MSR reactor backpacking stoveFor fun this morning I went looking for reviews of the MSR Reactor backpacking stove, Mountain Safety Research’s response to getting its butt kicked, innovation-wise, by those JetBoil upstarts. GoBlog touted its arrival in October 2006, Backpacker magazine made it an editor’s choice in 2007 and is finally adding introductory reviews this month (check back at the end of the summer for really, really in-depth reviews.)

General pluses on the Reactor:

  • Boils water super fast, a liter in about 3 minutes.
  • Super efficient, so fuel lasts longer.
  • Works much better than most canister stoves in sub-freezing weather.
  • Pretty much windproof (assuming you can get a flame lit; see lack of auto-igniter below).
  • Whole stove set-up fits within the cooking pot.

General minuses

  • Pricey at $139.
  • Heavy compared to most backpacking stoves.
  • Better temperature control would be nice (less of an issue of you’re a freezer bag cook).
  • An an auto-igniter would be even nicer.

Overall, folks who’ve used it like what they see. Not perfect, but what is? Review links:

Here’s a YouTube vid with Ed Graham Thompson from Trail magazine in the UK.

I’ll close by saving WineHiker Russ the keyboard exertion of pointing out that all canister stoves of this kind are not terribly sustainable, as they’re difficult to dispose of and/or recycle. And and I’ll save Steve Sergeant the trouble of noting that patient alcohol stove cooks can wait a couple minutes for their water to boil and save lots of weight.

If you own one or have camped out with somebody who does, let us know.