Gear Review: MSR Pocket Rocket & Micro Rocket

Gear Review: MSR Pocket Rocket & Micro Rocket

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.

The Grocery List: The 5 Worst Things to Forget While Camping

The Grocery List: The 5 Worst Things to Forget While Camping

Jacob Copple Camping PictureEverybody has that feeling. The feeling you get when your ride pulls up to your driveway or you take your first steps away from your long term parking spot at the airport. You utter those famous pre-trip words either in you mind or to your travelling companion: “I feel like I forgot something”.

It can conjure up the same butterflies in your stomach you get before a presentation or meeting with your boss, and for some people those butterflies (sometimes the size of hummingbirds) stick with them all the way to their destination. No matter if it’s something as big as your wallet or something comparatively smaller like a toothbrush ( I realize for some this might be as monumental as forgetting your wallet, but come-on really?).

So here at Mountain Hideaway we came up with a list of top 5 things not to forget on a camping trip. Now, every time you go on a trip you can look at this post hanging on your bathroom mirror, which I assume you do with all the Hideaway Outdoors posts, and double and triple check that you have everything on this list. Because without these 5 items, your camping trip will be littered with moments of torture and despair.

5. Equipment for a Good Night’s Sleep

For some reason I always hear about these people, they’ll be on a camping trip about to leave the car and head to whatever campsite they’re hiking to or unloading right after arrival, and out comes they’re favorite swear word. Forgetting your toothbrush can be easy, but forgetting something like a rain fly, sleeping pad, or sleeping bag is on the border of ridiculous. Make sure you go through a typical day out hiking while you’re packing, just don’t forget to go to bed in your senario.

4. Camp Stove

Backpacking food isn’t great, and car camping food isn’t that much better even though it might seem like it when you’re famished after hiking or climbing all day. So when you have to eat all of your dry food from lunch or tomorrow’s granola bar for dinner, it takes a routine trip down a peg to on the border of miserable. Unless you like crunchy dehydrated food or cold hot dogs, then by all means, go ultra light and keep the Jetboil in your closet. But, if you don’t want to see your group get real grumpy in a hurry, bring the stove.

3. Rain Jacket

Not everyone likes the cold, but it’s pretty safe to say that no one enjoys being cold and wet. Leaving your rain jacket at home can seem like a trivial thing to do when you’ve gone through your checklist and packed your backpack to the brim, but trust me, the one time you do decide it’s ok to leave the rain jacket at home on the hanger, is the one time that Big Bend will get 4 inches of rain in the same weekend.

2. An Extra Pair of Socks.

Going lightweight is the name of the game in backpacking, that’s why you’ll see titanium sporks that cost $50. Keeping the ounces off your back will make you’re trip more enjoyable, and I get that. But, trying to keep the blisters at bay when your only pair of socks is drenched from 4 straight days of hiking in them isn’t worth the extra couple ounces left at home. Bring the extra pair, if you don’t need them, it’s more than likely that someone in your group will.

1. Coffee

This may seem like the least important of the five. It may seem trivial that leaving your coffee at home would beat out leaving your sleeping pad on a winter backpacking trip, but consider a trip without everybody’s favorite bean-based drink. You get up and have to drink hot water while your friends stare you down because they trusted you with the coffee. You set up your French Press, start the water to boil and then you freeze, hunched over your backpack as you gaze at the bottom nylon. Please, don’t subtract yourself from enjoying the rich bold taste of (insert favorite coffee brand here). When you’re not racing to the next camp site or deflating your sleeping pad faster than your buddy, enjoy your time while sitting back with a cup of coffee as it warms your hands and helps you take in the view.

Take it or leave it, there’s the list of Mountain Hideaway’s 5 worst things to forget on a camping trip. This may seem silly to someone who has always remembered everything or who packs everything they’ll need for a week long trip on their weekend outing, but trust me, you do not want to leave home without any of these 5 things.  Then again, if you’re itching for an adventure and a horror story to tell all your friends, purposefully leave everyone of these at home. I promise you the climax of your story back at the pub will be “And then we realized it…. We forgot the coffee.”

Not Your Typical Climbing Trip

Not Your Typical Climbing Trip

 

I don’t wake up from the delightfully annoying sound of my cell phone alarm, but instead to the constant vibrating on my bedside table. Brian is calling me, and he has good reason to. I was suppose to me him and Shay at his house to start our journey up to Boulder for a weekend of breweries, old friends, and climbing at 6:30 am. It’s now 7:15 am.

Packed Subaru
This was before we picked up Steven and his two bags from the airport, We got real friendly after that.

