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Monday, December 26, 2016

Review – The New MSR PocketRocket 2

MSR is discontinuing the much venerated MSR PocketRocket.  In it's place?  The new PocketRocket 2.

UPDATE 30 December 2016:   MSR PocketRocket Review Supplement #1
UPDATE 25 January 2017:    MSR PocketRocket Review Supplement #2
See also: The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 vs. the Soto Amicus
The new MSR Pocket Rocket 2
For those of you who are die-hard Pocket Rocket fans screaming "nooooo!" at your screen right now:  Relax. There's a lot to like here, and you're giving up very little.

Note:  Gone as well is the Micro Rocket.

Compactness
The obvious gain here is in compactness.  For example, no matter how you turn it, the original Pocket Rocket just isn't going to fit into a 550 ml mug shaped pot, the kind that a 110 g canister of gas nests in.  You can't lay it flat, you can't put it in diagonally, and you can't stand it up straight.
The original Pocket Rocket just won't fit in a little 550 ml mug shaped pot.
On the other hand, the new Pocket Rocket 2 lays flat, no problem – a dramatic difference.
The new Pocket Rocket 2 fits into a 550 ml mug type pot with room to spare.
Weight
There's also a fairly significant weight reduction over the original Pocket Rocket.  The new Pocket Rocket 2 weighs in at 73 g (2.6 oz) vs. 87 g (3.1 oz) for the original.
The Pocket Rocket 2 weighs in at 73 g (2.6 oz).
Improved Pot Stability
Now, some of you are no doubt saying to yourselves, "um, gosh, but the Pocket Rocket 2 looks a whole lot like the Micro Rocket."  Well, if you were thinking that, you'd be right, BUT there's just a bit more to it than that.
The Micro Rocket, left, and the new Pocket Rocket 2, right.
With the Pocket Rocket 2 come much improved pot supports.  The complaint with the Micro Rocket?  It was a bit "iffy" in terms of pot stability with small pots.

For example, if one were to use something small like, say, a Sierra cup, you were balanced on little more than a prayer.
The pot supports on a Micro Rocket are just barely there with smaller diameter pots.
On the other hand, with the new Pocket Rocket 2, you've got quite a bit of "contact length" with the pot supports.  If you bump the stove or the pot otherwise shifts, you've still got a section of the pot supports in contact with your vessel, and nothing falls off.
The greatly improved pot supports of the Pocket Rocket 2 offer a lot more support for small diameter pots, cups, or mugs.
What's that?  You use something a bit bigger than a Sierra cup?  OK, great, but even if you use something bigger, the new pot supports are still better.  The new pot supports are longer and have more teeth.  If your pot shifts or gets jostled, there's less chance that your pot is going to fall.  A dinner saved is a dinner eaten!
The new Pocket Rocket 2, upper left.  The Micro Rocket, lower right.
More teeth (and longer) = better grip.
These improvements in pot stability come at no cost in terms of extra weight; the Pocket Rocket 2 weighs the same as the Micro Rocket.

Note:  Nearly all I wrote in my review of the Micro Rocket applies to the Pocket Rocket 2.

Price
The original Pocket Rocket had an MSRP of $40.  The Micro Rocket had an MSRP of $60.  The new Pocket Rocket 2 has an MSRP of $45.

I think this is good news.  One receives all the benefits of the improved features and reduced weight of the Pocket Rocket 2 at only a nominal price increase over the original.  MSR is basically merging the two product lines (Pocket Rocket and Micro Rocket) into one and passing on the cost savings to you, the end user.
Generations.
The Micro Rocket, left.  The new Pocket Rocket 2, center.  The original Pocket Rocket, right.
Concluding Remarks
I think this new stove is a win for someone like you or like I – a back country stove user.  It looks like MSR just didn't find the two pronged approach of having two very similar stoves (the Pocket Rocket and the Micro Rocket) advantageous.  So, they've decided to cut costs – while at the same time improving the stove overall.  In so cutting, they're able to offer a better stove, the Pocket Rocket 2, at a much cheaper price.  Whereas one formerly had to pay a premium to get the compactness and lightness of the Micro Rocket, now one gets the improved features and reduced weight at a very much reduced cost.

