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Soto Microregulator vs. Monatauk Gnat in Cold Wx
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Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Soto Microregulator vs. Monatauk Gnat in Cold Wx on 02/11/2013 14:32:25 MST Print View

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

Adventures In Stoving

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Soto on 02/16/2013 18:51:38 MST Print View

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.

steven franchuk
Re: Soto on 02/16/2013 22:18:44 MST Print View

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.

Edited by Surf on 02/16/2013 23:58:39 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Soto on 02/16/2013 23:19:38 MST Print View

Roger C's take on the Soto.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Soto Microregulator vs. Monatauk Gnat in Cold Wx on 02/17/2013 00:33:39 MST Print View

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.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/17/2013 11:03:01 MST.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Re: Soto on 02/17/2013 04:17:53 MST Print View

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, 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?

Edited by dextersp1 on 02/17/2013 04:39:36 MST.

Joe S
Jorgr cheap stove on 02/17/2013 05:57:27 MST Print View

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.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
[x] on 02/17/2013 09:39:37 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 02/18/2013 08:06:25 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Soto on 02/17/2013 22:51:56 MST Print View

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.

Adventures In Stoving

Mark Fowler
(KramRelwof) - MLife

Locale: Namadgi
So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/17/2013 23:57:31 MST Print View

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.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 02:20:41 MST Print View

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.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 07:50:52 MST Print View

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.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 08:06:46 MST Print View

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.

Edited by dextersp1 on 02/18/2013 08:28:00 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 09:14:04 MST Print View

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.

Adventures in Stoving

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
In defense of Soto on 02/18/2013 09:18:25 MST Print View

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.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/18/2013 09:36:30 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 09:31:39 MST Print View

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.

Adventures in Stoving

Edited by hikin_jim on 02/18/2013 09:36:03 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Neither test very good then on 02/18/2013 10:32:56 MST Print View

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.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/18/2013 10:33:42 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: So what does the pressure regulator do? on 02/18/2013 10:34:49 MST Print View

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.

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
Re: Neither test very good then on 02/18/2013 11:01:21 MST Print View

"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.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Neither test very good then on 02/18/2013 11:14:57 MST Print View

"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 canister