled, 700 ml (24 oz) bottle; and 140 times for half-filled. I'm thinking this is about double what I'm used to. Many years ago I saw a demonstration of a stove that didn't require priming and it did require what seemed to be a great deal of pressure. Seeing this feature working on this unit will be met with great curiosity. Priming is often where I burn the hair off my hands.

    The unit looks very strong. I would not be afraid to set a full 3-liter (3 qt) pot on it.

    I like that the unit comes with a maintenance kit, though not so excited at the inference it may be needed at any time. I'm not so thrilled at the 'off-brand' sizing for the fuel bottle's neck. I'd want to be very impressed with the stove to spend another US$20.95 for a fuel bottle when I already have fuel bottles that work with three other stoves, but not this one. The included bottle will be fine as a 'backup' vessel, but not adequate for a 3-day snow outing. Yes, of course I can refill from a 'regular' bottle, but that adds a bit of fiddle faddle to which I'm not particularly partial.

     A really big part of the test will be to see if I can light this stove without having the directions with me. If I don't post any more reports, that question will have been answered.


Field Conditions:stove in use
    1. May 10-14, 2019: Kibbie Creek, Stanislaus National Forest, California. 4 nights backpacking, 15 mi (24 km); leave weight 45 lb (20 kg); 3 camps; 40-70 F (4-21 C), sunny, no wind; 5,100-6,400 ft (1,550-1,950 m).
    2. May 29-Jun 2, 2019: Kibbie  Ridge, Stanislaus National Forest, California. 4 nights, 2 mi (3 k) hiking and 11 mi (18 km) backpacking; leave weight 40 lb (18 kg); 3 camps; 45-75 F (7-24 C), half sunny, half cloudy with a few spits of rain and two heavy showers; 5,100-6,700 ft (1,550-2,000 m).
    3. Jun 11-14, 2019: Chilnualna Falls, Yosemite National Park, California: 3 nights, 9 mi (14 km) backpacking; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 2 camps; 50-90 F (10-32 C), sunny; 4,200-6,500 ft (1,300-2,000 m).
    4. Jun 18-21, 2019. Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California. 3 nights backpacking, 35 lb (15 k) leave weight, 3 1/2 mi + 1/2 mi walking about (6 + 1 km), 2 camps, 85-38 F (29-3 C), sunny, 5,400-5,900 ft (1600-1800 m).
    5. Jun 30-Jul 5, 2019. Emigrant-Yosemite Wilderness, California. 5 nights backpacking, 41 lb (18.6 kg) leave weight, 12 mi (19 km) trail + 3 mi (5 k) XC = 15 mi (24 k), 4 camps, 80-38 F (27-3 C), sunny, 7,200-8,400 ft (2,200-2,600 m).

Impressions:
    1. I filled the bottle at home. Using a measuring device of atomic precision, the fuel level was precisely on the 480 ml (vendor-translated 16.23 oz) line. Carry weight totals 507 g (17.88 oz) for the fuel and bottle plus 16 1/8 oz (457 g) for stove, deflector, maintenance kit and bag = 2 lb 2 oz (964 g).

     Results for liquid fuel #1, full bottle to start--11.36 oz (322 g) white gas:
    #   water volume             air              water        wind    pumps        alt                   valve     boil
    1   36 oz   1.06 L     60 F (16 C)    70 F (21 C)    min        50    6,400 ft (1,950 m)    min    12.2
    2   36 oz   1.06 L     55 F (13 C)    60 F (16 C)    min        30    6,400 ft (1,950 m)    min    10.5
    3   36
oz   1.06 L     68 F (20 C)    66 F (19 C)    min        65    6,400 ft (1,950 m)    min      8.1
     4   36 oz   1.06 L     58 F (14 C)    60 F (16 C)    light       45    6,400 ft (1,950 m)    min      9.5
   
