MSR Reactor Stove
By Matt Wymer, Rokslide Prostaff
I have used a few different stoves over the years, and never really found the perfect one for two person backpack hunts. Last year my hunting buddy Jerry and I were able to really test out the MSR Reactor. We used a Jetboil stove for years and it always seemed to work when we needed it. However, I read quite a bit about the MSR Reactor here on Rokslide and had to get one to test out. Between the two of us, we were able to test the Reactor in a variety of settings and weather conditions.
The reactor stove came with a 1.7L pot, compared to the 1L Jetboil. Despite the additional capacity, the reactor boiled water much faster than the Jetboil. Even better, the extra capacity allowed us to take care of two Mountain House meals in one boil, vs. the two boils in our old Jetboil. While we did not do timed side-by-side tests, we both concurred it boiled water darned fast! With the old Jetboil, as we waited for water to boil for coffee and breakfast we could prepare our packs for the day and even glass from camp. With the reactor stove, we didn’t have time to do anything else. Water boiled surprisingly fast and breakfast was over in a flash…
The Reactor pot came with a handle making it easier to pour the water without making a mess. The Jetboil is a little trickier as the handle is built into the neoprene outer cover and flexes too much, making it harder not to spill.
Additionally the lid design of the Reactor seems more solid. After a few uses, the Jetboil lid has trouble fitting on the pot securely. We utilize freeze dried meals, so the need for fine tune simmering has never been a concern but the fuel control valve on the Reactor is easier to adjust if simmering is ever needed. Jetboil’s control valve is small and if your hands are cold, it’s harder to use.
The one negative Jerry pointed out with the Reactor stove is that it doesn’t have the option of a frying pan. You can get different pots for it (including a 2.5L one), but no frying pan. Jerry’s moose camp tradition is to fry up the tenderloins in the field, and a frying pan works best for this.
Overall we are both impressed with the MSR Reactor and were amazed how fast it boils water. It’s a durable and efficient boiler and we highly recommend it for those looking for a backcountry stove for parties of two or more.
Matt Wymer is a hunter, writer, and blogger residing on the Last Frontier. You can follow his blog at Remote Pursuits