CAMP KITCHEN

MSR Reactor Stove: A High Performing Cookwear With an Innovative Design

msr reactor featured
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Going camping without a reliable stove can significantly limit your camp cooking experience. Basically, you need acampfire to not only prepare yourself something good to eat but also keep you warm. In addition, campfire restrictions in different states make a campfire stove a necessity for preparing a hot meal. There is no better stove to bring camping than the MSR reactor stove.

This stove system will not blow out in high winds since it combines air and fuel. It does not require open air at the burner. As the fuel canister empties, aninbuilt regulator maintains unswerving gas pressure. This offers aquick boiling time of three minutes per quart. Essentially, no backcountry stove is well-equipped than the MSR reactor. You can actually expand your menu to include mouthwatering dishes, such as pancakes.

Product specifications

  • Integrated System: The stove and the cookware are combined into a compact and easy-to-use system.
  • Unrivaled Boil Time: Boiling .5 liter of water in just 1.5 minutes.
  • Unmatched Wind Protection: Heat exchanger completely encloses radiant burner head, virtually eliminating the effects of wind.
  • Maximum Efficiency:  Fuel-sipping efficiency in all conditions.
  • Compact: All systems are self-contained, fitting the stove and fuel inside the pot.

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Canister systems, for instance, the MSR reactor cooker with an integrated pot, offer grander performance when compared to generic camping stoves that are predisposed to wind, and not as efficient in heat transfer. What makes the MSR reactor the ideal choice is the fact that it is completely windproof. This is the stove to bring camping during winter simply because it is windproof and the canister can be turned upside down.

MSR REACTOR COOKER SPECIFICATIONS

You do not have to waste your money on what most people consider ultra-lightweight backpacking stoves, which are mostly the alcohol burners. They may be extremely easy to backpack, but they do not offer you the performance provided by the MSR canister stove. It is not always about the added weight, but the energy needed to boil water in the shortest time possible.

MSR reactor stove

Others are known to use free fuel also known as wood burning stoves, but the MSR canister stove is engineered to provide you with clean and sufficient energy, which is soot-free. Unlike wood burning stoves that produce a lot of soot and need constant supervision to ensure that the fire does not go off, the MSR reactor cooker only requires you to observe whatever you are boiling or cooking in the pot.

This MSR reactor review discusses the most important specifications that should motivate you to consider buying the MSR reactor canister stove.

Packaging

One of the things thatmake the MSR stove unique is its packaging. The total weight of the stove system when you receive it for the first time is 1.45 pounds. The stove itself weighs 1.09 pounds. The combined weight of the whole system is very convenient for backpacking. The stove system is collaps, meaning that the gas canister and heat exchanger fit conveniently inside the pot.

msr reactor packaging

The holder of the reactor pot conveniently tosses over as well as locks above the pot’s top. This allows you to stockpile a small camping towel, a small gas canister, and stove head. Ideally, the reversed handle of the pot is supposed to keep all the accessories from falling off. You can easily backpack the stove and keep the items from dropping out of the pot by turning the pot upside down.

Design and Durability

The MSR reactor canister stove has an innovative design, which has a great impact on the stove’s performance. The surface area of the cooker on the reactor is remarkably bigger when compared to other canister stoves.

The large surface area ensures that the pot base comes into maximum heat contact. The stove associates a heat exchanger with a burner that utilizes both radiant and convective heat for pronounced heat output.

msr reactor upclose

The pressure regulator maintains aconstant pressure over the life of the canister. Unlike ordinary stoves that lose a lot of heat, the burner of the MSR is integrated with reflective material that ensures the base of the pot receives all the radiant heat.

The pot is welded to the fins of the heat exchanger, improving the design sturdiness. This structure makes certain that the fins do not overhang underneath the pot and it is also easier to backpack.

You will certainly admire the amalgamation of the pot and the burner. The burner is strategically positioned. This significantly improves the stove’s performance. The high efficacy 1.7-liter pot suitably accommodates fuel and stove. This makes backpacking easy for solo trips and alpine climbing. The handle does easily collapse allowing you to straightforwardly lock the top cover for easy transport.

msr reactor stovehead on the snow

The stove is windproof ensuring that heat is released in short order. This process delivers constant pressure that maintains ideal fuel regulation as well as consumption. The sturdy MSR reactor gas stove system is highly durable. Therefore, it can withstand a significant amount of abuse from the surrounding environment.

There is only one problem that you might experience with the design, and it is associated with the handle. It can easily loosen up.

