Toby Archer tests the enhanced version of the classic PocketRocket, which boasts some extra user-friendly features at a negligible increase in weight over the standard Pocket Rocket 2. He also gets surprisingly enthused by a "teapot" (read: kettle)...
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe - £70
What do you want to a camping stove to do? If you're answer is something along the lines of "not weigh much; not take up much space in my bag; boil water for my tea and instant porridge quickly; not smell or have fuel that can spill and make a mess in my tent; that sort of thing…" then the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe is well worth considering.
When I first got my own stove, an MSR liquid fuel model, it didn't really manage any of those things listed above. But for trekking in the Himalayas, snow melting in the Arctic, and even brewing up and cooking for three or four of us on frigid mornings camped below the CIC Hut it did work. It also still works 28 years on which says something MSR's engineering too. But after a decade of lugging the Whisperlite around - getting black hands from field maintenance, taking care not to set the tent on fire while going through the rigmarole of priming it and so on - I bought a gas stove. Gas stoves are just so much less hassle, and I reckon I now one 90% of the time I'm cooking outside.
I bought one of the original MSR PocketRockets (is it too much to say "a now iconic design? Maybe not if you look at how many close copies have been made of that stove) back when Blair was still the PM. It worked perfectly for over a decade of weekend climbing trips, backpacks and bikepacks. I only sold it on recently when the number of stoves I had accumulated was becoming more than one person could possibly justify. So it's fair to say that I was positively inclined toward the PocketRocket Deluxe (let's shorten it to PR D) when it arrived for testing. In use it has proved to be a well designed, well made and easy-to-like camping stove, and one that does what it is meant to do effectively and with a minimum of fuss.
In some ways you could say it is your classic 'sit-on-top' three armed canister stove, but this PocketRocket has some designed-in features that make it worthy of the 'Deluxe' tag.
At 83g, you can find lighter stoves, indeed, the Deluxe's sibling, the PocketRocket 2, is about 10g lighter. The most obvious thing the Deluxe has in addition is a piezo lighter attached. This looks different from the piezos I've had on other stoves - you can't see a porcelain insulating tube for example, and what you can see is all metal and seems just as solid as the rest of the stove. I've seen a couple of reviews of this model elsewhere that say they found the electronic lighting unreliable. To be honest, that is what I was expecting to find too, but over, now, many days of use, I have lit the stove with the igniter solely. I think it has lit on the first click of the lighter every time. When testing the otherwise rather comparable JetBoil Mighty Mo stove, I needed to use a separate lighter on a number of occasions when the piezo just completely refused to work:
With the PR D, whilst I think it would be foolish to not to take any other form of lighter, so far I haven't needed one - and that's impressive.
The second major feature is that the PR D has a built-in pressure regulator. This means the stove should not experience a drop-off in performance as your gas canister gets emptier, or when it is colder. MSR doesn't seem to give a minimum temperature for the PR D, but from past experience with other pressure regulated stoves like the Mighty Mo, and when using an 80/20 isobutane/propane gas mix, it should work fine to at least a few degrees below freezing. I'm sure I will happily use the PR D through the British winter.
Its cup-shaped burner unit also makes it a bit different from other canister stoves. I'm not sure how really as it isn't that deep, but that design seems to make the stove surprisingly wind resistant. I still take and use a windshield with the PR D which will maximise efficiency, but this clever design shelters the burner more than you would expect.
When turned fully on the PR D really does roar, but you can turn it down to a less violent flame. These things are hard to really tell, but the flame does seem more controllable than the original PocketRocket, although admittedly the PR D has mainly been used for boiling water. I did take it on a family camping holiday as a backup to our big camp stove, and at least one onion was fried successfully on the PR D! If your cooking needs when camping are toward more ambitious meals, then a remote canister stove is probably going to be more stable and better to use, but you can 'cook' on the PR D with care, as opposed to just boil water.
Beyond this, the stove has the limitation that other similar models share: Stability depends hugely on what type of canister you are using. Unlike the Mighty Mo, MSR do not supply the PR D with canister legs - if you want them you'll need to buy them separately.
Overall the PocketRocket Deluxe is a great stove for one or two people backpacking or similar for a few days. I found the pressure regulation and the electronic ignition stood out as useful features, while overall the PocketRocket Deluxe maintains MSR's reputation for well designed and engineered products.
The stove comes with a well made little storage bag although this adds 18g to the weight if you choose to use it. The PR D's RRP is £70 which is at the upper end of this sort of stove, but similar stoves with regulators and inbuilt ignition from the other big name brands do cost pretty much the same. If it lasts over a decade of regular use, like my original one, then that will seem a fair price.
