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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > MSR Whisperlite Internationale > Owner Review by Don Taylor

MSR WHISPERLITE INTERNATIONALE 600 STOVE
BY DON TAYLOR
OWNER REVIEW
July 30, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Don Taylor
EMAIL: anfhiker AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Youngstown, Ohio USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 195 lb (88.50 kg)

For the past 12 years I have been camping/backpacking primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia with the Allegheny National Forest as the most frequented location. My trips are generally long weekends and I try to camp or hike at least once in all 4 seasons with the fall being my favorite. My backpacking trips usually consist of 15 mile (24 km) days and a group of 2-3 other hikers in forested, moderately hilly areas. I consider myself a lightweight, slow and steady hiker. The winter hikes often involve heavy snow and freezing temperatures.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Stove With Accessories
Stove With Included Accessories

Year of Purchase: 2000
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.msrcorp.com
MSRP: N/A
Packaged Weight: 15.5oz (439 g)
Measured Packaged Weight : 13.9 oz (394 g)
Listed Stove Only Weight: 11.5 oz (330 g)
Measured Stove Only Weight: 9.8 oz (278 g)
Stuffed Size: 8 1/2 X 6 1/4 X 4 in (21.6 X 15.9 X 10.2 cm)
Other details:

The MSR WhisperLite Internationale 600 Stove is a multi fuel backpacking stove that is capable of burning white gas, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel, and automobile gas. The stove is not equipped to burn any form of leaded fuels. The WhisperLite Internationale 600 comes with a fuel bottle pump, storage bag with draw cord, windscreen, heat reflector, maintenance tool, a small tube of leather pump cup oil, extra O-Ring and a second jet that is used for burning kerosene and jet fuel. The necessary fuel bottle must be purchased separately. The fuel bottles can be purchased in 11 oz (325 ml), 22 oz (651 ml) and 33 oz (976 ml) sizes.

The stove is fitted with three legs, one stationary and two that fold up against the third to conserve space. The three legs also act as the cookware supports during use. The legs measure 6 in (15.2 cm) from tip to tip at the widest points. In addition to the folding legs, the stove is equipped with a flexible fuel line that allows for storage in tight spaces such as my cookpot. The underside of the burner is comprised of the jet, needle, generator tube, priming wick and priming cup. When the stove is folded up and stored in the included bag it measures 8 1/2 X 6 1/4 X 4 in (21.6 X 15.9 X 10.2 cm).

Pressurizing the fuel bottle is accomplished by pumping the plastic plunger on the included pump. Included on the pump is the fuel control valve which is marked with a two sided arrow with + or - on each end. The upper portion of the pump assembly also includes a pump screen and leather pump cup. The bottom portion of the pump contains a fuel pick up tube, air tube, fuel bottle O-Ring and check valve assembly.

Assembling the stove is very simple. First unscrew the fuel bottle cap from the fuel bottle and fill the bottle with fuel up to the fill line. Then screw the pump into the fuel bottle. Pump the plunger 15-20 times and insert the stove's fuel line through the hole in the heat reflector (if it is being used). Next, rotate the two movable legs into their slots around the flame reflector. Lubricate the end of the fuel line with oil or spit and insert it into the fuel tube bushing on the pump. Finally snap the catch arm into the slot on the pump body assembly.

To light the stove it needs to be primed first. This step is necessary to pre-heat the stove to turn the liquid fuel into vapor by heating up the generator tube. To accomplish this, open the control valve until the fuel flows through the jet and fills the priming cup 1/2 full. Turn the control valve off and light the priming wick. When the priming flame is down to a small flame (30-60 seconds if it is done right), slowly open the control valve and the stove is ready to cook. From time to time the fuel bottle may need pumped a few times to maintain pressure. To turn the stove off, simply turn off the control valve. The bottle is depressurized by unlocking the catch arm and pulling the fuel line out of the pump assembly. Then, away from flames, unscrew the pump to release the pressure.

MSR puts the total burn time at 110 minutes for every 20 oz (600 ml) of fuel for white gas and 160 minutes for the same amount of kerosene. They list the boil time for 33.8 oz (1 L) of water for each fuel at 3.5 minutes and 4.4 minutes respectively.

For transport, the manufacturer recommends either leaving the pump assembly in the fuel bottle or unscrew the pump and replace it with the fuel bottle cap.

FIELD USE

Conditions

For the past 9 years I have used the stove in many different conditions and locations. The stove has been operated in temperatures ranging from 10 F (-12 C) to 80 F (27 C) and elevations ranging from 600 ft (183 m) to 5729 ft (1746 m) above sea level. The stove has seen more than a few rainy and windy days of use.

