My name may be Firestarter, but I hate starting fires. I’m far too lazy to enjoy the effort that goes into finding an existing fire ring (or place that will be minimally affected), gathering downed wood, finding kindling, starting the fire, perilously boiling water or cooking food in/on/near the fire, maintaining the fire, staying up until the fire is out, and dispersing all the coals in the morning. Why do that when you can have a camp stove up and going in under a minute?
There are several types of backpacking stoves out there – Jetboils, alcohol, wood, liquid fuel/white gas – but I love the simplicity and light-weight (only 3 oz.) design of the MSR Pocket Rocket.
I have the original Pocket Rocket, so my review is based on that. It is no longer sold, and has been replaced by the even cooler Pocket Rocket 2 (which weighs in at 2.6 oz.). I wouldn’t say no to getting a free PR2 and trying it out, MSR (hint hint, wink wink)…
The Pocket Rocket uses an isobutane/propane canister for fuel, and easily screws on. I recommend using the MSR canister. The 4 oz size usually lasts me around 10 days, using it twice a day – but I rarely ever use it on full flame. If you do that, the fuel is used faster, of course. The larger canisters (8 oz) are heavier but seem to go f o r e v e r.
[Important note: using the MSR fuel canister is preferable, but not always possible if you are in an area that doesn’t sell it. There were a few times on the trail that the only fuel around was a Coleman canister. If you have to use a Coleman canister, please note you will have to remove the O-ring on the Pocket Rocket in order for it to seal properly on the canister and actually work. I and a few others on trail learned this the hard way.]
A big perk to this stove is that it doesn’t need any priming. You just turn it on and light it. That’s it. It also lets you adjust the flame, so you can make a full boil or just simmer (backcountry chocolate fondue is a real thing, y’all). Like other lightweight backpacking stoves, it is susceptible to wind, so on windy days try to shield it. Some folks carry official store-bought shields, others have DIY tin foil or aluminum shields. I don’t carry anything like that – in worst-case scenarios, I make a wall using water bottles, filled stuff sacks, etc.
It comes with a nifty plastic carry case, which is also a handy place to wrap duct tape around and to put your lighter and the fuel canister cap while you are using the stove. Little things have a habit of getting lost if they don’t have a home to go to… While I can’t fit the carry case in my pot, I know it can fit into other pots and cookware. I carry my fuel in my pot instead.
I love this stove, and have never had any issues with it. When it finally dies, I’ll go buy whatever version of it is out there – but I have a feeling it won’t be for a good, long while.
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