MSR WHISPERLITEâ„¢ UNIVERSAL STOVE

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They Say - The hybrid-fuel WhisperLite Universal stove delivers the ease and simmering capabilities of canister fuel, and switches easily over to liquid fuels for longer trips, cold-weather, and international use. Our patent-pending AirControl™ technology is what really makes it unique, delivering outstanding performance with all compatible fuels. It’s also the lightest stove in its class, offering excellent stability and easy maintenance, adding to the reasons this could be the only stove you’ll ever need.

Hybrid-Fuel Performance: Patent pending AirControl™ technology creates the optimal fuel/air mix for top-notch performance with canister fuel, white gas, kerosene and unleaded gasoline.

Canister Liquid Feed: Delivers better cold weather and low-fuel performance with a more consistent output over the life of each canister. Canister stand Included.

Lightweight: Aluminum mixer tube, extra-stable stainless steel legs and refined design keep weight to a minimum.

Easy Transitions: Liquid and canister fuel couplers pair with fuel-specific jets for quick and easy transitions.

Field Maintainable: Self-cleaning Shaker Jet™technology and redesigned leg assembly facilitate fast cleaning and even easier maintenance in the field.

Includes: Fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and stuff sack. (Fuel bottle not included)

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We Say – I recently took this stove along with a Trangia style alcohol burning stove on a trip to use them side by side in an effort to work out which style I really prefer. I’m off to Scotland on a 3 week backpacking trip soon you see so wanted to be sure that the stove I take is the best thing for the job. I’ve travelled with the old version of this MSR stove for 2 years now and really like it but my mate is a Trangia fan and is always raving about how good they are and since I had an alcohol burning stove given to me recently I thought I’d see what he was so in love with, and if it was a better bet for my journey than the MSR Whisperlite.

The first thing to do was convert the MSR stove from it’s canister fuel state, which is how it arrived, to a state where I could use it with unleaded petrol. This involved changing the fuel jet with the aid of a provided tool, which was easy, and also changing the connector that attached the fuel line to the fuel bottle. This was supposed to be easy, just a case of undoing a holding nut and then unscrewing the connector. However, the nut was way too tight and after struggling for half an hour (and I’m no wimp) I went next door to find a neighbour who works as a maintenance man. He knows a few tricks about getting things to work, and after trying to move the nut with his own considerable grip he wedged the end into the crack of a slightly open door frame and used that to keep the connector steady whilst he unscrewed the nut.

Now, I know that things have to be on tight for safety purposes, but this was overkill. I put the new connector on less tightly, so I could change it again if I needed to alter my fuel source, and it worked fine like that.

That has been my only problem with this stove. Once the new connector was fitted it ran like a dream.

I lined it up against the Trangia style stove and put 2 equal pots of water on to boil. The MSR stove is easy to light. There are instructions for those who are new to this sort of stove but I’ve used one for years and it’s just a matter of opening the fuel valve a half turn to let about half a teaspoon of petrol flow though into the bowl that sits under the burner, then closing the valve and lighting the fuel, letting it burn off which takes a minute or so then opening the valve again and waiting for the yellow flame to burn blue, by which time it’s ready to start cooking with.

The Trangia stove was silent as it burned, and my friend said that this was the main reason he liked it; it didn’t interfere with his wilderness experience that he reckoned the fierce burn of a petrol stove does. I can see what he means but for me the noise of the MSR stove isn’t a problem. It’s only going to be noticed by those who are very sensitive to such things. I can still hear the wind in the trees and the birds when it’s cooking, so for me the slight noise is no issue.

What is important is that whilst an alcohol burning stove only has one setting – you light the alcohol and it burns at a constant temperature and power until the fuel dries up – the power of this MSR stove can be altered with the fuel valve so you can do anything from simmering to boiling hard. This meant that the MSR on a half burn brought it’s pan of water to the boil 3 minutes in front of the alcohol burning stove. And when at the end of the 3 day journey I looked at the fuel I had used, even though the MSR has consistently been quicker to cook or boil than the Trangia style stove I’d say that it used less fuel than the Trangia.

This was really important to me. On my 3 week backpacking trip to Scotland in August I need a stove that is reliable and which makes best use of it’s fuel source, as I don’t want to be bothering seeking out a camping shop in order to find more fuel whilst I’m on the road (I tend to stay out of towns if I can help it when I’m backpacking). The MSR is a fast, efficient stove, for sure, and add this to the ability to alter the power of the flame and you have a very good stove. I have 2 of the MSR fuel bottles and I reckon that these will see me through for at least 2 weeks of the 3 week trip, maybe more, so that I won’t have to worry about re-fueling for the whole of the trip.

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In summary, the MSR Whisperlite stove is very easy to use. It’s reliable, very light and compact, and it can be adapted to use canister fuel, unleaded petrol, white gas and kerosene. When I first used it there was a fair amount of soot created during the cooking process which is a pain when you come to pack it up, so if you plan to get one take a pack of wet wipes along with you as you’ll not want your hands to be black after you’ve packed up camp and are off hiking. I’ve heard that you don’t get this soot if you use canister fuel and also, my experience with my other MSR stove tells me that the soot gets less the more you use the stove.

It’s very efficient and I used less than a third of a fuel bottle on a 3 day camping trip (boiling a litre of water twice a day and then cooking dinner).

I can’t say how easy it is to clean as I’ve not had to do that. To be honest, I have never cleaned my other MSR stove either in over 2 years of steady use with unleaded fuel and it’s still working fine so it’s not something I’m bothered about.

I did have that initial problem with changing the fuel connector over so I guess you can expect that too, but it’s not a huge issue and now I’m in charge of the nut tightening I’ve changed the fuel connector over several times just to see how it is and it’s easy; the nut doesn’t self tighten with use and a single turn, which is easy to reverse, is enough to secure the connector to fuel line.

I’m confident that this stove will serve me well on my 3 week backpacking tour of Scotland – I’ll upload photos and any more observations at the bottom of this review when I’m back –  and I recommend you take a look at the MSR site if you’re hunting for a lightweight, efficient stove yourself – http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/stoves/simple-cooking/whisperlite-universal/product

UPDATE

The two bottles of fuel did last me for the whole 3 weeks in Scotland. We made our breakfast and dinner on the stove, we didn’t brew tea in between though, and it lasted fine. The stove didn’t fail us once, it was superb and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any backpackers. Here are some images of it in action in Scotland. The first one shows the start of the trip, when I cooked outside the tent during bad weather. I soon learned two things; that the stove is completely weatherproof, and that I didn’t need to cook outside. Just in the porch with the top of the door open was fine; a fully open door when the stove was being started, then much more closed with it was in full flow, allowed any fumes to escape and we could keep warmer whilst cooking too.

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