MSR Whisperlite International 2011

For trips where you can’t rely on a fuel source, then a stove than burns petrol or diesel is ideal as these fuels are available widely around the world. The MSR Whisperlite International has dominated this sector for many years, and is a truly tried and trusted workhorse. The stove comes in at a respectable weight and packs down very small. Using a petrol stove takes a little practice but for regular users it soon becomes second nature, and once burning you can get boil times of around 3 minutes throughout the life of the fuel and also great performance in colder conditions (where gas is particularly poor). The low profile of the design and the wide pan supports mean that the stove is stable even on rough ground. A simple foil windshield greatly improves performance in gusty conditions too. It’s easy to adjust the flame without having to get too close to the hot burner and pan of boiling water.  But with the MSR Whisperlite International you do have to pay extra for a fuel bottle and simmer control is not great, so check out the MSR Dragonfly if you want better control. Like all petrol stoves, a little more care is required when lighting compared to gas or meths burners – so this is not a stove for the beginner. For occasional use a gas burner is lighter and easier to use. There are lighter petrol stoves at higher prices that also burn gas.

Fuel type refined petrol, unleaded petrol, paraffin, diesel
Also included stuffsack, instructions, windshield, tool kit
Packed size 17x9x19cm
Pan support diameter 17cm
Boil time approx 2min 30 sec through fuel life
Weight 340g stove + 62g windshield (+ fuel and fuel bottle)
Made in USA

The MSR Whisperlite International is the classic stove for colder climates and travelling into remote areas where petrol and diesel are your only fuel options. It won the ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine July 2011


Jetboil Personal Cooking System 2009

Since its UK launch in 2005, the Jetboil Personal Cooking System has become a modern classic gas stove thanks to its compact and efficient design, which makes it ideal for one person in need of a quick brew. The dedicated pot has a Fluxring heat exchanger built onto the base, while the tall, narrow design allows as much heat as possible to be directed onto the pot and up through the contents.

 

Design
The Jetboil’s burner is a pretty standard design with piezo ignition for ease of lighting. However a plastic burner base and a steel base plate provide protection and allow the pot to be locked securely onto the burner. The pot has a metal frame that allows it to be slotted onto the burner as well as the Fluxring heat exchanger grill. The pot also has a foam cup cosy, a webbing handle and a rubber lid. A plastic cover can be fitted to the base of the pot to protect it from damage and to prevent users from burning themselves on it. The burner and a small gas canister fit into the pot, making this a very compact set that easily stows away.  At 438g it is a very lightweight option too.

 

On the hill
The weight and packed size of the Jetboil make it very lightweight and user-friendly. Setting up is easy too. In the past I have used a Jetboil where the pot was a very tight fit to the burner, but this one was a much better fit, allowing the pot to be fitted and removed easily. The piezo ignition works well and soon a brew is on, with steam billowing from the vent in the lid. My problem with this stove is that the pot does not have a conventional handle and the foam cup cosy still gets pretty warm. As this is the tallest and narrowest pan and burner design, it is not very stable either. The narrow pot is also not so easy to cook in compared to wider pans, making this better suited for warming up water rather than practising your culinary skills. However if all you need is a stove to boil water to make a brew or add to a dehydrated meal it is ideal, and a Wayfayrer meal in a pouch can also be easily cooked inside this pot.

 

In the lab
The Jetboil had the slowest boil times in our test at both 0 deg C and 18 deg C. However it was by far the most efficient stove, using less gas per boil and gaining the longest burn time from a gas cylinder. So this means that as long as you don’t need a rapid boil over longer trips you will not need to carry so much gas. Add that weight saving to the Jetboil’s own low weight, and you have a very lightweight and efficient cooking option.

