The MSR Reactor is a clean and efficient stove that delivers high performance and reliability in the field.
When you’re backpacking in cold and high-altitude, you need a stove that can light easily and get hot quickly. The MSR Reactor stove does both quite effectively. First, it’s easy to light while you’re wearing gloves and the stove’s radiant burner glows hot, indicating it’s ready to be used.
The stove features a heat exchanger that allows it to work in windy conditions and also makes the Reactor Stove very efficient. When used with MSR’s ISOPRO fuel, which contains and 80/20 percent blend of isobutane and propane, the Reactor Stove burns extraordinarily clean.
But if you’re into super lightweight packing, the Reactor may be one of the heaviest pieces of gear in your pack. It weighs in at 1lbs. 2.2 ounces which is much heavier than other ultra-light stoves that can weigh anywhere from 3 to 11 ounces. Yet, if you’re willing to put up with the extra weight, you’ll find that the Reactor is still very compact and stows inside a 1.7 liter pot, which can handle most of your individual cooking needs. In our experience, we didn’t need much else other than a spoon and fork.
MSR claims that the Reactor stove heats quickly. Our experience with the stove allowed us to boil a liter of water in less than two minutes at low elevations, and at slightly less than three minutes at higher altitudes. When lit, we found that it takes several tries to get the flame adjuster in the right position to provide a medium level of heat for simmering.
While we liked the Reactor stove’s function, cleanliness and efficiency, we didn’t like that you couldn’t use any other type of pot or pan on it. One might argue that the Reactor is not a base-camp stove and is designed for experienced backpackers and mountaineers. But the reality is that many of us like to fry up the day’s catch from high-country streams.
Because of this, we found ourselves limited to only packing soups, stews and whatever we could make with boiled water on our trips. Not a total tragedy by any means, but these backpackers missed their morning pancakes.
The MSR Reactor stove retails around $160 which may seem a little high, but considering that it comes with a pot, lid, pack towel and fuel canister, it’s probably everything you’ll ever need in a backpacking stove.
By Dan SanchezSpecs: Weight – 1 lbs. 2.2 oz Boil Time – About 3 minutes (1 liter) Fuel: MSR IsoPro propane/isobutane Burn Time – 80 minutes (8 oz. IsoPro canister) Price: $160