Camping stoves are many, but the vast majority will suffer from depleted performance in windy conditions. Whether lessening the effects of the flame, or extinguishing it all together, when it comes to cooking in camp; wind is not your friend. The Coleman Fyrestorm however, is designed to continue to perform in wind speeds of up to 6m/s (just over 13mph).
When backpacking and wild camping, one of the most important things to consider is your cooking system. At the end of a long day of hiking it is absolutely necessary to refuel your body. Not only is it a great boost of mood and morale to enjoy a well earned, full evening meal – but it also helps in repairing your body’s muscles and provides energy for your body to use in keeping you warm over night. Often, a windshield is necessary when using stoves in any degree of wind. The Coleman Fyrestorm should alleviate the need, but how did it perform on first use?
In principal, the Fyrestorm is similarly designed to a lot of other backpacking stoves. Small, and lightweight (at 136g), three fold-out pot stabilisers, central burner, and a screw thread to a ‘normal’ gas canister. In this space, the stove does well. The fold-out stabilisers are of a decent size and should suit pots of various sizes. In use, a 10cm diameter pot and 15cm diameter frying pan both sat comfortably with no uncertainty over whether they might fall. The burner head sits a good level below the base of a pot when in use, which is part of the design aimed at improving the performance of the Fyrestorm in the wind – but it also means that the flame is fed well and not smothered at all. In terms of size, the burner head is relatively small. If the burner head used was slightly larger, it would improve the distribution of the flame across the pot; allowing the contents to heat more evenly as opposed to subjecting one area to intense, direct heat.
The Fyrestorm does not have a piezo ignition, which I generally perceive to be a good point as these are often the first part of a stove to break or malfunction. Having a stove with an attached igniter makes it easy to think it pointless bringing anything else, and so if the piezo was to break it’d be cold porridge for breakfast!
One of the main differences in the design of the Coleman Fyrestorm is the mechanism that extends the arms for the pot, and holds them in place. Most backpacking stoves will involve simply pulling the arms out until they are fully extended. Whether pulling upwards, or to either side – it can be easy to push the arms back inadvertently, causing the pot to be unstable. The Fyrestorm features a bayonet type mechanism, where by – the red section is pushed upwards and then rotated which in turn raises the arms and locks in place. While the arms, and mechanism in general, feel a little loose – this feature definitely works. The only way in which the arms would collapse would for the red section to be manually rotated out of its locked position. Holding a 1L pot, full of water was no problem in terms of weight either.
Of course, the main feature of the Coleman Fyrestorm is its performance in windy conditions. Perhaps the main detractor of performance of gas stoves besides the cold, is wind. In most situations within the UK (unless camping higher up in winter), 4 season mix gas would tend to work adequately with regards to temperature. As such, it is probably sensible to say that the most prominent detractor of performance of gas stoves is indeed wind.
The first part of design that is featured, is a ‘step-down’ burner. Rather than the outlet holes for the gas rising, and coming to a prominent point – they cascade downwards, so that more of the seat of the flame is below the rim of the burner head. In using this design, the flame is less likely to be affected by wind blowing across the top of the burner. This was certainly effective in every occasion during testing. At no point did the flame go out whilst cooking in the wind. The seat of the flame was never affected, and the stove continued to burn, even when cooking outside the porch a tent and during one outing, on the summit of The Old Man Of Coniston. That particular evening, there were steady gusts of wind through most of the night – yet a wind shield was not needed to keep the stove burning.
The second design feature of the Coleman Fyrestorm to provide further wind resistence is the “Wind Block” system. Essentially, this is an integrated wind shield that protects the flame. The need for oxygen to reach the flame will of course remain, which is the reason for the holes within the Wind Block shields – allowing for an efficient burn. Again, the flame was never put out by the wind and did not appear to show much movement during gusts. Despite this, the boil times did seem fairly lengthy.
There could be a number of reasons for this in actuality, and it may not be the case that the slower performance was due to wind/an ineffective wind resistance. It could be the case that not enough oxygen reaches the flame, and so the stove does not burn quite so hot. Although, Coleman do claim an output of 3kW. A second factor may be the ambient temperature, as gas stoves do slow down somewhat as it gets colder. That said – I did use the Coleman Fyrestorm with Coleman’s Xtreme Gas, which should be good down to -27c. The concentration of the flame in one area of the pot may have also had an impact here.
Despite a marginally longer boil time it does have to be said that the Coleman Fyrestorm does work, and definitely works well enough for practical use, in windy conditions. It was a genuine surprise to see the flame hardly falter with no additional wind protection. During warmer months, with slight breezes – this stove would be excellent. In combination with Coleman’s Xtreme gas, the stove did perform better than was expected of a gas stove while in windy conditions and temperatures of -3 to -4c. It is without doubt that the performance so far has been better than other ‘pocket’ backpacking stoves used in the past in similar conditions, and after short term use; the Coleman Fyrestorm has impressed.
Do keep an eye out for a longer term review after winter, when the Coleman Fyrestom will continue to be used with Coleman’s Xtreme gas.