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MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove REVIEW

Product Performance Review of the MSR Pocket Rocket lightweight canister stove for backpacking.

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by Doug Johnson | 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07

Overview

MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove - 1
MSR PocketRocket expanded for use

The MSR PocketRocket is a simple, lightweight, and inexpensive stove. It puts out a tight flame that boils water and melts snow quickly, and its Windclip Windshield feature helps it perform well in light wind. The PocketRocket is one of the better performers in our review sample in windy conditions, especially with an external windscreen. Its relatively small flame pattern keeps it from being among the best for frying or baking. A pop out wire flame adjuster precisely adjusts from torch to simmer. The stove body has a stout construction of steel and aluminum, but pot supports are relatively flexible and don't stand up to abuse. Its low price of $39.95, strong performance, and light weight (3.1 ounces/87grams) make the PocketRocket a favorite for those on a budget.

Specifications

• Stove ID

MSR PocketRocket

• Accessories Included

Plastic case

• Dimensions

Height collapsed 4.1 in (10 cm); height expanded 3.4 in (8.5 cm); width collapsed 2.0 in (5 cm); width expanded: 4.2 in (11 cm)

• Weight

Manufacturer claimed 3 oz (86g); Backpacking Light measured 3.1 oz (87g)

• MSRP

$39.95 US

Usable Features

MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove - 2
The PocketRocket features grooved pot supports that center smaller pots but provide less support for larger pots

Compactness - The PocketRocket is somewhat bulky compared to the other mini-canister stoves we reviewed; the pot supports rotate toward the stove instead of folding together like some others. It comes with a triangular case that measures 4.5 inches long by 2.2 inches wide which fits into a MSR Titan Kettle but not an MSR Titan mug.

Weight - At 3.1 ounces, the MSR PocketRocket is a lightweight stove. Its simplicity, e.g. pot supports that simply rotate up, helps keep the weight down. It features an aluminum base and steel construction elsewhere.

Ignition - The PocketRocket doesn't have a piezoelectric ignition option and must be lit with matches or a lighter.

Flame Control - The flame controller has a long pop-out wire adjustment. Flame control is accurate and effective and can be easily adjusted while wearing gloves without getting too close to the flame. The flame is tight and concentrated in an area of approximately 2 inches. The PocketRocket features the integrated "Windclip Windshield," a tripod metal plate attached to the burner. The Windclip effectively blocks side winds, protecting two-thirds of the burner in light winds and helped the Pocket Rocket boil water faster in wind than many of the stoves we tested.

Pot Support - The pot supports are relatively flexible but are able to support a 2-liter pot with reasonable stability. The supports are grooved and angle slightly toward the center of the stove making it easy to keep smaller pots such as cups or kettles centered on the stove. However, the angled contact points provide only three points of contact on a larger, 2-liter pot. I needed to be very careful with placement of both pot and stove when using larger pots to keep them from slipping.

Ease of Use

MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove - 3
The flip-out adjuster is precise and easy to use, even while wearing winter gloves

Setup - The MSR PocketRocket is a breeze to set up. I was able to have the stove set up and burning in less than 15 seconds. The knurled aluminum base made it easy to attach the stove to a canister even when wearing gloves.

Lighting - The stove lights quickly with a lighter due to its large burner.

Adjustment - Flame control is extremely precise with the flip-out wing adjuster. The PocketRocket easily adjusts from a very high output to barely burning.

Cold Weather Use - The PocketRocket is easy to set up and adjust while wearing bulky winter gloves although the lack of a piezoelectric igniter may require you to take off the gloves to light the stove.

Cooking Performance

Capacity - The PocketRocket performed equally well when using a cup, kettle, or 2-liter pot. It boiled water quickly compared to other canister stoves we tested. However, I had to exercise caution when using a 2-liter pot to make sure it didn't slip off of the pot supports.

Versatility - This MSR stove functions best as a snow-melter and water-boiler, performing these functions with ease and quickness. Its tight flame pattern is not designed for frying or baking, because it places the heat in one central area of the pot.

MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove - 4
During wind tests, the Windclip (a tripod windbreak attached to the burner) was very effective in protecting two-thirds of the burner during high winds. (The fan was on high and was approximately 8 inches from the stove simulating a 12 mph wind.)

Wind Effects - The burner output is only from the top, protecting the flame from wind by blocking off the bottom and sides of the burner. The tight flame hinders the ability of the PocketRocket to fry or bake, but improves stove performance in windy conditions. Even during strong winds (replicated by using a fan turned on high), the Windclip kept two-thirds of the stove burning while the third facing the wind was blown out. The Windclip allows acceptable heating performance without a windscreen, although a windscreen boosts performance. The PocketRocket heated water to a higher temperature without a windscreen than most of the other stoves we tested, but its fuel efficiency in windy conditions was only average.

Heating Efficiency

In our lab tests, the PocketRocket performed better than most other canister stoves in its class. It boiled 1 quart of water in 3 minutes 26 seconds during optimal conditions and warmed 1 quart of water 106 °F after 10 minutes in a direct wind (only one canister stove in our test suite was able to bring 1 quart of water to a boil in the same conditions). It was in the average range for fuel consumption. In my own tests, the PocketRocket boiled 1 cup of water during high wind conditions with no windscreen in 5 minutes 35 seconds.

See Lightweight Canister Stoves Test Report for more detailed results of our heating efficiency tests on this stove, and all the canister stoves in our review suite.

Table 1. Summary of boil time and fuel consumption data for the MSR PocketRocket
TestOptimal Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterOptimal Conditions Moderate Flame 1 quart waterOptimal Conditions Full Flame 1/2 quart waterCold Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterWindy Conditions Full Flame 1 quart waterWind + Wind screen Full Flame 1 quart water
PocketRocket Boil Time (min:sec) 3:26 5:32 2:20 7:44 106 degrees*4:26
Average Boil Time for all stoves tested (min:sec) 3:33 4:51 2:18 7:35 87 degrees**5:12
PocketRocket Fuel Consumption (g)15.8 14.2 8.3 12.6 34.1 17.8
Average Fuel Consumption for all stoves tested (g) 16.1 11.7 8.1 11.5 30.0 18.6
PocketRocket: Water Boiled Per 4-ounce Fuel Canister ( qt)7.28.06.89.0-6.3
Average Water Boiled per 4-ounce fuel canister for all stoves tested (qt)7.3 9.8 7.1 9.4 - 6.2

Optimal conditions are 70 °F air and water, no wind. Cold conditions were simulated by putting the stoves and canisters in a freezer overnight at 10 °F, then boiling 40 °F water. Windy conditions were simulated with a box fan providing a 12 mph wind; water and air temperatures were 70 °F.

* Degrees Fahrenheit water temperature was raised after 10 minutes; water did not reach a boil.

** Average amount water temperature was raised after 10 minutes. Of the eight stoves tested with 1 quart of water, only one stove reached boiling within 10 minutes.

Durability

The simplicity of the PocketRocket contributes to its durability. Its main body is constructed of steel and thick aluminum and is virtually indestructible. However, the pot supports were easily bent when I jammed the stove into my pack one busy morning. Although the supports were easy to bend back, one of the rivets loosened in the process, causing the support to flop around. Later, large pots wobbled slightly on the stove from the loose support. Squeezing the rivets with pliers did not fix the problem. No maintenance was required.

Value

At $39.95, the MSR PocketRocket is a good value. For this price you don't get titanium or a piezoelectric igniter, but you do get lightness, simplicity, good wind performance, and excellent flame adjustment. More robust pot supports would increase the value of the PocketRocket.

Recommendations for Improvement

The pot supports are the weak point of the MSR PocketRocket. By attaching them at the base of the stove, they are long enough that a full pot can cause them to flex, and they can be bent by slight misuse. Constructing the supports out of a heavier material might help, but the most effective fix would be to move their attachment point to the stove head as is done on some other canister stoves. This would eliminate the leverage that causes them to flex, although it would also eliminate some of the stove's simplicity. We feel that the increase in durability would be worth the tradeoffs of slightly increased cost or weight.


Citation

"MSR PocketRocket Canister Stove REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_pocketrocket_canister_stove_review.html, 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07.

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