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MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Review

This simmering champ can also perform in the wind.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $70 List | $69.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Works in the wind, great for simmering, best of the best
Cons:  Unreliable piezo igniter
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 3, 2019
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 18
  • Fuel Efficiency - 25% 7
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Simmering Ability - 25% 9
  • Time To Boil - 10% 8
  • Ease Of Use - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe wins our Editors' Choice Award. It's excellent simmering capabilities, and low weight opens up possibilities for real cooking while carrying a light pack. It's quite fuel efficient when kept out of the wind. However, it can boil water in the wind, a pretty unique trait in a small canister stove. It also posted proud boil times in our no-wind test. We're happy that MSR finally put a piezo igniter on this stove, but it fell behind the competition a bit because that igniter was unreliable and the pot supports were only average. Nevertheless, we think this is a great backpacking stove. We still love the PocketRocket 2, priced significantly lower, but our testers believe the extra dough is worth it for the Deluxe.

Are you heading out on an expedition? Check out our Top Pick, the MSR Whisperlite for in-field repairability and snow melting.


Compare to Similar Products

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 could bring water to a rolling boil even in an 8 - 10 mph wind! It's very similar in features to the Soto Windmaster. The burner heads of these two stoves are almost identical.

Performance Comparison


The PocketRocket Deluxe is our Editors' Choice backpacking stove.
The PocketRocket Deluxe is our Editors' Choice backpacking stove.

Fuel Efficiency


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 it's own.


When tested in calm conditions, the Deluxe used 0.3 ounces of fuel to bring one liter of water to a rolling boil. In this test, it was slightly bested by the fuel-sipping Jetboil Flash, which used 0.2 ounces. The characteristics of the integrated canister stoves make them more fuel efficient by nature. None of the other small canister stoves are as efficient as the Deluxe.

We think the bell shape of the burner head protects the flame when it's windy.
We think the bell shape of the burner head protects the flame when it's windy.

In our 8 - 10 mph fan test the Deluxe burned 0.9 ounces of fuel, which is just-below-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. In this year's test, this stove, and the Soto Windmaster were both able to boil a liter of water in a breeze!

Weight


Most of the small canister stoves in our review weigh in around 3 ounces. The PocketRocket Deluxe slides in there nicely right at 3 ounces (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 Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium is the lightest stove in our review at 2 ounces even, but also doesn't have a piezo igniter and also suffers in the breeze. The Deluxe comes with a sturdy stuff sack that adds another 0.5 ounces.

Weighing the Deluxe.
Weighing the Deluxe.

Simmering


If all you ever eat in the backcountry is instant food, keep scrolling down. If you've been thinking about investing in a frying pan to make some quesadillas in camp, or perhaps fry up some fish you caught with that ultralight fly rod, this metric is for you.


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 not as wide as the huge Primus Classic Trail the burner head is wider than many small canister stoves, which means that heat distributes evenly around the bottom of the pot or pan.

The pot supports on the Deluxe have a diameter of around 5 inches.
The pot supports on the Deluxe have a diameter of around 5 inches.

Though it doesn't support big pots and pans as well as the liquid fuel stoves in our test, this was 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 PocketRocket, 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.

The piezo igniter is protected in this metal housing  and the wire runs up through the stove body.
The piezo igniter is protected in this metal housing, and the wire runs up through the stove body.

The very easy to use Soto Windmaster edged out the Deluxe in this category because of it's very reliable piezo and it's more substantial pot supports.

The stove and it's burly stuff sack.
The stove and it's burly stuff sack.

Boil Time


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 test leading boil time in our no-wind test: 3 minutes and 22 seconds. It beat the seemingly unbeatable Jetboil Flash and MSR Reactor by 20 and 30 seconds respectively. We don't think most backpackers will notice much difference between the boil times of these stoves in real-world conditions.


What impressed our testers was how the Deluxe performed in the wind. In our 8 - 10 mph fan test this stove brought one liter of water to boil in 7 minutes and 18 seconds. This year is the first that we've had small canister stoves capable of this feat. Aside from the Windmaster, the best the other models of this type could do was stay lit or maybe make a few small bubbles at the bottom of the pot. We think the secret sauce behind this performance is the tapered and slightly protected shape of the burner head on both of these stoves. The only stoves that are faster at boiling in the breeze are integrated canister stoves.

The Deluxe packed in a 1 liter pot with a 4 ounce fuel can  pot grip and lighter.
The Deluxe packed in a 1 liter pot with a 4 ounce fuel can, pot grip and lighter.

Best Applications


We think this is a great stove for most backpacking applications. Groups of 1 - 3 are an ideal size, bigger groups may want a second stove or something that performs better with larger cookware. It's light and compact enough to take along on mellow mountaineering adventures, though folks melting a ton of snow should look to a liquid fuel stove. Our testers think this stove could be great on an extended bike tour.

Two very similar burner heads  the Soto Windmaster on the left and the PocketRocket Deluxe on the right.
Two very similar burner heads, the Soto Windmaster on the left and the PocketRocket Deluxe on the right.

Value


At $70 retail this is the most expensive small canister stove in our review. Do we think the extra dollars are worth it? Yes.

This small stove performs well enough that we took it along a quick spring ski tour.
This small stove performs well enough that we took it along a quick spring ski tour.

Conclusion


MSR's latest PocketRocket offering, the Deluxe is a great stove for backcountry travel. It boasts great fuel efficiency if you can keep it out of the wind. When it comes to simmering this stove is our favorite of the test; it simmers 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 the Windmaster when it comes to ease of use. We think that's worth overlooking for the Deluxe's finer qualities, including its ability to boil water in the wind.


Ian McEleney