After a quick breakfast burrito and some coffee, we’re off. 9ish hours to a place most West Texans dream about, Boulder, Colorado. Our weekend long venture would include every ingredient a climbing trip should: sleeping under the stars, drinking instant coffee, climbing big lines, meeting new people, and bringing back memories. And, of course, we did just that, but we didn’t go your normal route of dirtbagging it in tents and smelling like an old shoe on a hot day.

Steven Belaying Brian on the first pitch of a route in nearby Boulder Canyon. A fun and awkward Chimney to start off.

Our first drift from the norm of climbing culture was pre-planned and only a surprise to our last member of the team, Steven, who flew in from Kansas. I had just bought some new coffee beans the day before, and decided, since we’d be car camping, I would take my French press. In any other circumstance I’d laugh at the thought of bringing anything glass (and that precious to me in the mornings) on a backpacking trip. But I carefully measured out each serving and made sure the press stayed on top of all the gear in the back seat. Needless to say the first morning I was greeted by “is the coffee ready?” as the first words I heard from Steven.

After a delicious kick-start to the day, we went to our first area, Eldorado Canyon. My first time there I was amazed at the green lichen and the golden color of the rock, huge towers poking through the ground like someone brushed away the surrounding earth just to see how beautiful they were. I took first lead on a breezy 5.7 trad route. After about a half hour of my knees shaking and being terrified of the negative images flipping through my mind; falling, bad gear slipping out, hitting the rocks below, hospital bed, crying mothers; my mind forced those images into the back of my subconscious and I focused on my next move and then the next. A couple hours and a few pitches later, all four of us were back at the car ready for a well deserved lunch.

Eldorado Canyon's Bastille Wall
Eldorado Canyon’s Bastille Wall looking from the Wind Towers.

That night we planned on going back to the same place we camped at the night before, outside of a town called Nederland, Co. It was a little far, and a little snowy still, so we decided to ask our friends if there was any camping closer. To our demise, they told us Nederland was the closest place. But, our good friend Corbin offered us to sleep at his house. He was out of town and told us he’d let us know how to get in when we got there. As we pulled up to his house and called him to find out the way in, we all started laughing when he calmly told us to “open up the window and your good”. This would be no big deal normally, but he’s not with us, we’re from out of town, it’s dark outside, it’s a residential area, and instead of lifting up the window, he tells us to push it straight it. You can see where this would look bad to an outside party. But, after a swift, and a little scary, fake brake in, we were all inside beers in hand and looking at each other with internal slack jawed expressions. That night, a couple of us showered and then we all sat down with Bratwurst in hand and watched half a game of March Madness. Physically drained from the day’s events, and glad to not be outside, we were all in sleep comas before our sleeping pads were fully inflated.

Climbing Gear on the ground
No organization needed when lunch is on the brain.

Our next variation of your typical climbing trip happened that night and ensued into the following day. We met up with some old friends that now live in Boulder at a brewery with some of the best food I’ve ever eaten at a brewery. After tasting everybody’s beer, and finishing out all of our own at Under the Sun Brewery, our friends told us to call them tomorrow when we got up and they would climb with us. They knew the area pretty well and even took into account all of our different strengths and styles to pinpoint a perfect location for us to climb at. So we had a bed, good food, good company, and a tailor-made climbing trip in our hands, but the only bad news was that we ran out of my coffee that morning. It looked like we would have to suffice to every coffee snobs nightmare: instant coffee. Luckily for us, Corbin had told us about a great place in Boulder to grab a cup of joe. We told our friends Holly and Rob to meet us at Boxcar Coffee before we went out for that day. We shouldn’t have been surprised when we walked in and saw something that looked more like a chemistry lab than a coffee shop. I think the male barista had a crush on me when my latte art had not one, but two hearts crafted into it, but it was definitely the best cappuccino I’ve ever had, with or without the lingering eye contact.

Boulder Canyon Guide Book
Flipping through the guidebook before our “towny” friends helped us out with finding the classics.

So our trip concluded with climbing great routes long past we said we would in order to get back to Lubbock at a decent hour, dropping Steven off at the airport, and of course eating locally raised beef burgers and parmesan and truffle fries just to top it all off. If you’ve ever been on a climbing trip, or any other trip that usually involves someone forgetting their sleeping pad, food, or sunscreen; this is nothing short of a miracle. This is the trip you dream about at your desk days before you head out, and it’s usually far from what actually happens.

But they do happen, and when it does you don’t even notice how good it was until your back at your desk thinking about how it all could’ve gone horribly wrong. You just have to have an open mind, great friends that let you break into their home, and a bit of luck. Who knows, maybe since we had such a perfect trip this time, our next one will be straight out of Hell. That’s a chance I’m willing to take, and a story I’d love to experience.