OWNER REVIEW: MSR SUPERFLY STOVE
BY DAVID TAGNANI
June 25, 2007
5' 10" (1.78 m)
160 lb (72.60 kg)
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking for as long as I can remember, but I've really only been backpacking for eight years or so. I started off in the hills of northeastern and central Pennsylvania, have hiked trails from Maine to Georgia, and now I am exploring the incredible terrain of the inland northwest. I seldom do trips longer than three days, with most trips being overnighters. I do not own crampons, an ice axe, or a climbing harness, so if the route is technical enough to require them, you won't find me there. I simply like to walk in the woods.
Manufacturer: MSR (Mountain Safety Research)
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Listed weight: 4.6 oz (131 grams)
Weight as delivered: 4.9 oz (139 grams)
Length: 3 ½ " (8.9 cm)
Width: 4 ¾ " (12.1 cm)
MSRP: $49.95 US
Fuel: canister fuel (butane, isobutane, blends, etc.)
Boil Time: 3 min. (according to manufacturer)
Boil Capacity: 3.99 gallons (15.1 L) per 8 oz. (227 g) canister (according to manufacturer)
The Superfly comes with a nylon storage bag with a draw-string closure. The bag is big enough to also hold an 8 oz. (227 g) fuel canister, and it is tough enough that it has survived years of use without a tear.
|Stove and bag|
The Superfly is tiny, easily fitting into the palm of my hand (see dimensions above). It has only three moving parts: the pot supports, which collapse for storage; the multi-mount grabber, which screws onto the fuel canister; and the flame adjuster, which collapses for storage and of course rotates to adjust fuel flow.
SUMMARY OF USE
I have used this stove exclusively for all of my backpacking trips over the past 4 years. Elevation has ranged from about 800' (244 m) up to 4800' (1463 m). The terrain has been varied: beaches, mountains, dense deciduous forests, sparse coniferous forests, temperate rainforest, and high desert. The coldest temperature I have attempted to use this stove in is 36 F (2 C). Besides varying boil times based on temperature, the Superfly performs consistently.
MSR suggests MSR IsoPro fuel (of course), but most canister butane or butane blend works. I've used them all over the years and haven't noticed any major difference in the performance of the Superfly. Recently, I've been using SnowPeak canisters and they work fine. I just purchase whatever is cheapest, so long as it is a good quality isobutane blend.
The two main things that affect the functionality of this stove are temperature and wind. I'll assume temperature needs no elaboration. But wind has a big impact because not only does the Superfly not come with a windscreen, MSR says that you should not use one. I don't like to take chances when working with compressed flammable gas, so no windscreen. This leaves the stove exposed to the wind, and a good breeze can increase boiling times significantly. The most I do is try to shield it a bit behind a log, stump, rock, etc. But this is only minimally effective. In optimal conditions, MSR's stated boiling time is pretty accurate. I can boil two cups (.47 L) of water is three and a half minutes in warm temperatures with no wind.
The best thing about the Superfly is its versatility. It is the second-lightest stove that MSR makes (the Pocket Rocket is lighter), but for an extra ounce (28.4 g), the Superfly has a much larger burner that is more effective at evenly heating larger pots/pans. The flame is highly adjustable, anywhere from a simmer to full-blown boil. And with the larger burner, frying bacon and eggs in a pan is doable. And of course the big advantage of canister stoves over liquid-fuel stoves-besides the weight-is that there is no pumping, priming, etc. Simply screw it on and light it. I can have it set up and ready to go in 10 seconds.
Besides susceptibility to windy conditions, the only other concern with the Superfly is stability. This is the trade off for such a light weight. Since it uses the canister as a base, there is a 4 ¼ " (10.8 cm) base for a pot of water that might be sitting 12" (30.5 cm) off of the ground. On a picnic table, this is not a problem. But if I'm near a picnic table, I probably don't need this stove. Out in the woods, it pays to take a few moments to prepare a reasonably level, sturdy surface to avoid spills: find a flat rock, shim it with other rocks, etc.
|Stove on canister|
Over the past four years of backpacking and cooking with the Superfly, I have only run into one problem. The "multi-mount grabber" stripped. There are two aluminum tabs under the grabber that hook onto the lip of the canister. One year after my initial purchase, these tabs developed slight bends that prevented them from grabbing the lip of the canister securely. Luckily, the retailer exchanged it for a new one. I have not had a repeat of the same problem, so I'm beginning to think it may have been user error. Perhaps I was trying to tighten it too far? Maybe I was not ensuring solid contact before tightening it? I don't know. Anyway, the new stove performed perfectly and there are no hints of stripping even after three years of moderately heavy use.
All in all, this stove is an excellent choice for most trips. It is not perfect, but it is perfect for my purposes: extended weekend trips in less-than-extreme conditions. It makes trade-offs to save weight and space, but isn't everything a trade off?
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Susceptible to wind
Be gentle with the tabs on the grabber
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