If you are looking for the best…why not go with the best! The Reactor Stove System by MSR is unreal. Unmatched boil times, fuel-effeciency, and wind protection. You will not find a quicker and more efficient cooking system on the market…and if you want one, you are gonna pay for those accolades ($189.95 for the 1.0 Liter)! This is by-far, the most expensive stove I have ever owned or used for backpacking. That being said, I completely believe that the price is well worth the exorbitant cost. Let me tell you why (I will discuss the 1.0L size stove for the purpose of this article).
Efficiency is the name of the game
The 1.0L stove will boil almost 10 Liters of water with a single 3.9 oz fuel canister of MSR IsoPro. That’s pretty darn good! Boil times are simply amazing. Depending on conditions, I can bring about .5L of water to a boil in just about 1.5 minutes! On a windy day, the stove outperforms any stove I have previously tested. It’s downright insane! The pot sits almost completely on the burner which increases the heat transfer rate and blocks the wind for ultimate efficiency.
Built like a tank but doesn’t pack away like one
The Reactor is built from hard-anodized aluminum and the construction is solid. The stove itself fits inside the pot along with a 3.9 oz fuel canister when packing it away in your bag.
It weighs almost nothing
I say this tongue and Admittedly, this stove does weigh more than comparable stove systems that are out there. With that stated, because of the efficiency of the stove, you will carry less fuel which equates to a huge weight savings in the long run! The 1.0L pot and stove comes in at 14.7 oz.
Its downsides are also its upsides (and its downsides again)
One of the the big downsides I found for the 1.0L Reactor system is that it kind of lies to you. 1.0L actually means 0.5L in actuality (it’s Reactor math). The reason for this is simple…because of the speed and ferociousness of the boil, adding water to the 1.0L mark will quickly boil over (and when I say boil over…I’m actually putting that lightly…it’s violent). Do not fill to the 1.0L mark. If 1.0L is too small for you, there is an upside!
So the flip side to this problem is that the stove pots are interchangeable! Remember they call it a stove system and there is a reason for that…interchangeability. If you buy a 1.0L pot system, you can buy the larger pots individually and they will still fit your original burner! The larger sizes come in a 1.7L and 2.5L. So the additional downside is now your stove (with the two extra pots) will now cost you in excess of 300 big ones. Yikes!
Another downside for some will be the types of meals you can cook with it. Primarily, you will only use this stove for boiling water. Trying to simmer a meal inside the pot will probably end in a disaster (it simply gets too hot). The upside is that melting snow is a breeze. The downside…you will probably want one of the larger pots to attempt this with.
You get what you pay for
As a fan of well-made products, the MSR Reactor fits the bill. I know that well-made usually correlates to being expensive (not always the case, but for the most part, it’s true). I always go with the adage, “buy it once, buy it for life”. I will probably own this stove for a very long time. If you are looking for something that will impress, buy this stove!
1.0L = good for 1-2 people
1.7L = 2-3, or you can melt snow
2.5L = you have too many friends…let them carry their own stove!