Feb 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm #1299134
Soto Outdoors introduced their Microregulator (OD-1R) Stove in 2010. It's a very nice, well made stove.
Indeed, the Microregulator has the nicest manufacturing quality of any small upright canister stove that I've seen, and at 75g (2.6 oz), it's the lightest upright canister stove with auto ignition that I know of.
Soto created a bit of a stir with the below linked video where two stoves, a Microregulator and another stove, are chilled with ice.
Soto Microregulator Ice Video
In the video, it looks as though a stove with a regulator valve might have an advantage over a conventional needle valve stove in cold conditions.
Does the Soto Microregulator stove have an advantage in cold conditions? I set out to find out. Please join me on another Adventure in Stoving:
Advantages (?) of Regulator Valved Stoves, Part II
Feb 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm #1955091
I always enjoy this info. I have a Soto (got the windscreen too for the hell of it) and a Brunton Raptor stove.
If I'm expecting cold weather I take the Soto and a fresh canister. The Raptor is for warm weather.Feb 16, 2013 at 9:18 pm #1955133
Paul you need to watch Hikin' Jims video of his real world testing of the Sato. In his videos you will see the Sato didn't perform any better then the Monatauk Gnat stove. In the conditions Jim was in the Sato probably would not boil water. Randulf Valle also tested the Sato and his results are shown in this article:
In short the Sato microregulator does not work well in the field in cold weather. It only does in Sato marketing videos or demos.
The video you linked to in your post was only a Sato marketing demo which was probably rigged. For starters the Sato demo was only sowing pressure not actual temperature. In fact in the field at 32 degrees the pressure in the fuel can drop to zero PSI while the Sato demonstration was limited by physics to 1 or 2 PSI at best. And lastly they didn't swap the stoves during the video. If they had I suspect the Sato would have then performed very poorly while the none regulated stove would have done very well. Why? The demo stand probably had a orifice on the none regulator side to insure the non regulator stove would not work as well as the Sato stove.
If you want a stove that works in cold weather you need a remote canister stove that can operate in liquid feed or inverted canister mode like the MSR Windpro II. A Stove like the Windpro II will do very well at cold temperatures because they use the flame to preheat the fuel.Feb 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm #1955144
Roger C's take on the Soto.Feb 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm #1955149
Here's my experience and initial impression with this stove. I haven't used it below 32* so I can't speak to its cold weather performance. I don't currently own any other canister stoves so I can't make a side by side comparison.
I have owned this stove for about three months now. The piezo lighter stopped working earlier this week. (Edit – played around with it this morning and it will work if I apply pressure to the left when trying to use the igniter (edit to my edit now it works flawlessly; wondering if there is a storage problem.)) The weight of the stove (without bag), Soto's optional wind screen, and a Snowpeak 700 (w/ handles and lid) is 7.7oz on my scale.
It takes ~ 2.75 minutes and an average .5 oz of fuel to boil 16oz of 40* water at wide open resulting in 7 boils per 100g jetboil/power canister. If I throttle back the stove so the flame pattern is the same width of the pot, it then takes an average of 4 minutes and an average of .242oz of fuel to boil water under the same conditions. At this lower setting, I achieve ~ 14 boils per 100g Jetpower canister. The optional windscreen was used in both scenarios and the ambient temperature was 32*.
The stove, windscreen, and fuel canister will not fit in my Snow Peak 700 pot in a way where the lid will close so I opt to store the windscreen elsewhere.
For me, the heat output has been consistent until the very last gram of fuel is consumed.
Edit – updated misquoted data and results.Feb 17, 2013 at 3:17 am #1955157
Thanks for pointing out what they were regulating in that video – the pressure.
I did watch Jim's video.
I understand the variables in the stove testing – altitude, fuel, wind temperature. And I agree with something Jim wrote before – under certain conditions you need to move away from a canister stove.
The only thing I don't like about the Soto are the pot supports – they seem flimsy. I haven't had any problems with them.
I decided to get the Soto after some good review by Backpackergeartest.org, Backpacker Magazine, and other places. There was a video on youtube from a guy that put new canisters in a freezer and then attached a Soto and another canister. The Soto worked the other one didn't.
Most of my hiking is alpine hiking and not through hiking.
