Recently, I found myself having more and more reliability issues with my Primus Gravity MFii. Most of the time I used Primus Power Gas cans, but lately I switched to naphtha because the Army provides us with an endless supply of the stuff on exercises. I also found that the stove unit was taking a serious beating in my rucksack as the four legs are flimsy and prone to bending. The last straw was a total malfunction while heating up frozen rations in frigid temperatures. I’d had enough and I knew I needed a new stove for my upcoming foray into the Canadian Arctic with the Army.
I headed to my local outdoors shop and went instantly for the MSR Whisperlite International. A few key points made me choose this particular model:
- The Army issues each section with an MSR XGK-EX when we deploy in the Arctic, meaning there are available spare parts should the pump fail and the availability to use just about any type of fuel.
- As stated above, with the Army issuing MSR we have spare fuel bottles, so we don’t have to fill a single bottle every time, thus speeding up the time the tent would be without any heat source.
- Ease of maintenance: The Whisperlite has very few internal parts and is very easy to take apart (Which I did at one point in the Arctic)
- Sturdier construction than many other stoves on the market. The braided hose on the MSR is twice the diameter of my former Primus stove. An important point to me since the hose can easily get kinked in transportation
- At 318g it was also a weight effective solution that doesn’t add up too much weight to my pack. It is also lighter in weight than the MSR EGK-EX.
- The MSR Whisperlite International takes a myriad of fuel types, including: white gas, kerosene, and unleaded auto fuel.
During our latest Arctic exercise, the stove was constantly used for periods up to 10 hours straight. The tents were heated up with a M1950 Yukon stove fueled with kerosene but at -56 Celsius (-69 Fahrenheit) during the nights we had to have other heat sources around the tent to keep decent warmth. Even with that much constant use I didn’t experience a single fail for the entire 10 day period I was up north. Should anything have happened the MSR Whisperlite International is easily disassembled with two nuts for cleaning, oiling and re-assembling.
The only part of the MSR stove which I think is lacking sturdiness is the pump itself. It is entirely made of plastic and that includes the plunger which could possibly break or fracture in the ultra-low temperature we were operating. I feel the Primus pumps are superior with moving parts made of aluminum and very little plastic. Because of its construction, I suggest investing in some sort of rigid case like a Pelican or Boulder Case Company case to make sure you don’t have the nasty surprise in the form of a broken pump when you need it most.
Performance-wise, the MSR Whsiperlite International has some serious output. I haven’t used many types of fuels, but on either Naphta or Kerosene I got snow to boiling water within 10 minutes. Keep in mind that this was in the Arctic at -50 celcius outside and only a thin canvas tent kept us from the elements. About 20 minutes were needed to heat up the frozen solid rations inside a large cooking pot.
The Whisperlite Int’l only works with the MSR fuel bottle (sold separately) and will not work with MSR Isopro cans. Should you want a system that runs both type of fuel source simply go for the Whisperlite Universal.
At a retail price of around $100 USD plus $22 USD for the 30 oz fuel bottle, the MSR Whisperlite International is guaranteed to not overstretch your budget and will last you for years to come. As well, the multi-fuel capability means you are more likely to always find a source. I know many of our staff here have used this exact model of stove in the mountains of Afghanistan. If you have a MSR stove story you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.