You have to use windscreen. It helps so much more than you can
Windscreen isn't just for windy places, it helps all along, no matter
where and when you use it. Windscreen helps you twice: to block (or at
least slow) the wind, and to keep the heat from vanishing.
Blocking the wind is trivial, You don't want the flame to shut down every half a second. Lots of stoves take care of this some how. The MSR Pocket Rocket, for instance, got some small metal structure on the burner to keep the flame from shutting down.
Keeping the heat is trickier. Even if the wind is really
even close to nothing) a great part of the heat generated by the burner
just blows in the wind. The way some of the brands solve this, is by
producing a dedicated pot, with a built in heat exchanger. They weld
metal fins to the bottom of the pot (from the outside, of course...).
The fins absorb heat from the burner that would otherwise been blown
away. Some windscreens reflect the heat back to the pot. It simply
makes the whole thing more efficient.
Don't heat the can! When adjusting a windscreen, you must make sure you don't heat the fuel! This is relevant for all the stoves but especially important in propane/butane stoves since in these stoves the burner is usually attached directly on the canister. You should keep the canister outside the windscreen so it will not heat up. It might be very dangerous.
The advantages are clear. It is a tested proven product. You can buy the one that fit you most, but it is not tailor made for your stove. The options here are some good windscreens you can choose from
Solid Heat reflector and windscreen (10$ to 15$)
Weighs 2Oz. State of the art. Very easy to handle, folds great. The only one that takes care of the earth too (it reflects the heat from below).
I used to use this one a lot. It's a bit hard to describe its
texture, but it's exactly the right one. Responds to your folds, not
too tough, not to soft. I sure recommend.
cone windscreen (7$ to 12$)
Built for the caldera alcohol stove but can be used for other stoves (like a DIY Pepsi can stove) It comes in different heights, from 4inch (1.1Oz) to 8 inch (1.9Oz).
Aluminum Windscreen (about 10$)
Foldable 5 panels, 10inch high. Weighs 9Oz. Very basic.
Very simple and efficient. Weighs 1.7Oz.
Another option is to build your own backpacking stove
It is a great option since you can make in a way that will be perfect
for YOUR stove.
Backpacking stove windscreen made of aluminum oven liner
Get an aluminum oven liner. Cut it with any scissors you have.
If your stove got some fuel line between the fuel and the burner, the best advice I can give is to cut the aluminum to be slightly higher than the flames and long enough so you could wrap it around the burner. When you use it, it should be pretty close to the pot and surround it fully. Have a look on the MSR example above, it should look something like it. This option goes for alcohol stoves too.
If you use a stove where the burner is attached to the fuel bottle (or canister), the windscreen should be kept open on one side. It should be like half a circle, few inches from the stove. This is mainly to block the wind.
Made of a can
Valid only for cases where the burner is not attached directly to the fuel.
Cut some can that's big enough to hold your stove. It should be near the stove and almost fully around it. Note that you need to cut some air holes at the bottom of the windscreen since the burner must have some air. You don't want to choke it.
In the picture to the right, the windscreen is used around my
Pepsi can stove.
That's a valid option too. It works great with moderate winds. Just cook behind some shelter. Keep in mind that blocking the wind partially is also good. For many stoves, it can make the difference... You can use some big rock, your sleeping pad leaning on some bush or stick, your backpack and so on.
Important point I got from a visitor:
There is a difference between windscreen and pot skirt. A pot skirt is used to balance keeping the rising flame and very hot air as close to the pot as possible and not to impede combustion or allow the hot air to mix with cooler surrounding air. One scientific experiment which analyzed the efficiency for several separation distances in small increments found that the optimal distance is between 8mm and 10mm for small stoves. I assume the experiment was done in an indoor labratory setting where there is no wind. Pot skirts was found to greatly reduce the amount of fuel needed to boil water.
For a pot with a diameter wider than the stove I usually take a sheet of aluminum foil that is 4.5X the diameter of the pot. To use, first wrap around the pot then pinch and roll the extra foil to form a pot skirt that has a 10mm all the way around the pot. The foil pot skirt is reusable for multiple days and is replaced before each trip.
Any questions or additions?
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...