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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Gear Review: Soto Micro Regulator Stove

This stove comes tailor-made for winter campers and high-altitude mountaineers.

by: Casey Lyons

Soto Micro Regulator (BP Photo Dept.)
Soto Micro Regulator (BP Photo Dept.)

Canned Heat
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Cold-Weather King
This new stove arrived late, so it didn't receive the full battery of tests that the others did (and thus isn't scored). But its innovative technology makes it a great choice for winter and alpine campers. Soto claims the Micro Regulator solves the typical problems that plague canister stoves, namely: inferior operation in cold weather and at high altitude. Though we have yet to do high-elevation testing, the prototype excelled during subfreezing campouts. In temperatures between 15° and 30°F, boil times varied from 4.5 to six minutes–30 to 50 percent faster than the other stoves in this test. The secret is a fingertip-size fuel regulator inside the burner, which maintains a steady flow of gas. And in our controlled tests, the Micro Regulator scored the lowest average boil time and tied-for-first efficiency. On the downside, flame control is just average.



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READERS COMMENTS

Edwin in Alabama
Sep 18, 2012

I'm saving the last few canisters I have of Coleman Powermax for my few winter trips. Never used it below 14 degrees, but it works great to that point. Still not sure why someone else can't make it even if Coleman couldn't make it sell. For those that don't know, it's a remote canister that sits horizontal to run the Coleman backpacker stove.

Gary W
Sep 18, 2012

I have the Soto stove and love it. Has great flame control for simmering. I pair this with a non-stick pot that has heat recovery fins on the bottom (can't think of the name) and it sips fuel and boils water faster than similar stoves I've had. Only drawback for me was that igniter was intermittent at 6000 ft.

Steven
Sep 18, 2012

The Soto Micro Regulator was tested against the MSR pocket rocket and the article was posted on the backpackinglight magazine web site (it's behind a pay wall). They found no difference between the two at freezing temperatures. Once the fuel temperature dropped below the boiling point of the fuel both stoves stopped working.

If you need a canister stove that will work at temperatures below freezing you need a remote canister stove that has a preheat tube. On these stoves you start the stove with the canister upright and then after minute turn the canister upside down. At that point the propane in the canister forces liquide butane to flow to the stove. The butane is then heated by the flame of the burner before it is burned. Remote temperature stoves can operate reliably at temperatures well below boiling point of the fuel.

DV
Feb 12, 2012

Phil Maher,
That is why you use a mixed fuel, not straight n-butane. N-butane will not boil below 31F, it is typically blended in because it is inexpensive, burns very well, and keeps canister pressure low enough for lightweight canisters. Look for isobutane with a boiling point of 12F blended with a gas like propane with a boiling point of -44F for cold weather performance.
Now, I'm not saying you'll get a stove that works down to -44F. The way the science works out, I'd guess you'll get enough pressure to comfortably use a canister down to about 0F with a stove designed for this.
Regarding piezo igniters in cold: I'm not familiar with the idea that they don't work in these temps. I packed my jetboil this winter for an overnight where a warm front was supposed to pass the afternoon I headed out. It didn't, and the overnight low was around -30F instead of the 10F predicted. Tossed the canister in my parka for the last mile snowshoe in and left it there while we set up camp. Jetboil started right up with the piezo ignitor and fuel canister stayed working through boiling enough water for tea and dinner.

Crabbit
Aug 26, 2011

The thing about this stove is the price difference between the states and the UK. At todays rates it costs 42 to buy in the States compared to 70/75 in the UK. How can this differential be justified?

R. OLear
May 26, 2010

So far, used it above 8000ft and temps around freezing and it worked flawlessly with the exception that the Piezo ignitor took 2-3 presses to ignite the gas. When tested at home (about 7000ft and room temperature), the Piezo ignitor worked on the first attempt. Other then that, it worked as advertised. I though flame adjustability was more then sufficent. Will probably have to wait until later this year to try it in temps colder then freezing.

phil maher
Mar 09, 2010

Ive been trying to find some info on exactly how this micro regulator works. Canisters contain basically 2-3 types of fuel, each one with a set boiling point, below which the fuel will fail to vaporize, making anything but inverting the canister and creating a liquid feed, somewhat moot in terms of stove performance (I can't burn that which can't be delivered efficiently). Is it really a matter of regulation, and not fuel temperature limitations? Is Soto telling me that their stove can burn n-butane at 15F? It also strikes me that the inclusion of a Piezo ignition system is somewhat of a non-starter (literally). The very claim-to-fame of the OD-1R is it's ability to operate in cold/sub-freezing temperatures, whereas Piezos don't work much below freezing, nor reliably above 8000 ft. Great idea, if it works, but I need to see some test data before I'm convinced. Somebody?

Pat Kennedy
Jul 23, 2009

I agree with all statements regarding the Soto Micro Regulator with the exception of how adjustable the stove is. I have found it to be the most adjustable stove I've ever used; great for baking or simmering when super low flame is needed.

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