5   36 oz   1.06 L     70 F (21 C)    50 F (10 C)    min      210    5,200 ft (1,585 m)    min      8.7
    6   36 oz   1.06 L     58 F (14 C)    58 F (14 C)    light     180    5,200 ft (1,585 m)    min      9.6

  
    water          air          water      avg. mins  ttl burn       fuel                  fuel per
      qt      L     temp   C    temp   C    to boil       time        burned                  boil
    6.75   6.4      62    16     61    16      9.8    
      59       4.9 oz (139 g)    0.82 oz (23.3 g)                                               

    This test used 43% of fuel capacity by weight. Thus the bottle should be good for about 15 1/2 qt (15 L) of water brought to boil in 140 minutes (which does not reckon with vendor's estimation of 96 minutes of burn time). I generally expect about 150 minutes of burn time from a 1 L (1 qt) bottle ((at most often around 10,000 ft (3,000 m) melting snow)), suggesting a higher level of efficiency for this stove than I'm used to. I typically--as was the case with the SOTO--turn the valve down until I begin to hear less noise from the stove. Next outing I must overcome my compulsion to minimize fuel waste and crank the SOTO valve farther open to see if burn time/fuel usage changes. Turning the valve fully open did not make the stove sound any different. I operated on the conclusion for this trip that opening the valve past the minimal 'run' setting would merely use more fuel and not increase heat output.

Disclaimers: All tests used the provided heat reflector; none used a wind screen. Water volume based on filling two campers' mugs from one boil. Water volume not necessarily exact. Number of pumps starting from 0 pressure on #s 1, 5 & 6. Precise time of boil subject to some interpretation. First boil was first time ever to light stove--did not remember to turn control knob to 'run' until after 1:30; and though the stove lit ok, it sputtered slightly. Fifty pumps on a full bottle to start is not enough to charge the burner for optimal heat output, and in subsequent firings I pumped up the pressure until sputtering stopped. Thus, the average burn time to boil could actually be lower, as indicated by the last four boils.

Results for liquid fuel #2, full bottle to start--11.46 oz (325 g) white gas:
    #   water volume             air              water        wind    pumps        alt                   valve     boil
    7   36 oz   1.06 L     55 F (13 C)    66 F (19 C)    min        70    6,700 ft (2,040 m)    1/2      9.3

     8   36 oz   1.06 L     55 F (13 C)    60 F (16 C)    min        70    6,700 ft (2,040 m)    1/2      8.6
    9
  36 oz   1.06 L     60 F (16 C)    60 F (60 C)    min        30    6,700 ft (2,040 m)    1/2    10.7
  10   36 oz   1.06 L     54 F (12 C)    68 F (20 C)    min        40    6,700 ft (2,040 m)    1/2    10.2

        water          air          water      avg. mins    ttl burn        fuel                  fuel per
      qt      L       temp   C    temp   C    to boil       time        burned                  boil
     4.5   4.25      56    13     64     18     9.7    
       39       3 oz (86 g)    0.75 oz (21.3 g)       

    This result could suggest that the higher valve setting very slightly reduced both boil time and fuel usage; though of course the slightly warmer average water temperature could account for some of the variation. Were this average to hold, the bottle should bring to boil about 17 qt (16 L) of water in 146 minutes of total burn time.

    Combined results:
                                                                                                                                           
qts (0.95 L)
        water          air          water      avg. mins    ttl burn        fuel                  fuel per         water per oz (28.4 g)
      qt      L       temp   C    temp   C    to boil       time        burned                  boil                  fuel burned
   11.3   10.3       59    14     62     17     9.8    
       98      7.9 oz (225 g)    0.79 oz (22.5 g)      1.42 (1.34 L)

    This suggests about 2 1/3 hours of burn time on a full fuel bottle, weighing about 18 oz (500 g) total; with capacity to bring to boil about 16 qt (15 L).
   

