A solid addition to MSR's Windburner system, just…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $80
A solid addition to MSR's Windburner system, just big enough to cook simple meals for four people, but not 100% compatible with the canister-top Windburner and not as fuel-efficient as smaller pots in the system.
- Just big enough to cook for four
- Excellent design and construction
- Tough, EZ-cleen ceramic coating
- Somewhat unstable on canister-top Windburner
- Less fuel-efficient than smaller Windburner pots
- Pricey when sold as add-on
My wife and I have been using the canister-top Windburner with the 1.8 L pot as our preferred two-person cook system for at least three years. That pot is just big enough to hold two portions of one of our standard meals, “Tuna P. Wiggle” (two boxes of macaroni and cheese with some freeze-dried peas and a can of tuna), with a little room left over for stirring.
But when our good friends Matt and Pennie joined us on our recent hike on Hornstrandir in Iceland, we decided to spring for the 2.5 L sauce pot rather than use an older, heavier cook system. It served us well on our six-day hike and will likely see more use on future trips with three or four participants.
Solid design and build
1.8 L pot left, 2.5 L pot right
Rather than a finned, double-bottomed heat exchanger as on the 1.0 and 1.8 L Windburner pots (and MSR’s Reactor system pots), this one has a simple mounting ring that centers the pot on the burner, with vent holes that allows exhaust and heat to flow up and around the bottom of the pot. It also does not lock onto the burner, so it is more vulnerable to accidental spillage than the smaller pots.
Ready to roll
The lid has holes for draining pasta, with an ingenious little roll-up lock on one side and a simple tab on the opposite side that mates with a crimp on the lid to keep it in place while draining or in the pack.
The removable, locking handle flips over the lid and snaps in place on the hard rubber lifter in the center, further locking the lid in place and making for a compact bundle. The weight-bearing prongs are solid aluminum and snap in place on a plastic roller.
Handle locking mechanism
The 2.5 L pot is sold with the remote canister Windburner stove as a group cooking system, and MSR recommends that it should be used with the remote canister burner, probably because of stability issue described below. Because we already own the canister-top model, we decided to try it anyway, and used the pot with a mid-size canister and the wide canister stand that comes with the 1.8 L pot. This provided enough stability for cooking on a flat surface but is at the upper stability limit for the canister-top model, especially when the pot is full.
The canister stand is about as wide as the 2.5 L pot
The pot is sized to accommodate the remote canister Windburner stove and a mid-size canister, but unfortunately the canister-top stove is larger and only fits in with a small canister, which would further reduce stability so it’s not really an option. In our case, we carried the 1.8 L pot with burner and canister separately and stashed a second gas canister or some food along with some cooking accessories in the 2.5 L pot.
If we were to use this as our only pot, I guess we would put the stove inside with some padding, food, and accessories to keep it from bouncing around and carry the canister separately. All this means that it’s really better to purchase this pot with the remote canister model if you are buying into the system for the first time.
Although it is meant to be an integrated part of the Windburner system, I see no reason why it couldn’t be used with some other stoves, i.e. my little Whitebox alcohol stove, with appropriate care and should the need arise.
Just enough for four
The 2.5 L volume is just big enough to make Tuna P. Wiggle or other one-pot meals for four. More elaborate meals would require more pots and/or volume. The canister-top Windburner does not simmer well, so cooking without burning or sticking requires more or less continual stirring and tweaking the gas flow, very much a continuous, two-handed operation.
Although the ceramic coating is not completely stick-proof in the cooking phase, when it comes to wash-up it cleans up easily and is much more scratch resistant than Teflon coatings: A+ on that front.
Not as efficient
Some of the product descriptions describe the mounting ring on the bottom of the pots as “heat capturing”. That is misleading. It is not a proper heat exchanger as found on the 1.0 and 1.8 l pots, so the 2.5 L pot is inherently less efficient than its predecessors. It took it about 7 minutes to boil a liter of cold tap water with the stove on a half-full canister at full power, substantially more than twice the ca. 2.5 minutes it takes to boil 0.5 L in the smaller pots. MSR’s own comparison chart says that the 2.5 L pot will boil 1.7 L of water per oz. of fuel vs. 2.3 L for the 1.0 and 1.8 L pots, a more than 25% decrease in efficiency.
For longer trips with 3+ people with cook-in-pouch meals, it might be more weight-efficient to boil and refill using one of the smaller pots, otherwise it might be a good idea to increase the fuel allowance. In the cold, rainy, and sometimes windy climate of Hornstrandir we decided to have plenty of extra fuel for cuppasoups and hot drinks, and we were glad to have along the 1.8 L pot just for boiling water.
Worth the price?
As with other Windburner components, the 2.5 L pot comes with a hefty price tag, one I might well choke on if I weren’t already invested in the system (and earning a Norwegian salary). The Group System including both the pot and the remote canister Windburner is a better deal.
Price and efficiency issues aside, the Windburner 2.5 is a rugged and well-thought out addition to the Windburner system. I look forward to future use on trips with family and friends.
A week-long backpacking trip on the cool, wet, and windy Hornstrandir peninsula plus some backyard testing.