On review; Soto Muka Stove – Rating; 9 out of 10 (7 being my level for an item you can safely bring on an Expedition)
I have 26 years of Expedition experience behind me and I have spent over 2500 nights in a tent. Most of them I have cooked something to eat and drink two or three times that day on my Expedition stove. That makes around 7500 meals cooked by this stove. When I first began I used a Swedish invention called Trangia which in those days ran on methylated spirits. It still does. In many ways it was a dream. Silent (which by the years gets more important), reliable, all packed in one, easy to use, extremely safe, but as I realized on my first trip on a pushbike from Chile to Alaska. Methylated spirits weren´t easily accessible in most countries and it took a lot of work to find it. So, during the next trip, I changed for a petrol stove, because as an explorer going to extreme places, you will always find petrol. I was lucky to be offered an XGK II from MSR, which in those days was the Rolls Royce of the outdoor stoves. Extremely reliable, easy to fix and do maintenance on, handled the dirtiest of petrol with ease, an easy packable solution and worked even below -40 degrees Celsius. But clogged up at 41 below…The only negative aspect with this stove was two things, first, incredibly noisy, you would scare any wildlife away with ease and secondly, you really had to be awake when pre-heating it with petrol otherwise your face could easily be damaged! But I kept those stove with me for years and figured I would never change and I thought stoves couldn´t get better. However, when preparing for the Yemen Expeditions I needed a new stove. I asked MSR, but they didn´t even get back to me. American companies seldom does. No matter if you have worked with them for 20 years. Well, I understand, new people, new ideas. So by chance I talked to my old Siberian buddy, Johan Ivarsson, who I trust more than most on the subject of gear, who worked for a supplier, Wenaas Sport og Fritid, and he said they had a great Japanese stove, Soto, and swore by it. So I brought it with me to Yemen. Both times. And I tell you one thing, I love it!
First of all, being a petrol (gas in the US) stove, it is really silent. And I like that a lot. Secondly, no pre-heating! So easy to get it going. The construction is so simple, easy to learn, reliable, easy to pack, takes no space and I had no problems at all with it. Not even in the extreme temperatures of 50 and more when left out in the sun due to my laziness. There are some details which needs to be modified, like the pump cap which comes loose all the time and I haven´t tried yet in temperatures below -50 degrees Celsius. But soon I will and have no worries. The only reason it doesn´t get a maximum 10, is that I haven´t tried in extremely low temperatures yet and the odd details as mentioned. But for me, it is the kit revelation of the year!
They rate a strong 9!
© Copyright 2013 Explorer Mikael Strandberg | Photos and texts Copyright Explorer Mikael Strandberg