There is additional information in the appendices, below, about flame control, height, and other changes.
  • For availability and technical data, see Appendix I.  
  • For flame control (simmering capability), see Appendix II.  Nice flame shots here.  :)
  • For other changes (case and ignition), see Appendix III
  • For a height comparison, see Appendix IV
  • For disclosures, see Appendix V.
Lastly, is the new Pocket Rocket 2 revolutionary?  Well, it's a heck of a lot better than the original Pocket Rocket, but... there's not a huge difference over the Micro Rocket (although there are the improved pot supports).  Still, it's a good solid stove at a price that is in line with comparable stoves – and at a price well below what one formerly had to pay for this level of features.

So, the Pocket Rocket is dead, but long live the Pocket Rocket 2!

Summary
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2
What's good about it.
  • Good price point
  • Nice compactness
  • Robust, simple, and solid
  • Good flame control – see Appendix II, below. 
  • Reduced weight as compared to the original
What's not so good about it.
  • The tops of the pot supports aren't completely level when fully deployed.  The supports all slope downward into the center toward the burner.  Better grip would be achieved were the tops of the pot supports all level (i.e. in the same plane) similar to how the Soto Amicus is configured.
  • The open burner is vulnerable to wind.  
  • A further weight reduction would have been most welcome at this juncture.
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2:  Highly recommended.

I thank you for joining me,

HJ

Appendix I – Manufacturer and Technical Data
Date Available:  January, 2017  see MSR Pocket Rocket Review Supplement for any updates
Manufacturer:  Mountain Safety Research (MSR), a subsidiary of Cascade Designs.
Manufacturer's Website:  http://www.cascadedesigns.com/MSR
MSRP:  $45
Weight (measured):  73 g/2.6 oz
Materials:  Primarily steel and aluminum
Packed dimensions:  1 11/16" x 1 11/16" x 3" (43 mm x 43 mm x 76 mm).
Unpacked dimensions:  4 3/4" x 4 3/4" x 3 9/16" (121 mm x 121 mm x 90 mm)
Size/Model tested:  Pocket Rocket 2.
Colors available:  Silver with a red valve block.
Requirements:   A standard threaded canister of gas, sold separately.  (Well, that and a pot of course)
Warranty Information:  Contact Cascade Designs through their website (see above).

Appendix II – Flame Control
Flame control on the new Pocket Rocket 2 is good.  The flame ranges from a very robust full power flame.
The Pocket Rocket 2 – full power.
To a very nice moderate flame.
The Pocket Rocket 2 – medium flame.
To a nice low, simmering type flame.
The Pocket Rocket 2 – low flame.
With small pots, of course you want to turn the flame down.  High flame on a small pot is going to result in flames spilling up the sides of the pot – and going to waste.
Big flames + small pot = big waste
The only efficient flame – especially with small pots – is a smaller one.  Never exceed the diameter of your pot.
A flame, properly adjusted, never exceeds the diameter of the pot.
Notice the contrast in flame sizes between the above two photos.  Yes, you'll boil faster with a larger flame.  You'll also burn through a lot more gas.

Appendix III – Other Changes
There are a few changes as the original Pocket Rocket and the Micro Rocket go the way of the Dodo (i.e. extinct).

There's a new, much easier to use case for the Pocket Rocket 2.  The original Pocket Case wasn't bad, but it was a bit bulky, and sometimes it would warp a bit making it hard to get the stove in and then close the case.
The original Pocket Rocket's case, left, the Micro Rocket's case, center, and the new Pocket Rocket 2's case, right.
The new Pocket Rocket 2 case opens easily like a treasure chest, and it's a lot easier to get the stove in and out.
The Pocket Rocket 2 in it's completely re-designed (and much improved) case.
Gone also is the Micro Rocket's little hand held piezoelectric ignition.  I think there is little lost here.  If you're going to carry a separate ignition, you might as well just carry a regular butane lighter.  A regular lighter will be a lot more versatile in that it can also light paper, wood, etc. whereas a piezoelectric ignition only lights your stove.  However, if you like the hand held piezoelectric ignition, you can still get either MSR's (presuming they're still going to carry it) or Kovea's which is identical to the MSR except for the color and the logo.  There's room in the case if you decide you want to carry one.
The new Pocket Rocket 2 doesn't come with a hand held piezo ignition, but there's room in the case if you want to carry one.
The ignition in the above photo is from Kovea but is identical to the one sold by MSR except for the color and logo.
Appendix IV – Height
The height of the new Pocket Rocket 2, when fully deployed, remains consistent with the original Pocket Rocket (as well as the Micro Rocket).
The original Pocket Rocket, left, the Micro Rocket, center, and the new Pocket Rocket 2, right – all about the same height.
Appendix V – Disclosures
The stove featured in this review was provided to me at no charge by MSR.  I have no financial relationship with MSR.  I do not receive any compensation from MSR for this or any other review except that I typically get to keep the stove.  I have pretty much every MSR stove known to man including many stoves that no longer exist (Firefly, Rapid Fire, "G" stove, Simmerlite, non-shaker Jet Whisperlite, etc.), so one more stove isn't a particularly big deal to me and certainly did not influence the way this review was written.  I go out of my way to be thorough and objective in my reviews.

