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A kitchen windshield is a detachable metal shield which surrounds the camping stove in order to protect it from the wind. Cooking outside a tent in the fresh air is usually a pleasurable and hassle free experience, but even the smallest breeze can make gas rings burn far less efficiently, taking two or three times as long to boil a kettle full of water. As cooking inside a tent is generally not recommended, a good kitchen windshield is essential if you plan to do any outdoor cooking at all.
Most kitchen stands come complete with windshield to avoid this problem, and have slots or holes in the top surface so that the windshield can be firmly secured to the surface. Unfortunately the Easycamp kitchen stand that I bought last year does not have this, and the only option was to buy a detachable windshield which balanced on the surface of my stand. Researching online and browsing my local camping stores, I quickly realised that non-integral windshields are hard to find. The Outwell model was the only one available that did not have to slot into an existing camping stand, and I bought it for £10 from PJ Camping.
Windshields are fairly small affairs; they are nothing like canvas windbreaks, but are much smaller and easy to transport. The Outwell Windshield is fairly heavy and very robust; made from three hinged steel plates, painted a light grey. It comes with a handy black nylon carrying case, which is especially useful when packing equipment away at the end of a trip, as a greasy, splashed shield can be slipped into the case to be cleaned when home, without spreading the grease all over other bags in the car. One end of the carrying case has a Velcro seal, closing the bag securely.
The windshield is designed to be attached to the camping table with 4 plastic suckers. I usually position these with two on the back plate and one on each of the side plates, and wetting the suckers slightly before pressing them down firmly onto the camping stand usually ensures a secure hold. The plastic suction pads have a ridge on the top so that the sides and back plates of the shield can slot safely into them and be secured.
The back plate is curved on top and has an undulating bottom edge, with two arches which are presumably designed so that the rubber gas hose can be fed underneath the plate and down to the gas canister on the ground. Unfortunately these undulations are not big enough to take a standard sized gas hose, and if a hose is put underneath it makes the whole structure rather wobbly - detaching the suckers beside the hose. The only other way to feed the hose is down the side of the cooker and out the front, which is not ideal as it tends to get in the way of the cooking.
The back plate measure 24cm high and 62cm long, and the side plates each measure 22cm high and 33 cm long. This is more than adequate to encompass the measurements of my two ring gas burner, and is the right size to take any other make of burner that I have seen. The plates fold back flat onto each other so that they can be packed away and transported easily.
For the price, I thought that this windshield was very good value, and an essential piece of kit for my cooking stand. It has stood up fairly well over the year that I have had it - there is some slight rust around the hinges but otherwise it is still in good order.
My main complaint about this windshield is the design. It simply does not stand up in any degree of wind. I have seen many similar windshields on camping trips, and this one performs very poorly compared to the ones that actually slot into the table top via pins. The suction pads are just not strong enough to support the heavy steel plates of the stand and as soon as the wind picks up the stand collapses.
I feel that it is the number, size and quality of the plastic suckers that cause this windshield to be such a disaster. Firstly, these are very easy to lose, but very difficult to replace. I have seen clever ideas used in camping mattresses and pumps, where essential stoppers or nozzles are permanently connected to the piece of equipment via a wire. This simple addition would prevent the loss of the suckers.
It would not, however, prevent the shield from falling over in a wind. Four small suckers with a 3cm diameter are just not big or strong enough to support a metal windshield which weighs 1.4kg.
I would really like to award this windshield 0 stars, as it just doesn't do what it is meant to do - shield my stove from the wind!