Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $80 - $90 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Small, simple, durable, inexpensive, versatile
Cons: Difficult to simmer
Best Uses: Whether it’s backpacking, adventure cycling, or arctic expeditions, the Whisperlite can handle it all.
Since its introduction in 1982, the Whisperlite 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.
Alternatively, the more stable and easier to simmer MSR Dragonfly may be better for commercial outfits or those less concerned with size and weight (it's much louder, 3oz. heavier, .3L larger, and $40 more).
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Whisperlite's design: simple and pure, yet unworthy of inclusion in the Times' Fashion section, provides a stable three-legged base for a large central burner. MSR's Shaker Jet allows you to clean the jet with a simple vertical shaking motion. The stove is controlled by a valve on the fuel pump, which sits 6-8" from the burner unit. Weighing in at 11.5 ounces, and taking up a very reasonable 96 cubic inches(1.5L), the Whisperlite is small and light enough to accompany you just about anywhere. This is the smallest and lightest liquid fuel stove we tested.
The Whisperlite is completely field maintainable. You can disassemble, repair, and reassemble the stove anywhere in the world.
Simple, reliable, and affordable, you can't go wrong with the Whisperlite.
The Whisperlite does not light as fast as other stoves. The priming process involves releasing a small amount of fuel into the fuel cup, lighting it, and letting it burn down. This heats the fuel line enough to vaporize the fuel. The entire process takes roughly two minutes. While this isn't instantaneous, we don't think you'll be late to your next appointment. Regardless of the make and model, this process is roughly the same for all liquid fuel stoves.
Some complain that the Whisperlite is incapable of simmering. Fortunately this is not the case. The Whisperlite must be depressurized in order to achieve a constant simmer. Here's how: prime, light, turn off, release fuel pressure, pump three times, and light again. We've made dozens of slowly simmered culinary delights with the Whisperlite. These include bread, pizza, calzones, and brownies.
The Whisperlite can conquer it all.
For $80 you cannot buy a better camp stove.
The MSR Whisperlite International ($10 more) is capable of operating on alternative fuels such as diesel, kerosene, gasoline, and jet fuel. The two stoves are mechanically identical with the exception of a wicking cup for lighting less flammable fuels and several interchangeable jets for different fuel types. This added versatility may seem appealing, but because white gas is widely available throughout the world we believe it's necessary only for a small percentage of users.
The MSR Whisperlite Universal retails for $140. Our testers are cooking up a storm with the new Whisperlite Universal. Check back for the full report on its performance.
The MSR Dragonfly, $140, brings excellent control and stability to your backcountry kitchen and excels at handling low simmers and large pots. It is a luxuriously well-handling stove and 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.
MSR also sells an Expedition Maintenance Kit, which includes all necessary parts and instructions to disassemble and repair a damaged Whisperlite. With this, your stove is likely to last for decades.
The MSR Fuel Pump is included with your purchase of the Whisperlite, however, if you need a replacement, you can order a new one for $35.
The Windscreen is included with your purchase of a new Whisperlite; however, if you need a replacement, you can order a new MSR Windscreen for $15.
Bombproof MSR fuel bottles come in various sizes: Fuel Bottle - 11oz for $18, 20 oz for $20, and Fuel Bottle - 30oz for $22.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 19, 2014
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