MSR Windburner Group stove review
Overview: The MSR WindBurner Group Stove ($199) is a convenient, versatile stove ideal for backpacking and car camping. The 2.5 L pot and heat control are aimed at medium-sized groups that want the flexibility to saute and simmer meals in addition to just making water hot. (MSR also offers a skillet and a 4.5L stockpot as modular additions to the Group Stove for even more culinary capability.)
Among the remote canister stoves currently available, the WindBurner stands out due to the efficiency and wind-resistance of MSR’s radiant burner technology. Its remote canister system is also great for pot stability and fuel canister swapping.
The stove and an 8oz canister tuck neatly into the pot without space to rattle around, making for an easily packed unit whether backpacking or camping (the system measures 7.75″ in diameter and 6″ tall, with a reported packed weight of 1lb 4oz without fuel).
A built-in pressure regulator optimizes fuel use even in colder conditions and ensures consistent output nearly to the end of the fuel supply. Overall the WindBurner Group Stove is a thoughtfully designed, reliable, and well-featured delight to operate.
– the pot is quite stable atop the stove
– the canister is easy to swap (no waiting for the stove to cool down or melting your gloves!)
– the radiant burner, when enclosed by the pot, is nearly impossible to blow out
– burner lets you regulate heat output, for simmer/saute convenience
– lid closure is very secure, so both storage and straining hot water are easy
The minor inconvenience:
– not as fast at boiling water as MSR’s canister stoves
– finding the lowest heat level entails accidentally turning the heat source off
Over the course of a 3-week road trip, the WindBurner made itself integral in our van camping kit. The 2.5L pot was perfectly large enough to boil enough water for coffee and breakfast in the morning. But where it really shone was while preparing more elaborate dinners such as curry, quinoa, and sauteed yams. The pot maintained a steady simmer without the constant attention I associate with powerful canister stoves. At no point did food scraps stick to the ceramic-coated pot, which made cleaning a breeze. While lacking the same heat exchanger as the Windburner Duo and Personal, the 2.5 is still quick to boil.
The remote canister setup is excellent for two main reasons: the stability of the pot and for being able to warm or swap the canister when the fuel is low. The radiant burner means that your wind is unlikely to snuff out your stove. (But you should still keep fragile fabric, hair, and skin away from it.) The burner and up to an 8oz fuel canister fit snugly in the 2.5L pot, along with a lighter and the pack towel. The lid closure has a bonus roller fastener that securely holds on the lid while it’s stowed or when you’re using the lid to filter water out of your pasta.
Speaking of pasta, the heat regulation of the WindBurner lets you do more than just make things hot quickly, from sauteing veggies to making pancakes. On the other hand, if you’re impatient about making hot water for your morning beverage, you’ll have to wait a couple of minutes longer for this particular Group Stove. The absence of a heat exchanger on the pot, while great for simmering and sauteing, means that the WindBurner Group 2.5L is slower at boiling compared to MSR’s Windburner Personal or Duo, or Reactor models. Then again, since WindBurner accessories are compatible, you could use a different pot with a heat exchanger to speed up your morning routine.
Suggested use: The Group Stove is perfect for car camping and backpacking with a larger group. Additionally, the fact that all WindBurner accessories are compatible means you could pair WindBurner Group stove with the Duo or Personal pot for quick overnights or mountaineering missions.
I was raised skiing, camping, hiking and playing in the woods that surrounded my childhood home near the Canadian boarder in the foothills of the Cascades. But as soon as I was given the option to just stay home I did. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, slept outside since I was a preteen, or skied in over a decade until I started working at Crystal Mountain in 2008. This began a whole new chapter to my life. Due to years of struggle with alcoholism, I’m happy and proud to be 11 years sober and am living proof that people can go from the gutter to the top of Rainier.
It wasn’t until July 2010 that I discovered a person could truly snowboard/ski year round here in Washington State. I got a splitboard and began my journey into the backcountry. Like most others, I accompanied people that knew more than I did and spent a lot of time researching on the internet. The sport of splitboarding is about as new to the world as I am to the snow-sport industry. I am so stoked to see the innovation and dedication of the people in that community.
Once the accessible snow melts away I’m a huge fan of mountain biking and rock climbing. While I don’t share the same dedication to them as I have for snow sports, I stay at a comfortable plateau, skill-wise. I enjoy climbing at the 5.fun level, riding bikes on both pavement and trails, and tricking myself into running long distances by getting conveniently lost, or by getting dropped off where I can’t cheat by turning around.
I love moving through nature, whether on the same trail for the 33rd time or in a mountain range I’d only read about. I like to consider myself very “all mountain.” I’m just “ok” at everything, not really excelling anywhere in particular. But I make sure to have fun no matter what! You can have the most amazing adventures on a mediocre goal. It’s all in what you make of it.
When I can get away from Crystal Mountain I love spending time in Mt. Rainier National Park. The sheer amount of variety in the terrain of the park could easily take a lifetime to explore and experience. My next favorite of the many volcanoes in the Cascade Range is Mt. Baker. It holds a special place for me as I was raised in its shadow. The routes to the summit, all with their own special characters, are a great places to get as rad as anyone might desire. I also love going to Red Rocks in Nevada to rock climb! The difference between the lush Cascadian forest and the harsh sharp flora of the desert is an awesome contrasting perspective to have.
Since I was a late bloomer in the outdoors I became obsessed with gear guides and reviews. This hasn’t faded over the years, I still follow all the highlights from the OR and ISPO shows and have pile of Gear Guides from Backcountry Magazine thats probably due for a cleansing. While injured I’d written reviews for every piece of gear I used on various platforms and ended being hand picked to test equipment from Backcountry. This has grown to prototype testing for companies such as Karakoram, Arbor snowboards and Cascade Designs.