WHISPERLITE INTERNATIONALE STOVE
BY MELANIE DOSKOCIL
July 08, 2007
Aspen, CO USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
115 lb (52.20 kg)
I began backpacking in 9th grade and hated every minute of it. The borrowed gear was heavy and uncomfortable. I vowed never to do it again until a friend who was an enthusiast enlightened me. This year I am celebrating my 10th anniversary of rediscovering the joys of backpacking. I get out on 4 overnights, 2 2-days and at least one long trip of 5-6 days. I am a three season camper due to an aversion of extreme cold. I carry a 25-30 lb (11-13 kg) pack for overnights and up to 60 lb (25 kg) for long trips. My playground includes the mountains of Colorado, Utah and a bit of Idaho.
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer's Website: www.msrcorp.com
Listed Weight: Minimum 11.5 oz (330 g), packaged 15.5 oz (460 g)
Measured Weight: 15 oz (425 g)
The Whisperlite Internationale is as compact as the Whisperlite (and only weighs an ounce more) and folds easily to store in the included heavy duty sack. I love the International due to its multi-fuel capability. I gives me the option of heading off to remote locations or foreign countries without having to worry about trying to carry liquid gas on an airplane.
The Whisperlite family burns liquid fuel. The stove must therefore first be primed by releasing a little bit of fuel into the fuel cup, lighting it and allowing it to burn long enough to heat the "generator" or fuel line and convert the liquid fuel to a gas. Liquid fuel stoves are much more reliable in high altitudes and extreme cold temperatures than canister fuel stoves.
The stove works best with "white gas" or "naptha" (proprietarily "Coleman fuel"), as it is commonly known in the US, but also burns kerosene, unleaded and jet fuel. I have burned kerosene in it for one trip and had to take the stove apart several times to clean it. Fortunately it has very few parts and is easy to clean with the included maintenance kit. After shaking (and sometimes prying) loose the blackened bits left over by the kerosene, the International was good to go again and again.
The stove also comes with windscreen and a heat reflector. I use the windscreen and reflector with every meal as it prevents heat loss and decreases boiling times significantly.
The stove does not come with a fuel bottle and MSR recommends only using an MSR fuel bottle. I carry the smallest MSR size bottle (holds: 11 oz./325 ml, empty weight: 2.8 oz./79 g) for 2 people overnight (dinner, breakfast and lunch) and a medium size bottle (holds: 22 oz./650 ml, empty weight: 4.9 oz./139 g) There is a large bottle (holds: 33 oz./975 ml, empty weight: 7.3 oz./207 g651 ml) for longer trips. I have taken both the small and medium bottle on a 6 day/2 person trip.
I usually store the pump in a Ziploc bag to keep the fuel lines and o-rings clean.
I used a regular Whisperlite for 4 years and then changed to the Internationale and have used it exclusively for the past 6 years. My trips have been in the high Uinta Wilderness of Utah, the Elk and Sawatch in Colorado and a bit in the Sawtooths of Idaho.
My camps are usually at high elevations ranging from 10,000 ft (3048 m) to 12,500 ft (3810 m) and temperatures ranged from lows of 16 F (9 C) to 85 F (47 C). I have never had a problem with the International due to cold or elevation. I have even had to cook in a steady drizzle and found the International powerful enough to cook in the rain.
The Internationale is very easy to set up though it helps to have someone show you the first time (ie: in the store before you take it home). The stove does need to be pumped several times depending on how much fuel is in the bottle. If it's really cold and high altitude a few more pumps usually take care of any spluttering.
The flexible fuel line allows for easy placement and maneuverability and the tripod legs make for quite a stable platform. If level ground is difficult to find, a small rock can be placed under one leg to level it out.
I generally use my stove at every meal and have learned to plan the stages of a meal so as not to waste fuel or have to shut off the stove and then re-prime it, wasting valuable fuel in liquid state. It takes a little forward planning, but it pays off in the long run.
I like to travel light, but the one thing I don't like to skimp on is good food. Nothing is worse than hiking all day with a heavy pack and sitting down to a meal of brown rice. I like to cook all sorts of foods from pre-packaged dehydrated meals such as Natural High, which really only need boiled water, to semi-gourmet 1 pot meals such as roasted chicken, veggies and pasta in a parma-rosa sauce. For breakfast I like hearty meals such as eggs (yes, I have been known to haul a few "real" eggs into the backcountry), pancakes, "fry bread," and other yummy things. I'm always on the look out for new great backpacking recipes. I also like my coffee in the morning, my tea in the evening and a nice warm gooey chocolate something for desert after dinner.
Basically, I cook a lot when I'm camping. While this stove may have a longer learning curve than others, it stands up to the use and sometimes abuse of the rigors of the backcountry. I find that the smallest fuel bottle, about 2/3 full (there are no markings on the bottle, which would be a recommendation to improve them) lasts easily for 2 people for an overnight. The last trip I cooked a hearty dinner of the chicken I described above, a big breakfast with sauteed veggies in an omelet, and toasted tuna melts and soup for lunch, all on about 14 oz (414 ml).
I use the GSI Extreme Cookset (medium) which is hard anodized aluminum with a nonstick coating. It also has a spiral pattern on the bottom which I think helps keep it from sliding off the stove. I find the Internationale heats this pot quite evenly. The pots are also tall/high enough that I can lift them off the stove without disturbing the windscreen. I have a smaller titanium pot set that I use for solo trips and I find it can be tricky to balance on the stove. It's a little too small for the Internationales cooking platform. It will work though.
When I first started using the Whisperlite, it was admittedly a little intimidating. It has to be pumped, primed, timed, lit, and then how do you control the output?
Really it only takes one or two times using it to find out how easy it is. I am one of those people who don't like to read directions and would rather figure things out myself. This is an easy stove to figure out. It is simple and clean, well put together and easy to learn.
Perhaps the most difficult thing about the stove is finding the simmer spot. Occasionally I find that sweet spot and occasionally it eludes me and I have to keep lifting the pot off the stove. That technique works just as well.
I've had my Whisperlite Internationale for about 6 years and used it on over 20 camping trips. I have cooked for up to 4 people at a time using this stove. I have had it at high altitude and cold temps. I have never had a problem that wasn't easily fixed in the field. I have never had a problem with the valves or the fuel line. The only problems I have encountered have been clogging due to unclean fuel which is easy to fix, but takes some patience, and a cracked O ring in the pump. It is really important to keep the maintenance kit with the stove and to replace any used extra O rings. They can crack and dry out and if I didn't have my replacement with me I would've been a very hungry camper. I also recommend buying the service kit that goes with the Whisperlite. I feel better having spare parts if I need them.
Overall I've always been happy with the Internationale. I have used other stoves and keep coming back to this one. It is a work horse yet light weight and compact.
THINGS I LIKE
1. Light weight and compact
2. Great at high altitudes and low temps
3. Multi-fuel compatible
4. Stable and powerful
5. Easy to clean/maintain in the field
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
1. Slightly longer learning curve
2. Difficult to simmer
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Read more reviews of MSR gear
Read more gear reviews by Melanie Doskocil