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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > MSR Simmerlite > Owner Review by brad banker

MSR Simmerlite Stove

OWNER REVIEW
October 04, 2008

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brad Banker
EMAIL: brad_banker@hotmail.com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Greensboro, NC, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 240 lb (109.00 kg)

I went on my first backpacking trip at 5 years old, and hiked quite a bit growing up. I picked it back up again in my 20's and have regularly backpacked now for over 10 years. I backpack the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia on 1-5 night solor or group trips, mostly on or around the Appalachian Trail in all seasons in temperatures from 90+ F (32 C) to under 0 F (-17 C). My companions are my wife and my two golden retrievers, or whoever wants to disappear into the woods for a while.

Product Information

Manufacturer: MSR
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.msrgear.com
MSRP: $99.95 US
Listed Weight: 8.5 oz (240 g)
Measured Weight: 10.1 oz (286 g) with stuff sack and repair kit.
Other details:
The stove set comes with small wrench, o-ring and sealant.
First bit of learning the hard way - make sure the stove is fully cool before it is placed in the stuff sack, or the plastic bag which contains the repair kit will melt.

My Stove History

I have experience using many types of stoves including an old Dual-Fuel Stove which is very heavy at 1.8 lb (0.83 kg) empty, MSR Whisperlite, homemade soda can denatured alcohol stoves, and isobutane canister stoves.
I was looking for a go between for my very heavy, but bomb proof Dual-Fuel and my soda can stoves. I needed an option that allowed me to simmer if necessary, but afforded me the ability to melt snow for water - but of course at a lighter weight (isn't that the addiction of backpacking anyway?)
My prior experience with my old Whisperlite years ago led me to have realistic expectations about my Simmerlite, as I knew what to expect with priming and cleaning using the Shaker Jet.

Field Use

Initial impressions: The stove was encased in a small black stuff sack with red MSR logo on the outside. It included a thicker aluminum wind screen, much like a disposable aluminum kitchen pan for baking, with a paper clip, a ground insulating disc of thicker aluminum to set the stove on to protect the ground as well as reflect heat back up to the pot. The stove set also included the fuel line and pump with locking clip that only fits one way, semi-fool-proofing the connection of the stove to the bottle. The stove legs and pot stand pieces swing around the burner to rest against each other for compact storage. I was impressed based on how compact this stove was when folded compared to my old Whisperlite.
IMAGE 3
Photo courtesy of MSR

IMAGE 2
Photo courtesy of MSR


Initial experience: The first time priming and lighting the stove resulted in a very large fireball on my back deck. The instructions read "Release only 1/2 spoon full of fuel. Open pump control valve several turns and let fuel wet entire burner head. Immediately close pump control valve." The directions state that a small soccer ball sized flame is normal. It was much more than a soccer ball the first time. I found this harder than my old Whisperlite in that the burner holes seemed to slope downward more and the fuel spilled onto the ground easier. Once I practiced this 8-10 times, I got the hang of it, and was able to get a softball sized fireball upon ignition and just enough fuel to warm the burner, drop into the fuel catch cup below and prime the stove before opening the valve again to fire the burners.
Simmering only took a few tries to master. I read many reviews myself before selecting this stove and read many complaints about not being able to get this stove to simmer, but I may have spent enough time futzing with my Whisperlite (which is not supposed to be able to simmer, but it can somewhat if you play with it enough) and my Dual-Fuel, that it was pretty easy.

Conditions of Use: I have used this stove in weather from 95 F (35 C) to 0 F (18 C) and altitudes up to around 6000 feet (1829 m) with great results. It folds up very nicely, and fits into my SnowPeak Trek1400 Titanium pot along with two Lexan spoons very well. It has boiled water for boil in bag meals, simmered dishes for 25 min, boiled water, and done just about everything else a stove can do.

Observations with years of use: I do notice that there is a lot of soot under and on the stove after use, which I do not remember as much on my Whisperlite. It seems to be mostly from the priming process when the fuel falls into the cup below and heats the burner.

For my cooking setup the pot support width is fine, but if using a larger pot, such as a 4 quart (3.79 L) pot with a wide base, there may be tipping problems if it is not on perfectly level ground. There is a sawtooth pattern on the contact surface of the pot supports which has prevented much sliding of the pot on the support. I have not had any pot stability issues myself with trying several diameter pots.

Fuel options: I have both 22 oz (.33 L) and 11 oz (.66 L) fuel bottles, but most commonly use the smaller bottle. It seems to be plenty for 2-4 people for 2-3 days, which are representative of most of my trips. I have found that if I use the supplied wind screen and heat reflector bottom, boil times in the field are around 3-4 minutes as advertised. Fuel consumption is on par with MSR's tables as well, but if cooking multiple things at one meal, only priming the stove once and cooking everything at one time saves a considerable amount of fuel.

Maintainence: I have only needed to use the Shaker Jet to maintain my stove for 4 years. This consists of shaking the stove for 30 seconds after each use. There is an audible rattle or clicking that is the pin cleaning the fuel line. I have not needed to replace or do anything else to this stove.

Summary

This stove is my go to stove for high volume, multiple meal cooking, or any cold weather application. I still revert to my trusty old soda can stove for fair weather solo trips,and for warm weekends with just my wife I sometimes still use my isobutane MSR PocketRocket stove. I would not hesitate to recommend or purchase the Simmerlite Stove again. Stove weight, efficiency, boil times, ease of use and reliability are on par with MSR's advertising and reputation.

Things I Like

Light weight for white gas stove.
Relative ease of use.
Truly simmers when needed with some practice.
Easy to clean and maintain with supplied parts and Shaker Jet.

Things I don't like

Lots of soot on the stove.
Average pot support width.
Can be difficult to learn to prime without a fireball and potentially losing important things such as eyebrows and hair.
Can be difficult to learn to simmer; practice, practice, practice.

Signature

Brad Banker
Greensboro, North Carolina

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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