Some backpackers prefer a wide burner head on their gas stoves as this feature suits wider cooking vessels. This can add both weight and bulk to a cook kit. but not always. Two canister top options from Fire Maple have proven themselves as reliable performers over the years, one is light and expensive, the other is heavier and cheaper, the choice is yours.
Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Deermaple Outdoor Products Co. Ltd. was established in 2003 and specialise in the manufacture of technical outdoor equipment. Products are exported mostly to the US, Europe and Asia. They filed an application for the Fire Maple trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office on 17 December 2017. This was awarded 27 October 2020 and Deer Maple now use the Fire Maple brand for many of their products including outdoor gear and lightweight camping stoves. The Black Deer brand is used for their mobile kitchen equipment. They have a large R&D department and are equipped with a complete production line for camping stove and aluminium cookware.
The Fire Maple FMS-116 was first released in 2007 with a Fire Maple FMS-116T titanium version released to the media in 2008 and general public in 2009. Both remain on sale. At the time, the titanium FMS-116T Heat Core was proclaimed the lightest camping gas stove in the World, winning various industry awards until eventually losing that title to the BRS 3000-T and Fire Maple’s own FMS-300T. The wide burner head on these stoves is better suited for an even distribution of heat across the base of wider pans and pots and can aid in preventing burning of food as a result. Not every pot would suit these stoves, a wider base is required to stop the heat simply whistling up the side of a pot, largely wasted. As always, a cook kit should be regarded as a ‘system’, marrying together those items that work best with each other.
There are many people that will throw up their hands in horror at the prospect of buying a Chinese made stove. This is, of course, a nonsense. Many of the brand names well known and patronised in the West are actually incredibly well made products manufactured in China, Japan and Korea. The two stoves looked at here are both prime examples of this as Fire Maple (or Deer Maple) are an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and many of their products have been designed and marketed under their own brand as well as being rebranded for some well known international names. I mention a few examples later.
While there are undoubtably some shoddy products produced in unknown and dubious overseas locations, Fire Maple continue to produce high quality goods as well as innovating and improving their own in-house developed products rather than simply copy and reproduce existing stoves and other outdoor gear goods to a poorer standard. All Fire Maple stoves have CE certification and come with a three year warranty when sold.
Both of these Fire Maple stoves are canister top stoves. This is one of the simplest and lightest configurations possible with backpacking stoves. In essence, the two stoves are almost identical, one has a greater quantity of titanium in its construction to make it a lighter option for the weight conscious backpacker. The FMS-116 is the stainless steel version, FMS-116T ‘Heat Core’ stove is the titanium version. FMS stands for Fire Maple Stove, the T on the second designation indicates its Titanium construction. The lightest stove looked at here is just 5g heavier than the tiny Fire Maple FMS- 300T canister top stove but it is possible to carry out actual cooking rather than simple water boiling due to an excellent simmer control and wide flame pattern.
The fairly wide burner heads on these stoves are 50mm diameter on the FMS-116 and 49.5mm on the FMS-116T. The slight difference is only down to the very slightly thinner lip that runs around the circumference of the burner heads, the titanium being a slightly thinner gauge than the stainless steel. The slightly heavier FMS-116 has a stainless steel burner head and gas tube, the FMS-116T has a titanium burner and gas tube. Both versions have fold out titanium pot supports, attached centrally to the centre of the burner head. Each of the three toothed pot supports has a small tab to make opening them out easier, not that these are really required as the pot supports swing freely on rivets rather than screws and there are no locking mechanisms. The gap between burner and base of pot when in use varies from 11mm to 15mm across the burner head. This is quite narrow and means the flame is less affected by wind when in use, however all canister top stoves benefit from the use of windscreens. The valve block on both stoves is aluminium, though differ in shape. A smaller and lighter alloy tube is fitted to the titanium model specifically to keep the weight down. It is good to see that a brass lindal valve screw thread insert is included on both stoves, along with the standard BS011 O-ring found on so many backpacking stoves. The threaded brass insert is a press fit however and could potentially come loose if the stove were drastically overtightened.
The dimensions of the effective wire control valve adjuster is actually different on the two stoves, that on the FMS-116 extends 40mm, that on the lighter FMS-116T extends 38mm. Whether this was an attempt at actual weight saving or just reflects what was in stock at the time is unknown.
Both stoves have a .30 jet with sintered brass filter insert. This is intended to stop impurities from blocking the jet when in use. These filters are more useful with liquid gas feed and liquid fuel stoves than canister top gas stoves but it is always good to see an additional protective measure fitted as standard. The heat output from the two stoves is just a little different. The FMS-116 can produce 3000W, or 10200 BTU/hr, while the lighter FMS-116T produces 2820W, or 9620 BTU/hr. As usual, I am not quoting boil times as these vary from location to location, from elevation to elevation, from circumstance to circumstance. Manufacturer full burn times on different size gas canisters are quoted as: 110g canister ~35 minutes, 230g canister ~74 minutes, 450g canister ~145 minutes. So apparently the same for both stoves despite their varying output.
