Released by Fire Maple in 2022, the Hornet II gas stove is intended as an upgrade to the popular smaller and lighter Hornet and is safer when used with wider pots and pans
Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Deermaple Outdoor Products Co. Ltd. was established in 2001 and specialise in the manufacture of technical outdoor equipment. Products are exported mostly to the US, Europe and Asia. To expand capacity and production, the factory was moved to Hangzhou in 2014 and in 2018 built their own factory with 45000m² workshops and are equipped with a complete production line for camping stove and aluminium cookware. An application for the Fire Maple trademark was filed 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 own-branded products including outdoor gear and lightweight camping stoves. They have a large R&D department and many of the stoves you may know under different brand names were actually OEM and ODM manufactured by Fire Maple. All their stoves have CE certification and the Hornet II comes with a three year warranty covering defects or failure.
The Fire Maple Hornet II canister top stove is a development of Fire Maple’s smaller and lighter Hornet stove reviewed by Three Points of the Compass in a previous post. Beside having a small number of demerits, mostly due to its diminutive size, probably the most annoying feature of that earlier stove are the loose pot supports, that continually flop around.
While I have continued to occasionally use the Hornet, it has mostly been as part of the Flat Cat Gear Ocelot: DIY HX (heat exchanger) Mug Kit, combining the Fire Maple stove with a Flat Cat plate and (ideally) the Sterno Inferno pot. This removes the annoying floppy arms from the stove and creates an extremely efficient wind resistant heat exchanger pot system. It should be remembered that using any heat exchanger pot increases the amount of carbon monoxide produced, so good ventilation is an essential.
The Hornet II was released in 2022 and is specified as weighing 48.5g. Mine comes in at 48.8g. Just 6g heavier than the 43g Hornet. Unsurprisingly, the Hornet II feels very light in the hand, almost flimsy. Beyond the folding pot support design, the features are minimal- there is no pressure regulator or piezo igniter. The titanium construction is proudly lauded in the advertising however there are also minor proportions of stainless steel, aluminium and copper in the construction. Sadly, the construction does not include a threaded brass insert to the valve connector and great care should be taken to not over-tighten and damage the thread in the aluminium valve block.
When purchased, the stove comes with a well made two-piece hard plastic case. The case weighs 39g. 21.8g for the base and 17.2g for the lid. I fail to understand why manufacturers continue to produce extremely lightweight stoves, aimed at the lightweight gear community, and then burden them with heavy accessories. The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is another prime example. The case can of course remain at home and the stove instead wrapped in a small Lightload towel and carried within a pot on trail. A small lightweight baggie would have weighed far less and given sufficient protection to the stove while also preventing it clattering when being carried.
There is an aspect of the Hornet II that I am not keen on. Where the stove stem screws in to the valve block, there is a gas-tight soft rubber gasket. This easily deforms when the two are tightened together and would be better if replaced by a firmer material. Of course, the two need not ever be intentionally separated but it is very likely that this part will loosen when removing the stove from a gas canister and then require retightening.
You may have noticed that the Hornet II is only superficially similar to the Hornet. The stove stem is longer, support arms are completely redesigned and the design of the burner head is also changed. Burner head is larger and diameter increased. There is now a lip around its circumference that provides a great deal more protection from side breezes that on the smaller stove. Due to the longer stem, this makes this a taller stove in operation. Attached to a 240g Coleman Performance C300 canister, the pot supports are 1750mm high. With possibly larger volumes of boiling water perched atop, the wider pot supports are a welcome feature but it is still a top heavy affair.
The Hornet II has an interesting design that enables it to both collapse to a small size, and open up to provide a tall stove with wide spread support arms. From the collapsed folded position, the three arms are very slightly unfolded, then the support arms are slid up the stem of the stove to just below the burner head. Support arms are then rotated a few degrees clockwise. This stops the support arms from moving back down the stem. All three arms are then unfolded outward. Each arm sits into a small indent in the stem. It is very stable once unfolded and the arms are kept in place under friction from their tight pivot points. There is the slightest of rattles when the whole stove is shaken and nothing collapses or moves around. Folding and collapsing is the opposite procedure. The opening and closing procedure is sometimes a little awkward as the three supports need to be opened just right to pull up and just right to push back down.
