The Fire Maple Fire-FORCE stove (FMS-103) is a compact screw-on canister stove that is an affordable, yet well-made piece of gear. It’s not quite as light or efficient as big names like the MSR Pocket Rocket, but it does have loads of bang for buck, and is popping up everywhere on trails nowadays.
Price: R325 (at time of writing)
Size: Open: Ø123mm x 80mm; closed: Ø70mm x 92.5mm
Time to boil 1L of tap water at sea level: 6min 35sec
Baseline test by Hiking South Africa: MSR Pocket Rocket took 6min 25sec to boil under same conditions.
This nifty little stove is a breeze to operate and has quickly become one of my favourite pieces of gear. It has three pot supports that fold inwards to make for a compact package, and comes with a hard plastic storage case, roomy enough for the stove and a lighter. The whole package easily fits inside most pots or a large cup and you won’t even notice its weight.
The burner head, although small in diameter, delivers a solid punch and has a three-way windshield that helps prevent the flame from being blown out.
Ease of Use
The flame adjustment knob is made out of wire, similar to other brands, and is sturdy and operates smoothly – it’s very easy to fine tune the flame for simmering or boiling. There are no loose or jiggling parts.
On a medium flame setting the Fire-FORCE is rather quiet, but turn it up and transforms into a jet engine. However, I found it’s almost always more fuel-efficient not to turn the flame up all the way.
The screw thread fits snugly on Eiger and Coleman canisters I have, and the ability to detach and pack away all my gear is still miles ahead of the old bluet canisters that must be pierced and are then stuck to the stove until they’re empty.
I found the pot supports adequately wide for 1 litre pots, but anything larger might tip over. The small burner head also means that the heat is concentrated in a hotspot, so it’s not ideal if you’re baking pancakes.
Furthermore, the usual drawbacks of canister-top stoves apply, such as low stability, poorer performance in cold conditions, and longer boiling times due to wind. The FMS-103 Fire-FORCE is ideal for basic boiling – for more proper cooking, consider the squat-on-the-ground Fire Maple FMS-105.
Lightweight, cheap and folds up small – the ideal first stove for backpackers who are looking for a reliable and no-fuss way to boil water for breakfast, pasta, and a cup of boeretroos. It has one of the best combinations of weight and price in its class and is widely available in South Africa. Highly recommended!