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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cooking Accessories > MSR Heat Exchanger > Owner Review by Suzi Gibson

MSR Heat Exchanger

Owner Review July 11, 2008

Name: Suzi Gibson
Age: 30
Gender: Female
Height: 5'6" (1.7 m)
Weight: 165 lb (74.8 kg)
Email address: suzi_q_jones at yahoo dot com
City, State, Country: Anderson, South Carolina, USA

Backpacking Background: I've gone on many family camping trips to various places along the east coast of the US since I was a child. The backpacking bug was always there, whispering in my ear until finally in my early twenties it bit me! I've since done several backpacking trips in Florida, Washington, Virginia, and North Carolina. I typically backpack with around 30 lb (13.6 kg) of essential gear (sleeping bag and mat, tent, stove, and clothes), food and water and usually go for 2 to 3 days. My current tent and bag comprise almost half of the pack weight.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Listed weight: 6 oz (170.0 g)
Weight as Delivered: 6 oz (170.0 g)
Measurements: Minimum Diameter: 6.75" (17.2 cm), Maximum Diameter: 8" (20.3cm), Height: 2.75" (7 cm)
Listed Measurements: N/A
MSRP: US$39.95

MSR Heat Exchanger

Photo Courtesy of MSR

Product Description:

Stove pot heat exchangers are a cooking pot's equivalent to the insulation found around Thermoses. They are designed to trap heat close to the vessel to not only keep the contents warm, but in the case of cooking, increase fuel efficiency by decreasing the amount of heat and energy lost during stove operation. The MSR Heat Exchanger (Heat Exchanger) is made from gold tinted, lightweight metal (possibly aluminum) that has been given a corrugated shaping. The circular shape is held true by a metal bracing that encircles it. There are eyes every 6 in (15.2 cm) that serve to hold the brace onto the corrugated metal. On one side of the frame, there is a latch that can attach to one of two eyes on the opposing end of the heat exchanger depending on what size pot is being used. The thumb wheel then secures the heat exchanger to the pot being used. The manufacturer claims the product will fit all MSR 1.5 L and 2 L pots (up to 7 in or 17.8 cm diameter) with the exception of the 1.5 L Titan pot. All together, the entire unit is a mere 6 oz (170 g). MSR also claims that the corrugated design of the Heat Exchanger increases stove efficiency by up to 25% by channeling the heat from the stove up the sides of the pot.

Field information:

I used the Heat Exchanger on over two dozen backpacking and car camping trips starting with its purchase in 2003. At least 8 backpacking trips were taken to the Blackwater State Forest in Holt, Florida, USA. Temperatures ranged from 65 F (18 C) to 90 F (32 C) plus humidity (it's Florida after all). It was also used for a weeklong car camping trip starting in Friday Harbor, Washington, USA, and then through Olympic National Park (Washington State, USA) in June 2003 where temperatures experienced ranged from 50 F (10 C) to 75 F (24 C). Wind conditions ranged from calm to breezy (<10 mph or 16 km/h).


The Heat Exchanger has been a great addition to my backpacking kitchen. With its corrugated design, the heat exchanger is claimed to increase heating efficiency by 25%. While I didn't conduct a quantitative assessment on its performance during my field excursions, I did seem to note a decrease in heating times when the Heat Exchanger was used. I also noted a more even heating in my cooking pots when it was used. All together, this meant less fuel used during my trips, which equated to less fuel being hiked in.

The design and construction of the Heat Exchanger are both functional and lightweight. Securing the heat exchanger to the pot is as simple as sliding the pot into the heat exchanger and fastening the latch. The latch and thumb wheel assembly secured to my pots very well. I did find it tricky to pull my pots off the stove with the Heat Exchanger in place. The exposed space left to effectively grab the pot with the pot grabber was limited to the latching area and resulted in a less stable grab compared to cooking without the Heat Exchanger. However, having my meal heated up quicker and more evenly has been well worth the trickiness. The Heat Exchanger can be nested within the MSR cook pots, however, due to the rigidity in the bracing it doesn't pack up efficiently and takes up precious space that could be otherwise used for other cooking gear. The other drawback is that the design can make it tricky to clean in the field when food gets spilled on it. I typically addressed this by giving it extra soaking time to loosen the food. On a couple overnight trips I would stow it and give it a thorough cleaning upon arriving home. Overall, however, this device is a great addition to the camp kitchen!


  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy
  • Stows into MSR cookpots
  • Heats quicker and more even than pots alone


  • Can be tricky to pull pots off the stove with the pot grabber
  • Takes up a bit of space as the brace prevents it from folding up more
  • Can be difficult to clean in the field

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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cooking Accessories > MSR Heat Exchanger > Owner Review by Suzi Gibson

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