I wonder how this stove would compare to the higher priced ones?Feb 17, 2013 at 4:57 am #1955163
That stove is a great value, I have it and it works very well as a lightweight, though not the lightest option. And it's super cheap.Feb 17, 2013 at 8:39 am #1955218
[x]Feb 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm #1955507
I have very serious reservations about the Soto OD-1R video shot at the Winter 2012 Outdoor Retailer convention. Convince me that the manifold shown in the video in any way emulates a canister in field conditions. I am disappointed that Soto chose this as a method of representing the function of their stove. Soto is company that makes first rate products. The stoves I've seen here, and the stoves I've seen in mountain shops in Japan are all of excellent quality. Such a demonstration is beneath them and is unworthy of the quality of the products they manufacture.
Thank you to Ken and to Steven for the links to the articles here on BPL. Both good articles. Roger knows vastly more than I do about physics, so I appreciate his technical perspective, and he's a good writer too, an invaluable combination.
The purpose, however, of my little experiment was to avoid the lab and avoid theory (although my experiment was carefully based on theory). I wanted to see if the regulator valve would make any practical difference in conditions where it would matter. I deliberately sought out conditions where the fuel temperature would fall below the critical value: boiling point + 10 Fahrenheit degrees (you need to be about +10F above the boiling point to have reasonable pressure).
I ran my test… and I found that the regulator valve made no practical difference in cold conditions, which is just what theory and lab work would suggest. Despite the fact that the theory and lab work were already very solid, I found watching it for myself (and replaying it on video) really worthwhile (which goes to show just what a stove geek I really am). ;) In the video, you can watch as the flames, both flames diminish, and at the end of the test period, you have two very weak flames. There's nothing like seeing it for oneself.
And again, I harbor no ill will towards Soto. I think they make a very fine stove. I'm just not sure that they really understand what they've got. Maybe under certain lab conditions the regulator valve would matter, but under field conditions? I don't see it. None-the-less, I would be most open to Soto describing a set of conditions (temperature, pressure, and duration) under which a regulator valve would make a material difference to someone trying to cook a meal in the field.Feb 17, 2013 at 10:57 pm #1955512
So what does the pressure regulator do? After reading a lot of the material it is obvious that the regulator cannot increase the the pressure differential between the canister and the burner head. To do so would require the regulator to work like a pump and to do this would require energy. What Soto seems to claim is that the burner will provide even heat output (constant pressure and thus volume of gas) regardless of the internal canister pressure. What they fail to add is "up to the point that the canister pressure drops below the set pressure of the pressure regulator." This is just the same as a pressure reducer in plumbing.
I suspect that the jet in the Soto is a larger diameter than most stoves so the same amount of gas is discharged into the burner head as a normal stove to overcome the issue of lower pressure supply in the Soto. The other alternative is that the Soto will not generate the same heat output as a regular stove with a well pressurised canister.
My only thought on how the Soto may work better is that the lower pressure output it produces does not lead to the same degree of cooling of the canister as a regular stove. This effect would be quite small and would only be of value in a quite specific temperature range.
Hopefully some of you far better qualified people will comment on my conjecturing.Feb 18, 2013 at 1:20 am #1955519
What they fail to add is "up to the point that the canister pressure drops below the set pressure of the pressure regulator."
Mark, I think you're spot on. In fact the Soto regulator provides the same function as the gas regulator in a RV/campervan/motor home (contry dependent nomenclature). Here you have a tank of propane or butane, a pressure regulator and appliances with relatively large jets. Most of the time you are completely unconcerned about the pressure in the gas tank and gas appliances 'just work'. However, if you are using butane and the temparature drops overnight, you can find that gas appliances don't work in the morning due to lack of pressure.Feb 18, 2013 at 6:50 am #1955545
It's hard to tell what they're doing in that video.
You really need a canister with fuel and it takes a while for the temperature to drop. The temperature of the canister is like 10 degree F colder than air – based on the fact there's ice on the outside of canister when it's 40 degree F air.
That video is just as useless as the one where they have ice cubes in water.Feb 18, 2013 at 7:06 am #1955551
This is why I like these discussions. You learn a lot. Now, I'm not going to get a new stove because the Soto – according to Jim's test isn't any better then another stove in cold conditions. And I don't think I'm going to test it in the cold conditions. I'm just glad to have hot water. I will do my best to have a full canister and keep it warm – negating any real test.
