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On my recent trip in the Yukon, an issue arose with the couple my son and I were paddling with. The man has extensive experience having a background in NOLS, Outward Bound, and various trips he has done for recreation. He is not a gear head, but a self described "people person"and that makes him easy to travel with. On this trip, I had brought my Optimus 111, which I know inside and out and has performed well for me. Our companions brought his MSR Whisperlite which he has had for well more than a decade. He had used the stove with no need for maintenance for that time. But the little MSR was not behaving well on the first day. A part had dropped off into the fuel bottle. I found where it was meant to go and reattached it. Still the stove was not performing as it was supposed to. Several days latter, I was doing weekly maintenance on my 111 by lubricating the pump leather. I asked when the last time the MSR pump seal had been lubricated. "Never". I got the stove working OK for several more days, but on a lay day, he took it all apart, for the first time since he bought it. I could see that because of the X cross section on the pump, grit had gotten on it, and no doubt carried into the pump body. The pump body was badly scored and it was obvious no amount of work would cure the problem.
In 2007, I had a similar experience with another couple I was guiding, who had brought their own new to them, Whisperlite. In their case, the pump was new, but it took several days of asking before they allowed me to lubricate the pump seal and after that the stove worked well.
As well, on this year's trip, our companions brought two Steripens, but without back up batteries. Both failed.
I pride myself on knowing my gear inside and out. Some of it I've made. I have redundancies in every critical system, as well as complete repair kits for the stove, canoe, etc. Have other experienced similar issues? How well do you know your gear?