 

Fuel type gas
Also included dedicated pot
Packed size 18x11cm
Pan internal diameter 9.5cm
Pan internal depth 13cm
Weight 174g stove + 264g pan set (+gas)
Made in USA
Stockist details (015396) 25493; www.lyon.co.uk

Verdict: The Jetboil Personal Cooking System used the least gas per boil; longest burn time; piezo ignition; relatively low weight; compact design. But it had the slowest boil time at 0 deg C and 18 deg C; pan grip could be better; relatively unstable; tall pan only suitable for boiling water and warming meals in a pouch. Overall, it gives slow boil times, but is the best stove we looked at for long-term fuel and weight efficiency, making it ideal for solo lightweight backpackers, winning the ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

 

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine September 2009


EtaPower MF stove - Volunteer tester

Review by mountainmachine

The first thing I have to say about this stove is how quickly and efficiently it boils water.

At first I was dubious about how the small heat exchanger and windshield could have such a big impact. But there is no doubt that it does its job well.

From ignition it sounds like it has the power of a jet fighter – the boyish glee when you crank up the power and hear that wondrous sound!

It seems that in no time you can have a steaming mug of coffee in your hand and your boil in the bag dinner on your plate.

It doesn’t matter if you use gas or liquid fuel, the results are the same satisfaction and a warm feeling as you scoff your dinner, or wake yourself with a mug of coffee.

The piece of kit is easy to put together and everything is self explanatory which is just as well, as the 16 page instructions remind me of a Haynes manual! Granted only two-and-a-half pages are needed for English readers. I would suggest making a copy to take, so as to leave the manual at home, as it’ll only get damp the first time you have them out trying to find out which of the three jets are for which fuel.

It comes with a tube of grease and a useful tool with all the required bits for attaching and removing anything you’d need to on the unit.

Now what I’ve found lets the unit down is when you wish to make something which can’t be made with the one included pot with heat exchanger.

According to the instructions if you use another pot, or the included frying pan you must remove the windscreen. In which case it functions like any other multi fuel stove. This isn’t bad - just not as quick or efficient as it is when using the included pot.

It seems quite a hardy unit, the included protective bag seems to keep any scrapes etc to a minimum and with the included cloth muffles any clinking sounds from the packed unit.

My fuel consumption is also down on what it used to be on a trip with a normal gas stove.  Now if only Primus can come up with something for my car!

Click here for your chance to become a volunteer tester.


Primus Eta Power stove

Camping stoves are perhaps a luxury, as they are only used for a small part of a day in the hills, so they are prime targets for weight saving. What we backpackers need is a super-efficient camping stove that uses the minimal amount of fuel to cook up an evening meal. Better still, the stove needs to be small enough to pack down into an unobtrusive corner of a rucksack.

Primus has designed the Eta Power stove to be their most efficient camping stove to date. So you can potentially save weight by carrying less fuel. The Eta Power has gained an efficiency rating of 80%, while conventional stoves have a rating of only 50% at best. If a stove is only 50% efficient then a lot of heat is being wasted and you have to haul far more fuel around the mountains. By reducing the amount of gas you need, Primus reckons you can save 500g of fuel over a week of backpacking. Better still, that also means less bulky fuel canisters, so a smaller rucksack is needed, allowing further weight savings.

To achieve this exceptional level of efficiency, the Eta Power stove is designed around a windshield and dedicated pan system. This all comes neatly packed into a stuff sack with space for a gas canister as well. Assembly is fairly obvious, although it is a little more complex, than some slicker designs.

There is a piezo electric ignition, which was a little wobbly. I had to wiggle this into place to ensure it made a spark. The integral windshield helps trap the warm air around the stove, while adding welcome stability. For more efficiency the pans have a corrugated heat exchanger built into their base to trap pockets of warm air next to the base of the pan. A close fitting lid completes this fuel-efficient setup.

Turning on the stove, it gave a healthy roar and boiled up half a litre of water in under 2.5 minutes – that’s about one minute faster than the popular MSR Windpro and Whisperlite stoves.  The pan grip fits well when the lid is off, but it fitted so tightly that it was difficult to remove with the grip while cooking. After so much effort on efficiency it’s a minor niggle.

The non-stick pans and stove worked really well together. The promise of going further into the hills carrying less fuel makes it a great buy.