Also, I don't make money through this blog, not really.  Sure, I have ads, and on a good day, I make about $2 USD.  On a typical day, I make more like $1.  Let's call it $35/month.  That covers hosting fees and fuel, but precious little else, and certainly doesn't compensate me for my time.  This is just my odd little hobby, and that's about all it is.  There are those who have suggested that this blog is a plot to achieve world stove domination.  Nothing could be further from the truth – although it is odd that those making such suggestions have all met with a series of freak white gas stove priming accidents...

22 comments:

  1. I for one welcome our stove overlords.

    Thanks Jim! Always appreciate your input. You're my main stop for anything stove-related at this point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. Someone actually read the Disclosures. Lol.

      Thanks for the good comments.

      HJ

      Delete
  2. Would you say this stove can be turned down to simmer?? Or is best to boil water?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take a look at the photos in Appendix II. It has a wide variety of flame settings. I had no problems with simmering.

      HJ

      Delete
  3. Jim, you continue to provide the "go to" place for all things backpacking stove. It's a real service to the community.

    Ken Murray

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Ken,

      Why thank you. I'm trying. :)

      HJ

      Delete
  4. Any word on when this will be available for purchase? I don't see it for sale on any of the major retailers (REI, Amazon, etc).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, John, it's in Appendix I – Technical Data. I'll keep that updated as I get additional information.

      HJ

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the thorough review! I nearly bought the Micro Rocket after my beloved Pocket Rocket failed. Glad I didnt. Now it's gonna be the Pocket Rocket 2. Stove on!

    ReplyDelete
  6. How would you compare the Pocket Rocket 2 with the Kovea Supalite Stove?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Supalite is of course lighter by about 20 g (about half an ounce). The Supalite is a lot more compact. The Supalite's burner design will have a lot less carbon monoxide produced by the burn.

      I think Mass Drop has the Supalite on sale right now for about $35. For that price, I personally would jump on the Supalite.

      HJ

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  7. Hi, Jim! :) Thank you for your help! :) Can any brand of canister be used? Many thanks! Daniel :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daniel, yes, any canister sold in the US should work. I've heard of some sketchy ones in China, but any major brand should work internationally.

      HJ

      Delete
  8. Hi Jim, I have the micro rocket. Is it possible (if MRS made them available) to retrofit the newer supports arms on the micro?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think it would be fairly easy. You'd need an Allen wrench which is sometimes also called a "hex key". You'd unscrew the old ones and put on the new ones.

      The only trick would be to get MSR to send you the new pot supports. I suggest that you call them at 1-800-245-2992 and ask if they can send you a set. I assume that they would charge for them, if they are available. I'm not sure that they'd be available.

      Delete
  9. Hello Jim!

    Out of interest, have you ever used either of the pocket rockets combined with a windburner pot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Filip, I haven't. I think it might be a little tippy. On the burner portion of a Windburner, you've got a "rail" that the pot attaches to with a slot and dimple set up. You can pick up the whole assembly by the pot, and the burner and canister will stay together with the pot.

      It would probably work on a Pocket Rocket or PR2, but you'd have to be a bit careful.

      You would gain some efficiency because of the way the pot is built, but you would NOT have a windproof stove the way you would with a regular Windburner burner.

      HJ

      Delete
  10. Hello! I am looking to buy a stove as a gift for someone going on a backpacking trip. I know not all of their gear is super lightweight/backpacking specific. Would this stove be able to support a larger, not-so-lightweight pot?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Dominique,

      Well, it depends on how big you are talking about. I probably wouldn't go bigger than a three liter pot on a stove of this configuration, and you'd have to be fairly careful even then to not bump the pot.

      But if you're talking about "large" and you mean under 3 liters, you should be fine.

      If you're going larger than 2.5 or 3 liters, look at one of the following:

      MSR Windpro

      Kovea Spider

      HJ

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