Soto ST-301 (Review)

DSC02130a

Subtitle: An expensive replacement for a $30 portable Asian butane stove.

Base stats:
– Usable with wind screen:
– Power: 12,700 BTU
– Weight” 24.9 oz (including carry bag, not including fuel)
– Boil: 35oz to rolling boil in 11 minutes

The skinny: While not a large stove by car camping standards, the ST-301 butane stove, coming in at 1.5 lbs, is a substantial piece of gear with solid metal parts.  There is an attention to detail that is all about being a full on car camping stove, with ruggedness and long life, in a diminutive package.

The long review:

Some folks might look at this stove and think it is a backpacking stove that is too large. It’s actually an extremely small car camping stove. Use two of these instead of a Coleman two burner suitcase stove, or replace the Asian style butane stove. Last year, JetBoil announced a new ultra compact two burner stove that folks and can be neatly stored inside a pair of pots called the JetBoil Genesis. This would most closely match the compactness goals of the new JetBoil Genesis.

Compared to traditional Asian style butane stoves, the ST-301 is truly diminutive, and would fit inside many steel pots.

DSC02110

Just for fun, here is the ST-301 alongside the Optimus Hiker+ and the Soto STG-10.

DSC02118DSC02127

As is typical with Soto (Shinfjui) stoves, this is a marvel of engineering. The parts all appear durable, and designed to take a beating and keep on ticking. Some of the metal parts are precision cut solid blocks of metal, and some of that weight helps keep the stove put where ever you set it.

The description, piece by piece

The fuel connector:

Many people probably know this, but butane gas canisters are actually unique shaped inside.  Because butane gas canisters need to send out the pressurized vapor gases and not the liquid fuel.  There is a small fuel intake tube that runs along the inside wall from about halfway down the cylinder all the way to the fuel nozzle at the end.

This means that even though the butane fuel tank lies on it’s side, it needs to face a particular way.  In order to accommodate this, all fuel connectors for all fuel stoves are designed to align with a notch in the butane gas canister so it’s always aligned up.

This is why the fuel connector end of the ST-301 has BOTH, a notch to align the gas canister and the two legs that are extended to keep the butane gas canister from rolling (with the added benefit of keeping the gas butane canister from rolling off a table, hehe)

Before connecting the butane gas canister, make sure that the fuel throttle is turned all the way off (clockwise equals off).  I know…duh, right?  But as many stoves as I own, I still make the mistake sometimes, so that’s for anyone who is like me (^_^):

DSC02150

To connect the gas canister to the fuel line, you have to first extend the plastic notches:

DSC02145DSC02148

Once that’s done, slot the canister end into the fuel connection end:

DSC02166

After that, retract that entire assembly (plastic notches and fuel canister), to lock and start the flow of gas from the butane canister.  Of course, the throttle is off, so fuel won’t get to the fuel line.

DSC02168DSC02172

The fuel line is very thick with a durable thick fabric outer shell, surrounding a rubber hose, surrounding the actual fuel line.  This protects the fuel line from abrasions for a very durable line built to last a lifetime.

DSC02177DSC02183
The stove legs:

There’s nothing but rock solid engineering and heavy solid precision cut metal here.  There are two loos legs and one locked one.  When folded up, all the legs are aligned with the locked center one:

DSC02198

So, first you move the two unlocked legs and align the locking pins with the notches in the base copper/brass plate:

DSC02201DSC02209

Once the pin is aligned move the legs into the notch.  and then screw down the locking wheel:

DSC02210

That’s it, super easy.

Next, make sure you move the piezo igniter down.  It’s not locked or anything, so just slides right down.  This is pretty important because in the “up” or “fold away” position, if you start the stove, it will melt the red igniter button.  I have read three different review of people who have made this error.

DSC02219DSC02222

And that’s it.  To turn it on, just open the throttle and click the piezo igniter button, and you’re off.

DSC02234
Usage:

As one would expect of a car camping stove, the ST-301 is designed more for simmering and cooking, and less for quick boils.  The flame also doesn’t go very high. Clearly this is designed to optimize low height, wide diameter, pan cooking.  Interestingly, it can boil water very quickly as well.  About 11 minutes or thereabouts on full blast to boil about 35oz (just over a liter) of water.

DSC02226

As you can see from the photos, the stove head produces a very wide diameter flame, which mitigates the hotspot issue on pots and pans so common among backpacking stoves.  There is still a hotspot, over course, but the wide stove head makes the hotspot much larger, which helps spread the heat more evenly throughout a wider pan. It’s so wide, in fact, that I wouldn’t really recommend using small cups with it. A minimum of 3.5” diameter pot/mug sounds about right, with a 12” pan being the upper limit (though certainly usable).

I’d also recommend steel pots and pans. Titanium works fine too, of course, but most titanium pots and pans are very thin, which can exaggerate hot spots. Cast iron works fine as well, but I’d use smaller cast iron. The pot stand legs use steel rods bent to shape, and having some experience with such setups, I’d be genuinely concerned that the heat from the stove softens the steel legs enough that they may bend under the weight of larger sized cast iron pans. Rather than take the risk, I’m just sticking with steel for now.

 

Incidentally, one advantage I truly enjoy is the ability to bring a wind screen in really close when cooking for even greater levels of heat transfer efficiency when simmering, or cooking in windier situations.  This is actually a huge plus over traditional Asian style butane stoves.

DSC02313DSC02326

As car camping stoves go, this one is a true winner for durability and compactness.  The one disadvantage for those who are in the US is that butane gas canisters are not that accessible.  But if you have an Asian grocery store nearby, chances are they carry them.  The fuel costs are cheaper per minute of use than LPG gas canisters, as these butane gas canisters are priced similarly to 100g (3.5-4oz) gas canisters, but last about 70% longer.  About an hour and 45 minutes.

Other than that, I’m excited to begin using two of these ST-301 stoves vs. two of the more traditional Asian butane stoves as they are much more compact.

As always, if you like the review, please like it, or comment on it, or share it.

Thanks for reading and happy camping!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Soto ST-301 (Review)

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Pretty sure. I could run another test. 32 oz in 11 minutes doesn’t seem awfully long to me. I guess I really expected closer to 9 minutes, so maybe you’re right, but overall, 32 oz in 11 minutes doesn’t seem that out of character for a “technically” 12K BTU stove.

      This stove doesn’t really perform much better than a typical Asian butane stove. It’s big advantage really is that it packs smaller than typical Asian butane stoves, so I sort of expected it to perform similarly.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s