Eficiency

This is a word that you cannot take lightly when shopping for a backpacking stove. Most backpacking stove reviews talk mostly about ultra-lightweight nature of a stove and the use of cheap or free fuel. Well, the two are very important factors to consider, but efficiency is the one thing that will actually make your campfire cooking a success. You will appreciate how efficient the MSR gas stove is by the time you finish reading this MSR reactor review.

This stove system is engineered to deliver enough energy for boiling water in the shortest time possible. While it might not be the master of efficiency, it is certainly one of the best for the money. A four-ounce canister will successfully boil nine liters of water, which is indeed the ideal canister size. The incorporated pressure regulator is very useful in maintaining consistency of boil time. The pressure regulator keeps the boiling time constant as the fuel depletes.

msr on table

When compared to ordinary backpacking stoves, the MSR is the master of heat loss control. By default, a stove system that loses a lot of heat takes a considerable amount of time to boil water. This means that more fuel is consumed. However, the same cannot be said of the MSR. Yes, the stove system has no insulation, but the superheat delivered at the base of the pot is what makes the system so efficient.

The excess heat makes the pot super-hot to hold by hand. So, the manufacturer incorporated a folding handle that you can use to lift the pot once the water boils. The lack of insulation of the reactor is compensated by the heat exchanger. The pot boils the water or cook food fast, but the heat exchanger keeps the water or food warm. This is especially so when preparing dehydrated meals.

Another thing that improves the stove’s performance is its windproof nature. The stove is actually regarded the best as far as wind resistance is concerned.

When compared to other gas cooking systems (Jetboil zip personal, Optimus Elektra FE, and Flash personal cooking systems), MSR reactor system takes the least time to boil .75L of water in wind speed of 20 mph. Even though, the average temperature is fairly the same.

Value for Money & Guarantee

The MSR reactor stove is one of a kind. At approx. $199.95 you get a high performing gas stove system that has an innovative design. It might be a bit expensive than other gas stoves, but the price is worth every feature. One of the attributes that warrant the price is the stove’s efficiency. To be precise, its ability to boil water in the shortest time possible in windy conditions (20 mph).

As mentioned earlier, the MSR stove comes with an innovative design, which you can actually use in your tent. All you have to do is buy the separate MSR reactor hanging kit and you will get to boil water in your tent. The whole system comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. Generally, the stove will meet your expectation, but you should expect a few hitches irrespective of the expenditure.

MAIN MSR REACTOR STOVE COMPETITORS

JETBOIL ZIP PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM

Jetboil Zip Personal Cooking System

Jetboil is an ideal personal cooking system. It is the stove you can rely on to boil water or prepare hot drinks and food in the shortest time possible when camping or hiking.

You can rely on Jetboil Zip to perform exceptionally in both low and high altitudes. Every buyer may have a completely different reason of buying the Jetboil cooking system, but what makes it resourceful and reliable is the efficient energy it delivers.

Weighing 0.9 ounces and measuring 4.1 by 6.5 inches, Jetboil Zip offers you a tough and compact cooker for easy backpacking and camping. If you are the kind of a person who adjudicates the performance of a canister stove based on the price, then you are very mistaken. Jetboil Zip can be yours at approx. $79.95, but it is one of the most performing gas stoves. This is the stove to buy if you want something small, light, and simple.

It is advertised as a personal cooking system, but you can step up its usage and bring it alongon a family camping expedition. It can do wonders, especially when preparing fast foods such as instant hot meal, tea, or coffee for the family. You can, in fact, prepare a meal for four in two portions. It will take you a few minutes to boil a liter of water. This is a great piece of effective and reliable outdoor cooking gear.

When compared to MSR Reactor, both the fuel canister and stove burner of the individual system stow inside the pot/cup.  However, the lid of the Jetboil snaps shut for safe storage as to the MSR Reactor’s lid which can easily come off. Jetboil has a base stand that suitably holds the base of the canister in place for added stability.

On the other hand, the MSR Reactor does not come with a base stand. Regardless of the design differences (including the unmentioned ones), MSR Reactor beats Jetboil Zip in performance.

OPTIMUS ELEKTRA FE COOKING SYSTEM

Optimus Elektra FE Cook System

You definitely need a compact backpacking stove for outdoor adventures.

Optimus Elektra FE is just the stove you need for backcountry cooking. As concerns canister stoves, the Optimus Elektra makes the list of ultra-light gas stoves. You can prepare meals after a long hike on a rocky terrain.