Observations

At 5729 ft (1746 m) I used the stove for a late afternoon bowl of soup on the summit of Mount Rogers in Virginia. The temperature was in the 40's F (4 C) and it was a windy day on top. This was one of the first times I operated the stove and one that I won't forget. I bought the stove on the day before the trip without reading the directions as well as I should have. I primed the stove and when I lit the white gas it went up way beyond the size of a normal priming flame catching every piece of grass and wood around on fire. My hiking partner, fearing the fuel bottle exploding, reached over and tossed the entire unit like a grenade out of the area where we were sitting. As this was probably the worst thing he could have done, the fiery mess grew and took more than a few of our water bottles to put out. Even after being tossed, the stove, pump and fuel bottle worked great after being re-primed. Still to this day, priming the stove can be difficult, especially in low light conditions. Getting the priming cup filled up only half way can be difficult as it seems that how much fuel initially comes out depends on how pressurized the fuel bottle is.
Stove with Wind Screen
Stove With Heat Reflector and Windscreen


During a trip to the northern region of the Allegheny National Forest, we camped and cooked in temperatures of 10 F (-12 C). The stove performed great, even in the morning after sitting in the cold and snow all night. It lit without issue even while a hiking partner was having a lot of trouble getting his propane canister powered stove lit due to the freezing cold.

I have used the included windscreen and heat reflector only once to try it out. I have operated the stove in what I would consider moderately windy conditions without the windscreen and without problems. Once the stove is lit, it has operated flawlessly even in moderate rain showers.

The stove cools very quickly after use which makes it very useful for a quick cup of coffee or soup during a break. I have found that I can boil water and then pack the stove away 5 minutes after I shut it down. To pack it up for the trail, I keep the stove in the included bag along with the spare parts, windscreen, heat reflector, instructions and lighter. The bag with the stove in it fits perfectly in my 54 oz (1.6 L) cooking pot. I keep the pumping assembly in the fuel bottle while hiking and I have not experienced any issues with it.

The stove does get a build up of soot on it rather quickly. I have burned white gas and jet fuel (I work at an airport and had to give it try) and I found that the jet fuel left significantly more soot behind and I did not notice any significant difference in performance.

For boiling time verification, I timed the stove with 33.8 oz (1 L) of water in a pot during a 74 F (23.3 C) day at 1196 f (365 m) elevation and found that it took 4 minutes to bring the water to a rolling boil which is only 30 seconds longer than the manufacturer states in the instructions. In the field I have found the boiling time to be very adequate. Simmering on the other hand can be very difficult. There is a very fine line between simmer and off and it changes depending on the amount of pressure in the fuel bottle. I have found that the best way to simmer is to leave the pressure in the bottle low however this can be difficult in a boil-then-simmer cooking operation.

Through all the use, I have never had to break the stove down to disassemble and clean it. For the purpose of this review, I disassembled the stove, cleaned it and put it back together in less than 25 minutes. This included several interruptions from my wife wondering what the heck I was doing on her living room floor. The included directions are very easy to read and follow.

I have yet to run out of fuel on a trip. On one of my longer and higher use trips during the winter, I used the stove twice a day to boil water for coffee and for soups/noodles for 5 days. I have the 22 oz (651 ml) bottle and I remember it being 1/4 full at the end of the trip. I was not conserving fuel by any means and I let a few hiking buddies use it for coffee on more than one occasion. I have read that the user should plan on 4 oz (118 ml) of fuel per day for 2 times a day use. From my experience this would be sufficient.

SUMMARY

Over Prime
A Little Extra Primer
Overall I have found the stove very easy to setup, use, tear down and clean. Priming and simmering can be tricky, even after learning from frequent uses, but neither is a major issue. I would definitely recommend that the stove not be used in the vestibule of a tent, even when it is very tempting in the dark and cold of a winter morning.

In low light conditions, seeing the + and - signs on the fuel control knob can be very difficult. I would recommend that a bright dot be placed on one side for easy recognition.

In the field I have found that the stove boils very effectively under all conditions that I have experienced. I have yet to need the windscreen or heat reflector to make the stove operate effectively. Even during moderate rains, the stove has performed without issue.

As quickly as the stove heats up, it cools down which allows for a quick pack up and go. The included bag is the perfect size for storing the stove without having to pack it in too tightly or bend the fuel line too far. The stove folds up and packs very fast and easy. The design of the pump assembly allows it to remain in the fuel bottle during hiking without causing any major issues. I still would not store it inside my pack however. I keep mine in an outside pocket.

I would rate the stove's temperature control as average. The fuel control does not have what I would call precision control especially at the low end. I have found that by keeping the pressure in the bottle high by pumping it from time to time during cooking, I have been able to control the temperature much more effectively except for very low simmering where I have found that keeping the bottle pressure low works best.

I do not get into really fancy cooking while on the trail. I find that I primarily use the stove to boil then simmer for a bit while stirring in spices or cheese for the noodles. This stove has met those needs. Through 9 years of use, the stove has operated maintenance free through a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions.

THINGS I LIKE

Storage of Stove
Fits Easily Into My Cooking Pot
Quick Boil Time
Easy to Store and Pack
Easy to Break Down, Clean and Reassemble
No Maintenance over the Past 9 Years of Use
Quick Cool Down Time
Quick Set Up Time

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

Priming Can be Tricky
Simmering Can be Difficult
+ And - Symbols on the Fuel Control Knob are Hard to See, Especially in Low Light.

SIGNATURE

Don Taylor

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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