MSR PocketRocket 2 Review
Cons: Unstable, no piezo
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're searching for a stove to take on your next backpacking adventure, this iteration of a fan-favorite is still a solid choice. It's lightweight and simmers well, two things that make any backpacker happy. The smart way the pot supports fold and rotate, first tried by MSR in the MicroRocket, means that the PocketRocket 2 can fit in most any backpacking pot, often with room to spare.
Efficiency is the PocketRocket 2's weakest category, and by weak we mean its performance is just average. It still beats most of the other small canister stoves in the test but is no match for the fuel-sipping integrated canister stoves. It did compare favorably to the liquid fuel stoves.
The biggest weakness for any small canister stove is the wind. This burner is reasonably efficient when it's calm; it used 0.5 oz of fuel to boil a liter of water in just under 5 minutes. However, it performed poorly in our 8-10mph wind test, when it burned 1 oz of fuel in 30 minutes and did not boil the water.
Our testers are not put off by this. For the times when we are camping above treeline, we're always able to construct a windbreak with natural materials, or we bring the stove into the tent vestibule. For this reason, we do not recommend an aftermarket windscreen. Readers should be aware that MSR disapproves of this because the canister could become dangerously hot and explode.
The PocketRocket 2 quite well in this metric. It's currently the third lightest small canister stove in our review. For the weight of one liquid fuel stove, you could carry four or five of these little stoves! Or you could carry one PocketRocket 2, a 4 oz fuel can (which weigh about 7.4 oz), and extra chocolate.
The folding and swiveling pot supports are a vast improvement over the original PocketRocket. It would be reasonable to put it in your pocket. This stove is compact and light enough that one of our testers brought it along as a backup to his integrated canister stove on an extended spring ski tour in the High Sierra.
The PocketRocket 2 also fared well in this metric. The control valve wire has slightly more turning resistance than the other stoves in the review, particularly on the lower end, giving it great control and responsiveness when simmering.
Cooking oatmeal in a pot is a classic challenge for any backpacking stove. We upped the ante by making the pot titanium, which does not distribute the heat as well as aluminum, and can lead to burned spots. With only a reasonable amount of stirring this stove cooked our oatmeal with no burning.
This stove's only weakness in the simmering department is the small burner head. Most of the small canister and liquid fuel stoves have this issue to some degree, and it's only a real problem when simmering with pots larger than 6 inches in diameter.
Here again, the PocketRocket 2 did well but was hampered by the wind. In our no-wind boil time test, we brought 1 liter of water to a rolling boil in 4 minutes and 41 seconds.
In our 8 - 10 mph the flame did not blow out, because of MSR's WindClip windshield, but this stove was not able to boil water. After 30 minutes, the best our testers got were small bubbles on the bottom of the pot.
Ease Of Use
The PocketRocket 2 was reasonably easy to use. Several of the other small canister models now sport piezo igniters which this model lacks. In other respects, it did well.
The pot supports are not as big as we would have liked. The control valve wire was easy to use, even with a gloved hand. The only small part you must manage is the svelte plastic case that comes with the burner, and we often left this at home.
This stove is on the verge of winning our Best Buy award, we think it's a fantastic value. It's only $5 more than the original PocketRocket, but it's lighter, smaller, and boils faster. Time for an upgrade?
Though this is a good backpacking stove, it has its weak points, namely ease of use and performance in the wind. A little bit of care on the part of the user can significantly mitigate these. We find that its cons are more than made up for by its low weight, small size, simmering ability, and good boil time. This stove quickly lets us make that thing we want most after a long day on our feet, real food.
— Jessica Haist & Ian McEleney