Our favorite reactor for hiking and backpacking trips. Make hot drinks and dehydrated foods LIGHTNING FAST while enjoying your outdoor adventures with this small, light and powerful reactor.
I purchased the MSR Reactor stove (1.7L) in 2007 for a backcountry trip into the clutches of the Eastern Sierra.
For reasons of limiting weight and bulk when it came to carrying extra cookware. I really liked the profile that it provided for one purpose, to boil water fast, efficient and in all weather conditions.
With its single-use pot that creates its own windbreak, the reactor is an all-weather water-boiling machine. I can fit the entire heating element with fuel into the cooking pot. With its aluminum alloy construction, it can definitely handle backcountry travel. The sleekness of the reactor also allows me to pack additional necessary items for our excursions.
What exactly is a Reactor stove?
A reactor stove is a simple and compact piece of equipment that allows boiling water (melt snow) to prepare drinks or dehydrated meals at an incredibly fast speed while on the trails, climbing, camping, hiking or any other outdoor adventure. It is safe to use on windy days because of its enclosed radiant burner head, and because it boils so fast, it’s also incredibly fuel efficient.
Why I selected the MRS Reactor stove system?
- Compact: All systems are self-contained, fitting the stove and fuel inside the pot. (1.0L Reactor System nests optimally with our new, smaller-diameter 4 oz. canisters, which are sold separately.).
- Integrated System: State-of-the-art stove and high-efficiency cookware are combined into a compact, self-contained and easy-to-use system.
- Great Boil Time: Outperforms the competition in head-to-head lab tests—boiling .5 liter of water in just 1.5 minutes—with an even greater advantage out in the real world.
- Wind Protection: Heat exchanger completely encloses radiant burner head, virtually eliminating the effects of wind to maintain outstanding boil times and save fuel.
- Made in the USA
I really had a chance to test its abilities on a weeklong trip to Patagonia in 2008. My fiancé and I planned an excursion to blaze a known route known as the ‘W’. The trail in its entirety is a 4-6 day trek in some of the most remote and beautiful backcountry Chilean Patagonia has to offer.
Once we commenced our barefoot detour, we used it for lunch that first day to cook some fresh food we had brought along with us. Chilean longaniza boiled then sandwiched between fresh “marraqueta”, a very popular Chilean roll, with mayonesa to start the trip.
For the rest of the voyage, our main courses consisted of dehydrated meals and lots of trail snacks. The weather was perfect and the amazing hues of long-lasting cloud filled sunsets made the first couple days absolutely incredible.
Days 2-3, we experienced a pretty extreme change of the weather. Temperatures were dropping, and storm clouds were nipping at our heels. The MSR Reactor had no problem keeping up with the strong wind gusts and eventually rain that hit us right before our summit of Torres Del Paine. Overall a successful trip and by far the simplest of cooking experiences.
Travel tips and storage for MSR reactor stove
On a logistical note, if you’re accustomed to the use of canister fuel instead of white gas, I had no problems finding canisters that fit the reactor once I reached Chile. For travel purposes, you won’t be able to travel with either fuel type.
Also, I suggest wrapping the heating element in some type of fabric material, thin bag (or just a small sock), or something like that to separate it from the cooking vessel because it has the potential to scratch the inside and oxidizes.
And remember to always consult the manufacturer for safety concerns and please test your gear before you’re grinding trail.
You always want to be familiar with how your gear works and if there’s any additional component that you will need to make it work at it’s best.
If you want to check out additional reviews, we recommend reading a little bit on Amazon, you will find very honest and detail information there.
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Happy adventuring and enjoy your barefoot detours.