We check the self proclaimed 'world’s fastest, most fuel efficient stove. Ever.'
Every so often something comes along that has you paying attention like a startled meerkat. In this case it's the MSR Reactor stove that just rolled up at OutdoorsMagic Mansions with its proud boast of being : 'The world’s fastest, most fuel efficient stove. Ever.'
Which, let's face it, is pretty unambiguous. And you know what, an initial test suggests that it is pretty bloody ridiculously fast. We filled the pan up to 0.5 litre level, lit the stove and started the stopwatch.
When it started making tentative bubbling noises after about 30 seconds we thought we were imagining things. And when the water reached a rolling boil after just 1 minute and 15 seconds, we were frankly astonished.
As a sanity check, we attached the same gas canister to a JetBoil Flash and gave it full beans. The JetBoil took almost four and a half minutes to do the same gig. And we know that the JetBoil is no slouch. It's just that the MSR is ridiculously fast.
Radiant Burner Head
So what's it all about? Okay, first things: the Reactor is part of MSR's 'Rapid Cooking' range. It uses a dedicated 1.7-litre pot with heat exchanger fins on the base - increasingly common with modern stoves - and sits directly on top of the wide, canister-mounted 'radiant burner head' enclosing it completely for both efficiency and wind protection.
That burner head is an unusual thing. You light it with a lighter or a match, there's no piezo igniter here - there are no visible flames - and wait for the fat burner unit to glow red hot, then you simply place the pan on top and get cooking. Fast.
It's nicely made too. The pan has a lovely, fold-down, sprung handle that in turn, holds the transparent lid in place when not in use, volume marks of 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 litres are stamped onto the anodised pan sides and when not in use, the burner, a cleaning cloth supplied and a 220g gas cartridge all sit neatly inside the pot.
It's not particularly light though and we'd tend to see it as a two-person system rather than a solo stove for that reason. Ours tipped the scales at 489g complete with cloth, around 100g more than our JetBoil Flash. Then again the Reactor has a much larger pot.
Other stuff worth knowing is that the burner incorporates a regulator that's reckoned to keep performance consistent over the lifetime of the canister - we'll look out for that. The flame adjuster is prominent and glove friendly. A quick experiment suggests that simmering may be an acquired skill and with no visible burner it's hard to judge how far down you can turn the stove, but the way the burner works means you can shut it right down and it will re-ignite if you then open it up again - a bit like and XGK on full chat. Oh, and it's also relatively quiet though you can hear the burner.
High Mountain Friendly
MSR says its relatively unaffected by adverse conditions thanks to the enclosed burner and technology and is ideal as you gain altitude as a full-on, high-efficiency, snow-melting machine, which seems to make sense given the insanely fast boil times at sea level.
As with a JetBoil, you're effectively limited to one-pot meals thanks to the dedicated pot and heat-exchanger, though you can also source a larger, 2.5-litre pot for group use.
Last but not least, at a cool £140 in the UK, it's an expensive bit of kit by anyone's standards. That said, if youre priority is super-fast burn times and performance in adverse conditions, we've not come across anything similar. And when it comes to mountaineering use, it promises to be a lot more straightforward to operate than dedicated liquid-fuel expedition stoves like MSR's own XGK.
Watch this space for a full review. More information at: