MSR Windburner Duo stove review

We wanted to test a few different types of outdoor stove, lightweight, solo, small etc. The MSR Windburner Duo is a bit different because with it’s 1.8 litre cook pot it is designed to cater for the needs of 2-3 people. How did we get on with the MSR WindBurner Duo? Have a read below.

People want to get into wild camping for lots of reasons, and we have lots of people on our Facebook group who have expressed an interest in it. We do lots of family camping, but had never been wild camping before. Being able to just pitch up wherever we wanted sounded exciting, scary and very different to what we were used to. We wanted to share our experiences with our readers and hopefully learn plenty of new stuff along the way, so we threw ourselves in at the deep end, purchased some gear and organised 2 nights in the Dartmoor area.

One of the things we needed to sort was something trusty to cook on, and as we said above we want to share our experiences of using lots of different equipment. For this wild camp, we had a solo stove to test as well as the MSR Windburner Duo. Until we build up our ‘Bear Grylls outdoor skills’ (that rhymes), a trusty stove will be an essential part of our wild camping kit. Saying that though, Mrs TentLife has already ordered a saw, some Mora knives and was on the lookout for an axe. I am crossing my fingers that this is because she would like to try harvesting some wood for a camp fire to cook over and not for separating my bodyparts.

Cooking is an essential part of wild camping, getting a decent warm meal and hot drinks inside you especially when the weather is getting on the chilly side. This was October, and although we weren’t at risk of freezing to death this was our first time wild camping and we were on the lookout for something robust, reliable and rapid – The Windburner Duo delivered all of these effortlessly.

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So how did we get on with the Duo?
The build quality of the MSR Windburner Duo is excellent, from the first time you handle it you feel that it is going to be a reliable and trusty friend. This stove is called ‘duo’ for a reason so as you an imagine, the pack size is a little wider than a solo style stove but we were still able to fit it into our rucksack with ease.

We were away Friday and Saturday night and had purchased the lightweight MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3 man tent. We had some different brands of meals to test, Wayfarer boil in the bag as well as some Trek N Eat freeze dried meals.

The first time we used this stove was in the dark. Experts that we are, we arrived later than usual to our wild camping location and the sun had already gone to bed. Undeterred, we proceeded to make camp and then prepare something to eat and drink.

Even on the floor of the uncleared forest, by the light of the moon and a headtorch the Windburner Duo was so easy to set up and use. The spring loaded legs on the burner give the stove a really wide and stable base to work on. Even when the 1.8 ltr cook pot is full of water and pouches of food it feels sturdy and well balanced, this is helped by the fact that the gas canister sits remotely to one side.

I was taste testing the Trek N Eat meal, so with some filtered water from the nearby stream, a turn of the Duo regulator and a spark from the ferro rod, we were soon cooking on gas. The water was quickly boiling and being poured into my freeze dried Chilli Con Carne (4.5 minutes for a litre). The remaining water was kept warm for a coffee with the cook pot lid and some help from the insulating jacket. Then it was off to bed, full and warm stomachs and looking forward to some hiking the next day and finding another spot to pitch up on (in the light this time).

The next morning, I used the MSR Windburner Duo to cook some Trek N Eat scrambled eggs (very tasty). With the scrambled eggs, you have to pour the contents of the packet into the cookpot with some water and fry it up. I was impressed with the boil-to-simmer control the Windbuner Duo has, even I was able to turn the gas down enough not to burn my breakfast. Because of the width of the cookpot, stirring the mixture whilst it was cooking was really easy and I then ate the cooked scrambled straight out of the pot. None of the contents stuck to the cookpot, so cleaning up after breakfast was really easy.

Another quickly made coffee (someone had packed the AeroPress, delicious), a swift early morning pack away and we were off on our travels again.

Saturday stay.
We managed to find a lovely spot for our second night away, and had more time to have a closer look at (and play with) the MSR Windburner Duo. This cooking system is designed for 2 to 3 people, so we decided to use it to it’s full capacity. We were testing another stove at the same time, so we took the situation as an excuse to test a few different backpacking meals too.

