A look into micro-stoves and burners for camping and paddling trips

When I take off for an overnight paddling trip this time of the year, I set aside the granola bars, beef jerky and dried fruit for a warm hearty meal at the end of a long day and a hot cup of coffee in the morning. With limited cargo space and in some cases, time, I direct my attention to what I call micro-stoves — compact, lightweight and easy to use.

MSR Reactor Stove System
My personal favorite is the MSR Reactor Stove System mainly because it is a fast starter and is fuel-efficient. I also enjoy the fact that the heat is evenly distributed through an enclosure which also aids in performance under windy conditions. The system comes with it’s own pot which is great for solo trips but can easily feed up to 2 or 3 people.
Boil Time: < 3 minutes
Burn Time: 80 minutes (8-oz. canister)

MSR Whisper Lite Internationale Stove
If you prefer something that is lighter and more compact, the MSR Whisper Lite Internationale Stove is a great option. It burns a variety of fuels (white gas, kerosene, unleaded gas) giving you the ultimate in flexibility. The Shaker Jet technology makes it easy to clean and maintain throughout the duration of your trip.
Boil Time: 3 minutes (White Gas)
Burn Time: 110 minutes (20 oz. White Gas)

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
If you need something even lighter, smaller and more affordable than the MSR Whisper Lite Internationale Stove, try the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove. Don’t be fooled by its size though, the Pocket Rocket can deliver plenty of heat with precise flame adjustment. The tri-sectional Windclip windshield protects the flame and boosts efficiency.
Boil Time: < 3.5 minutes
Burn Time: 60 minutes (8-oz. canister)

Bleuet Pocket Stove
A stove in its simplest form, this little guy, and as the name implies, really does fit in your pocket. The Bleuet Pocket Stove may not be made for a 5-course meal but can certainly bring a small pot of water to boil within 8 minutes. The fuel is in a form of a cube that produces no visible smoke or sparks and does not liquefy. Due to it’s price, size and ease of use, it can also be used as part of your emergency kit or as a backup stove.
Boil Time: 8 minutes
Burn Time: 15 minutes (Solid Fuel Cube)

So how do you know which is best for you? It really depends on a variety considerations, such as how many people you will be cooking for, what type of food (freeze dried, canned or home made) and the conditions you’ll be cooking in. If your budget allows and you don’t mind a little extra weight, the MSR Reactor Stove System complete with it’s own custom designed pot is the probably one of the best all around portable micro-stoves.

Roland @ACK