This enhanced PocketRocket stove boasts premium features, including a pressure regulator that makes it ideal for all-condition environments, offering consistently faster boil times than non-regulated canister-mounted stoves. Just a smidge heavier (10 g/ 0.3 oz, or the weight of two nickels) than the PocketRocket 2 stove, this ultralight deluxe version features the most durable push-start Piezo Igniter we've ever built and a broad burner head for better heat distribution and simmering. For backpackers traveling fast & light on the trail, or a quick weekend in the Cascade Range, this deluxe model offers one of the best overall cooking experiences in its ultralight class.
- Weight: 83g
- Consistently Fast: Pressure regulator maintains stove's fast boil times even in cold weather & with low fuel.
- Push-Start Ignition: Fast, reliable piezo lighting; spark igniter is protected inside burner for maximum durability.
- Broad Burner: Improves wind resistance and combines with simmer control for excellent cooking versatility; wind-blocking burner lip.
- Boil time (MSR IsoPro), 1 liter: 3.3 minutes
- Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 227-g canister: 17 liters
- Water boiled (MSR IsoPro) per 1 oz. of fuel: 2.2 liters
For more info see msrgear.com
MSR Pika 1L Teapot - £24
Calling the Pika Teapot a teapot seems an odd choice. Yes you 'can' use it as a teapot if you wish, but surely calling it a kettle would be a more accurate description? Anyway, teapot, kettle, whatever - the Pika is a useful pot-sort-of-thing for camping and backpacking.
At a 145g (2g less than MSR's stated weight!) this 1 litre capacity aluminium teapot is less than 20g heavier than a 900ml titanium pot I have. I've always thought that titanium had a big weight advantage over aluminium but perhaps really it just depends on how aluminium cookware is made.
The Pika Teapot has a plastic lid that covers the wide opening and a fold down plastic coated handle - I can pack the PocketRocket Deluxe stove easily inside along with some teabags and a bag of coffee. Being a teapot, it has of course a spout - a dinky little thing that doesn't really stick out but does seem to pour very well, with no drips. Being able to pour accurately out of the spout is great if you for example take a lightweight drip coffee filter camping that sits on top of your mug.
You could if necessary cook something inside the teapot. The wide opening means you could stir anything in there, and also wash it out properly afterwards - but I've used it for just boiling water and heating the odd packaged foods where you can warm them by putting them in the water you are boiling (mini christmas puddings bought cheap at New Year and that last forever are a favourite! Warm them up in the water you will then use to make the instant custard with - yummy).
The lid never falls off when you are pouring but can be taken off very easily when the teapot is flat. It does fall off when being packed up and put in your pack though - some sort of super-light mesh bag might help here? I've tried just an elastic band around it for storing, but they seem to be easy to lose when camping.
After a few months of regular trips I've managed to develop a few holes in the plastic coating of the handle of my Pika Teapot. I'm not sure whether it was abrasion in my pack or the plastic isn't as heat resistant as MSR thought. It's not the end of the world, and if I find I'm burning my fingers on the exposed metal some cloth tape like zinc oxide would do the trick, but it's the only 'fault' I've found with the Pika Teapot, so worth mentioning.
If your camp cookery consists mainly of pouring boiling water into things (mugs to make tea, dehydrated meals bags, pots with instant noodles in them, and so on), or if you are massive tea drinker and like to make it by the pot, then the Pika 1L Teapot is well worth a look. At a bit over twenty quid it isn't even particularly expensive. Its weight for its capacity allied to its good design, particularly at pouring, means it will often find a place in my pack.
Featuring a precise-pour design, this ultralight aluminum teapot dispenses a steady, thick, targeted stream of water that's ideal for mastering pour-over coffee, and for filling small-mouth vessels. The teapot's no-drip spout eliminates any dribble after your pour, and its special lid stays on when pouring but comes off easily otherwise. Its handle also stays upright, away from the hot teapot, for easy handling and to help keep hands cool. The teapot's wide opening facilitates cleaning and lets you store a small stove and ingredients for your morning caffeine ritual. And for those traveling ultralight, the teapot is an excellent alternative to a small pot for boiling water for dehydrated meals.
- Featherweight: Just 147g in an ultralight, hard-anodized aluminum design
- Precise Pour: Dispenses a robust, non-turbulent column of water that's easy to direct
- Secure Lid: Lid stays on when pouring but lifts off easily when teapot is upright
- Convenient: Stows PocketRocket® 2 with case or PocketRocket® Deluxe stove plus coffee or tea ingredients
For more info see msrgear.com