There is a lot of anecdotal from hikers that it works well in cold weather. Of course, we don't know if these hikers know all the variable involved in their evaluation – especially the propane.
If there is one area that I think would benefit from innovation; it is in pot/cup design. We know that water boils faster in wider vs narrow pots.
Maybe something with a concave bottom and built in wind screen to capture all that lost heat inherent in current designs. I know some here have made one for themselves. The heat exchangers don't appeal to me.Feb 18, 2013 at 8:14 am #1955568
What they fail to add is "up to the point that the canister pressure drops below the set pressure of the pressure regulator."
I believe that's exactly what's going on.
It's like when I was in college. We had a dormitory with relatively low water pressure. If you got an early shower, you had plenty of pressure. But if all the showers were on and someone flushed the toilet, the pressure was very low. Sure, you could open the valve more… but it didn't do any good. Continuing to open the valve on a shower and nothing happening is akin to what happens to a canister stove when there's no additional pressure in the canister. It isn't helpful to have a regulator (which steps down pressure) when there's no further pressure to regulate.
And, sure, you can have a larger jet aperture when using a regulator, but that only goes so far. When the internal canister pressure falls sufficiently — and it will due to canister chilling with use, you won't have decent operating pressure. In the end, it is canister pressure not the valve type that determines cold weather functionality.Feb 18, 2013 at 8:18 am #1955571
I'd like to start by saying that I intended to buy the micro rocket and the silver tongued devil at REI steered me towards the Soto. I have nothing invested in defending Soto but there are a couple issues which need to be addressed with this performance study.
I'm a little confused with our different results since the performance was tested at 31* (yours) and 32* (mine.) I can only identify two variables which would explain the performance discrepancy: fuel and altitude.
*My fuel Jetboil/JetPower Isobutane/Propane 100g canister ala REI.
*Your fuel 100% n butane which I understand you filled yourself.
*My altitude 400ft
*Your altitude 6000 ft. I suspect that this is less critical as Soto's instructions for high altitude use begins at 10,000'.
*Your results with both stoves: abismal.
*My results with the soto (don't own the gnat): worked like a furnace and I had to throttle it back in order maximize fuel efficiency.
*My canister/stove ran at 100% output until the very last second. I can't speak for other stoves.
You clearly have much more time and research invested into these stoves than I do. Why do you choose to fill your canister with 100% n butane? In your experience, how many hikers/mountaineers will fill their own canisters with this fuel?
I'd like to try and reproduce those testing conditions except that I would have to drive a few hours to hit 6000'. Are you in a position to run that test again with commercially available fuel? Preferably a new canister?
The ideal test would show how this stove performs at this temperature at different altitudes with a variety of fuels.
The only claim Soto makes on the box is "The Micro Regulator Stove maintains a consistent output even when the fuel canister becomes chilled due to continuous use or cold weather." I read that as "the weakest component of this system will be your canister, not your stove" which is fine with me as I basically understand the limitations of upright canister stoves.Feb 18, 2013 at 8:31 am #1955576
Jerry Adams wrote: > That video is just as useless as the one where they have ice cubes in water.
In fact, under certain conditions, ice water no matter how cold (so long as it remains liquid) will boost output (or at least stabilize it). What conditions? Under the condition where there is propane or isobutane in your fuel. If there is sufficient propane or isobutane in your fuel mix to place the boiling point of that mix about 10 Fahrenheit degrees (about 5 Celsius degrees) below the temperature of the ice water, you'll have nice, steady output. That bowl of ice water will act as a heat "reservoir" that will prevent the normal drop off in canister temperature and the resultant fall off in canister pressure. Indeed, I strongly suspect that's exactly what's happening in the "ice cube video."
If you chose your fuel well, with ice water you can hold the canister temperature in exactly the temperature range in which the Soto stove will excel. It's not exactly fraud, but neither does it prove that the Soto stove has any advantage in cold weather in normal field conditions.
