This is an installment in my series on the new MicroRocket stove from MSR. Other installments in the series include:
Well, it's a beautiful morning. Looks like it's time to hit the trail.
|The trail to Waterman Mountain on 2 Jan 2012|
|Testing the new MSR MicroRocket|
|Looking out onto the coastal plain from the mountains of Southern California|
|Approaching the summit of Waterman Mountain|
|Rear row, left to right: MSR MicroRocket, Optimus Crux, Soto MicroRegulator, MSR PocketRocket, Snow Peak GigaPower (GST-100)|
First Test: The "Dump the Dinner" test. I put a 1000ml pot full of snow on top of the various stoves tested. I then moved the stove around while the pot was on the stove. I tried to get a sense of how stable a pot is on the stove.
|A "dumped dinner" (a pot that has fallen off the stove)|
One thing I noticed during the "bump and drag" test was that the comparatively thin pot supports of the MSR PocketRocket "chattered" as I dragged a pot across the top of the burner. In other words, the thin pot supports would vibrate as a result of the movement of the pot. The MSR MicroRocket on the other hand was rock solid.
Based on these two highly subjective tests, I would rate the MSR MicroRocket's pot stability as "very good" whereas I can only rate the PocketRocket as "good."
This review is for the MSR MicroRocket, but while I'm at it I suppose it wouldn't hurt to mention how all of the stoves fared with respect to pot stability. My rating system for pot stability is as follows (from best to worst): Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor, Bad. Stoves are shown in alphabetical order. All ratings are my opinion. YMMV.
MSR MicroRocket Very good
MSR PocketRocket Good
Optimus Crux Fair
Snow Peak GST-100 Excellent
Soto MicroRegulator Fair to Poor
In this category, pot stability, the GST-100 was the clear winner, but the MSR MicroRocket did very well and was clearly an improvement over the older PocketRocket.
Speaking of pot stability, let's look at the pot supports themselves. First, the PocketRocket.
|A close up of the pot supports of a PocketRocket|
Now, by contrast, let's look at the MicroRocket. Can you say "beefy?"
|A close up of the pot supports of an MSR MicroRocket|
Today, I just tested using a 1000ml Snow Peak pot. In the testing done in my previous Trail Report, I used a BPL Firelite 550 mug pot (550ml) and an MSR Titan Kettle (850ml). In all cases, I would rate the MicroRocket's pot stability as "very good."
OK, so that's it on pot stability. Now, on to simmering. Remember that pot of snow in previous photos? Let's melt that snow.
|Melting snow on the summit of Waterman Mountain. The windscreen is a homemade one constructed of household aluminum foil.|
|Melted snow. Note the tripartite heat discolorations.|
|Boiling water atop an MSR MicroRocket|
|Simmering noodles in atop an MSR MicroRocket|
|A fairly low flame on an MSR MicroRocket|
|A very low flame on an MSR MicroRocket|
|Simmering noodles atop an MSR MicroRocket. Note that the water is not boiling.|
Wait a minute. You're going to leave the pot on the stove with the flame still going with the pot covered, and you're using titanium cookware? What are you, nuts or something? You're going to have charcoal for lunch.
Maybe. Let's see. But about those photos. I've lived in the Los Angeles area for the majority of my life. Rarely have I seen a day so clear. Here's the view from my lunch spot. Remember, I'm at 8,038 feet/2450m above sea level.
|Greater Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean, and some islands off the coast.|
|San Clemente Island (far distance), Santa Catalina Island (middle distance), and Long Beach Harbor|
Well, look at the time. Now, all the while, our noodles have been on the stove. Probably nothing left but some charred remains. Sure hope I brought some extra food. But let's have a look anyway.
|Noodles after simmering for a considerable length of time|
|The bottom of my Snow Peak 1000ml pot after extended simmering.|
I cannot adequately describe how pleased I am with the controllable nature of the flame of the MicroRocket. I rate the MSR MicroRocket stove as Excellent in the simmering category.
Um, Jim, that's all very nice, but did you really have to climb a mountain just to not burn noodles?
Oh, yes, that. Well, there is a method to my madness. I wanted to go to a relatively high elevation in order to test the piezoelectric ignition system. I've had hand held piezoelectric butane lighters fail atop Waterman Mountain before. Just for reference, my Soto Pocket Torch butane lighter with piezoelectric ignition is meant to be used at or below 5000 feet/1500m according to the REI website. Waterman Mountain is 8038'/2450m. A test here should give us some idea of how the MicroRocket's ignition will do at elevation.
And how did the MicroRocket's ignition system do? The ignition system of the MicroRocket passed with flying colors. I did notice that I had to turn up the gas a little more than I did when I tested at 3,000 feet/915m, but it was no big deal.
Just for fun, I also tested the MicroRocket's ignition on all of the other stoves I brought. No reason why you can't use that ignition on every stove you own including your car camping stove, right? Here are my results:
Stove Ease of Ignition
MSR MicroRocket Very easy
MSR PocketRocket Very easy
Optimus Crux Difficult
Snow Peak GST-100 Moderately TrickySoto MicroRegulator Difficult
I believe the wide, distributed head made the Crux and the Microregulator difficult to ignite. I did notice that if I tilted the stove's burner down on one side and applied the piezoelectric ignition to the lower side, I could get the stove to ignite.
One last thing I tested: Thermal Conductivity. Now why might I want to know whether or not the MSR MicroRocket conducts heat? Cold weather. If a stove conducts heat, it will warm the canister. In cold weather, a warm canister means your stove works. A cold canister means your stove doesn't work. In order to test the how much heat the stove conducts, I'm going to run the stove on high for an extended period.
Now, a word of warning. If you overheat a canister, you could blow yourself sky high. I did this test without a windscreen (although I did use the windscreen as a partial windblock as you will see in the below photo), and I used a remote stove stand so that the canister was kept far away from the heat source. Guys, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing. If you're going to experiment with thermal conduction with your stove, be really careful. If you screw up, you might wind up cooking a lot more than your dinner -- if you know what I mean. A canister explosion really could ruin your entire life. Just be careful; fair enough? OK, warnings out of the way, let's have a look.
|Testing how hot a MicroRocket is after an extended burn.|
OK, that's it for me. That was a lot to pack into a single post. Thanks for bearing with me.
I hope you've enjoyed this Adventure in Stoving.
Selected Gas Stoves, order by weight
Stove Name Weight Pot Support Radius
Monatauk Gnat 48g 3x54mm
Soto MicroRegulator 70g 3x57mm
MSR MicroRocket 73g 3x64mm
MSR PocketRocket 87g 3x60mm
Snow Peak GS-100 87g 4x51mm
Optimus Crux 89g 3x54mm
MSR SuperFly 132g 4x60mm
All weights were measured in grams on my Chefmate scale. All lengths were measured with a hand held steel ruler. All measurements are approximate. Manufacturer's specifications may vary.