MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Review
Cons: Unreliable piezo igniter
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The latest in a line of "rocket" themed stoves, MSR's PocketRocket Deluxe is a great backpacking stove. It's a stand-out simmerer, and its low weight is respectable. Though it posts an impressive boil time, what blew our hair back was the fact that it can bring water to a rolling boil even in an 8 - 10 mph wind! It's very similar in features to the Soto Windmaster, our Editors' Choice. The burner heads of these two stoves are almost identical.
Fuel efficiency is a nice feature for a stove on shorter trips, but as your wilderness forays grow in length, it becomes increasingly important. Fewer fuel cans mean more space in your pack and less weight on your back. Though not the most fuel-efficient stove in our review, the PocketRocket Deluxe held its own against the competition.
When tested in calm conditions, the Deluxe used 0.4 ounces of fuel to bring one liter of water to a rolling boil. This put it in the neighborhood of the integrated canister stoves, the design characteristics of which make them more fuel-efficient by nature. None of the other small canister stoves are as efficient as the Deluxe, though some are close.
In our 2 - 4 mph fan test, the Deluxe burned 0.7 ounces of fuel, which is above average in our analysis. Since we average the two scores for the final fuel efficiency number, it did knock the Deluxe down a bit. What's remarkable, though, is that this stove was able to boil water in the wind at all. In previous reviews, no small canister stove boiled water in front of the fan. This time around, two models were able to boil water in the breeze: this one and our Editors' Choice.
Most of the small canister stoves in our review weigh in around 3 ounces. The PocketRocket Deluxe slides in there nicely at 3 ounces on the dot (85 grams). Its predecessor, the PocketRocket 2, weighs 0.4 ounces less but doesn't come with a piezo igniter and performs poorly in the wind. The Deluxe comes with a sturdy stuff sack that adds another 0.5 ounces.
The PocketRocket Deluxe is one of our favorite stoves for cooking real food. The control valve has the right amount of resistance, which makes it easy to dial in the correct amount of heat. Though the burner head isn't as big as some of the behemoths found in this competition, it's wider than many small canister stoves, which means that heat distributes evenly around the bottom of a pot or pan.
Though it doesn't support big pots and pans as well as the liquid fuel stoves in our test (bigger groups may want a second stove or something that performs better with larger cookware), this stove was still our favorite stove for getting fancy.
Ease Of Use
Within the sub-categories of this review (integrated canister, liquid fuel, small canister), the differences in weight are rarely more than a few ounces. Similarly, the differences in boil times are generally hard to detect without a stopwatch. One thing our testers are interested in is how easy it is to use the stove, whether we're dumping boiling water into a bag or flipping pancakes.
Like all of the small canister stoves, basic design features make setting up the PocketRocket Deluxe easy. This stove gets extra points for a large control valve wire and simple fold-out pot supports.
While we're psyched that MSR finally added a piezo lighter to the Rocket family, this one worked only rarely. It comes attached to the stove in a burly housing; we never worried about damaging it when packing up. However, even though it sparked every time we pressed the button, this rarely lit the stove, even when the valve was open all the way. We're looking forward to the future development of this feature. Our testers rarely go backpacking without a lighter (or two), but it's nice to not have to find it every time you want a hot drink. Other models edged out the Deluxe in this category because of reliable piezo igniters and more substantial pot supports.
Our testing team doesn't think boiling times are that important, as long as they're not outrageously slow. Nevertheless, the PocketRocket Deluxe posted a proud time: 3 minutes and 39 seconds. It beat some of the seemingly unbeatable integrated canister stoves. Don't put the water on to boil and then go digging through that stuff sack for your meal — get everything ready first.
What impressed our testers most is how the Deluxe performs in the wind. In our 2 - 4 mph fan test, this stove brought one liter of water to boil in 7 minutes and 20 seconds. We think the secret sauce behind this performance is the tapered and slightly protected shape of the burner head. The only stoves that are faster at boiling in the breeze are integrated canister stoves.
This is the most expensive small canister stove in our review. Do we think the extra dollars are worth it? Yes.
MSR's latest Rocket offering, the PocketRocket Deluxe, is a great stove for backcountry travel. It boasts impressive fuel efficiency if you can keep it out of the wind, and when it comes to simmering it's our favorite, working about as well as the stove in your kitchen at home. The poor performance of its piezo igniter and ho-hum pot supports have it lagging behind a few other models when it comes to ease of use, but we think that's worth overlooking for the Deluxe's finer qualities, including its ability to boil water in the wind.
— Ian McEleney