Coleman Fyrestorm Stove and Coleman Xtreme Gas Review

17th Aug 2016

fyrestorm stove

A long time ago, in my early days as a novice mountaineer, the stove of choice for most people was those blue Camping Gas International stoves where the cartridge was pierced by the attachment mechanism.  They performed reasonably well but were bulky and the gas, once fitted, couldn’t be unfastened until it was finished.  This led to a significant drop off in performance when the gas pressure dropped and the fuel didn't vaporise as efficiently.  The gas also didn’t perform very efficiently in cold temperatures because again this affected how it vaporised.  Even so, I used that stove on many adventures and it came with me on early trips to the Alps.  But all that changed when my friend arrived on one of our camping trips with a Coleman stove……

I’ve no idea what model it was but this stove had everything.  The stove unit was far more compact than the ones we’d used before which gave it a much lower centre of gravity making it much less prone to falling over.  The construction materials used were lighter and simple pressed fins for the pan supports had replaced solid pieces of bent steel and the whole design looked stripped down and with far more attention to detail in the design.  The other massive change was the use of self sealing gas cartridges with a higher propane content.  This made the stoves more efficient, easier to pack up for transport and the gas mix meant far better cold weather performance.  I coveted the posh Coleman stove my friend had from that moment right until I could afford one myself.

I have had a lot of stoves since those days but all the gas stoves i’ve used have followed the basic design features of that Coleman.  There has been weight trimmed off here and there and other design tweeks.  There has also been additions like piezo ignition and lower profiles - but at the end of the day those stoves changed it all.  Nowadays Coleman continue to produce dependable stoves at a good price point and recently we were sent a model called the Fyrestorm to review.

The other part of the stove/fuel equation is, of course, the gas used.  Since those early days the range of options has increased dramatically and the performance has also massively improved.  Put simply, higher performance gases will have a higher propane content and the Coleman Xtreme gas we were sent to try has a high propane to butane ratio which should ensure it can cope with very low temperatures.   

The Test

The Fyrestrom and Xtreme gas has been out and about for many camping adventures over this spring and summer.  This has included some family camps, mountain leader courses and a wild camp on a Mountain Skills course.  Despite our variable weather it has been hard to reproduce very low temperatures but we did get improvisational here and left the gas canister sitting in a bowl of ice cubes for an hour before use to see how it coped with temperatures we might encounter in winter.

The Fyrestorm Design

The first key for a camping or mountaineering stoves is that it folds up compactly and isn’t too heavy.  The Fyrestorm is a compact little unit where, typical of stoves of this type, three legs slide up and lock into place.  Once locked they are secure and will support pans safely.  A small handle then controls the flame and a thread at the bottom screws the stove onto the gas canister.  It is all very simple and there isn’t anything extra or anything to confuse the user.

The burner head is sheltered by a mesh frame which Coleman call Windblock.  This is designed to offer wind protection from all directions.  The weight of the stove is 136grams, the output is 3000 watts and the stove is supplied with a mesh bag and protective sleeve.  

The Xtreme Gas Design

We were also supplied with a Coleman C300 canister which weighs 230grams and is a propane/butane mix designed to perform in extremely cold weather up to -27 degrees Celsius.  

The Results

First inspection of the Fyrestorm revealed a compact and well designed stove that would be perfectly suitable for the backpacking or mountaineering use Coleman designed it for.  I liked the way the pan supports slide into place and lock - once it is set up it feels secure.  It also sits fairly low (at least comparable to other models such as MSR’s popular Pocket Rocket) which is important because this makes it far less likely your pan will tip the stove over.

The weight, at 136 grams, makes it a reasonable proposition for lightweight activities although it certainly doesn’t stack it up against some of the super lightweight models on the market.  Having said that, the build quality is excellent and this stove will stand up to hard use well compared to some of the stoves available which do seem rather flimsy.  

Part of that weight also comes from the Windblock shield which isn’t something you’d find on many other models and is an innovative solution to one of the age old problems with lightweight canister stoves. I was intrigued to know how this would work.  The Windblock mesh sits around the burner unit and is designed to allow normal combustion while also protecting the stove from side winds.  I thought this might be a bit of a gimmick but in reality it worked really well.  

We trialled the stove with gusting side winds and a constant breeze and the mesh stopped most of the wind getting through to the burner.  In very strong winds the flame, despite stating lit, was affected considerably but there is certainly going to be a limit to what a small metal mesh lip can cope with.  In other conditions it really did make a big difference and hats off to the Coleman design team for this system.

Besides all that, there aren’t any other big surprises with the Fyrestorm - and I like that.  It is simple to understand, simple to use and is built durably.  It won’t let you down and will perform well.  I would have really liked to see Coleman add an igniter to this stove as this would have rounded off the package and I’m not sure why they didn’t, but then again there is no point in adding an ignition system if it doesn’t perform well and so with this stove you’ll be using a lighter or fire steel.

A nice touch from Coleman is the solid tube/mesh bag storage system which ensures the stove will survive when crushed into the corner of a rucksack.  You can always save a few grams and use just the mesh bag if you’d prefer, but the combo is hardly going to add much to your pack anyway.   

The Xtreme Gas has been fantastic. The C300 canister we were sent is a reasonably broad based canister that is an ideal size for a few days away where you’ll be mainly heating water and cooking simple meals.  It actually weighs, slightly confusingly, 230 grams and I’m not sure why Coleman didn’t label it to reflect the gas content, but that is only similar to some other manufacturers.  There is also a C500, C250 and C100 in the range.

As stated, the gas is designed for use in all temperatures, but the propane/butane mix also makes it suitable for use in extreme cold.  Infact, on the casing Coleman state -27 degrees Celsius but do make clear that’s a theoretical calculation based on a full cartridge and will vary depending on the stove used.  Propane content helps the gas to vaporise in cold conditions and so this gas will perform better than either butane only mixes or gas with a low propane to butane ratio, but we got nowhere near to -27 during the test period and so it is very hard to comment on whether it will work at this temperature.

We did a comparison test with a standard canister and certainly the results were very good.  Coleman claim 3000 watts of output from the stove and a boil time for one litre of water at under 9 minutes (at 3m/s wind speed).  In our tests the Xtreme gas and Fyrestorm combo achieved a boil time around 90 seconds faster than the same stove with standard gas.

Summary

I really like this stove.  It may not be the model I take for ultralight adventures but it is a great option for trips where weight isn’t such a significant factor and particularly trips where you’d be cooking in windy conditions.  The Windblock system also means a windshield isn’t needed so its weight actually stacks up well against a separate stove and windshield combination.  

It is good value, well constructed and simple to operate.  It also has a robust build which feels as though it will last extremely well and will survive considerable hard use.  This is helped by a stainless steel construction and solidly built support arms but is also reflected in all aspects of the solid build.  

The Xtreme gas also works brilliantly and there is really no reason not to choose this type of Butane/Propane mix for any adventure.  It works far better in cold conditions but still works extremely well in warm conditions too.  It is a win/win choice.

The Fyrestorm stove retails at £50 and Xtreme gas (in the C300 size) retails at £6.  Please also check out the informative Coleman video below and Coleman website here for more information.

Posted by Paul

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