For multi-day camping trips and to make your gear more efficient to counter global warming, you should definitely give Primus Eta Power a closer look. 

Fuel: gas
Also included: pans, lid,
pan grab, stuffsack
Dimensions: 15x15x13.5cm
Time to boil: 0.5 litre of water boiled in around 2.5 minutes
Weight: 1100g (including, pans, pan grip, stuff bag but not fuel)
Made in: Estonia
Stockist details: tel. (023) 9252 8711; www.rosker.co.uk

Verdict: Simple to use; superb boil times and fuel efficiency; exceptionally stable; 500g less fuel needed over a week; non-stick pans. But there are lighter stoves and pan sets; like all gas stoves, performance reduces as the fuel canister empties; system requires dedicated pans for efficiency. Overall, an ideal backpacking stove, where performance, efficiency and a light load are the priorities.


MSR Whisperlite

The Whisperlite is simply one of the best camping stoves ever made. It is incredibly reliable and burns a wide range of fuels, which means it’s perfect for use all over the world on treks to areas where you need to be able to trust your stove. Totally field-maintainable with the simple tool kit, it’s been a favourite of Trail’s for many years.  Performance-wise you get all the benefits of a petrol stove including consistently short boil times (you maintain pressure in the fuel bottle with the pump), a very hot flame and, depending on the fuel, low running costs. Efficiency is hugely increased by MSR’s superb windshield and heat reflector, and it’s very light for its class. It’s also very stable and features wide pan supports, plus you get good instructions and a lifetime guarantee. The final clincher is the fact that it’s only £75 – not the cheapest stove on test, but a budget buy in the category of multifuel. Especially when you realise it will outlive you. But there are significant drawbacks with petrol stoves, and they are not for everyone or every situation. The Whisperlite is no exception. For a start, it needs priming before use, which can mean a mini-fireball unless you’re very careful, so you shouldn’t use it in a tent. It also gets sooty and it’s inherently more complicated than a gas alternative. Worst of all, this stove is a major porridge-burner and exceptionally difficult to achieve a simmer with.

Verdict Buy it if you’re taken by the incomparable versatility and reliability of a petrol stove and can put up with that difficult simmer.

Fuel types Coleman Fuel, unleaded, paraffin

Also included stuffsack, instructions, windshield, tool kit

Dimensions 15x10x11cm

Boil time 3min 31sec

Weight 278g (+68g pump)

Pan support diameter 17cm

Max burn time 2hr 30 min


MSR Windpro

It is true that you get what you pay for, and although this is pricy for a remote canister camping stove, you soon work out why. It’s beautifully made and perfectly simple, plus it’s exceptionally light. It’s also a dream to use, offering excellent control over the flame level and a big, wide burner that spreads the heat evenly out on the bottom of even the biggest pans. When turned up full blast on a new canister it doesn’t flare, although in their enthusiasm the flames can overshoot the pan. Still, it brings half a litre of water to the boil in a good time and burns canisters efficiently enough. As for the structure, the pan supports are fantastically wide, and the stove is good and stable. You also get the superb MSR windshield and heat reflector , which add enormously to the overall efficiency (in fact, they’re invaluable), plus a small parts kit and a lifetime warranty. But it’s expensive for a remote canister stove and doesn’t have the best performance on test, though it’s still easily better than others of its type here (and that windshield means it will out-perform many others on the hill, even though this doesn’t show in our statistics). As a gas stove it will never be as powerful or versatile as one that runs on petrol, but then that’s gas stoves for you.

Verdict Buy it if you want the best remote canister stove on test and have the money to invest in it.

