After a preseason overnight scouting trip for whitetail in southern Missouri, I left the woods with a list of gear required for my return in late October. The biggest adjustment would be replacing trail mix and beef jerky with proper hot meals.
I knew a cold cup of coffee after a 5:30 a.m. wake-up would set a somber tone for my all-day hunt. And a hot meal, followed by a pull of Evan Williams, by the light of my headlamp would be the perfect ending to a cold sit.
After a few backpacking trips, I’ve witnessed how a hot meal can really reset the mood. But the cooking equipment had always belonged to someone else. It was time to get my own.
So began my research.
On my way, I found plenty of options. Most had good reviews, but I finally settled on the MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System. Claims of efficiency and compactness landed it on the top of the list — and on both, MSR delivered.
A few numbers MSR boasts on its website:
Burn time per 8-oz. canister — approximately 95 minutes
Water boiled per 8-oz. canister — 18 liters
Water boiled per 1 oz. of fuel — 2.3 liters
Boil time per 1 liter — 4.5 minutes
The first test of its abilities was that pre-dawn coffee. Nothing requiring a handlebar mustache, just boiling water and a packet of Starbucks Via. The water was ready surprisingly fast. The cold October morning air had led me to wrongly assume a long wait.
Then, oatmeal. And — boom! — I was ready to go.
Impressive. I was sold.
Even when cooking for two, the MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System performed. Because of its speed and efficiency, heating the system up twice, on a recent backpacking trip with my wife, was not an issue. Its nested design keeps everything together and compact, making it a no-brainer to bring on nearly any adventure.