SOTO WINDMASTER OD-1RX STOVE
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
January 12, 2014
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thefishguy AT hotmail DOT com
5' 11" (1.80 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for over 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, and enjoy everything from casual hikes with my children to mountaineering and alpine rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. 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.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|WindMaster Stove (optional 4Flex pot support upper left)|
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sotooutdoors.com/
MSRP: None listed
Listed Weight: 2.3 oz (67 g) (with Tri Flex 3-prong pot support)
Measured weight: 2.3 oz (67 g)
Measured stove weight: 2.1 oz. (60 g)
Measured Tri Flex 3-prong pot support weight: 0.2 oz (6 g)
Optional larger 4Flex pot support listed weight: 1 oz (27 g)
Optional 4Flex pot support measured weight: 0.9 oz (26 g)
The Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove arrived in its retail packaging. Upon opening, I found inside the stove, a small stuff-sack, the TriFlex 3-prong pot support, and instruction sheet.
The stove appears very well-made. The bottom half of the stove appears identical to the original Soto OD-1 stove (which I also tested), and seems to be well-designed out of well-cast and machined components. The upper half appears equally well made, and looks much like the OD-1 stove only with a longer stem section and the black perforated top is concave instead of convex, and no attached pot supports.
The Tri-Flex pot support slides onto the burner, and appears to be made of a spring steel material. A built-in clip allows it to be stored almost flat, and when released it springs open, ready to snap onto the stove.
The optional 4Flex pot support is hinged and spring-loaded, and clips onto the burner. Support arms on the top flip outward, and the entire support feels very well-made and tooled. The instructions with it state it is made of stainless steel.
My initial impression is that this is a very well-made stove with great attention to detail in construction.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions included both words and pictures. About half the total instruction sheet area was dedicated to warnings and cautions. While the warnings and cautions were pretty standard for stoves ("Keep the stove away from the reach of children" and "Accessible parts may be very hot," for example) there was one that caught my eye, warning to always carry matches or a lighter as a backup for the Piezo ignition system since "changes in pressure at high altitudes may cause difficulty" with the system. I don't recall having heard this, and look forward to seeing if I encounter any such problems. A small sidebar gives instructions for high-altitude starting, which essentially say to move it out of the wind and release a small amount of gas, then ignite the stove.
|WindMaster Stove with Tri Flex pot support attached|
The instructions were clear and well written, address cleaning and maintenance, and were easy to understand.
The optional 4Flex support had separate instructions included with it that were equally straightforward and understandable.
TRYING IT OUT
I have to admit that I couldn't wait to slap this stove on a canister and fire it up. The original Soto OD-1 stove is my favorite stove for backpacking and climbing, and I've used it almost exclusively over the past several years. The only thing I've ever wished could be better is its performance in the wind, so when the WindMaster OD-1RX came out, I couldn't wait to give it a try!
Attaching the TriFlex pot support is very straightforward and intuitive. Slipping one side of the support out from under the retainer clip allows it to spring over, and it slides over the head of the stove with a firm tension. Screwing the stove onto a canister is simple, and the well-machined threads make it easy.
Igniting the stove is a simple process of pressing the Piezo igniter repeatedly while turning on the fuel by turning the adjustment knob (which is a loop of metal wire that folds out for use and in for storage) counter-clockwise. The Piezo igniter produced a robust spark each time it's pressed, and ignition was a snap.
The flame output on the stove is easily adjusted to almost invisible and barely there to a remarkably substantial flame.
|Tri Flex support closed for storage|
The optional 4Flex pot support does create a substantially larger support surface, and it is very easy to attach as well. It can be stored around the stem of the stove to save space.
The Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove appears to be a very well-made stove that is lightweight, compact, and easy to use. I look forward to testing it in the field.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove on 4 trips totaling 7 days of use (one day trip and three overnight trips). Conditions varied, with temperatures as low as 30 F (-1 C) and as high as 65 F (18 C). Winds have varied from calm to sustained winds of 15 mph (24 kph). Precipitation has ranged from none to light rain.
All usage was in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington State.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My experiences with the Soto WindMaster OD-1RX have been very positive. While I recognize that I came into this test with some potential bias, since I own the original OD-1 stove, I think I also came into this test with even higher expectations in relation to this stove because of my great experiences with that stove. The OD-1 stove has been my first choice for climbing and backpacking for the past several years. I think very highly of it, and expected this stove to perform at least as well. I haven't been disappointed.
