Three Points of the Compass recently took a closer look at the Soto Windmaster, a gas stove that replaced his MSR Pocket Rocket 2 and took up residence in the standard backpacking gear carried on three season expeditions. For colder months, the heavier and bulkier Kovea Spider remote canister gas stove with a pre-heat tube is favoured. Instead of these two stalwarts, one of a couple of smaller stoves may occasionally sneak its way into a kit list for outdoor trips. It might be taken on day hikes, or where the weather forecast is mild and stronger breezes or winds are not expected, or even carried as a back-up stove. Often, this will be the ridiculously lightweight Chinese made BRS 3000-T ‘Hornet’ gas stove.
The China Brother Holding Group (CBHG) was established in 1992 and is now a conglomerate of five companies with annual sales of over 1.5 billion yuan with exports to more than 50 countries. In 2005 the group put additional funding into outdoor equipment design, focusing on outdoor stoves, camping and climbing equipment.
CBHG introduced the ‘BRS’ trademark. The letters come from the English translation for ‘Brothers’, itself coming from the group’s motto- ‘Brotherhood and Teamwork‘.
Stoves, grills and lanterns were amongst the first BRS products produced in 2008. One of the CBHG companies is Jiedeng Outdoor Products, founded in 2012. This company owns the intellectual property rights for all their products including outdoors equipment supplied to the Chinese military. BRS are also an Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) and their products are frequently marketed under a wide range of brand names, often though the cheaper online shopping channels.
The BRS 3000-T Hornet, more often referred to as the ‘Bumblebee’ stove, has been on the market since around 2009. Three Points of the Compass snapped up one of the stoves around six years ago just to try it out. It was so good that it has since found its way into my pack on dozens of hikes, both single and multi-day. I could afford to take a punt on one of these as it cost less than a tenner on eBay. A second was subsequently purchased, just to store away in a gearbox in case they stopped being manufactured for some reason. These days the BRS seems to have crept up in price a little but it is still a cheap option and is readily available.
This is a truly tiny stove measuring around 37mm x 52mm when folded, or some 60mm x 70mm maximum width with pot supports unfolded, or 82mm including the unfolded and protruding wire valve control. I doubt that it is actually possible to get much smaller or lighter than this and still be a functional item.
The stove itself is advertised as being made of titanium, but other metals are included in the construction, mostly brass and steel. The minimalist construction of the BRS 3000-T is such that it weighs just 25g, or 27g with the carrying pouch. For such a simple and cheap stove it is remarkably well-made. In common with other gas stoves there is a small rubber O-ring in its base to create a seal when screwed onto a gas canister’s lindal valve. O-rings will infrequently fail. If this does fail the stove is then unusable. BRS used to provide a spare O-ring with each stove sold but that is no longer always the case. It is a sensible precaution to slip a spare O-ring into a ditty bag.
For the majority of hikers this is the type of stove carried where small size and weight win over gas efficiency and features. Some hikers completing trails of many thousands of miles in length will use this stove throughout and be happy with it. Others might prefer something a little more all-singing, all-dancing. The 65mm x 83mm green pouch that comes with the stove only weighs two grams so it is easy enough to leave the stove stored in this, a total of 27g with the stove. It will fit into any pot on the market and will nestle within the dished base of a gas canister if that is inverted in a pot. There is no piezo igniter with this stove so a lighter or matches are required. I often use a ferrocerium rod and it lights easily with that.
This stove is perfect for carrying inside a titanium mug along with a small gas canister for midday hot drinks or heating food on day hikes. Pot support arm diameter ranges from 40mm to 80mm though obviously a pot or pan can overhang this. 80mm is pretty narrow however and care has to be taken to properly centre a pot. None of us want a half litre of boiling water on the floor, or worse, on ourselves. I am not over keen on using this stove with my wider pans unless they have a bottom indentation to discourage sliding off. Even then I take care to ensure stove and pan are level. While the largest pot I regularly use is just under a litre, I wouldn’t like to use anything larger, or more accurately, heavier on the pot supports. Some users have reported problems with the pot supports bending under prolonged and intense heating. Mine hasn’t shown any sign of that. That may have been a manufacturing issue with an isolated batch a few years back, or even fake clones, but who is to say how old a stove is when purchased new. I have not used this little stove on many multi-day hikes and nothing over a week or so, but am well aware that many hikers have used one of these stoves for months on end with no problems other than struggling to work with it in windier conditions.
The BRS 3000-T is advertised as delivering around 9200 BTU / 2700W. A small circular vortex is created from the directed jets when in use. It is not the quietest of stoves with a pronounced roar in use. In common with most stoves it is more frugal with gas and less frantic, with less flame spilling up the sides of pots, if not on full, which does of course mean a little longer to bring water to a boil. But speed isn’t everything, hence an earlier preference for meths/alcohol stoves over the years. It is only in recent times, with drier summers and occasional fire bans, that meths stoves have been progressively less acceptable to the authorities and others and a switch back to gas stoves is almost a recommendation. That said, this stove really struggles in even light breezes, the flame drifts wildly and boil times increase dramatically, together with far greater fuel usage.
Some sort of windshield is essential if there is a breeze. I usually just prop my pack on its side upwind and that suffices but something (metal) tighter to the stove and pot can be more efficient. I have used the Primus windshield that stores wrapped around a 240g gas cart, however despite working well, that adds 68g to what is supposed to be a lightweight set-up, somewhat defeating the aim. Probably the most efficient windscreen is the Ocelot from Flat Cat Gear.
The flame pattern is quite narrow and the stove more suited to boiling water rather than attempting to cook or simmer. If using a wider pan then a lightweight stove with a wider burner head and wider flame pattern such as the Fire Maple FMS-116T may suit better. Food can burn easily with this stove, especially if using thin titanium pots. The easy to use and sensitive control valve will permit the stove to be turned right down and, with care, a simmer maintained but food needs to be kept an eye on to prevent burning. In use I have found the flame blows out too easily when attempting to simmer and seldom plan for it with this stove. In ideal conditions you may achieve it, but how often do we get ideal conditions?
There are small alternatives to the 25g BRS 3000-T, such as the Fire Maple Wasp FMS-300T from Zhejiang Deermaple Outdoor Products. The almost equally as diminutive 43g Fire Maple Wasp, more commonly known as the Hornet (which is actually BRS’s name for their stove), also has its fans. Alternatively one of the ODM/OEM copies of the Fire Maple stove such as the Alpkit Kraku, Robens Fire Midge or Olicamp Ion. You pays your money and makes your choice, they are all the same stove, which is no bad thing. Alternatively, as mentioned, the Fire Maple FMS-116T is a lightweight stove option with a wider flame pattern.
Three Points of the Compass has previously looked at an easy adaptation of the Fire Maple FMS-300T stove that enabled it to work with heat exchanger pots. However that is a hack not possible with the equally as small BRS 3000-T due to differences in design and construction.
For the price, there is little reason not to snap up a BRS 3000-T, if only to try it out, or even simply keep as a lightweight reserve.
In addition to the remarketing of the BRS OEM product under alternative brands, a number of fake products have been produced as the ‘BRS’ brand, from places such as Taiwan (ROC). These capitalise on the BRS reputation and as a result there are a number of very similar, but not quite as well-made, not quite as light, not quite as efficient, stoves on the market, advertised as being a BRS 3000-T stove, but are not. Caveat emptor!