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MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

The integrated canister stove category just blew wide open with the imminent arrival of MSR's new Reactor. It's claimed to be the fastest-boiling, most fuel-efficient, windproof cooking system available. And there's another integrated canister stove coming from a different stove maker. BPL will cover this tomorrow night. Move over Jetboil!

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by Will Rietveld and Alan Dixon | 2006-08-10 03:00:00-06

Overview

MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove  (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 1
The new MSR Reactor integrated cooking system has a unique radiant burner that combines with an enclosing heat exchanger to provide maximum efficiency and heat transfer to the cooking pot. The hard anodized aluminum pot is 1.7 liters, which makes it suitable for group cooking. Note the radiant glow of the burner head.

The new Reactor Stove is MSR’s answer to the Jetboil Group Cooking System. It was first announced at the Outdoor Retailer Summer 2004 trade show, and after several delays, it will finally arrive in an outdoor store near you in February 2007.

According to an MSR representative “It took longer because inventing ‘light plutonium’ was a bigger challenge than we expected. But we succeeded in finding a way to remove the deadly gamma rays, leaving only clean infra-red radiation to do the cooking. The Reactor will run for 24,000 years (one half-life) on a single gram of light plutonium 239, so you never need to worry about how much fuel to bring.”

Seriously, the Reactor runs on canister fuel. Its integrated cook pot is 1.7 liters and stove weight is 21 ounces, compared to 1.5 liters and 19 ounces for the Jetboil Group Cooking System. According to MSR claims, the Reactor will boil 1 liter of water in 3 minutes, will boil 2.8 liters from 1 ounce of fuel, and will boil 22 liters of water from a single 8 ounce canister of fuel. Jetboil claims a 4 minute boil time for the GCS (although in BPL testing it has slower boil times).

Our initial reaction is the stove should be the most sophisticated and efficient integrated canister stove to date, but it is also the heaviest integrated canister stove. Only time and testing will tell if its efficiency will justify the weight.

MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove  (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 2
What is unique about the Reactor is its integrated heat exchanger that completely encloses a radiant burner, so it generates maximum heat output and transfers it by both convection and radiation to the cook pot. The burner is claimed to use 100% primary air entering through ports on the side, allowing it to be completely enclosed at the top and making it virtually impervious to wind. The pot lid is Lexan plastic.

Where does the efficiency comes from?

  • The burner head has a special metal foam that heats up and glows for radiant heat transfer (see lead picture). The bottom of the pot is dark to absorb the radiant energy.
  • The metal foam also slows convective air flow which increases convective heat transfer to the pot. Slow air flow allows more time for heat transfer.
  • Tight areas around the pots heat exchange fins create a pressure drop that fine tunes air flow (slower) for optimal heat transfer.
  • Because the pot and burner head are essentially a sealed air path (allowing no external air to enter except from the two mixer tube intakes), the stove’s efficiency is unimpaired by strong winds. Most canister stoves get about 40% of their air at the burner head and thus can’t have a sealed air system like the Reactor.
  • The pressure regulation in the burner head also maintains optimal burn rate and thus optimal efficiency over the life of the canister (no matter what the fill level).
  • All of the above means that the Reactor will have optimal efficiency over a broad range of flame settings, canister fill levels, temperatures, and wind. Most canister stoves will loose efficiency if any of these are suboptimal.

MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove  (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 3
Bottom side of the Reactor's burner. It has an internal pressure regulator that maintains a constant 12.5 psi for consistent flame output for the life of the canister. Most canister stoves burn much faster on the initial few liters boiled and then heat slower and slower as canister pressure falls. These un-regulated stoves also boil much slower in cold weather when canister pressure also falls. In both cases the Reactor should have consistent boil times. MSR claims a boil time of 3 minutes for the first liter and 3.5 minutes for the last few liters or if the temperature drops below 35 degrees.

The Reactor Stove introduces some new technologies and raises the bar for integrated canister cooking systems. But it's heavy at 21 ounces. Interestingly, the burner weights only 6 ounces, so the pot and heat exchanger assembly weigh a huge 15 ounces! The Reactor definitely needs some lightening up and the pot and heat exchanger (and Lexan lid) are the obvious choices. MSR plans to eventually produce a lighter version, as well as smaller and bigger capacity versions.

MSR claims the Reactor will be the fastest-boiling, most fuel-efficient windproof cooking system available. We just LOVE claims like that because it challenges us “gear technologists” a to check it out! Believe me, when our Cooking Systems Editor Dr. Roger Caffin gets his hands on the Reactor, he will have a LOT to say about it in his review.

As we mentioned earlier, another manufacturer is introducing an integrated stove; stay tuned for our report on another "hot" product that was quietly developing while our attention was focused on MSR.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: MSR (http://msrcorp.com/)
  • Product: Reactor Stove (available February 2007)
  • Type: Integrated cooking system
  • Fuel: Canister fuel only
  • What’s Included: Burner base, pot and lid, handle
  • Weight: 21 oz (595 g)
  • Features: Heat exchanger attached to bottom of cook pot completely encloses a radiant burner, internal regulator equalizes fuel pressure, piezo-electric ignition
  • MSRP: $150

Performance

  • Boil 1 liter of water in 3 minutes (full canister)
  • Boil 1 liter of water in 3.5 min (end of canister life)
  • Boil 2.8 liters from 1 ounce of fuel
  • Boil 22 liters of water from a single 8 ounce canister of fuel.