Both stoves are extremely lightweight options. Fire Maple advertise their FMS-116 stove as weighing 70g. It came in at just a tad more- 71.8g on my scales. A little baggie is supplied with the stove on purchase, this weighs another 11g. The Fire Maple FMS-116T ‘Heat Core’ canister top gas stove is advertised as weighing 48g. Just for a change, this is accurate as it comes in at 47.7g on my scales. The titanium variant in particular is one of the lightest gas stove options available to the lightweight backpacker wanting both a wide flame pattern and simmer capability. The FMS-116T comes with an over-specced really heavy and robust, stove-shaped storage container with screw on lid. The plastic two-piece container weighs 42g by itself, almost as much as the stove. Great for home storage but few lightweight backpackers would include this in their gear list.
The wide burner head of the FMS-116 and 116T gas stoves are a definite advantage with wider pans, but only in use, not necessarily so when storing with a gas canister inside a small pot. While the Optimus Crux is not a badge engineered copy of the Fire Maple, the Crux does provide a partial solution to the storage issue. It has an ingenious rotating burner that enables the stove to take up less room when packed and it can be tucked away in the concave base of a gas canister. However, as always, added features adds weight and the Optimus Crux weighs some 88g. Of note, some Crux users find the rotating burner head can wobble slightly when in use. A Lite version of the Crux without rotating head reduced weight by 11g to 72g but lost the advantage of foldability so there is little if any point in purchasing that option. While the burner head on the FMS-116T looks identical to that found on the Optimus Crux the technology and construction is different. Additionally, the FMS-116T produces less CO than the Optimus when burning. This should never be an issue however as it is vital to provide sufficient ventilation when heating or cooking with any backpacking stove.
The wide burner head on the Fire Maple stoves is effective and popular with backpackers and the company has subsequently integrated it into quite a few of their stove options, including a remote canister version of the FMS-116T. This is the heavier FMS-117T, that originally weighed 98g but the weight crept up in a later generation to 103g. This stable stove lacks the generator loop found on some other remote gas stoves so is ideally suited for three season camping.
If looking for a reliable and reasonably lightweight remote canister stove with generator coil that can be used with inverted gas canisters for colder weather and four season camping, then Fire Maple have also produced stoves that utilise this burner head. Two of the best and lightest are included in the listing below and will be looked at in a separate post by Three Points of the Compass. Away from Fire Maple inverted canister options, the 173g Kovea Spider model KB-1109 is one of the best choices though that stove is a slightly heavier option.
I suggested earlier that the FMS-116T is an expensive option, but it isn’t that pricey compared to many backpacking stove options on the market and it would make sense to simply save and purchase the titanium version as you lose no functionality and gain a slight reduced weight advantage. Alternatively, copies of each stove have been sold by various manufacturers at competitive prices over the years. Both FMS-116 and FMS-116T stoves were marketed overseas as OEM products. There was the stainless steel Vango Ultralite stove version of the FMS-116 that can occasionally be found as reasonably priced new old stock. Also the lighter FMS-116T was rebadged as the Olicamp Kinetic Ultra Titanium Stove and titanium GoSystems Fly. There was the titanium Monatauk Gnat, but that has been unavailable for some time, as have the similar Karrimor X Lite Titanium Stove (above) and Hi Gear Blaze. This is not an exclusive list, there have been many other clones over the years. You may be able to find one of those OEM clones on the new or second hand market at a more than reasonable price. A close look at the burner head and pot supports should indicate the correct lineage as there is no Fire Maple branding on the clones and few suppliers are open about the original source manufacturer. Beware however, there are shameless, poor quality copies of the genuine Fire Maple stoves being knocked out.
|Model number||Name||Type||Generator coil fitted?||Primary materials||BTU (Manufacturer specification)||Weight|
|FMS-300T||Wasp / Hornet||Canister top||No||Stainless steel / aluminium / copper / titanium||2600W 8870 BTU/hr||43g|
|FMS-116||–||Canister top||No||Stainless steel||3000W 10200 BTU/hr||72g|
|FMS-116T||Heat Core||Canister top||No||Titanium||2820W 9620 BTU/hr||48g|
|FMS-117T||Blade- second generation||Remote canister||No||Titanium / aluminium / copper||2800W 9560 BTU/hr||106g (advertised as 98g)|
|FMS-118||Volcano||Remote canister||Generator coil||Brass / stainless steel / aluminium||2800W 9560 BTU/hr||155g (advertised as 146g)|
|FMS-117H||Blade 2 -with improved valve connector||Remote canister||Generator coil||Brass / titanium / aluminium / stainless steel||2800W 9560 BTU/hr||140g (advertised as 135g)|
These two stoves have been around for quite some time now. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the FMS-116 and FMS-116T stoves now, on the contrary, they have proven their worth and still deserve consideration. There is little to go wrong on either stove, they are robust and well made by a reputable manufacturer and it is possible to carry out actual cooking with these stoves, ideally with larger pots and wider pans. The FMS-116T in particular remains one of the lightest canister top stoves on the market and is remarkably well priced for what it is.
Three Points of the Compass occasionally takes a glance at items of gear, including a handful of other stoves. Some fairly new, many now quite old. These reviews get added to as I get round to it. Links can be found here.