This photo shows the MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo outside near a mountain river.

MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo Review

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The MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo pairs the MSR WindBurner stove with a sauce pot and a ceramic skillet. The key to the system is a windproof radiant burner, which fits a port built into WindBurner pots and pans. Together, you get a portable, efficient stove cooking system that utterly defies wind.

To get us a closer look, MSR sent us a review unit. This is what we learned:

MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo Review

Most backpacking stoves — and most larger camping stoves for that matter — use an open flame for heat. Flames work well unless it’s windy, in which case the wind can blow out the flames or even just carry much of the heat off to the side of whatever it is you’re cooking. Heavy camp stoves often have windshields built in, but most ultralight backpacking stoves do not.

This photo shows the MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo on a rocky shore near a river.
The MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo uses a pot and stove design that defies wind.

Consequently, if you’re backpacking or on the beach or just trying to make a hot meal in the middle of an epic hike, you often have to find a spot out of the wind or prop up rocks to create a makeshift shield from the wind. Usually this is a minor annoyance, but some outdoor adventurers even pack along thin metal wind shields just for this purpose.

The MSR WindBurner system, on the other hand, is unaffected by wind and still cooks quickly. After trying the MSR WindBurner Stove System in a bit of gusty wind here and there, I started wondering: Just how much wind can the MSR WindBurner Stove handle?

MSR WindBurner Stove vs 235 MPH Leaf Blower

Out of curiosity, I fired up the WindBurner Stove on the edge of my driveway and filled the Sauce Pot about half full of water. Then I pulled out a 235 mph electric leaf blower. I turned it to the 150 mph setting and started blowing about six feet away, first at a low angle and then at a straight on angle.

The MSR WindBurner Stove kept going. I turned the leaf blower to full power and repeated the test. No problems. The water was starting to boil. I was pretty surprised.

I then placed the blower in a straight line toward the burner with the nozzle just three feet away. The 150 mph setting didn’t seem to affect it much. I turned it up to the 235 mph setting. The MSR WindBurner Stove with the integrated Sauce Pot half full of water . . . kept burning!

Pretty freakin’ amazing.

Let’s put it this way: If you want a versatile, portable cooking system that can outright ignore most windy conditions, the MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo should be on your shortlist.

MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo: The Burner

The MSR WindBurner Stove burns through a fine and coarse mesh. It’s protected by a round and shallow cup-like edge. The special WindBurner cooking pots have a ring that fits the stove. MSR also added a pressure regulator to the stove to help maintain a constant fuel pressure while you’re cooking.

The fuel flows through a hose and into the base of the stove. It shoots up through the center column of the stove (as a gas) to the burner. The center column has three holes for mixing with air. After my test in the driveway with the leaf blower, I now think it might be possible to blow out the MSR WindBurner Stove . . . if the wind is positioned perfectly to disrupt the flow of fuel through the air mixing holes in the center column. However, because the heating element will remain red-hot, that wind would likely have to be perfectly sustained to keep fuel from rising up and igniting. What’s this mean? Natural wind would have to be strong, very consistent and perfectly funneled in order to blow out the WindBurner. And all of this means it’s unlikely your WindBurner will ever blow out.

The burner unit itself weighs in at 8.7 ounces. While it’s very light, it’s a far cry from an ultralight 2.6-ounce MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove. What you get for that weight is stellar wind performance and fast, more efficient heating.

MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo: The Pots

The MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo comes with a 2.5-liter ceramic-coated nonstick pot that weighs 12.2 ounces. It’s great for boiling higher volumes of water, which is handy when you’re backpacking or hiking in groups. In addition, it’s large enough to make several servings of soup or even instant mashed potatoes — and then it’s easy to clean.

The MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo also comes with an 8-inch ceramic skillet that weighs 8.5 ounces. This nonstick skillet is good for simmering or sautéing and making pancakes. While the relatively high vertical sides are great for sauces or sautéing veggies, you need to remember to keep your pancakes small enough to facilitate a good flip.

Both pot and pan come with a removable handle. The lid to the pot includes built-in strainer holes, which is handy for making pasta.

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MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo: The Verdict

The MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo excels in quickly heating water in windy conditions. It’s truly amazing. The weight of the system, however, is best spread out among a group of backpackers or backcountry campers. When we go backpacking with 3-to-8 people, our meal times consist of taking turns boiling water and cooking. With the larger — and efficient — 2.5-liter pot, you can boil enough water for several freeze dried meals or for hot drinks all at the same time. Eating at the exact same time in the backcountry is a small luxury, but hey, it’s usually more fun that way — especially if you are backpacking with kids.

This photo shows a leaf blower near an MSR WindBurner Stove Combo with the stove still burning strong.
The leaf blower is three feet away on the 235-MPH setting. The MSR WindBurner Stove stays lit. Wow.

What is surprising is that the large 2.5-liter pot with the WindBurner stove weighs in at just under 21 ounces. The WindBurner Duo Stove System weighs in at 21 ounces while the single-person oriented WindBurner Solo weights in at 15.5 ounces. With the bigger 2.5-liter pot you end up with a different kind of versatility for high-efficient cooking that isn’t as heavy as you might imagine — at least compared to the Duo and similar types of high-efficiency stoves.

So what about recommendations? I can tell you that the WindBurner system is outstanding in the wind. The quality throughout is excellent. For most weekend backpackers, I tend to recommend an ultralight and simple canister stove, like the MSR PocketRocket 2, paired with an ultralight titanium pot that’s small enough to drink from but big enough to cook soup and eat from. On the other hand, once you use the WindBurner system in the wind — and simply don’t have to worry about shielding your stove — it’s an amazing experience. If you’re unsure about the “Combo” package, you could always try the WindBurner Group Stove System or the WindBurner Duo Stove System . . . and then add an additional size of WindBurner pot or pan in the future. For instance, MSR has a massive 4.5-liter WindBurner Stock Pot, which could be the key bit of gear that transforms you into a backcountry soup hero for your group outings.

All-in-all, the MSR WindBurner Stove System Combo is great for larger group cooking in the backcountry, and it’s fantastic for cooking in the wind. Highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

Pros
WindBurner system truly ignores the wind
Fast and efficient water boiling
Stellar overall quality
Cons
Bit heavy when compared to ultralight stoves and pots that aren’t windproof
4.8
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