Fuel types gas

Also included stuffsack, instructions, windshield, toolkit

Dimensions 15x9.5x8cm

Boil time 3min 30sec

Weight 196g (+64g windshield)

Pan support diameter 15cm

Max burn time 1hr 30min


GoSystem Thermo Pro

For the price you get a fair whack of camping stove with the Thermo Pro, and the speed at which it will bring a pan of water to the boil is right up there with the best. It’s extremely straightforward (apart from that windshield – see below), with three wide pan supports that click out into place with ease. That thick windshield also reflects a significant amount of heat back into the pan. the best bit is that the gas canister and the stove are separate, which gives better stability and means you can invert the canister for much better performance as it drains. Indeed, GoSystem market this common sense as a feature of this stove, even though many people will have figured it out for themselves. It also feels very stable in use.  But that windshield is a little fiddly, but it’s also quite heavy: there are much better ones on the market. It also eats gas canisters at a rate of knots. Still, perhaps the greatest drawback is the tiny burner which, while good for boiling water, means all the heat is concentrated into the middle when cooking with a wide pan or frying. The flame control is also not as good as some, and it’s quite heavy for its class.

Verdict Buy it if you want the advantages of a remote canister stove, but one with excellent performance and offering great value – this is the one to get if you can’t afford the Windpro. The GoSystem Thermo Tech (the same but without the windshield) is a superb buy at £35 and will suit anyone on a budget.

Fuel types gas

Also included carry bag, instructions, windshield, tool kit

Dimensions 14.7x6.6x1.28??cm

Boil time 2min 41sec

Weight 369g (+148g windshield)

Pan support diameter 20cm

Max burn time 1hr 18 min


MSR Pocket Rocket

The Pocket Rocket is ridiculously small and impossibly light, making it an extremely attractive camping stove for anyone who likes to travel with a minimal pack. It is very similar in this respect to some other stoves, but it beats these mainly because of the excellent price. Performance wise it is excellent, bringing a pan to the boil in just over three minutes, and you can eke out just shy of 2 hours’ cooking from a canister. Combine all this with the pure simplicity of design, a good, compact case, wide pan supports for the class, great flame control and the quality workmanship we expect from MSR, and you have an excellent, minimalist stove. But this, being a screw-on stove, suffers from three main setbacks: it has poor stability because of its height, it are harder to arrange a windshield around, and when the canister begins to wane, you can’t tip it upside down or shake it for increased performance. These problems, however, are common to all screw-top designs.

Verdict Buy it if you want an extremely small, lightweight stove with plenty of power, and you are not put off by the constraints of screw-top stoves. It’s also extremely good value.

Fuel types gas

Also included carry case / instructions

Dimensions 11x5.5x5.5cm

Boil time 3min 06sec

Weight 94g

Pan support diameter 9.5cm

Max burn time 1hr 57min


Jetboil Jetboil

The Jetboil has to be one of the most efficient camping stoves in the world, and in our test it burned for an astonishing 5 hours 40 seconds, far surpassing more traditional stoves on the ‘boils per canister’ ratio. The whole thing packs down inside the mug-shaped pan too; so, although it looks quite big, the size is deceptive. And when you factor in this inclusive pan you realise it’s actually quite light too. In use, the Jetboil resembles something of a tower, but you can get a gas canister cradle to improve the stability (which we recommend). You can also get a simple attachment which allows you to use the burner with traditional pans, thereby overcoming the stove’s main shortcoming (see below). But what really stands out is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but a good one – there is a coffee plunger which fits the cup. I mean, how stylish is that? But the biggest problem with the Jetboil is its lack of versatility: without a special adapter you can’t use it with conventional traditional pans and therefore can’t fry, or easily cook dinner for two or more. And because much of the system’s efficiency is in the design of the pan, once the adaptor is fitted the Jetboil becomes a normal stove and loses its advantage over other stoves on test. Also, standing that tall seriously reduces its stability.

Verdict: Buy it if you do lots of solo cooking and want an incredibly efficient stove, but don’t mind the reduced stability. It would be ideal for long solitary treks where weight and efficiency are key and you could take one canister rather than two.

Fuel types: gas

Also included: mug-pan, lid, coffee plunger, instructions

Dimensions: 18x11x11cm

Boil time: 3min 44sec

Weight: 178g (+238g cup)

Pan support diameter: 9.5cm

Max burn time: 5hr 40min