Backpacking is one of my favorite things to do on a long holiday weekend or time off from work. There isn’t much else out there that allows me to, as the Tolkien quote goes, wander and not get lost. Searching the wilderness for sights not yet seen by my eyes or if I’m lucky, anyone else’s.
In previous posts I’ve talked about what not to forget on a camping trip, and that’s all fun and games, but this post will be about one of the most valuable camping tools in my quiver. One that is the first to be packed, checked for malfunctions, and maintained. The camp stove is an essential part of any backcountry experience, whether your just dumping in ramen noodles for dinner and coffee for breakfast, or you’re going the whole nine yards and cooking a meal fit for the wilderness grand master you know you are.
There are tons of stoves out there that use every kind of fuel you can imagine from liquid white gas to one of the newest products on the market, the Biolite stove, that uses whatever twigs you can find. For the sake of your precious time we’ll focus on two of Mountain Hideaway’s top selling stoves: the MSR Micro Rocket and Pocket Rocket.
Let’s start with the Pocket Rocket; at 3 oz. and just about 4 in. tall, it’s definitely on the light end of the spectrum for backcountry stoves. The overall design is quite simple as well with the main burner and three supporting legs that will fit a pretty good-sized pot with low wind conditions. If the wind starts to howl or you find yourself in a seemingly perfect camping spot but it turns out to be some kind of natural wind tunnel, the design of the burner itself will lend you a hand with it’s trisection wind clip that keeps at least one third of the flame going at all times. A trusty lighter or waterproof matches will get you going on any kind of iso-butane pressurized gas mixture (even though MSR boasts that their IsoPro fuel will give you the best results). After you get the flame going the easy-to-use glove-friendly flame control will help you reach the perfect flame for whatever you taste buds desire. No pressurizing, no pre-treatments, no waiting.
The newest addition to MSR’s Rapid Cooking stoves is the Micro Rocket. If you’re thinking that they didn’t spend enough time thinking about a new name, just hold on until you send that letter to your congressman. The Micro Rocket is the updated lighter weight version of MSR’s best selling compact stove. The Micro Rocket weighs in at just 2.6 oz, and if 0.4 oz doesn’t seem like a big difference, find someone who takes less than 20 lbs total for a 5-night trip into the backcountry. In fact, that’s the only specification that changed from the original Pocket Rocket. Both stoves boil 1 liter in about 3.5 minutes, have an approximate burn time of 60 mins/ 8oz. canister of fuel, and can boil 16 liters with an 8 oz. canister at about 2 liters/ 1 oz. of fuel. One of the more noticeable changes on the Micro Rocket is how small is can pack down. The 3 support legs don’t just fold in like the Pocket Rocket, they also fold down so the total height of a packed Micro Rocket stove turns into just under 3.5 ins, small enough to fit in your camp mug. If you’re on a mission to reduce your load to the absolute minimum, this is your rocket
I’m not one to baby anything I buy for the backcountry, if I have to keep it in bubble wrap on the way up to fly fish an alpine lake, it’s not worth the money. So, believe me when I say that both stoves are waiting and ready for anything you can throw at them. I have personally stepped on my Pocket Rocket at least 3 times; the only damage done was I had to bend one of the legs back to its original position before using it again. When I’m in the backcountry, I usually throw my stove in and out of my bag, dropping it in mounds of dirt and mud before thrusting it in my bag again. But, before each trip, I put it through the paces and make sure that everything is in working order, and every time it’s like I never abused it at all.
If you were on the fence on which camp stove you’d like to add to your essential gear list, I hope this post has helped. I hope that on your next trip to the mountains you know without a doubt what item to grab first. We have both the Pocket Rocket ($49.95) and the Micro Rocket ($59.99) stocked at all times at the Mountain Hideaway because of the demand. Give us a call or check out our new website, once it’s fully functioning, to order yourself one of the best stoves on the market. And if you’re still on the fence or have more questions, give us a call, we love talking gear and vicariously going on trips through our customers.