For some background on our MSR DragonFly stove and the reason for a device such as this you might want to read our review of the QuietStove damper first. Just a suggestion.
TL;DR: Works amazing. Approximately 10dB quieter than the stock stove which is substantial. Boils water much faster as well. No moving parts=nothing to break. Cheaper than the QuietStove. Versions for dozens of different backpacking stoves not just our MSR DragonFly. Zero Written Warranty though.
After finding and purchasing the QuietStove damper for our MSR Dragonfly stove we did some more online research and found the BernieDawg DragonTamer3 (hereafter referred to as the BD in this post). At the time there was no real reason to buy this as the QuietStove did what we wanted and made a noticeable difference in the roar that the Dragonfly stove put out at full blast. That being said the BernieDawg site offers far more information about correct usage of the caps as well as links to a few YouTube videos of tips and tricks and the caps in action. One blurb on the site states “the BernieDawg DragonTamer is the original silent damper cap for the MSR Dragonfly made by the original designer and builder of silent caps for modern backpacking stoves.” We found a post from 2008 showing Gary making one of his original damper caps, by hand which was a very interesting read: Making A Silent Berner Cap. So, we thought, why not give it a try? We got ours through the Shapeways 3D Printing service where they also offer eight (8) different metals that the cap for our stove can be made out of priced from $41.98 to $45.98 which is about 20% less expensive than the QuietStove right off the bat. Also, since our purchase we have seen the same cap offered for $32.75 (~45% less than the QuietStove) at the i.materialise.com shop. Damnit! Sometimes (almost) instant gratification is an expensive lesson. UPDATE: The i.materialize site is in Belgium and shipping to the U.S. is ~$25 for one or for several caps. So I would only use that option if we lived in Europe or were buying a few of these to give as gifts to friends.
The more I looked online the more I came to appreciate the open nature and simple honesty of the designer, Gary Adams. He is also from Oregon, our state of residence and the tops of the BD caps have a simple dog paw print 3D printed into it instead of the lame QuietStove.com and model # marketing B.S. The one, main, obvious plus in the QuietStove’s favor is its lifetime warranty. An intrepid AWD reader wrote in to inform us that the BD cap made by Shapeways (where we got ours) has NO warranty as Shapeways covers their corporate ass by legally considering all its products to be, essentially decorative tchotchkes. From the Shapeways website: http://www.shapeways.com/terms_and_conditions
THE MATERIALS WE USE FOR MANUFACTURING THE 3D MODELS MAKE THE 3D MODELS SUITABLE ONLY FOR DECORATIVE PURPOSES AND THEY ARE NOT SUITED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE. THE 3D MODELS ARE NOT SUITED TO BE USED AS TOYS, OR TO BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN. THE 3D MODELS SHOULD NOT COME IN CONTACT WITH ELECTRICITY OR FOOD OR LIQUIDS AND SHOULD BE KEPT AWAY FROM HEAT.
We will, obviously, be ignoring the part about keeping it away from heat but that is an interesting tidbit to keep in mind and we will pay close attention over the long-term to see what changes, if any, happen to the BD cap over daily heat cycles.
There are a few visually obvious differences between the two caps but most dimensions are within a millimeter or less between the two devices The rim of the base that actually sits in and on the bell housing of the stove is 41mm on the BD and 41.5 on the QuietStove. From the base of a leg to the top of the housing is 26mm on the BD and 25.5mm on the QuietStove. The width from rim-to-rim is 41.5mm for the BD vs 40.9mm on the QuietStove. The intake chimney is about 15mm on both devices. The biggest difference to be found is in the size of the housing itself – 35mm on the BD vs 38mm on the QuietStove.
As far as visual differences go, one is the air intakes/vents on the underside of the cap. The QuietStove has four small holes on the inner wall of the intake area whereas the BD has three wider slots on the base between the legs. The QuietStove has four posts while the BD has three legs.
The QuietStove has 315 flame holes while the BD has 255. The wire gauges I have with me at the moment in the middle of the Stanislaus National Forest tells me the flame holes on the QuietStove are around .032″ (.813mm). The flame holes in the DragonTamer are a bit bigger at .035″ (.889mm) and that difference is noticeable to the human eye.
My little digital scale tells me the weight of the Quietstove is 2 ounces (56 grams) and the DragonTamer weighs in at 2.05 ounces (59 grams) although it has been used more and is encrusted with carbon so YMMV.
