If you don’t use one you are likely using twice, maybe three times too much fuel – which you most likely had to carry many hard miles. You can check this out for yourself: 250 ml of water should boil with about 7 ml of methylated spirits. Try it yourself on a home-made ‘Supercat’ stove: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/ Without a windscreen you may need 15-20 ml. Smarten up.
You can make your own, as shown here on my old Snowpeak 1400ml (210 gram) pot http://snowpeak.com/collections/all/products/trek-1400-titanium-cookset?variant=671149753 from a piece of aluminium flashing with just a pair of industrial scissors. Notice it is joined with just a couple of paper clips. I have put bottom air events only on the lee side, which is the best idea, I think. It weighs 40 grams – but I can see how I could have trimmed it a bit and maybe shaved it down to 25! You should bring the windscreen about an inch up the pot and have a gap between it and the pot of less then 1/8”. You want to capture ALL of the heat from whatever stove is underneath the pot. In this case it is a Brasslite 47 gram adjustable stove http://brasslite.com/products/brasslite-turbo-i-d-backpacking-stove/ which is wonderful! For years I used the lightest simple boiler soda can stove I could get which weighed 7 grams from https://www.minibulldesign.com/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=2 It is still in my overnight camping kit. You can see from its blackening that the pot has had a fair bit of use on my Bushbuddy (145 gram) Stove: http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html which is a ‘fuel-less’ stove ie, you burn twigs you find on the way.
Sometimes the metho stove is good for a quick cuppa though. Now I have a titanium windscreen which weighs only 7 grams on my Toaks (156 gram) 1100 ml pot: http://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/toaks-titanium-1100ml-pot-ckw1100 You can buy one here: http://www.titaniumgoat.com/windscreens.html You can probably figure the weight saving from switching pot + windscreen 210 + 40 = 250 grams; 156 + 7 = 163 grams. Saving: 87 grams – enough meths saved to boil over 3 litres of water (12 cups of hot soup perhaps!) Some people sell a pot with a heat exchanger on the bottom. You will never save enough fuel to compensate for its extra weight. Indeed, if you had adjusted your windscreen properly (as above) you would not have saved any fuel at all – just be lugging around a clunker! Instructions for making your own windscreen here: http://brasslite.com/instructions-for-making-the-brasslite-windscreen/ Another way to save fuel (instead of simmering) is to use/make a pot cosy. See instructions for making your own here: http://brasslite.com/make-your-own-pot-cozy/, or buy one here: http://toaksoutdoor.com/windscreen.aspx here: http://www.backpackinglight.com.au/ which is just about the only store in Victoria specialising in lightweight hiking gear. DO pay them a visit. Say, ‘Hello’ to Tim from me!
Perhaps the very best windscreen is the Caldera Cone. See my post here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-cookware/