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.
Testing out the capabilities of the PocketRocket 2, which scores well across the board.
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 MSR Whisperlite and beat the other 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.
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 the second lightest stove after the Snow Peak LiteMax. For the weight of one MSR Dragonfly (14.1 oz), you could carry 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 MSR Reactor 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 also fared well in this metric, though it was edged out by the Primus Classic Trail and the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe. 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 2 and a titanium pot.
This stove's only weakness in the simmering department is the small burner head. All of the small canister and liquid fuel stoves have this issue to some degree (with the notable exception of the Classic Trail), and it's only a 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. This time even rocketed past the more fuel efficient Windburner.
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. Backpackers used to have to choose between integrated canister stoves and liquid fuel models if they wanted strong performance in the wind. Now the Deluxe and Soto Windmaster also perform when it's breezy.
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 those on the Windmaster. 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.
Our testing team like the PocketRocket 2 best for backpacking trips with smaller groups (4 or less) when there are mostly below treeline campsites. Smaller groups mean smaller pots, which are more stable on this stove. Any small canister stove is vulnerable to the wind, and we don't want to deal with cooking in the wind for every meal. When paired with a small pot this stove is great for fast and light weekend trips for two. If you are an alpine or big wall climber, we recommend the Jetboil MiniMo or MSR Windburner because they are more fuel efficient.
At only $45 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 light 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.