Ease of use:
I must admit that, while I've encountered some moderate wind during testing, I've been able to shelter the stove from the full-force of it at those times (with my body or my tent, not with a windscreen). The modest turbulence created under these operating conditions has not impacted the flame or boil times noticeably. I consider this significant in that other canister stoves I own, including the original Soto OD-1, have noticeable declines in performance under similar conditions.
I have trips planned during long-term testing that will subject the stove to direct winds, higher altitudes, and colder temperatures, and I look forward to seeing how this will impact performance.
This stove has bounced around in my pot, in my pack, and hasn't been babied during use. It seems fairly robust, and hasn't given me any problems or shown any signs of wear other than scuff marks.
A few features of this stove really stand out to me. First is the piezo igniter. It actually works, and has continued to work. I usually expect piezo igniters to fail, but this one has worked great. It ignites the fuel first time as long as I open the valve enough.
The other feature that really stands out for me is the pot support. I absolutely love the slip-on, three- arm support. It works perfectly with the two pots I usually use, is easy to slip on, and feels very secure to me as long as it is slipped on and fully engaged with the stem of the stove.
I am less a fan of the four-arm pot support. While it functions fine, it is bulky, weighs more, is more complicated (because of the flip-up arms), and hasn't seemed necessary for my pots. Perhaps it might be useful with a larger skillet or pot, but I've not tried one.
I think it's important to note that this stove doesn't just "work" in regards to basic functions, I feel it excels. I've had stoves that weren't machined well and were easy to cross-thread onto a fuel canister. The WindMaster OD-1RX isn't one of these . . . the machining is excellent, and it screws on easily without any trouble. The flame adjustment isn't just smooth, it's the smoothest and most controlled adjustment I've had on any stove, especially in how it maintains the flame throughout the life of the canister. It is super-compact, light, and yet seems robust and durable so far.
The Soto WindMaster OD-1RX is a solid performer that strikes a great balance between simplicity, size, weight, robustness, and features. While I don't see a benefit personally to the optional pot support, I'm very impressed with the design and function of this stove under a wide range of conditions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove on three overnight trips during long-term testing. One trip was along the Washington Coast (Olympic National Park), one in the Olympic Mountains, and on in the Washington Cascades in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Unfortunately, snow has been slow coming this year, and only spotty snow existed on my Mt. Rainier National Park trip. I did, however, get to use the stove in some fairly robust winds (approximately 25 mph (40 kph) along the coast. The coast trip also included light to moderate rain, with no precipitation on other trips. Temperatures ranged from approximately 25 F (-4 C) to 45 F (7 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The WindMaster OD-1RX stove has continued to perform wonderfully during long-term testing. From the very stable flame level, even with an almost empty canister, to the piezo igniter which continues to provide a robust spark, it exceeds my expectations in every way.
I did have the opportunity to use the stove in more robust winds during long-term testing, and the flame not only stayed lit but remained remarkably stable even when virtually unsheltered from the wind. Conditions that I expected to cause the flame to flicker substantially or blow out completely caused barely noticeable fluctuations in the flames. Boil time seemed a bit longer, but since I didn't actually time it, I can't be certain (and even if they were, that could be due to convective cooling caused by the wind around the pot).
One additional thing I have observed is that the flame's heat seems somewhat more concentrated in the middle of my pot than I experience with my other Soto stove (the original OD-1). This hasn't posed any problems for me, but my backcountry stove use generally consists of boiling water, so I don't know how this might impact meals that are actually prepared in the pot.
I've not used the optional 4-arm pot support during long-term testing, as I haven't found it necessary, and it is bulkier and heavier than the included 3-arm support.
The Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove performs very well, maintaining a steady, wind-resistant flame. The piezo igniter works exceptionally well, producing a robust and visible spark, and the flame remains consistent right to the last moments of fuel. Temperature seems to have little impact on the stove. It is among the best canister stoves I have ever used.
Will I continue to use the Soto WindMaster OD-1RX stove? Not only will I continue to use it, it will likely be the first stove I reach for on trips where a canister stove is my choice.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
My original Soto OD-1 just got relegated to backup stove status in favor of the OD-1RX.
I'd like to thank Soto and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the WindMaster OD-1RX stove. This concludes my report.
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Read more gear reviews by Mike Curry