The valve control extends 40mm and is large enough to handle with gloves. The longer stove stem means that there is plenty of room to access this above a canister and below a wider pot or pan. Valve control is gradual and effective, it is less than two full turns from simmer through to full bore. This is a ‘roarer’ type stove and makes a bit of a racket at full bore. The Hornet II has a 20mm gap between burner head and pot base. This is quite large however the improved burner head design does resist the affect of side winds to a degree but will still benefit greatly from a windshield, albeit, quite a tall one. It has a narrow flame pattern due to the small 21mm wide flame head that has a recirculating vortex-style flame. This burns blue indicating a clean hot burn.
When folded, the Hornet II measures- height: 81mm, maximum width: 41mm. Unfolded it has a height of 87mm. Then we come to one of the issues I have with this stove. It is a great improvement on the narrow diameter spread of the support arms on the smaller Hornet. Fire Maple state that the Hornet II has a support diameter of 122mm. I simply do not see this and believe it is a good 10mm short of this, around 112mm. Which is a wider support for pots and pans than just about any other lightweight canister top stove, just not what Fire Maple are specifying. Of note amongst alternatives, the superb Soto Windmaster, with 4Flex support arms fitted, has a wider support width of 144mm, but that combination weighs 86g. With the lighter three arm Triflex option fitted, support width drops to 100mm and the weight to 67g.
Each serrated support arm on the Hornet II is 28mm long but slopes downward slightly toward the centre, so only the outward edges of a pot actually rest on the three supports. I had wondered if both my differing pot support diameter and the pots being supported by just the tips of the support arms was simply down to my not extending the supports far enough, but no, they simply do not unfold any further.
Fire Maple frequently take care over the small things that other manufacturers might not bother with. Removing the .30 jet reveals a sintered brass filter insert. As found in many of their other stoves, 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 where a canister is inverted and impurities inside a canister might find their way through a lindal valve, but it is always good to see an additional protective measure fitted as standard. Be aware, the threaded valve stem is secured to the threaded valve block by a 1.5mm grub screw. This can easily strip out the thread in the soft aluminium stem when retightened. I know, because I did it! Thankfully, the small amount of damage does not affect performance.
As usual, I am not quoting boil times as these vary from location to location, from elevation to elevation, from circumstance to circumstance. Manufacturer specifications for the Hornet II are 2500W, 8531 BTU/hour. It’ll burn through 179 grams of gas in an hour and is purported to deliver a boil time of 3 minutes 25 seconds per litre of water. Note that it’s little Hornet brother is specced at a slightly higher output of 2600W / 8870 BTU/hour. However both have outputs lower than the Fire Maple FMS-116T ‘Heat Core’ canister top gas stove that has an output of 2820W, 9620 BTU/hr. But, all these stoves will still boil water, still heat a meal. It only comes down to a few seconds difference, which may matter little to you in real time use.
There are a large number of canister top stove options from a large number of outdoor gear suppliers. Amongst these there are just a few that are aimed at the lightweight backpacker. The Hornet II is a welcome addition to the fold and has three prime attributes- light weight, quite small pack size and wide pot supports. If these are the three features of most interest, then the Hornet II could be your next purchase. That said, there are lighter stoves, smaller stoves, cheaper stoves and more efficient stoves. While the Hornet II does provide a little improvement over one of the smallest and lightest stoves on the market- the Fire Maple Hornet, Three Points of the Compass prefers the 48g FMS-116T that I looked at in a separate review which is, to my mind, the better made stove, albeit bulkier when packed. I have included images of these three canister top Fire Maple stoves with a small selection of pots below so that you can gain some idea of support width.
When using wider pots and pans it may be best to look elsewhere rather than focus exclusively on canister top gas stoves. If expecting to heat large volumes of water or food, the lower centre of gravity provided by a remote canister stove may be far safer. It all depends what you expect of a stove.
Three Points of the Compass has previously looked at a few stoves that may suit the lightweight camper and backpacker. Links can be found here.
Hey Jules. We brought an FMS-116T a while back, and I’ve used it wild camping with my lad a few times now. It’s a bit bulkier than both the hornets you show, and that nearly put me off it, but it’s really stable and very powerful, whilst still being super light. The build quality has been great so far, and I think it will last well.
I agree Rob, the FMS 116T has fast become one of my favourite stoves. A terrific piece of kit. I looked at that stove and its slightly heavier FMS-116 brother in another review post