    The pump's slide connector for the fuel line works easily and seems to be leak-proof. The design requires no 'wetting' or 'stuffing' to get the line to slip in. Keeping the fuel line cover out of the dirt is not so easy. Avoiding the mess and uncertainty of conventional priming is a certainly a good thing. The SOTO stove is still clean and soot-free after six starts and an hour of running. I expected to have to pump a lot for the fuel to vaporize from pressure instead of heat, and that certainly was proven to be so. I don't so much mind all the pumping as it makes me anxious to have so much pressure in the bottle; and all the wear and tear on seals. The fuel line is long enough that it is possible to turn the bottle on end for pumping in between firings without disturbing the stove. I did see a little pin stick out after pressurizing the bottle, but never saw a red dot on it or anywhere else. The practical usefulness of the pressure indicator seems to be questioned in the stove's operating manual. The pin popping out did not mean the stove had enough pressure; and I wound up pumping until sputtering stopped, paying no mind to the pin. The pump stem does creep out.

    The stove lights easily and burns yellow for roughly half-a-minute, seeming to depend on the amount of pressure in the bottle. I did not experience flame ups in these six starts. (Actually seven starts as I spilled water into the burner head on #5 start and had to do it twice.) Directions advise that most pressure in the bottle will be exhausted from the intial start. So it would seem. My concern about high pressure in the bottle is thus alleviated with each start. However, the stove doesn't want to start again without a lot more pumping. Thus it comes to mind that using a larger bottle would aggravate my pumping aversion even more.
   
    Compared to all other stoves I've used and heard, this one is by far the quietest.

    I like the 'click' settings on the control knob and the in-lock/out-release feature. With the knob set to the 'air' position, all the pressure in the bottle can be vented before removing the pump. On a stove that primes on pressure, this can be an especially good feature to avoid 'spitting' fuel when breaking the seal. The setting does
empty the fuel line and generator, but unfortunately not the fuel pick up line. I don't see a way to get the last drop or two out of the pick up line. I would prefer rotating the bottle so the pick up is taken out of fuel and positioned in air, which then empties the pick up, line and generator by burning the fuel. The design of this stove only allows pushing out raw fuel. White gas in any amount getting on stuff in the pack adds up to disaster, as I am intolerant of the malingering odor.

    The stove packs very tidily with almost no effort; so small, in fact, that it easily nests in my 22 oz (0.7 L) mug or 40 oz (1.2 L) coffee pot with room to put some other stuff, like tangerines or grape tomatoes. (It better not have residual fuel!) I don't have any other liquid fuel stoves that will even fit in the pot. The stove also has very few sharp points or edges.

    3. Yosemite: Assembling the canister stove requires only plugging the fuel line into the Smart Connection and then screwing on the canister. This is the order I did it, and that is wrong. I couldn't get the threads to match up until I removed the Smart Adaptor. Small mistake, with no consequence. Confessing that it is gruesome for me to burn stove fuel when campfire is on order, neither could I abide toting the unit and not using it. We don't like campfire until evening, and my partner likes to have a couple of early mugs of tea. The stove makes that happen in short order, delivering hot water in a small fraction of the time required by campfire.

    Turning the canister upside down is so foreign to me that the muscles to do it initially refused to cooperate. It did seem fairly obvious to me that the stove reacted to the maneuver with a slightly louder hiss.

SOTO 6/14/19            13.37 oz (379 g)  start; end 11.64 oz (330 g) = fuel burned 1.73 oz (49 g) Primus fuel
                        
#    water          air          water      valve                         mins   
      oz      L     temp  C    temp  C   turn   elev       m     to boil  wind
1    36    1.06    68    20    62    17 
1/2   6600    2000    6.92    calm
2    36    1.06    65    18    65    18 
1/2   6600    2000    6.67    calm
                                           
      72    2.12    66    19    63    17           6600   2000    13.6   
    1.31 qt water boiled per oz of fuel                                   
    1.23 L water boiled per 28.35 g of fuel                               
            6.80 average boil time per 36 oz (1.06 L); compared to 9.8 mins for white gas.                          


