The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

MSR PocketRocket 2 Review

This small, light, easy to use stove can actually simmer and is perfect for backpacking.
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Price:  $45 List | $44.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Simple, light, inexpensive, strong hardcase
Cons:  Unstable, no piezo
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Jessica Haist & Ian McEleney  ⋅  May 3, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Fuel Efficiency - 25% 6
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Simmering Ability - 25% 8
  • Time To Boil - 10% 4
  • Ease Of Use - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The PocketRocket 2 is a design culmination of the MSR MicroRocket and the original PocketRocket. It's meager weight, and small size adds little to your pack, while the excellent simmering ability means that you can fry up a quick quesadilla as an appetizer after a long day on the trail. The PocketRocket 2's quick boil time won't have you waiting for a hot drink to get your day going in the morning. We think this stove is an excellent choice for backpackers who want to keep it light but still have the option to cook a real meal. This product is a former Editors' Choice winner, but newer options have better wind resistance, faster boil times, and piezo ignitors. It's still a good stove for a good price.


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.

Performance Comparison


Testing out the capabilities of the PocketRocket 2  which scores well across the board.
Testing out the capabilities of the PocketRocket 2, which scores well across the board.

Fuel Efficiency


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.

The PocketRocket 2 versus the fan. Though the stove did not boil water  the WindClip windshield kept it lit.
The PocketRocket 2 versus the fan. Though the stove did not boil water, the WindClip windshield kept it lit.

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.

Weight


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 tucked into a 1 liter pot with room to spare for a lighter  pot grips  and maybe some tea bags.
The PocketRocket 2 tucked into a 1 liter pot with room to spare for a lighter, pot grips, and maybe some tea bags.

Simmering


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.

Conducting the classic oatmeal test with the PocketRocket and a titanium pot.
Conducting the classic oatmeal test with the PocketRocket and a titanium pot.

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.

Boil Time


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.

Different flame sizes and shapes on small canister stoves. Which one do you think throws the most heat?
Different flame sizes and shapes on small canister stoves. Which one do you think throws the most heat?

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.

Smaller pots  like the 1 liter pot seen here and correspondingly lighter loads work well with this stove.
Smaller pots, like the 1 liter pot seen here and correspondingly lighter loads work well with this stove.

Value


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?

Conclusion


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.

This stove is so small and light that one of our testers brought it as a back up to his Reactor.
This stove is so small and light that one of our testers brought it as a back up to his Reactor.


Jessica Haist & Ian McEleney