A good reliable and effective stove is a bit of kit that something many value.
Having the ability to have a hot cuppa or a bowl of soup when out in the wilds can prevent a good day from becoming miserable.
There are many different lightweight stoves available to the walker and it is often quite challenging to identify which stove is best suited to you and within your budget. Some stoves are too fiddly to operate and some require the technical knowledge of a NASA engineer in order to put them together.
Highlander Blade Fastboil MkII Stove
The Blade Fastboil Mk2 is manufactured by Scottish outdoors firm Highlander and is a re-engineered and improved version of their popular Blade stove. I owned the original version for a short while and, while it was fairly effective, it did have some quirks in it ’s design and I was keen to see what Highlander had done to iron these out.
The Blade Mk2 is a “Jet Boil” type stove. In the outdoors community, these kind of stoves are commonly refered to as being a Personal Cooking System (PCS) which really just means that the fuel, burner and pot are integrated into one easy to use and easy to transport unit.
PCS stoves are also known for their efficient use of fuel and making the most of the heat that is generated.
Design & Construction
The Blade Mk2 has been well manufactured and finished. The burner is compact and can be quickly mounted on to a gas canister even when wearing chunky winter gloves.
The burner/canister assembly is kept stable by way of a folding plastic stand that clips to the base of the canister. The stand can accommodate the two common diameters of gas canister.
The burner is controlled by a easy to access regulator valve which provides a good range of adjustment. The gas itself is ignited using a piezo-electric system the red push button for which is located on the opposite site to the regulator valve. The push button is again accessible and can be operated while wearing gloves.
The pot has been given a non-stick coating and has a capacity of 1.1 litre although I found through use that in real terms the capacity really is only 900ml which is still respectable for a stove of this sort.
The pot handles are attached in a typical butterfly-type arrangement and are covered in a thick silicon coating to allow the user to lift the pot when hot.
The pot has a insulated sleeve wrapped around it and Highlander have provided two of these sleeves with the stove – one in plain black and the other in a camouflage pattern. These sleeves are easy to clean and offer a good level of insulation.
The pot is supplied with a silicon lid which doubles as a strainer (great for pasta lovers) and is easy to fit.
On the base of the pot there is a circular array of heat transfer fins designed to increase the efficiency of the burner. The pot is mounted to the burner via push and turn mounting ring which is simple and allows for the pot to be securely mounted to the burner and prevents it from being blown over.
The Blade Mk2 is simple to operate and lightweight (approx 0.6 kg). I have used the stove in the hills and mountains in some pretty harsh winter conditions (high winds, rain, hail and snow) and it has worked well and made sure we got our vital hot cup of tea to keep us going.
The stove went together well when I was wearing my thick winter gloves and while the light conditions were poor. The stove ignited quickly and burned effectively and got water boiling very quickly. When heating soup up, the non-stick coating worked well which is good as you don’t have to struggle to clean it before storing it in your pack.
Once taken apart, the various elements of the stove and the gas canister are stored within the pot and stowed away in the provided storage bag. The stove in it’s stored state is compact and doesn’t take up too much space in your pack.
While not quite up to the same performance and standard as the original systems made by the originator of this type of stove, Jetboil, the Blade Fastboil Mk2 is still an effective option for the walker.
The Highlander Blade Fastboil Mk2 stove is a great performing mid-level cooking solution at an affordable price.