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GSI Outdoors Pinnacle 4 Season Review

If you need enhanced cold weather or high altitude performance, take a look at this stove
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle 4 Season
Photo: GSI Outdoors
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Packs down small, easy to use
Cons:  Slow, mediocre simmering
Manufacturer:   GSI Outdoors
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2021
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50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 19
  • Fuel Efficiency - 25% 5
  • Weight - 25% 5
  • Simmering Ability - 20% 5
  • Ease Of Use - 20% 6
  • Boil Time - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The GSI Pinnacle 4 Season is a remote canister stove that does well in the sort of situations it's named for: cold or higher altitudes. In these contexts (or when the fuel canister is low), the canister can be inverted for improved performance. In normal spring-summer-fall backpacking situations, it's about average. The remote design means that it's nearly impossible to burn your fingers if you're adjusting the valve while the pot is boiling over, and the overall height of the stove and cookware is low and more stable. We think the fuel efficiency would be considerably improved with the addition of a windscreen.

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Pros Packs down small, easy to useLightweight, works in the wind, great piezo lighter, very stable for small canister stoveWorks in the wind, great for simmering, best of the bestTiny, light, cheapGood at simmering, simple operation
Cons Slow, mediocre simmeringNot the most fuel efficient, pot supports pack up separately from stoveUnreliable piezo igniterSmall burner head, poor wind performanceNo piezoelectric igniter, slow to boil
Bottom Line If you need enhanced cold weather or high altitude performance, take a look at this stoveOur favorite small canister stove, providing the best performance for most backpackersThis simmering champ can also perform in the windA shockingly small and lightweight inexpensive modelThis standard small canister stove is good for simmering but bulky in your pack
Rating Categories Pinnacle 4 Season Soto Windmaster MSR PocketRocket De... BRS-3000T Primus Essential Trail
Fuel Efficiency (25%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
6.0
Weight (25%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
Simmering Ability (20%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Boil Time (10%)
3.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
3.0
Specs Pinnacle 4 Season Soto Windmaster MSR PocketRocket De... BRS-3000T Primus Essential Trail
Category Remote Canister Small Canister Small Canister Small Canister Small Canister
Trail Weight 5.6 oz 3.0 oz 3.0 oz 0.9 oz 3.9 oz
Wind Boil Time (1 L, 2-4mph) 15 min 7:24 min:sec 7:20 min:sec 15 min 15 min
Boil Time (1 liter) 5:44 min:sec 4:42 min:sec 3:39 min:sec 4:43 min:sec 6:00 min:sec
Packed Weight 5.7 oz 3.5 oz 3.5 oz 1 oz 3.9 oz
Dimensions (inches) 2 x 1.8 x 3.2 in 4.7 x 3.9 x 3.6 in 3.3 x 2.2 x 1.8 in 1.97 x 1.2 x 1.3 in 4.3 x 2.4 in
Fuel Type Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane Isobutane
Additional items included Stuff sack Stuff sack, pot support Stuff sack Stuff sack None
Piezo Igniter No Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

There aren't a lot of remote canister stoves on the market, and we're excited to add another to our line-up. Though the GSI Pinnacle 4 Season is nothing special under normal 3-season backpacking conditions, the ability to flip the canister over provides a big advantage to backpackers who are active in the shoulder seasons or winter.

Performance Comparison


Getting psyched for dinner with the Pinnacle.
Getting psyched for dinner with the Pinnacle.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Fuel Efficiency


The Pinnacle is fairly fuel-efficient if it can be kept out of the wind. It burned 0.4 ounces of fuel when boiling a liter of water in calm conditions. This is an above-average score. However, it failed to boil water in front of our testing fan and burned 1.3 ounces of fuel in the attempt. We average those numbers for the score in this metric, so the windy performance brought it down.

Because this is a remote canister stove, the canister can be flipped upside down for better performance when conditions are colder, when the canister is getting low, or when at a higher altitude. There's no included support for this, so in practice, we found that it took a bit of balancing on uneven ground.

While GSI does not ship the Pinnacle with a windscreen, it does approve their use with this stove. The remote canister design means that wrapping the stove in a windscreen can't dangerously heat up the canister. Since we test the stoves only with the parts and accessories they are supplied with, we didn't use a windscreen with this stove. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend a one for this stove and suspect that using one would make a noticeable boost in fuel efficiency.

The Pinnacle vs the fan (out of frame to the left). Flame (and heat)...
The Pinnacle vs the fan (out of frame to the left). Flame (and heat) can be seen blowing away to the right. An aftermarket windscreen would reduce this.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


The Pinnacle weighs 5.6 ounces (about 158 grams). This is on the lighter side for a remote canister stove, though slightly heavy when compared to the small canister stoves.

We also look at packability in this metric. This stove folds up surprisingly small for packing. Our testers were easily able to pack this in a 1-liter pot with plenty of room for a 4-ounce fuel can and other gear. The hose tends to flop around when the stove is folded up, but a rubber band can keep it nice and tight around the stove.

The Pinnacle plays nicely with other gear in a 1-liter pot with room...
The Pinnacle plays nicely with other gear in a 1-liter pot with room to spare.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Simmering Ability


The Pinnacle posts a so-so score when it comes to simmering. It's pretty easy to turn the flame way down, which is good. However, the burner head is on the smaller side, which keeps the heat focused on the center of the pot. This means that you'll need to be good about stirring when you're cooking to keep your food circulating evenly through the center of the pot.

We've observed that with stoves that have a hose connecting the fuel to the burner (liquid fuel and remote canister stoves), there is often a time lag between when a valve adjustment is made and when there is a change in the flame. This can make simmering harder. We happily did not experience that with this stove, though — flame response to valve adjustments was seemingly instant.

The Pinnacle turned down super low (left) which helped it simmer...
The Pinnacle turned down super low (left) which helped it simmer. However, when turned up (right) the flame is still concentrated in the center of the pot.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Ease Of Use


Remote canister stoves put the flame control on top of the can, as opposed to on the burner. The major advantage of that feature is that even if the pot is boiling over like Mount Vesuvius, you can turn the stove down or off with no damage to your hands.

No danger of scalding your hands here.
No danger of scalding your hands here.
Photo: Ian McEleney

The pot supports on the Pinnacle are a bit bigger than on most of the small canister stoves, but it still packs down nice and small because the supports fold up quite well. However, the folding and unfolding procedure wasn't intuitive, and it took a bunch of days of use before we got good at it.

While we don't measure how loud each stove is in any accurate or precise way, our anecdotal observation is that the Pinnacle is loud! It seemed to be noticeably louder than the small canister stoves. It also lacks a piezoelectric igniter.

Boil Time


The Pinnacle is nothing special when it comes to boil time. It took 5 minutes and 44 seconds to boil a liter of water in calm conditions, and it was unable to boil water in front of our tester fan. However, speedy boil times are not what this stove is built for.

Once the stove is warmed up, flipping the canister over will lead to...
Once the stove is warmed up, flipping the canister over will lead to better boil times when it's really cold.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


We think that the Pinnacle 4 Season is a great value only for hikers who will be taking advantage of the improved cold or high altitude performance offered by the option to invert the canister.

Conclusion


Remote canister stoves offer a few advantages for specific situations, and we think that the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle 4 Season is a good example of this type of stove. While it's not particularly light or fuel-efficient, it is reasonably easy to use, and it packs down nice and small. We strongly recommend using this stove with a windscreen, which you will have to purchase separately.

This is a good choice to fire up for shoulder season trips.
This is a good choice to fire up for shoulder season trips.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Ian McEleney