A major advantage of the MSR Windburner Duo is the 1.8ltr cookpot. It offers more space and we were able to prepare 2 boil in the bag meals at the same time. With the gas turned off, we then used the hot water to heat up a couple of rather tasty deserts. The thermal jacket and lid kept the water so warm that we could have easily had a couple of coffees to wash everything down, but we already had the drinks sorted. A very efficient way to eat using the wet boil-in-the-bag meals, 2 mains, 2 deserts and 2 coffees – all from one boil, very cost effective.

Second night of wild camping complete, and after weighing the gas canister when we got home we were very impressed with the efficiency of how this cooking system operated.

Other tasty features.
So let sum up what we loved about the MSR Windburner Duo, hopefully to help you decide if this is the right cooking system for you.

There isn’t really anything else on the market for 2-3 people. OK, there are larger pans you can use on other stoves, but these can never be as compact and user friendly as the simplicity of the Windburner Duo.

The wide base of the spring loaded tripod and the remote canister arrangement makes your camp a safer place to be whilst cooking, especially of space is an issue or you need to cook in a sheltered area. Oh, and by the way – when you take the duo out of the box, you WILL start playing with the tripod legs and keep moving them in an out (unless it’s just me who is a huge child).

There is a ‘glow wire’ across the top of the heating surface, meaning that at a glance you can see if it is lit - Handy of you are igniting the stove in windy conditions.

The windproof Radiant burner makes this stove efficient as far as gas consumption and speed of boil are concerned. OK it’s never going to be as fast as a Jetboil Flash, but you’d struggle to get 2 main meals in that 1ltr pot.

We loved the controllability of this stove. It’s OK for the sales spiel to say it has boil-to-simmer control, but it really does. You can turn it right down to cook without burning anything and save on that precious gas.

The large plastic bowl that sits on the bottom of the cook pot not only protects the base but also doubles up as an eating/drinking/measuring bowl with handy markings on it. This cook system has a lid with straining holes and a drinking hole that fits onto both the cook pot and the plastic bowl. The main cook pot also has useful measurement markings up the inside of it.

There is room inside the Windburner duos cookpot to stash a 200g gas canister with room to spare. The extra room could be used to store a lighter or ferro rod as this stove does not have a piezo ignition, but that is just one less thing to go wrong and make it more bullet proof. We actually stored a 400g gas canister inside, and although it maximises space usage the canister does stick out of the end and you cannot get the lid on.

This stove has no piezo ignition to light it, then again neither does a real fire. One less thing to go wrong, and the Duo is really easy to light. We used a firesteel (ferro rod) and were really impressed with how easily the gas lit on top of the radiant burner with the smallest of sparks.

The windburn duo has a regulated control valve that screws onto your gas canister, so even in cold weather or as the gas pressure drops you will get very little change to the heat output.

Is it just for 2+ people or will it do for solo camping too?
If you partake in both solo and duo camping, then this stove is really the solution for both needs. There would be no need to take 2 stoves, and you would be able to heat up 2 meals at the samek time so you can both eat together.

Clearly it is a little larger than single cook systems, but this unit will still fit easily into your rucksack. The aluminium construction is lightweight yet strong and it uses the gas very efficiently. It will allow the storage of larger 200g/250g gas canister inside it, so this should provide enough gas for a few people for a few days whilst still not taking up much room.

Having used this stove in the flesh I would say that it is definitely suitable for both solo and couple camping without the need to carry extra stoves or more than one gas bottle.

It’s boil time is not as fast as some stoves (say the Jetboil Flash), but you can’t really cook your scrambled eggs in one of those. It’s more versatile because of the larger pot size, particularly the diameter. It really does open up the ways in which you can use the MSR Windburner Duo, because it’s more like cooking in a small pan than just heating in a aluminium cup.

Summing up.
So like all things we review, we’ve taken it out on a wild camping trip with us and definitely can’t wait to take it out again as soon as we can. We are looking forward to preparing/cooking different foods in it as well as more pre-cooked meals.

It was a delight to cook with, so easy to use and to be honest I think we are going to find anything better for those camping trips for 2-3 people.

Thanks MSR.

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