I like a bombproof stove that works under any conditions and doesn’t crap out on you when its desperately needed. I’ve spent too many cold nights in a tent or cabin working on stoves. The MSR Reactor stove is bombproof in my experience. Our stove has over 15o days of cooking two or more meals per day for two people. It has never sputtered or needed repair.
After about four years I became very nervous. It occurred to me that two-thirds of our food needs hydration and cooking. What if our stove quit working 40 miles into a 100 mile trail section? That would not be any fun. I called the MSR repair shop and the staff there was really great. I told them I wanted to buy a repair kit and explained why I was getting nervous. They said there had only ever been a few models that had been returned and they were all due to some type of external physical damage. There really are no parts such as seals, bearing or valves that wear out over time. I decided to quit worrying about it……and that was three years ago.
The MSR Reactor works very well in a variety of conditions:
- Wind – you don’t need a wind screen as the pot fits over the dome
- Altitude – it doesn’t really seem to effect it. We used it up to 13,000 feet. I saw some youtube videos of climbers much higher.
- Cold – great, especially as a hand warmer as the excess heat vents. But honestly only tried it down to 20 degrees.
The disadvantage of the MSR Catalyst is weight. With a stove and the 1.7 liter pot you have 17.5 ounces (plus fuel). This isn’t two bad if you have two people as we did and the weight is shared. The 1.7 liter pot is perfect for two for drinks or any pot of food. There are also 1.0 liter and 2.5 liter titanium pots.
The other attributes of the MSR Catalyst are:
- Super fuel efficient – we tested against other feather light, including MSR stoves. One large canister for 4 days, 2 people.
- Fast – don’t get distracted, it will boil a liter of water in a couple minutes with the titanium cooking pot.
- The stove, fuel and pot all pack into a nice unit. No messy fuel issues.
If you are wondering about fuel containers MSR has an informative article.