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MSR Dragonfly Review

   
Top Pick Award

Backpacking Stoves

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 6 reviews. Most recent review: September 17, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $111 - $140 | Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros:  Very stable, excellent simmer.
Cons:  Heavy, not compact, loud, short fuel line.
Best Uses:  Base camping, group backpacking, kayaking.
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 5 reviews
Recommendations:  80% of reviewers (4/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   MSR
Review by: Dan Sandberg ⋅ October 10, 2010  
Overview
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

Likes
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.

Dislikes
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.

Best Application
Base camp or cooking for large groups.

Value
The Dragonfly is one of the most expensive camp stoves available. For most applications we believe the MSR Whisperlite is a better value.

Other Versions
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: September 17, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

80% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 17%  (1)
4 star: 67%  (4)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Sep 17, 2013 - 04:16pm
Slacker77 · Backpacker · Ontario, Canada
I have owned the Dragonfly for about 8 years now, and have been really pleased with its performance. the 2 key highlights for me are reliability and simmering ability.

In terms of reliability, the Dragonfly's longstanding reputation speaks for itself. I've never had any issues with it but if I did, it is easily serviceable in the field, and maintenance kits are easy to find. I thought the the long support arms would be easily damaged, but this hasn't been the case - it has taken a lot of abuse over the years without any issues. For maintenance, I follow the annual maintenance recommendations from MSR (basically cleaning and replacing worn o-rings.

The stove is a pro-star at simmering, fast boiling and everything in between. This was an important feature for me - we like to make meals a little interesting in the woods. Also, my daughter LOVES to have pancakes when camping, so the ability to make these properly is obviously non-negotiable :). Cold temperatures are obviously not an issue for this stove, and it cooks very well in the wind especially if the included windscreen is used.

The two downsides for me are size and noise. Folded up, the stove is still quite large. The noise is loud, no getting around that - it sounds like a jet engine when cranked. Doesn't bother me, but I will say that I don't like using this stove when car camping as it will likely annoy at least some of the neighbors.

After owning the Dragonfly for so long, I still can't think of another liquid fuel stove that I would rather have. It's reliability inspires a huge amount of confidence on long, remote trips, and the versatility in cooking temperatures is second to none.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 19, 2013 - 02:52pm
Gustav · Skier · Lakes Region, New Hampshire
I bought the Dragonfly in 2009 for a trip to Glacier N.P. in Montana. It was and is my only liquid fuel stove. The attraction was the adjustable flame control. We have used this in a 16 day trip to Glacier, then Mt. Ranier, Olympic, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, each trip at least a week using the stove.

It is loud, but I had no frame of reference when I initially used it. That issue doesn't bother me. What it does well is cook. We have used it both in "base" camp as well as backpacking. In base camp, it really allows you to cook great food, very similarly to our gas range at home. This is the real attraction of this stove to us. If we just wanted to boil water, the stove would be too much (and I have a Jetboil I've used for other backpacking trips with less ambitious menus). However, I did use it in Kings Canyon to boil lots of water (like a dutch oven's worth) and it did the job (our water filter was not working, which MSR and REI later replaced).

This was my first MSR product and its quality impressed me. I would recommend this stove to anyone that wants to cook anything other than water.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 6, 2013 - 12:04am
W. S. · Climber · The West
Well, I like it. It cooks very well, it's stable, and it's very efficient. I've been using this stove several times a day, almost every day since October and I'm a little over halfway through my second can of Coleman camp fuel. That's something like $30 in fuel for about five months.

But it's really, really loud. Hope you don't like to listen to music while you cook.

Basically it's a great stove and I'd recommend it, but I'd like it better if it made less noise.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 31, 2012 - 10:41am
This is one good stove. I've used these for at least five years and have never really had issues with it. It brings water to a boil fast, it has very good heat control (if you are a gourmet camp chef it's a really big plus), but it makes alot of noise and is a bit heavy compared with other models. The noise is a draw back, I recommend using the Dragonfly when your in isolated places. The only advantage to the noise is using it to wake up everyone, if you do this make sure you are making coffee/breakfast for everyone.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 6, 2013 - 01:42pm
Just wish it had a lower profile

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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MSR Dragonfly
Credit: www.msrcorp.com
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