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Hands-on Gear Review

MSR Pocket Rocket Review


Backpacking Stove

Click to enlarge
  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: March 4, 2016
Price:   $40 List | Varies from $30 - $40 online  —  Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Simple, durable, inexpensive, strong hardcase
Cons:  Unstable
Manufacturer:   MSR

Overview

The MSR Pocket Rocket is the least expensive backpacking stove we reviewed. It is small, simple and durable, but not very stable. For the same price we believe the Optimus Crux is a better buy because it's more durable, more stable, and stores conveniently under a fuel canister. If you travel to high altitudes, we recommend the MSR Windburner because it does much better in cold temperatures and high winds, and is more fuel efficient. If you are looking for the smallest and lightest stove you can carry, then go with the similar MSR Micro Rocket.

If environmentally harmful fuel canisters and tiny unstable stoves aren't your thing, we recommend the stable, versatile, and durable MSR Whisperlite. This liquid fuel stove will last you a lifetime.

RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking stoves

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jessica Haist
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday

This little rocket can boil water fast and is small and light, but not as small or light as other canister stoves we tested.

Performance Comparison


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The Micro Rocket (right) has the widest platform by a few millimeters when compared to the other small canister stoves, the Pocket Rocket (middle) and Optimus Crux Lite (left).

Versatility


This little stove can go anywhere because it is so small and light, and unlike an integrated canister stove like the Jetboil Flash, you have the ability to simmer on it and can use your own cookware. The Pocket Rocket is very simple and durable and comes with a hard plastic case to store in your pack although we usually leave this behind to save weight.

Fuel Efficiency


The Pocket Rocket is relatively fuel efficient, although we notice that when you screw it on to a canister there is always a bit of leakage that sprays out. If you can use the stove in a sheltered location it will be much more fuel efficient. Once there is any kind of breeze, the Pocket Rocket's fuel efficiency is gone with the wind. The most fuel efficient stove we tested was the MSR Windburner, which performs admirably even in strong wind.

Click to enlarge
MSR Pocket Rocket, which is one of the least stable small canister stoves.

Boil Time


We boiled half a liter of water in 2 minutes and 8 seconds when there was no wind on the Pocket Rocket. This is decently fast and impressive. If there is wind present this will take a lot longer.

Weight


Although this small and light stove appeals to fast and light backpackers, the Pocket Rocket is the heaviest small canister stove we tested at 3 oz. The lightest and most compact stove, the MSR Micro Rocket is only half an ounce lighter. If you are on a budget and want a small stove, the Pocket Rocket will do just fine.

Stability


The Pocket Rocket is the least stable stove we reviewed. While the pot supports fold out to a reasonable diameter, they do not extend perfectly flat. This leaves your pot or pan balanced on three small points and nothing more. Further contributing to this stove's instability is its long stem. This raised the stove's center of gravity slightly higher than all the other small canister stoves.

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The legs on the MSR Pocket Rocket. You can see that the pot balances on smaller points because the legs are not completely level.

Packed Size


This little canister stove will indeed fit in most pockets. It has, however, the largest packed size of the three small canister stoves in this review, measuring 4.1 x 2.1 x 2 inches.

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The small canister stoves we tested from left to right: MSR Micro Rocket, MSR Pocket Rocket and Optimus Crux Lite.

Best Application


This is a great little stove to bring along on backpacking and car camping getaways, especially if you are looking for a cheap, simple solution. Three ounces is light enough to make an excellent option for any type of multi-day backpacking trip.

Value


While this is the least expensive stove in our test, we believe the Micro Rocket, which will save you half an ounce, is worth the extra $20. However, if you are on a budget and want the least expensive product that will work backpacking, this is a very functional and small stove for only $40.

Other Versions and Accessories


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MSR MicroRocket
  • Same style stove as this
  • Ultralight weight at 2.6oz
  • $60

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MSR Whisperlite International or MSR Whisperlite
  • White gas and Multi-fuel version of the Whisperlite stove that can burn diesel, kerosene, gasoline, jet fuel and white gas
  • Minor differences compared to standard whisperlite to accommodate multiple fuel types
  • Wicking cup for less flammable fuels
  • Interchangeable jets for different fuel types
  • Self cleaning shaker jet

Windscreen
  • Wrap your stove and pot to block the wind
  • Increase fuel efficiency
  • $15

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Quick 2 Pot Set
  • A recommended pot set made from hard anodized aluminum
  • Includes a non-stick1.5L pot, hard anodized 2.5L pot, Aluminum Strainer Lid and Handle
  • Lightweight, durable, efficient boiling time
  • $70
Jessica Haist and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 4, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Mar 4, 2016 - 01:51pm
hinz.alex · Backpacker · Charleston, SC
The MSR Pocket Rocket is a great piece of gear to have if you are going for lightweight. It takes up almost no room in your bag and has a quick boil time. I have used this on many backpacking trips and have always been satisfied. I have primarily used this in the Ozarks and out East in Francis Marion National Forest and have never had any issues with wind causing any issues while trying to cook.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 24, 2016 - 02:30pm
Dr. K · Other · Bend, Oregon
I have used a pocket rocket since 2009 mostly for backpacking and a few snowcamping trips.

The assessment is pretty fair for this stove. My goal when I bought this was to get a cheap, durable, effective, reliable backpacking stove. This stove fulfilled all of that.

Cheap: I got mine on sale at REI for $25. Can't really beat that.

Durable: Mine has been around the block in anything from the sand dunes on the Oregon coast to fall trails around Mt Rainier to snow camping in the Cascade mountains (temperatures from around 0 to 25F). It has been dropped, stepped on, rolled on volcanic rock, and so on. It has never broken or needed maintenance. Couldn't be easier to take care of.

Effective: Prior to getting a better water filtration system, I used this to boil all of my drinking water (this lasted about a year to a year and a half). It worked in colder temps than I was expecting (mine was supposed to be a backup stove. It ended up getting used to melt snow for water). It packs nicely in its little case, sliding into the odd corner in my pack without fuss. I actually like putting the fuel cap and lighter/matches in the case when the stove is in use so I don't lose them.

Reliable: Hasn't failed me yet!

CONS: Struggles with the wind. A windscreen is very helpful. Also, like the review said, it can be unstable, especially with big pots. I don't use much more than a 2 cup titanium mug for pretty much everything and don't generally have issues. I make very sure it's on nice level ground if I have to use a larger pot for cooking/snow melting. These 2 things are what kept me from giving this a 5 (I'm not an ounce counter and the size is not significant enough to cause an issue for me).

I will possibly look into other options in the future, but don't plan on ever giving this stove up and am very satisfied with it overall.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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