Of course, there's nothing that prevents one from doing just what Soto did in their video: Put the canister in water. If you have a propane-isobutane mix, you'll have nice stable output. But you could just as well do that with any stove. Unless you're operating in a very narrow band of temperatures (something like boiling point + 10F to something like boiling point + 15F), the Soto will have no practical advantage.Feb 18, 2013 at 9:32 am #1955593
So it's safe to assume that since you've so rudely ignored my polite request for you to disclose your research methodology for this review that both Soto's and your videos should be ignored for the following reasons:
Soto: An ice water bath is not a faithful simulation of realistic field conditions unless the hiking trip has gone terribly wrong
Yours: The fact that you refilled the canister flawed the test from the very beginning. Furthermore, your test doesn't control for other variables beyond temperature.
My belief is that the micro regulator is more hype than some cutting edge technology but there isn't anything presented in this thread to say one way or the other. I have real world experience which shows that this stove will perform at 100% until the very end at 32* at 400'. What my test is missing (which I fully disclosed) is how the performance compares to a similar stove which doesn't have a micro regulator and how altitude affects the performance.
BPL need a little bit more critical thinking and a little less kool aid drinking.Feb 18, 2013 at 9:34 am #1955594
Running with canister in ice water isn't fraud, just misleading
When I run stove at 40 F, ice forms on the outside of canister. If it was in ice water it would be warmer.
Unrelated, that isn't a bad way to run upright canister at temperatures below 25 F or so (with iso-butane)- don't put ice cubes in water, you'll have to occasionally heat the water with stove or it will eventually freeze into a block.Feb 18, 2013 at 10:01 am #1955602
"you've so rudely ignored my polite request"
Goodness its been ~1hr btw you "polite request" & this post – simmer down.
"I have real world experience which shows that this stove will perform at 100% until the very end at 32* at 400'"
So will ANY other upright cannister stove operating from a canister with iso/propane mix (and no butane).
I (critically) think that Jim used butane for his test, to see if the regulator provides any benefit over a normal valve as the fuel approaches its boiling limit.Feb 18, 2013 at 10:14 am #1955604
"I (critically) think that Jim used butane for his test, to see if the regulator provides any benefit over a normal valve as the fuel approaches its boiling limit."
I (critically) think Jim used butane because he likes to refill his own containers : )
Same here, I use normal stove (Pocket Rocket) down to 30 F and it gets a little slow, especially when the canister gets low, but still totally usable.
25 F – starts getting painfully slow but still usable
20 F – maybe it works with fairly full canisterFeb 18, 2013 at 10:31 am #1955609
I'm not angry; just making an observation. You'll notice that Hikin' Jim has responded since my inquiry but I agree that my post was edgy and I should have measured my response. My apologies Jim.
My issue with this thread is that all of the information here is anecdotal and nothing has been provided (including my data) which would be a definitive analysis of the Micro Regulator's performance. In fairness to Hikin' Jim, he never claimed that this was a scientific study. Each consumer is responsible for their own research and will ultimately pay the price or reap the benefit.
I went to REI with the intent of purchasing the micro rocket but bought this stove on blind faith knowing that I could research the stove better when I returned home and REI's tradition of backing up the products that they sell. I basically did zero research on this stove prior to purchase which is very uncharacteristic of me as I'll usually will spend hours researching mundane purchases.
All I can say is that at 32* what I see on Jim's video is very different than what my experience has been.
I would be willing to pitch in $10 to a Kickstart project of a thorough peer reviewed scientific study of stove performance (all commercially available options) which accounts for temperature, altitude, fuel consumption, and weight. I figure with all of the braniacs on this forum, someone would love to jump on the chance to spearhead this effort. I think the conditions of the test should be as such:
*Stoves purchased anonymously from retailers. No donors.
*All stoves surrendered to Boy Scouts or whatever at the end of the study
*All of commercially available fuel is studied and compared
*Stove performance studied at a variety of altitudes consistent with normal expectations of a canister stove
I'm sure $5000 and a month could make this happen.
Sorry Jim. I'll switch to decaf.Feb 18, 2013 at 11:54 am #1955639
"videos should be ignored for the following reasons:
Soto: An ice water bath is not a faithful simulation of realistic field conditions unless the hiking trip has gone terribly wrong
Yours: The fact that you refilled the canister flawed the test from the very beginning. Furthermore, your test doesn't control for other variables beyond temperature. "
Jim's test is actually very good. While most quality canisters have propane and possibly isobutane instead of N-butane. there are probably some cheep brands out there that are filled mostly with just N-butane. In most cases vendors do not list the exact contents of the cans and in fact the contents of the can may very over time due to canges in the price of propane, isobutane and N-butane. When Jim filled both his canisters with butane he eliminated the biggest variable in most other reviews and test.
