User Review: MSR WhisperLite
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75 on sale, from high priced retailer that's now out of business...
Simply the THE BEST compact camp stove I've ever used! I've had mine for 20+ years and still have not found anything better for canoe trips and winter camping. As long as you can light it you have dinner, a warm/hot beverage, or in a survival situation you will stay warm and alive!
- Cooks fast as you want
- Spare/extra fuel bottles can be used
- Liquid fuel weighs more than dry fuel
I first came across this camp stove back in 1988 while on a 21-day trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota while I was still in high school. Our guides used this stove and for the entire trip it performed flawlessly, even in the worst of weather.
After high school I was a guide myself. The outfitter I worked for supplied a handful of high tech, some more expensive, and some otherwise excellent stoves, but none of them worked as well as the MSR WhisperLite. That summer I ended up buying and using my own WhisperLite, an investment that’s been well worth it. I haven’t guided since college but I’m still a high adventure enthusiast, and a gear nut. I continue to look at new camp gadgets and gear but this stove remains a favorite.
What makes this stove so good? The stove sets up in two minutes or less. Mine came in a bag big enough to hold the stove, one fuel bottle, the pump, and a heat/wind shield. Everything stays together in the bag until needed.
Simply uncap the fuel bottle, screw on the pump, connect the supply line from the stove to the pump, and give it a few strokes and light. The fuel needs to heat up a minute or two to vaporize inside the tube, and soon you have blue flame jetting out the ports of the burner. The flame is adjusted at the fuel bottle, not at the burner, so there’s no need to remove your pot just to adjust the heat.
I’ve been able to boil a full pot of water in less than four minutes with mine (with the heat/wind shield in place). The heat/wind shield is made of a heavy duty foil that folds up nice and small but they do wear out, I’ve replaced mine twice in the last 20 years but they’re pretty inexpensive, I just chalk that up to maintenance cost. MSR does make a repair and maintenance kit but the one that came with my stove has hardly been used, I’m surprised I haven’t lost it by now.
The single 20 oz fuel bottle that came with the stove is usually enough to last me a full 7 days in the wilderness, but on canoe trips I usually bring a spare bottle just, when backpacking I just take the single 20 oz. bottle to conserve weight and have never had a problem.
When backpacking I pack the fuel bottle separately, inside the stove bag, and put the stove itself inside the cooking pots. The stove is easily cleaned and is very easy to maintain. Just a little soap and water on a rag and wipe clean, that’s it.
This stove is tough as well. It’s been dropped, knocked over, kicked, sat on, had things dropped on it, and generally banged around pretty good, but the stove still works and functions as good as the day I bought it. The fuel bottle has pretty thick walls and even though a couple of my fuel bottle have dents from accidental dropping, or other careless handling the bottles are all intact and have not punctured or cracked at all. The plastic caps have all stayed intact without even a slightest crack despite all the abuse.