Citation

"MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)," by Will Rietveld and Alan Dixon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_reactor_integrated_canister_stove_orsm06.html, 2006-08-10 03:00:00-06.

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MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) on 08/11/2006 02:53:19 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

MSR Reactor Integrated Canister Stove (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Summit CO
(Summit) - F

Locale: 9300ft
Competition on 08/11/2006 10:15:48 MDT Print View

Jetboil has some competition! Awesome... now they will each start fine tuning their designs against each other... hopefully this will mean lighter, better, cheaper! :-)

Joel Dulude
(joeldude) - F
This stove is amazing! on 08/11/2006 11:18:01 MDT Print View

I was fortunate enough to test this..... I was blown away! It is fairly lightweight(given the design and materials), essentially bombproof and super efficient and it actually simmers! Trust me you'll enjoy using it. I really cannot say more because of the field testing non-disclosure thing. It's tops on my purchase list.

It won't replace the lightitude of alcohol by any means but for an 'all in one' integrated unit...this rocks!

Edited by joeldude on 08/11/2006 11:23:05 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Reactor Stove on 08/11/2006 12:07:44 MDT Print View

Where I think this, and the new stove that we'll talk about tonight, has the most advantage over the Jetboil is for melting snow in the winter.

I talked to *name hidden for anonymity* at MSR and we figured out a good way to turn this stove into a hanging stove for tent use. It's really easy - way easier than a Jetboil - to adapt to hanging use.

The additional pot volume and burner diameter may make this stove a more realistic option for melting snow, which as you know from a previous article, is a miserable snow melting machine.

Jacob Harrington
(jacobharrington) - F
Re: Reactor Stove on 12/11/2007 11:06:15 MST Print View

Any details on how to construct a hanging kit?

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Reactor Stove on 12/23/2007 15:38:39 MST Print View

"Any details on how to construct a hanging kit?"
I second that

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Reactor Stove on 01/05/2008 21:32:17 MST Print View

Please tell us this really easy way to adapt the stove for hanging use.


(Edit)

Never mind. I figured something out myself. (Thanks for the help.)

Edited by KaiPL on 02/05/2008 14:24:27 MST.

Kai Larson
(KaiPL) - F

Locale: Colorado
Hanging kit for the Reactor on 02/05/2008 14:19:07 MST Print View

I bought an MSR Reactor stove.

However, I prefer hanging stoves because I sometimes find myself without any level ground to cook on, and I am a klutz and tend to bump and kick over stoves that are on the ground.

So, I decided to craft a hanging system for the Reactor. I bought some wire, hooks, swages, and tinkered with the stove for several hours. I couldn't come up with any decent solutions.

Then, I decided to take a look at the Jetboil hanging stove kit. I figured that I might be able to modify the Jetboil hanging kit to work with the Reactor. Well, as it turns out, no modification is necessary. The Jetboil hanging kit works perfectly with the Reactor. In fact, I'd say that it actually works better with the Reactor than it does with the Jetboil because it's easier to take the pot off and put it back on again. It's very stable. I filled the Reactor pot full of water, hung it off a tree, and swung it back and forth and batted it around with my hands. The pot stays put, even under lots of swinging and smacking.

So, all of you who have been looking for a hanging system for the Reactor. It's here. Just buy the Jetboil hanging kit.

http://www.jetboil.com/Products/Accessories/Hanging-Kit


Hanging stoveHanging Stove 2

Edited by KaiPL on 02/05/2008 14:23:08 MST.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Re: Hanging kit for the Reactor on 02/05/2008 15:32:25 MST Print View

Nice... very nice...

James Gates
(jamesg) - F
MSR REactor Stove Pot/ Handle on 03/03/2008 19:28:56 MST Print View

Does anyone have experience with the pot handle easily coming out of the hinge (for lack of a better term? The pot handle came off once while we were rinsing the pot out. Now it comes off frequently unless handled very gently (no pun intended). The stove is about two months old and maybe seen four or five trips.
The first response from MSR was not satisfactory. They would not sell a pot handle separately which means they must consider the pot/handle as one assembly. They did offer to sell a new handle for $40 dollars and provide an attached pot at no extra cost. Their offer was declined.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
MSR Reactor Stove on 03/03/2008 20:16:09 MST Print View

Has anyone tried melting snow at temps below 10F, with the reactor? How did it work? What eleveation were you at when you were melting snow? How much snow did you melt?

Edited by tkknc on 03/03/2008 20:19:34 MST.

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
Reactor disappointment on 03/05/2008 09:59:47 MST Print View

I used my Reactor this last weekend car camping in Death Valley and to say I am disappointed with it is a understatement. Once it is lit the performance is amazing, but it is lighting it that is the hard part. In any kind of breeze it would just not light, I use about ten matches to get it to light and that was with it sheltered behind the wheel of my H1.
I would not recommend this stove for outdoor use.
Personally I am going back to the old Superfly.

Barry

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: MSR Reactor Stove on 03/05/2008 17:08:01 MST Print View

> Has anyone tried melting snow at temps below 10F, with the reactor? How did it work?
Chuckle. That's -23 C. You would be lucky to get ANY gas out of the canister right at the start. A few minutes later you would get none.