Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The New MSR MicroRocket -- First Look

I'm in the process of writing another review for Seattle Backpackers Magazine, this time of the new MSR MicroRocket.  I've got a ways to go yet on the review, but I thought I'd at least let people have a preliminary look at the stove.  Look for the full review in about a month's time.

    UPDATE 29 Dec 2011
    Just got a note from MSR:  The official release date is January 3, 2012. We already have them in stock and are shipping to retailers.

    OK, first impressions.  Guys, this sucker is compact.  Woo who!  Oh, yes.  Tiny, baby.  What a nice little stove.  Talk about saving some room in the ol' pack.  Sweet!
    A new MSR MicroRocket (left) and a PocketRocket (right).
    The new MicroRocket comes with a separate piezoelectric ignition.
    MSR MicroRocket stove (top) and its separate piezoelectric ignition.
    Now, I haven't fired it up yet (I just took it out of the box this evening), but my first impression of the separate  piezoelectric lighter is:  Why?  Sorry, MSR, but wouldn't I be better off just carrying a regular lighter?  What's the advantage of carrying a separate piezoelectric lighter?  A piezoelectric lighter is only going to be able to ignite gas whereas a regular lighter will ignite pretty much anything.  Wouldn't I be better served by a more versatile conventional lighter?  What's the point?

    Now, to be fair, I haven't tried it yet.  Maybe I'll really love it.  These are just my first impressions upon taking the stove out of the box.  I will test it out.

    Now, back to the stove.
    The new (for 2012) MSR MicroRocket
    Did I mention it's compact?  Man!  They really mapped this one out.  Everything folds together just so.  It literally fits in the palm of my hand, and I don't have particularly big hands (ring size 9.5).

    I'm liking the way the valve control handle folds around the base of the stove.  Compact, baby, yeah!
    The valve control handle folds compactly around the base of the stove.
    Not too much looks new in terms of the burner head although the wind deflector is a bit more compact.  Like I say, though, I haven't fired it up yet.  Soon!
    MSR PocketRocket (left),  MSR MicroRocket (right)
    Now, take a look at the below photo.  One of my pet peeves about the older PocketRocket is that the point where the pot supports join the body of the stove is prone to bending.  Don't ask me how I know this.  I've read it elsewhere, so I know it's not just me.  The attach points on the new MicroRocket are way beefier.  When I unfolded everything into "working mode," the supports felt very solid.
    MSR PocketRocket (left),  MSR MicroRocket (right)
    Now, since this stove is super compact, you probably have to give up on the "surface area" that the pot supports cover, right?  Nope.  There's no sacrifice here.  The span is about the same.
    MSR MicroRocket (right), MSR PocketRocket (left).  Note the smaller wind deflector on the MicroRocket
    MSR MicroRocket (left), MSR PocketRocket (right).
    Overall first impression:  It's like the top stove designers at MSR did nothing but play with a Pocket Rocket for six months straight, looking for anything they could improve.  And they seem to have succeeded in just that.  They've really improved and beefed up the stove.

    Um, Jim, beefed up?  Don't you mean they've turned a perfectly good stove into a fragile little ultralight toy -- a little toy that's useless to the average hiker?

    NO!  Counter-intuitive as it may seem, they've managed to beef up the stove while dropping the weight and size.  Sweet!

    OK, so that's all for now in this very brief first look.  Watch for more to follow soon.


    Technical Appendix:  Weights
    PocketRocket        MicroRocket
    Case   25g/0.88oz    36g/1.27oz
    Stove  86g/3.03oz    73g/2.57oz
    Total 111g/3.92oz   109g/3.84oz
    I didn't include the weight of the piezoelectric lighter because I wanted a 1:1 comparison.  The MicroRocket's piezo electric ignition weighs a mere 13g/0.46oz.

    The above weights were all determined using my Kitchen Chef gram scale.  These weights may differ slightly from the weights listed by the manufacturer.   All weights have been double checked. All weight were measured in grams and then later converted to ounces.  Weights in ounces will not necessarily add up properly due to rounding error.

    Interestingly, if the case is included, there is essentially no weight difference between the MicroRocket and the PocketRocket.  I did a double take when I weighed the new case.  I've checked it multiple times.  The new case really does weigh 36g.  I realize that a lot of people leave the case at home, storing the stove in their cookpot, but I still found it odd that MSR would go to so much trouble to lighten the stove and then turn right around and wipe out all the weight savings with a heavier case.  Hunh?

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    My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!