The design makes the stove a suitable pick for cold weather and high altitude campfire cooking.

The Elektra design offers a complete cooking system that does wonders on a trail and on a campsite.Well, the whole system may appear tall in an image, but it is completely packable when collapsed. It is equipped with slim fold-out supports along with a well-shaped fuel lever that conveniently folds back onto the gas stove for easy storage. Generally, it is a great stove for outdoor use.

The design of the Elektra differs considerably from that of the MSR Reactor. The Elektra is less compact, but lightweight when compared to MSR Reactor cooker. The performance of the Elektra depends on weather conditions; you will also have to use a windscreen to keep off the wind. On the other hand, the MSR Reactor is basically a windproof system that can perform outstandingly in windy conditions.

FLASH PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM

Flash Personal Cooking System

As the name suggests, the Flash Personal Cooking System is convenient for a single individual. Weighing in at 1.3 pounds, it is light for day packing. You can bring it along short outdoor expeditions, especially hiking, trekking, or alpine climbing on rocky terrain.

The cup is just enough for preparing hot drinks, such as coffee.

It is a good choice for day packing, but you can also consider it for long distance backpacking. It is super lightweight not to mention that everything packs compactly. For approximately less than a hundred U.S. dollars, you get a fully functioning backpacking stove.

This Jetboil model can be used in almost any outdoor scenario. It always comes in handy when you want to warm yourself up with a cup of coffee.

The Flash Personal cooker is more compact as to the MSR reactor cooker. This model also comes with an insulated cup, insulating drink-through lid, and base stand. A pot support is needed, which is not included. While the MSR Reactor is available in a single color, the Jetboil Flash Personal system is available in seven colors, including carbon, blue desert, camo-camo, blue, forest, real tree, and sapphire blue. Between the two stoves, the MSR Reactor is more efficient.

OVERVIEW

The MSR Reactor cooker provides a whole new level of efficiency, trail worthiness, speed, and convenience. The tech used by the manufacturer provides you a highly wind-resistant stove that does not only maintain constant pressure for effective fuel consumption but also cranks out a lot of heat that boils water faster.

The burner is incorporated with two heat transfer modes: radiant and convective. The two heat transfer modes generate enough energy to boil a liter of water in just about three minutes. What makes the stove even more impressive is the internal control of fuel pressure, which develops an unswerving flare in all temperatures.

If you were to buy a separate eight-ounce fuel canister, you will be able to boil roughly twenty-two liters of water. Strong winds are completely locked out by the compact design (1.7 liters pot fused to integrated heat exchanger). If you are unacquainted with the MSR stove. It is important for you to cognize that the system is a full isobutene gas system with an innovative design that will surpass your expectations.

Pros:

  • Build quality and reliability.
  • The pot is well-made with a collapsible handle and welded fins.
  • The quality and innovative design can be used on any terrain without damage.
  • The MSR reactor cooker is very efficient. Fast boil time.
  • The 1.7-liter pot is highly packable.

Cons:

  • The pot is not insulated and it does disperse heat quickly.
  • The energy produced by the stove is efficient for boiling water and cooking liquid foods, but note very convenient for cooking solid foods.

The MSR reactor gas stove is the best choice among the various canister stoves in the market because it is windproof, lightweight, compact, and highly efficient. It works well in the cold simply because it is windproof and can support the fuel canister upside down.

Msr Reactor Stove
  • Packaging
  • Design and Durability
  • Efficiency
  • Value for Money and Guarantee
4.9

Summary

The product specs are remarkable. The stove is highly resistant to strong winds, and it can boil twenty-two liters of water per a fuel canister of eight-ounce capacity. This is outstanding when compared to similar products. The stove’s performance greatly improves efficiency and reduces fuel weight for long distance backpacking.

The average boil time with a new fuel canister for a liter of water is roughly three minutes and about three and a half minutes when the fuel is almost finished.

There are some questions that should always linger in your mind when shopping for an effective backpacking stove. What are the benefits of using this particular model? Does it clog and shut down? Will it withstand backcountry abuse? What other frustrations will I face in the field when using the stove?

All these questions have been answered by this review. If it is your first time to use the stove, then you should not be worried. All you have to do is consider the product specs and weigh out the pros and cons.

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User Review
4 (1 vote)

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Did you buy and use the MSR reactor? If so, we would appreciate if you shared your experience (how long did it take you to boil water in normal as well as windy conditions) with us in comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.