MSR produce a plethora of great stoves for use in any number of expeditions and outings. From hand-warming, coffee brewing efficient beasts for use at the base of your local crag to ultra-light and super-packable offerings for those whose obsession sees them chasing thrills for multiple days, weeks, or months across peaks, remote wildernesses and hostile lands.


With this said, the MSR Reactor was my stove of choice. It has previously been a regular stock item with us at V12 Outdoor but, due to a finite amount of space, has since been pushed out of the limelight in favour of more technical and specialist options.


MSR Reactor

The Reactor lacks the high altitude, increased wind speed boiling credentials of the Windburner but has it trumped for boil time and efficiency in typical conditions. Most of my outdoor pursuits revolve around thrill seeking on the coast or zipping through North Wales’ woodland trying not to break anything on myself or my bike. I usually get cold, and often due to poor planning lack sufficient food or layers to get truly warm again. My Reactor is a life saver! I can produce enough boiling water to make my partner and myself a hot beverage of choice and then curl up over it, warming my extremities, whilst discussing those last couple of descents. The stove itself screws straight on to the thread of the gas bottle and the simple wire frame adjuster for the fuel supply make this stove a breeze to fire up with numb hands.


Another potential problem with poor planning is not checking you’ve enough fuel. Efficient. Damn this thing is efficient! There is always enough gas for my porridge or brew, thankfully. The generous 1.8ltr pot fits the regular (227g) or small (110g) MSR gas canisters along with the stove and a fire starter. The burner looks like a miniature jet engine (I don’t know much about jet engines admittedly) and the beautifully engineered Aluminium pot distributes the heat from the stove to where it is needed most. You feel like you’ve bought something solid and exciting to use. I felt like a big kid when it fired up for the first time.


On cold winter mornings in Aviemore when leaving the safety of my sleeping bag seemed a near impossibility the satisfying roar and immediate hiss of heating water made getting excited for the day's activities so much more immediate. Cooking on this stove isn't a straightforward task. The reactor is primarily a water boiler and lacks the subtlety of some of the slower, less efficient stoves on the market. That said by the second day's use I could make porridge, noodles and soups without sheepishly plating up charcoal. The take home message is that this was the stove for me but other MSR stoves making use of the same materials and technologies might be better suited to your weekends and trips.


All MSR kit comes with a 3 year warranty that I hope not to need but it is nice to know it’s there. The build quality is reassuring and despite my best efforts to knacker the thing with clumsy, fatigued set-ups it battles on without even a hint of disdain for its poor treatment. My reactor stove; not the hero I deserve but the hero I need.


- Will