Gear Review – MSR Whisperlite Stove

In a previous comment to Irishdutchuncle I promised to review a stove for him. This is the MSR Whisperlite and it’s probably one of the best backpacking stoves I’ve ever found for cold weather operations. Propane and some of the other gas fuels out there don’t work that well in cold weather.  This runs on liquid fuel and works great even in the coldest of temps.
MSR Whisperlite
As you’ll see in the video this is not a stove you want to light in your tent, so be warned. Also, I’m still playing around with different video formats, music, and what not, so I hope it’s not too “over the top.” I’m going to start referring to this as my “unscripted video productions” because I just wing it and I since I normally don’t talk all that much tend to fumble around sometimes.  What usually happens is that I’m in the woods with ten minutes to spare so I whip out my phone and make an impromptu video about something. Believe it or not I actually have a couple of decent cameras and a tripod, but rarely carry them around because they’re a pain.  You’ll see me set my phone in the snow, drop it, and do other unkind things to it as I make more of these little vids. Anyway, apologies for the unprofessional videos.  I’ll try to force myself to bring my better camera along to give a better production. Comments?  Ideas? Sounds off below! -Jarhead Survivor
29 comments… add one
  • Ray January 25, 2013, 8:47 am

    I have an OLD brass SVEA stove -small ,light, easy to use -no pumps ,hoses, or ding-ding fuel bottles . Just put a few drops a fuel in the grove at the base of the burner ,light the fuel,wait a few secs. for it to pressureize and open the valve. Uses almost any liquid fuel and will boil a canteen cup of water FAST. That little red stove looks good ,let us know how it hold up over time .

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:20 pm

      That sounds like a handy little stove, Ray. I’ll look it up.

      • Ray January 25, 2013, 9:37 pm

        Jarhead , My stove is an SVEA 123 made between 1960 and 1970 (they started making the 123 in 1955 ,mine was made in the ’60s) Its the first true “ultralight stove” . Cause of the way it lights they will fire up even at high allt. and very low temps.

  • smokechecktim January 25, 2013, 10:47 am

    For backpacking I still use a supercat stove with a small steel bottle of 100% alcohol. 2 tablespoons of alcohol can boil 2 cups of water in a couple of minutes.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:19 pm

      Alcohol works pretty well in cold weather. This stove works better. Believe me, I’ve tested both. If I couldn’t have this stove I’d probably go with an alcohol stove like you.

    • irishdutchuncle January 26, 2013, 12:20 am

      that “supercat” is pretty neat. I’ll have to write down the directions/make a few. (but I still want something that can burn kerosene too)

  • Charles,,,, January 25, 2013, 11:17 am

    Too much of a con-trap-tion for me… a wee sterno stove will do the same with less space fuss and bother, along with the market having so many styles and alternatives,,,,, and as above, an alcohol stove with a bottle of alcohol that has more then one use is versitile… just not for me !!!

    • irishdutchuncle January 25, 2013, 12:24 pm

      to each his own.
      Sterno is great for heating up a can of Dinty Moore, or a can of pork & beans. It just doesn’t cut it when you need to boil water. I can’t feed the family that way…

      with my Coleman, (propane two burner camp stove) I can do a lot more. Yesterday I used it under the back porch to thaw a frozen pipe…

      the MSR is a piece of serious gear.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:21 pm

      There are a few parts to this, Charles. I’ve gotta admit. But it’s reliable and a very quick heat. See above comment about alcohol stoves.

  • irishdutchuncle January 25, 2013, 11:50 am

    I feel so special!

    and the video was very good for being un-scripted. I have to buy one now…

    Thanks Jarhead.

  • Mike January 25, 2013, 2:22 pm

    MSR makes good stuff. I have the Dragon Fly stove from them. It has an adjustable flame for ‘blow torch’ applications down to slow simmer. It runs on naptha, gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, and diesel. It comes with a little kit that lets you change jets to accommodate different fuels.

    I’ve had mine for close to ten years now and have used it in the SW desert at over 100 degrees and while elk hunting with temps in the single digits. It folds up to coffee cup size and has never given one problem. It uses an external tank that can be purchased in different sizes depending on preferences.

    Because inquiring minds want to know, shortly after I bought it, I did a test bringing exactly two gallons of water to a boil on my kitchen gas range and then same pot same source of water on the Dragon Fly. I don’t recall the times involved but the Dragon Fly was two minutes faster than the kitchen stove.