    4. Shasta-Trinity
6/18-21/19            11.64 oz (330 g)  end (6 oz 193 g) = fuel burned 4.88 oz (137 g) Primus fuel
                     
#    water           air          water      valve                       mins
        oz      L   temp  C    temp  C    turn   elev      m     to boil  wind
  3    20    0.6    52    11    50    10   
1/2   5780    1760    4.25    calm
  4    20    0.6    68    20    74    23   
1/2   5780    1760    3.16    calm
  5    20    0.6    73    22    72    22   
1/2   5780    1760    3.83    light
  6    20    0.6    60    16    71    22   
1/2   5780    1760    4.42    calm
  7    20    0.6    61    16    64    18   
1/2   5780    1760    4.08    light
  8    20    0.6    58    15    59    15   
1/2   5780    1760    4.58    breezy
  9    20    0.6    56    13    62    17   
1/2   5480    1670    4.08    breezy
10    20    0.6    56    13    62    17    1/2   5480    1670    4.17    breezy
11    20    0.6    49      9    54    12    1/2   5480    1670    4.75    breezy
12    20    0.6    52    11    40      4    1/2   5480    1670    6.08    breezy
13    20    0.6    65    18    85    29    1/2   5480    1670    2.75    breezy
                                       
      220    6.6    59    15    63    17   
1/2 5644    1719    46   
    1.41 qt water boiled per oz of fuel                               
    1.35 L water boiled per 28.35 g of fuel                           
    4.20 average boil time per 20 oz (0.6 L) 

    The only thing I varied in this test was not bothering to turn the canister upright to light it. I simply left it upside down from the previous use, put a pot on the stove, held a Bic to it and opened the valve.

100% full canister should boil about  9 qt (8.5 L)       
100% full canister should burn about 80 mins           


   
This suggests about 1 1/3 hours of burn time on a full fuel canister, weighing 13.4 oz (380 g) total; with capacity to bring to boil about 9 qt (8.5 L).

    5. Emigrant/Yosemite
6/30-7/5-2019       12.8 oz (364 g) full canister; end 5.9 oz (167g) = fuel burned 6.9 oz (197 g) JetBoil fuel
                                               burned    197    g    =    86%                   
#    Water    volume    air    temp C    water    temp C    valve    altitude    m    boil    wind

#    water           air          water      valve                       mins
        oz      L   temp  C    temp  C    turn   elev      m     to boil  wind

1    36    1.06    60    16    55    13   1/2   7360      2240  6.6    0
2    36    1.06    53    12    54    12  
1/2   7360      2240  6.9    0
3    36    1.06    60    16    72    22  
1/2   7560      2300  6.5    light
4    36    1.06    55    13    70    21  
1/2   7560      2300  6.9    light
5    36    1.06    66    19    83    28  
1/2   8440      2570  5.9    light
6    36    1.06    50    10    60    16  
1/2   8440      2570  6.7    light
7    36    1.06    68    20    84    28  
1/2   8440      2570  5.9    light
8    36    1.06    70    21    72    22  
1/2   7920      2410  6.1    light
     9.0    8.5      60   16    69     21  
1/2   7885      2400  6.4   
                                                                           51.5   
    1.30    qt water boiled per oz of fuel                                   
    1.22    L water boiled per 28.4 g of fuel                                   
    6.4    mins average boil time per 36 oz (1.06 L)
                               
100% full canister should boil 10.5 qt (9.9 L)       
100% full canister should burn 59.9 mins           

    It appears the SOTO boils faster with JetBoil fuel, but requires more fuel to reach boil. JetBoil fuel also reacted disfavorably to lighting the stove with the canister inverted, making yellow flame for a minute or so before settling in on the two times I tried it.

    As a liquid fuel stove, SOTO Storm Breaker
       a) is insanely compact
       b) is lightweight
       c) starts without priming
       d) does not produce soot
       e) requires an awful lot of pumping.

    As a canister stove, it is
       a) heavy
       b) bulky

    The Storm Breaker is remarkably strong and sturdy in construction. I like the flat pot supports. I might prefer a fourth support for the size of pot I mostly use (about 6 in/15 cm diameter) as inattention to placement of the pot can lead to a tippy result.
 
SUMMATION:  Compact, solidly-built stove with canister or liquid fuel capability; no priming; lots of pumping for liquid fuel starts and operation. READ ALL THE DIRECTIONS! Twice, at least.

Thank you SOTO and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Long Term Report in two months.




Read more reviews of Soto Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > SOTO Outdoors Storm Breaker Stove Combo > Test Report by joe schaffer



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