Hands-on Gear Review

MSR Whisperlite International Review

MSR Whisperlite International
Price:  $100 List | $99.95 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Small, simple, durable, versatile, easy to repair, multi-fuel capability
Cons:  Heavy, difficult to simmer
Editors' Rating:   
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Category:  Liquid Fuel
Weight (ounces):  11.5 oz.
Dimensions (inches):  6x4x4 in.
Manufacturer:   MSR

Our Verdict

The Whisperlite International has proven itself as the most versatile, dependable, lightweight, liquid fuel portable stove on the market. If we were to have one stove, this would be it. That is, until we tried the MSR Whisperlite Universal, which can do all that the International version can do, but can also use canister fuel. It also costs $40 more.

The International is a multi-fuel version of the original MSR Whisperlite stove, which wins our Best Buy award. Featuring self-cleaning Shaker Jet technology, it burns white gas, kerosene, and unleaded auto fuel. The standard Whisperlite only burns white gas and is $10 less expensive. We also love the original version of this stove, and generally just recommend the standard Whisperlite unless you really think you will be needing to burn kerosene or auto fuel.

Alternatively, the more stable and easier to simmer MSR Dragonfly may be better for commercial outfits or those less concerned with size and weight (its much louder, 3oz. heavier, .3L larger, and $40 more).

View our complete Best Backpacking Stove Review to see how this model stacks up against the others.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Stoves of 2018

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist and Max Neale

Last Updated:
Tuesday
February 10, 2015

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The MSR Whisperlite International has the simplicity and great features that are found on the original Whisperlite, with the additional ability to burn multiple fuels for international trips.

Performance Comparison


The Whisperlite Family: (Lto R) International  Original  and Universal.
The Whisperlite Family: (Lto R) International, Original, and Universal.

Versatility


The Whisperlite's design is simple and pure. Although it is unworthy of inclusion in the Times' Fashion section, it provides a stable three-legged base for a large central burner. The stove is controlled by a valve on the fuel pump, which sits 6-8 inches from the burner unit. MSRs Shaker Jet allows you to clean the jet with a simple vertical shaking motion. The Whisperlite is completely field maintainable. You can disassemble, repair, and reassemble the stove anywhere in the world.

Some complain that this stove is incapable of simmering. Fortunately, however, this is not the case. The Whisperlite must be depressurized in order to achieve a constant simmer. Here's how: prime, light, turn off, release fuel pressure, pump three times, and light again. We've made dozens of slowly simmered culinary delights with the Whisperlite. These include bread, pizza, calzones, and brownies. If you want an even easier simmer capability, try the Whisperlite Universal with canister fuel. It simmers easily, which is unlike any other small canister stove we have used.

As the name indicates, the Whisperlite International has the added benefit of being a multi-fuel stove so you can bring it on international expeditions where white gas may not be as readily available. It will burn white gas, kerosene, and unleaded fuel. The original MSR Whisperlite can only burn white gas, but is a great choice for trips in the USA and Canada.

Fuel Efficiency


The MSR Whisperlite International is equally fuel efficient as its original and Universal Counterparts.

Boil Time


The International took 2 minutes and 42 seconds to boil half a liter of water. It took us 1 minute and 17 seconds to prime it, although this time is subjective. This Is about average with the rest of the liquid fuel stoves we tested. The priming process involves releasing a small amount of fuel into the fuel cup, lighting it, and letting it burn down. This heats the fuel line enough to vaporize the fuel. While this isn't instantaneous, we don't think you'll be late to your next appointment.

When testing boil times we also timed how long it took to prime each liquid gas stove.
When testing boil times we also timed how long it took to prime each liquid gas stove.

Weight


Weighing in at 11.5 ounces the MSR Whisperlite International is small and light enough to accompany you just about anywhere in the world. The whole Whisperlite family weighs the same.

The MSR WhisperLite Universal  International and Original all weigh the same when stripped down to their bare bones. The 11.5 ounce weight is when the other important extras are added.
The MSR WhisperLite Universal, International and Original all weigh the same when stripped down to their bare bones. The 11.5 ounce weight is when the other important extras are added.

Stability


The International is slightly more stable than its original brother, the Whisperlite. For some reason MSR uses a different leg design that seems more stable on the International and Universal models. These legs don't seem as apt to warp or bend in the same way that the original legs would, and are much easier to take apart and re-assemble than on the original Whisperlite. We were pleased to see this change.

Packed Size


The Whisperlite International is a very reasonable 6x4x4 inches, and will fit easily into a 2L pot.

Best Application


The Whisperlite International really can conquer it all from international high altitude expeditions to backpacking trips in the sunny Sierra.

Value


Priced at 99.95, the International is a great deal. It is $10 more than the original Whisperlite and is slightly more stable and versatile. It is $40 less expensive than the Universal model and the only difference is that the International cannot use isobutane canisters.

Conclusion


The Whisperlite International is a great addition to the Whisperlite family and is an excellent choice for any backpacking trip or international expedition. We love the newly designed legs that are stable and easy to take apart. We would consider choosing the original Whisperlite if we knew we were going to stay in North America, but for $10 it's not a big deal to upgrade to the International.

Accessories


Whisperlite Expedition Service Kit
  • Includes all replaceable parts and instruction manual
  • Allows for dissasembly and repair of a damaged Whisperlite stove
  • Mandatory for any trip where the stove is an essential safety kit
  • $30

MSR Fuel Bottle
  • Mandatory part for using the stove that is not included with the stove itself
  • Recommend medium or large size
  • Strong, airtight seal with cap
  • $22, $20, and $18

Jessica Haist and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 23, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Backpacker

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   Sep 23, 2015 - 05:20am
Coloradeaux · Backpacker · Denver, CO

Versatile lightweight stove, but the one drawback is the difficulty in figuring out exactly how much gas is needed to start the stove. When you're in a low light situation, without your headlamp on, and tired from a long day, dealing with a stove fireball isn't ideal. Take time to practice using your stove repeatedly before taking it out into the field.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Backpacker

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   Jul 28, 2015 - 04:34pm
Hank · Backpacker · Woodclif lake

I have had many Whisperlites over the years and have stopped many attempted forest fires from lighting this stove. And those of you that have used these stoves know what I mean. I enjoy this rendition of the Whisperlites, due to the plethora of fuels you can use. I mainly use the white gas through it but I love having the propane back up. The only drawback for me is remembering what jet to use for what fuel there is no quick reference on the stove itself other than the user’s manual, but how many people do you see backpacking have the user’s manuals? I don’t and if I do they usually end up as fire starters. The second thing that was a drawback for me is I have the Whisperlite stand (for uneven surfaces) for my older stoves and it does not fit the international version due to the feet are different on these international stoves. All in all I give this stove 4 stars not five because of these two draw backs in my mind.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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