One other point that should be made is that isobutane (found in MSR and snowpeak canisters) boils at 15F while the more common and lower cost N-butane boils at 32F. Both have the same number of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Only the arrangement of the molicules are different. So simply using using a isobutane/propane canister you will get much better performance regardless of the stove. The only variables in Jim's test were the stoves.
In Satos ice bath video they conveniently painted both canisters white. We have no idea what fuels were in the canisters or even if the canisters were fueled with the same fuel.
"Running with canister in ice water isn't fraud, just misleading
When I run stove at 40 F, ice forms on the outside of canister. If it was in ice water it would be warmer."
Acutally the temperature of the ice water depend on how much water there is. If it is mostly water the temperature will be close to ambient. However if it is mostly ice the temperature will be 32F which is the melting point of water. However if you take mostly ice, a little water, and add a lot of salt the temperature will quickly drop to approximately 10F or even colder.
Sato's ice water test would be valide if you know what the composition of the fuel is. We don't.
Paul, if you want to test your stove in cold conditions I would try to duplicate the sato test but do as jim did and use two canisters filled with N-butane (jim could probably help you with that). You should get the results Jim got. After that I would do the test again but this time fuel the Sato with N-butane and fuel the other stove with MSR or Snowpeak fuel.
"I suspect that the jet in the Soto is a larger diameter than most stoves so the same amount of gas is discharged into the burner head as a normal stove to overcome the issue of lower pressure supply in the Soto."
I would agree that the jet size of the Sato is probably larger. That might give a slight improvement in cold performance or make clogging of the jet less likely. however the difference is probably not noticeable. However under warm conditions say 80F the stove might consume more fuel than Other stoves. The warm weather fuel consumption problem can be solved by adding a regulator. In fact in one of the links I posted earlier there is clear evidence of the regulator kicking in warm conditions.
the other possibility is that Sato added the regulator to try to improve safety. If you use a bad windscreen design in warm weather you could get into a situation were the larger flame heats the canister, which causes an even bigger flame, causing more heat,…BANG! Adding a regulator would clearly limit the maximum size of the flame.Feb 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm #1955649
By using n-butane, Jim eliminated one of the major variables in stove testing: the fuel. With a blended fuel, not only are you not certain of the precise percentages when the canster is new, but the percentages change as the canister is used, as the more volatile gas boils off more quickly, so the pressure in the canister is constantly varying. The pressure in Jims butane canister is changing too, but only due to evaporative cooling. If he had the same weight of fuel in each, the cooling would be the same.
All I can say is that at 32* what I see on Jim's video is very different than what my experience has been
Well of course, you were using a propane/iso-butane blend, which only adds to the conclusion that the fuel matters more than whether the stove has a regulator.
My issue with this thread is that all of the information here is anecdotal and nothing has been provided…
My issue with this kind of comment is that it usually comes from someone who expects others to do all the work for them, on their terms, often without having read the many in-depth articles that already exist on the subject.Feb 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm #1955737
You might be onto something.
n-butane – boiling point -1-1 °C, 272-274 K, 30-34 °F
Isobutane – boiling point -13–9 °C, 260-264 K, 8-16 °F (used in most commercial canisters)
Jim's test was done at Temperature: 31F/-0.5C
So, am I correct that with the n-butane there wouldn't be much pressure? The n-butane was mostly in the liquid state. So to the Soto, the canister was in all practicality, empty.
The other question I have or might affect things is this on Jim's blog:
"Boiling point of n-butane at 6,000'/1800m: About 19F/-7C"
Isn't the above in an open system and it is the internal pressure of the canister that in the key? And, closer to sea level pressures (and could be higher)?Feb 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm #1955742
"Paul, if you want to test your stove in cold conditions I would try to duplicate the sato test but do as jim did and use two canisters filled with N-butane (jim could probably help you with that). You should get the results Jim got. After that I would do the test again but this time fuel the Sato with N-butane and fuel the other stove with MSR or Snowpeak fuel."
Thanks for the offer but I do most of my cold weather hiking in Colorado 14er areas. I'll be there in March. I'm happy to make it to the top, stop for something hot to eat or drink – if temps permit – and get back down.
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