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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > MSR Pocket Rocket > Owner Review by Andrea Murland

MSR PocketRocket Stove
Owner Review by Andrea Murland
June 30, 2015


Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 29
Location: Elkford, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, and prefer to be hut-based for overnight trips. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs (Mountain Safety Research Brand)
Manufacturer's URL: www.cascadedesigns.com
Model: MSR PocketRocket
Year of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP: $39.95 US
Listed Weight: 3.0 oz (85 g) minimum weight, 4.2 oz (119 g) packed weight
Measured Weight: 3.0 oz (85 g) minimum weight, 4.0 oz (113 g) packed weight
My Stove

Description

The MSR PocketRocket stove is a lightweight canister stove which is compatible with EN417 certified canisters. It has three pot supports, which fold in against the burner head for storage. The pot supports are serrated on the top and slanted slightly towards the burner. When unfolded, the pot supports form a platform 12 cm (4.7 in) across. The burner head is divided into three sections, and MSR indicates that this is for wind resistance. Burner control is carried out by turning a stiff wire Flame Adjuster handle, to open and close the Flame Adjuster Valve. The valve body itself, at the bottom of the stove, is textured. At the bottom is a rubber seal and the canister connection.

The folded stove fits inside the included hard case, which is triangular in cross-section. The case is 11.4 cm (4.5 in) long by 6 cm (2.4 in) along one side.

The instructions for using the stove are quite simple. Once the stove is out of its case, I make sure that the Flame Adjuster Valve is closed, and then screw the stove to the canister until it is finger tight. When I am ready to light the stove, I make sure that pot supports are fully unfolded and then hold my match or lighter near the burner. I open the Flame Adjuster Valve, and the stove lights! Then I can adjust the flame to get the amount of heat that I want. When I’m done cooking, I do everything in reverse, making sure that I allow the stove to cool before packing it away.

MSR includes some particular safety instructions in their manual that I will mention here. First, they state that only MSR branded fuel should be used. They also state that only canisters less than 4 in (10 cm) high should be used, as higher canisters can be unstable. For cookware size, they specify that it should be less than 8 in (20.3 cm) in diameter, less than 5 in (12.7 cm) high, and weigh less than 8 lb (3.6 kg). As with all direct-coupled canister stoves, a windscreen should not be used.

Field Conditions

I purchased the PocketRocket stove in early 2009 as my first and still my only backpacking stove. I had previously used one for two months of backpacking in Europe, but it didn’t belong to me. Since purchasing my own stove, I have used it about 50 times. The use has been split between backpacking trips and car camping trips, and in both cases I use the stove for cooking breakfast and dinner. For breakfast I just heat water for oatmeal and a drink. Dinner sometimes just involves hot water, but often I cook a soup, pasta, or rice dish. I have also used it on a number of Search & Rescue responses and training events to heat water for food, a warm drink, or a hot water bottle. It even came on a trip to Iceland with me to allow some camping meals while on the road. I have used my stove in conditions ranging from temperatures of about -10 C to 30 C (14 F to 86 F), elevations of just above sea level to about 2200 m (7200 ft), and everything from snow, to rain, to sunshine. I carry it full-time in my Search & Rescue pack.
Field Use

Review

Performance:
MSR specifies a boil time of 3.5 minutes for 1 L (33.8 fl oz) of water. I did a test and boiled that volume of cold water in about 3.5 minutes under the following conditions: an ambient temperature of about 20 C (68 F), no wind, an elevation of 1300 m (4265 ft), with a partially-used canister of a different brand’s fuel. I have always felt that the boil time was sufficiently fast, though it is noticeably slower at cold temperatures, as I would expect from a canister stove. On deep winter backpacking trips my stove isn’t the one that comes.

The stove is quite heavily impacted by wind. The tri-sectional burner design seems to keep the stove from blowing out, but the flame blows sideways in a strong wind, which greatly reduces the efficiency of the stove.

The stove has a pretty good range of flame settings. Fully open, it’s quite powerful and sounds like a rocket. At the lower end, it can kind of simmer, though that is definitely not the strength of the stove. I think it works best in the upper half of its range. It does direct all of the heat to the centre of the pot, so if I’m cooking something other than water I have to make sure that I stir frequently, or I get food sticking and burning in the centre. All of my pots have discolouration in the centre from where I’ve been unable to get them pristine again later.

This stove is easy and quick to set up and to use. I can generally get water boiling (ignoring the water collecting part) and tea ready in less than ten minutes in the evening. I like that the valve body is textured, which makes it easy to grip. The Flame Adjuster is easy to use with gloves or mittens on.

Safety Items:
I mentioned a few safety-related items in the description that I picked out of the manual. I haven’t been very good at following all of them. You may notice in the pictures in this review that I have used a variety of fuel brands and also canisters higher than 4 in (10 cm). I have found that with the higher canisters the ground has to be very level and firm for the whole setup to be stable. I have cooked quite a large number of meals (even with smaller canisters) while holding onto the handle of my pot so that the whole thing didn’t just fall over.

Early on in my use of the stove, I burnt myself a couple of times by not waiting long enough for the stove to cool before trying to pack it up. The burner divisions and the pot supports can get glowing red hot when the stove is on high, so it really does heat up.

Packability:
I love how small and packable this stove is. I can fit it into my very smallest pot, and it fits into all sorts of little empty spaces in my pack. I sometimes have to wiggle things a bit to get it into the carrying case, as there isn’t really any extra space in the case, but I have never been unable to get it in.

Durability:
I have no complaints at all about the durability of this stove. The stove is slightly discoloured from use, and the case has some dirty marks on it. I have never had to do any maintenance on the stove.
Close-ups

Summary

The MSR PocketRocket Stove is a basic, lightweight canister stove. It does everything I need for three-season use, though it does have a couple of limitations.

Thumbs Up:
Small packed size
Fast boil time
Easy to set up and use, even with gloves
EN417 canister compatible

Thumbs Down:
Not great for simmering
Heat concentrated in centre of pot
Can’t use a windscreen (as with all direct-coupled canister stoves)
Not great at low temperatures


Read more reviews of MSR gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > MSR Pocket Rocket > Owner Review by Andrea Murland



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