Monthly Archives: December 2017

MSR Windburner

looking at stove choices

Following my recent shake down trip on the Icknield Way, I decided to abandon my long term favoured meths set up for cooking and return to gas. I used to use gas, or canister, stoves quite a bit but switched to meths (or alcohol) for the unfussy, silent, simple set up that these cook kits provide.

However I have to recognise that gas does work out the more efficient and lighter option over multi day hikes. So for my Three Points of the Compass hike next year, I am looking at my gas options. Not every option out there, instead I am mostly looking at gear that I already have  but have not used much in recent years for one reason or another.

Jetboil Flash and MSR Windburner- two fantastically efficient options, but for boiling water only, not cooking

Jetboil Flash and MSR Windburner- two fantastically efficient options, but for boiling water only, not cooking

This weekend saw pretty dismal weather outside with most of the UK beset by storms, rain or snow. So I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen reacquainting myself with the Jetboil Flash and MSR Windburner. Both of these are integrated, all-in-one designs, everything packing away inside their respective pot. While ruthlessly quick at boiling water, attempt to do any cooking in these and you will come unstuck, which is more than can be said for the food burnt on to the inside of the pot.

The Jetboil is good but the MSR is, quite simply, an amazing piece of kit. It is probably the most efficient gas stove out there at present. It will bring half a litre of water to the boil on just 7-8g of fuel in just about any strength of wind. For that you need to actually get it lit first, which is no great hardship despite it having no piezo igniter fitted. Also, it is most efficient when using the actual integrated pot. I see that MSR are releasing the Windburner as a remote canister stove but not until next year. I believe the weight increases too. Instead, I have been looking at how my Windburner canister top stove performs when using the pot stand that is supplied with the Jetboil.

The pot stand that is supplied with the Jetboil Flash slots in perfectly to the ring surrounding the radiant burner of the MSR Windburner

The 37g pot stand that is supplied with the Jetboil Flash slots in perfectly to the ring surrounding the radiant burner of the MSR Windburner

I won’t bother giving all the weights for the respective kits as that is out there on the web and no-one takes every component. The burner head of the MSR alone weighs 200g, so no lightweight, put the folding Jetboil pot stand with that and it totals 237g. At the very least, I have to add a pot (and probably a lid) and a fuel canister (and probably a canister stand). That said, I can still make a lighter set up with a lighter titanium pot or pan than when using the MSR Windburner pot.

The combination of the MSR Windburner and the Jetboil pot stand work well. There looks to be sufficient room between the pot stand and the radiant burner head to prevent dangerous stifling and overheating. Obviously it is less efficient in wind than when the integral MSR pot is fitted, but this set up permits me to obtain a simmer, something impossible when used with the 1lt MSR pot that slots directly to the burner.

MSR Titan Kettle on the Jetboil pot stand

850ml MSR Titan Kettle on the Jetboil pot stand

I tried it out with my old 128g MSR Titan Kettle first. This is a classic little titanium pot with a tight fitting lid. It comes with a pouring spout which I don’t reckon to be the most efficient. One advantage of this pot is that the MSR Windburner stove will fit inside (with lid closed) for storage and transport. However the Jetboil pot stand will not fit in also. The pot is 118mm wide and some of the heat from the stove is disappearing up the sides when in use.

Evernew 900ml pan resting on Jetboil pot stand

Evernew 900ml pan resting on Jetboil pot stand

The 140mm wide 900ml titanium pan from Evernew that I have used for the past few years is a better option on the Windburner/Jetboil pot stand combination, allowing less heat to slip up the sides, however the stove head will not nest inside the pan.

I think I am going to have to continue exploring my options a little. Time to look at the smaller gas stoves I have available and see if I prefer one of them.

A basic watch

There are some terrific watches on the market. I have eyed up the various offerings from Suunto, Garmin and the like on many an occasion. I have even strapped one or two round my wrist. But they all seem to do more than I want or require for an everyday watch. I have no inclination to be syncing my watch with my PC. I don’t need a depth gauge for snorkelling,  no need to measure oxygen levels or any of the other myriad functions. As to the need to charge some watches everyday due to their GPS function promptly draining the batteries, good grief!

Brunton Pro hanging from pack daisy loop

Brunton Nomad G3 Pro hanging from pack shoulder strap. Easily accessible and temperature readings not affected by being wrapped around a wrist

On trail, basic ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) functions are useful on occasion, but until now, I have continued to rely on my Brunton Nomad G3 Pro, clipped to my pack shoulder strap. I would be the first to admit that it has never proven to be the most accurate pieces of kit, but sufficiently so for me. Even the manual proved to be a headache. If I ever find a similar but more reliable product, I will snap it up. I can find cheap and cheerful offerings, probably all made in China with little chance of a return if problems arise. I doubt accuracy is ever going to be something I would be troubled with from any of those.

Smiths watch

Smiths W10 watch

While in training as a young British soldier, we were never issued with military watches. It was only once I had ‘passed out’ as a fully-fledged, if still wet behind the ears, trained yet naïve squaddie, that I was issued with a watch along with other kit on my first posting. Little did I know at the time that not only would this watch be signed back within three years prior to my being sent to my next posting but I would never be issued another.

The Smiths W10 was also the last ever British made watch issued to the British Armed Forces. It was ideally suited and perfectly functional, though perhaps a little small (35mm) for many peoples taste today. Black face with simple, luminous indicated, Arabic numerals and luminous hands. One advantage that a military watch has over most other types are the fixed lugs. These do not have spring loaded pins to hold a strap in so there is virtually no chance of your watch coming adrift and being lost while you are totally oblivious. The strap had to be threaded through non-removable pins. The Smiths brand is now owned by Timefactors who produce a modern replica- the  PRS29A  (or the PRS29B). Smiths also made the speedos for my BSA D10 and A65 motorcycles that I had at the same time. I wish I had hung on to both motorcycles and the watch. Sad losses.

Other suppliers to the Armed Forces took over, prominent were the Cabot Watch Company (CWC), their modern day General Service Watch equivalent,  the G10, does look a decent piece of kit at a good price that may tempt me one day.

For a fairly cheap ‘n’ cheerful watch that will do what a watch should do- show the time, and is also waterproof, you can’t go wrong with the Timex Indiglo range. The Timex Indiglo Expedition Camper with quartz movement I have, and is worn most days, was purchased for less than thirty quid. It is still available today with a bit of hunting. It comes with a 37mm wide plastic case, is water resistant to 50m, has a high visibility dial, date function, (the aforementioned Indiglo) backlight, and, well, that’s about it. Weighing just 32g and with a fabric strap it is comfortable on the wrist and easy to forget I am wearing it, which suits me as I am not a great fan of heavy watches. For the price, if I did ever lose  or break it I am not going to be that upset and will simply buy another.

Timex Expedition

Timex Indiglo Expedition Camper