“Soto” means Outdoors in Japanese. And indeed this is a stove from the land of the Samurai, Sashimi and vending machines that dispense used knickers which is as clever as the aforementioned vending machine, as light as a Sashimi lunch and as precise as a Samurai sword.
What makes this particular Soto stove special is the Micro Regulator inside it’s tiny little body. In plain English, what that means is this:
When you use a gas stove, the gas bottle will get colder due to the laws of physics and the decreasing pressure in the gas bottle. This reduction in temperature of the gas slows down its escape from the bottle and in a nutshell the longer you use a gas bottle, the less quickly it releases its gas and the slower your tea boils.
The Micro Regulator on the Soto stove compensates for this change in pressure and keeps your flames burning at a regular rate. This also helps when you use the stove in winter, for exactly the same reason. Soto brag that their stove will boil your cup of tea in half the time of an un-regulated stove at low temperatures. Impressive statement, and it did indeed seem to boil up a litre of water very quickly.
I’d like to be able to tell you exactly how fast, and I did start a stop-watch when I lit the stove. Unfortunately, three times in a row my smooth bottomed pan jumped off the Soto’s three pan-rests before it got to boil. I managed to poach a section of field, but didn’t get a cup of tea for 20 minutes.
The stove is tiny. It weighs 73g, which is a smidge more than a Mars Bar, and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. The pan arms fold down easily – possibly a little too easily – and an in-built igniter dispenses with the need for a match. It works very well, firing the gas immediately, and is tucked out of the way to avoid accidental damage.
The gas-rate adjuster is easy to twist on and off and seals securely. It’s got a big handle for gloved-hands. The o-ring which seals the stove to the gas is also good.
I happen to think that the burner head is a thing of beauty. Loads of small holes each give out little blue plumes of gas and generate a massive amount of heat with very little ‘show’.
So, back to those pesky jumping pans, and the only downside to the Soto stove. Perhaps it was my pans (I tried a couple of different ones), but the fairly narrow diameter of the Soto’s arms meant that balancing any weight of water or food on the stove was a serious pain and downright dangerous on grass – forget stirring your soup in a tent porch, you’ll end up wearing it on your shoes. If I can get hold of either a grooved-bottom pan, or a less clumsy set of arms, I’ll revisit this review and tell you that the cooking experience was as good as it looked. For now, however, I’m knocking it down from full marks.
SUMMARY: Ultra-lightweight, tiny stove with a great heat output, instant ignition and brilliant build quality. My only problem was that it may be a bit TOO small for all but the lightest and smallest pan due to a small diameter. I kept losing my hot water to its own shaking boil. I’ll ask Soto for some of their pans and see if that makes a difference.
Price: £75 rrp (£68 online)
From: Google Shopping
More info: Soto
Tags and search info for this review: This is a camping stove review. GearWeAre.com tests and reviews stoves, cooking gear, outdoor gear and camping equipment.