    The one drawback to all of those stoves is they are loud. You can hear them from several yards away.

    • irishdutchuncle January 25, 2013, 3:33 pm

      good point. I forgot about the sound.

      the smell of the food or coffee will travel as well. sometimes you just need to take the risk…

      if you aren’t by yourself, it’s probably a good idea to post a watch.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:22 pm

      Yep, they ARE loud as you can hear in the video. But I think Irish makes a good point about the smell too. Sometimes you just gotta take the risk.

      • Anonymous January 26, 2013, 10:26 pm

        risk versus hot fresh coffee……not even close! go with the coffee

  • riverrider January 25, 2013, 3:54 pm

    after ending a long hike with a backpack full of fuel soaked food i went to butane, msr pocket rocket. never been disappointed. in EXTREME cold i put the canister inside my jacket a few minutes before use. can’t beat MSR, no matter your choice of fuel! nice vid.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:18 pm

      There’s a risk with every stove that’s for sure. I’ve used – or tried to use – butane stoves in cold weather (-5 F) with little luck. I also had a friend try to use one in ten degree weather once and he’d done the same thing you did – kept it inside his shirt, but as soon as it got cold the flame died down again. It still worked, but very low heat. I brought this stove out and had water boiling in just a couple of minutes.

      When it’s really cold I want something that will heat up quick and reliable. I’m sure there are many stoves that meet that criteria, this is just the one I settled on.

      • riverrider January 26, 2013, 10:41 am

        js, roger that. i don’t camp in that kind of cold down here. we get maybe one day below zero all year, if that. if i was up there in your kind of cold, well besides staying inside, i’d def go with liquid fuel, and always msr.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2013, 4:23 pm

      That’s a really good point about the fuel though, riverrider. I’ve found that it really has a “fuel like” smell too. If you spill a little alcohol no big deal, but if you spill some of this stuff in your pack it’s gonna stink to high heaven for awhile.

      • Michael January 27, 2013, 12:23 am

        I completely dig my Pocket Rocket, but if I thought I’d be out in below freezing weather very often I’d go with a white gas stove.

  • Yikes! January 25, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Irish is a madman!

    If you’re just getting started with video, that looks pretty good, Jar. I’m sure you’ll slim the process down as you do a few more. It’s a good idea.

    Is that the multi-fuel International version of the Whisperlite? I haven’t bought a really good camping stove yet, and was looking at that one for a while. Then I got distracted.

    • irishdutchuncle January 25, 2013, 5:05 pm

      takes one to know one.

      • Yikes! January 25, 2013, 5:31 pm

        That’s a fair assessment.

  • James NZ January 25, 2013, 7:19 pm

    have the same stove and have used it quite a bit over the last 3ish years. was running it on kerosene but changed the jets and run straight 91 octane petrol, less pre-heating needed, cheaper and a slightly different smell if it leaks

  • TOR January 25, 2013, 9:33 pm

    MSR makes really solid stuff. I have the international version. Think it can burn everything except crude oil or coal.

    Many folks use them on serious expeditions and long hike through trips so you can see the reliability as tested in harsh environments.

  • Pineslayer January 25, 2013, 10:28 pm

    That MSR is a great little stove. I have so many stoves, being a member of Gearaholic Anonymous. I love my Pocket Rocket and will leave my International to a lucky person in my will. My Trangia is my go to stove if I am going to carry fuel, unless it is really cold, then I think of staying home. That SVEA 123 is the bomb, going for sick money these days, last I looked. So many stoves, so little time. I bought a Emberlit last year for my BOB, really light. Word of advice, don’t put a Trangia in a Swiss Ranger Volcano Stove, thought I was going to melt both! Can’t explain why we tried it, boredom?

  • jarhead survivor January 26, 2013, 10:20 pm

    Camping tonight! weather report says -9 to 5 degrees tonight. The stove has it at least 70 in the tent right now! Me alone in the Maine woods. sweet!

    • Chad Douglas January 28, 2013, 7:50 pm

      That is def not a bad place to be!

  • des January 29, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Hi Again Mr Jarhead
    I had a whisperlite internationale which was multifuel stove i owned it back in the early nineties.
    I first came across msr when we was on an adventurous training trip to new zealand.
    I had mine for around 8 years and that was regular use in the welsh and scottish countryside.
    I replaced it with a jetboil.
    But i still like my trangia stove.
    Des uk


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