Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $130 - $140 | Compare prices at 10 resellers
Pros: Very stable, excellent simmer.
Cons: Heavy, not compact, loud, short fuel line.
Best Uses: Base camping, group backpacking, kayaking.
Bringing excellent control and stability to your backcountry kitchen, the MSR Dragonfly excels at handling low simmers and large pots. Its large packed size and heavier frame make it a better backpacking stove for base camp than for backpacking.
It is a luxuriously well-handling stove. Its stability and ease of use make it our top choice for base camp. Unfortunately, a large and heavy frame makes it cumbersome for those who are primarily concerned with size and weight. We believe the smaller, lighter, quieter, cheaper, and slightly faster MSR Whisperlite is a better choice for backpacking. Even though the Optimus Nova is more durable, we believe the Dragonfly is a better buy because it is lighter, easier to use, and cheaper.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Dragonfly is the best handling stove we tested. This elegant powerhouse adjusts from a low simmer to a violent roar with a quick turn of the fuel valve. This feature, which is not included on the Whisperlite, leaves the fuel pump valve open and moves the control to a valve mounted on the burner unit. You can now simmer quickly and easily.
In addition to being the best handling stove we tested, the Dragonfly was also the most stable. Three large legs unfold to provide a wide base that can accommodate group-sized pots with ease. Another quality feature of the Dragonfly is its robust fuel pump. This is larger than all other MSR pumps and accommodates a slightly thicker fuel line that allows the stove to burn the same assortment of fuels as the Whisperlite Internationale: white gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel.
Although the Dragonfly succeeds in bringing kitchen-like control and stability to the back country, we dont recommend it for most multi-day lightweight users.
The stoves substantial weight (14oz) combined with its large packed size (110 ci or 1.8L) make transportation rather burdensome. Furthermore, the Dragonfly is terribly audible. A burner similar to the MSR XGK releases a blowtorch flame in a conversation-stopping roar. Ironically, we found the Dragonfly to be slightly slower than the Whisperlite; boiling a liter of water in approximately four minutes.
The Dragonfly has a prohibitively short fuel line that limits the where you can place the stove. While this doesnt negatively impact the burners function, a longer and more flexible line would be more convenient.
Despite these drawbacks, the Dragonfly was our favorite stove to cook on. As long as you dont mind carrying the extra weight, youll love the Dragonfly.
Base camp or cooking for large groups.
The Dragonfly is one of the most expensive camp stoves available. For most applications we believe the MSR Whisperlite is a better value.
The MSR Whisperlite, $140, has proven itself as the most versatile and dependable, lightweight, liquid fuel portable stove on the market. If we were to have one stove this would be it and this stove wins our Best Buy Award.
The MSR Reactor, $190, is insanely fast at boiling water but remains incapable of doing much else. Get the Reactor if you voyage to harshest of climates with two to four people. The Reactor wins our Editor's Choice Award and is the most technologically advanced integrated stove system on the market today. Of all the stoves we tested, the Reactor is the fastest, most windproof, quietest, and easiest to use. Simply screw on the burner, light it up, put the pot on, and in three minutes or less, you'll have a liter of boiling water.
Looking for a cheaper alternative? Check out the MSR Pocket Rocket for $40. The Pocket Rocket is the simplest and most durable small canister stove we reviewed. Its design is incredibly basic, yet perfectly functional. At $40 it's the least expensive stove we reviewed. It also comes with a red triangular hard case that protects the stove incredibly well.
You can purchase the MSR fuel bottles in various sizes:
Fuel Bottle - 11oz
Fuel Bottle - 20oz
Fuel Bottle - 30oz
— Dan Sandberg
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 22, 2014
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