Since both devices make a vast improvement in the audible roar that the DragonFly stove puts out in stock configuration, we decided to do some somewhat scientific tests to see what those differences actually were and if one damper cap works better than the other.
Here is where I do my impression of a Republican politician speaking, on the record, about Climate Change: “I am not a scientist but…(I have an opinion that will keep my corporate overlords happy).” So, no, we did not do these tests in a completely controlled laboratory environment with expensive laboratory testing equipment. The two main things we wanted to test were the noise, in decibels, that the stove puts out on full blast with and without the damper caps and to see how long it took to bring two cups of water from “room” temperature up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our testing environment and criteria is as follows: We are at an elevation of 3126 feet and the ambient temp is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To mitigate wind interference we performed the tests in our shelter tent. It was 74 degrees in the shelter testing the DragonTamer and then the sun changed and hit the shelter full on and it went up to 90 degrees in the shelter while testing the QuietStove. This, I believe, is the reason for the slight differences in water temperature test results between the two damper caps as you shall see below.
For each separate test we preheat/prime the stove by applying denatured alcohol to the wick and then, after the alcohol has burned out we lit the stove and waited for one minute for it to get settled and then turned it up to full blast and took a decibel reading from about 7 inches away. Then I put two cups of water in my aluminum GSI Microdualist pot and turn down the stove because full blast is too high for this pot as the flame bleeds over the bottom edge of the pot and that’s a waste of both fuel and BTUs. We then covered the pot and put an analog thermometer in the vent hole in the lid and waited for it to bring those two cups of water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Up first was the stove in its factory configuration with the flame spreader cone.
Even though the flame is hard to see in that picture you can see that my phone running a sound meter is reading 82 decibels from its spot perched about 7 inches away from the stove.
As you can see it took over 11 minutes to bring the water up to our target temperature. Loud and slow.
Next up we tested the DragonTamer3.
Once primed and lit and on full blast the sound meter read 70dB with momentary blips up to 71dB, a substantial improvement over stock. You might think that 70dB is still kind of noisy but those readings were essentially taken as if you put your ear 7 inches away from the stove and who would do something like that? 😉 We filled up the pot with cold water and dumped it out again to cool off the pot for the next test. Cooled back down to room temp and filled with 2 cups of cold water the DragonTamer3 took 6 minutes and 50 seconds to reach our target temperature.
Lastly, after another period of cooling down and swapping out damper caps we tested the QuietStove.
As you can see the QuietStove came in essentially the same as the DragonTamer3 in the sound department. That 1dB difference might have very well been because the picture happened to be taken as the sound meter was changing back and forth between 70 and 72dB. Next up the water temperature test.
Part of the improved times I believe can be explained by the fact that both damper caps sit in the bell housing of the stove and extend about a half-inch above the rim of the bell housing therefore their flames are starting out that same half-inch closer to the pot than the flame spreader cone which sits actually a bit below the rim of the bell housing.
After these tests we can see that both damper caps perform quite well and essentially equal in all tests. 20 seconds faster for the QuietStove in the water temperature test is negligible and I am putting that down to the tent being 20 degrees hotter than for the DragonTamer3 test.
So, if both damper caps do essentially the same thing what are the other criteria you might want to use in making your choice if you have the need/want for such a device. Well, while it is not functional and really not important at all we like the paw print on the top of the DragonTamer3 far more than the marketing fluff on the top of the QuietStove. We are a dog-centric blog as you can tell. We also think that the three, wide and angled legs on the DragonTamer do a better job at keeping the damper cap from jiggling around and rotating once it is in place in the bell housing than the four post configuration of the QuietStove. The other big difference is in the price. If, all other things being equal, you can get one device for about 25-50% less than the other device, well I think that kind of makes the decision easy, don’t you? Since we now know all things are not equal in regards to warranty coverage that kind of muddies up the decision a bit. Cheaper and no warranty vs. more expensive and a lifetime warranty. The choice, as always, is up to you.
Since the QuietStove comes with a 90 day, money back, no-questions-asked guarantee we were going to return it and keep only the BernieDawg DragonTamer3. Now that we know that the DragonTamer3 has no warranty we will keep the QuietStove as our spare in the event that the BD damper dies someday. We will use it essentially twice a day for over 300 days a year and so expect any issues will crop up sooner rather than later. We will let you know what happens.
Thanks for reading.