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MSR SuperFly Canister Stove REVIEW

Product performance review of the MSR Superfly lightweight canister stove for backpacking and mountaineering.

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by Jay Ham | 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07

Overview

MSR SuperFly Canister Stove - 1

The MSR SuperFly canister stove is simple to use and really cranks out the BTUs. Out of the stuff sack, the SuperFly sets up quickly. It features a "Multi-Mount" which allows it to attach to threaded Lindal valves as well as the threadless CampingGaz valves - an important consideration for European travelers. The piezoelectric igniter on our test stove performed poorly; I preferred to ignore it and use matches or a lighter instead. The pot support is very stable, but does not compact as much as other canister stoves we tested, making the SuperFly a tight fit at best in small, lightweight cook pots. The burner control valve, which gives precise flame adjustment, is nice; however, those who travel light will likely scoff at the 5.1-ounce (145 g) weight (4.6 ounce (130 g) without igniter).

Specifications

• Stove ID

MSR SuperFly with optional piezoelectric ignition

• Accessories Included

Stuff sack (0.8 oz/23 g) included, large enough to hold the stove and an average size canister

• Dimensions

4.0 in high x 4.75 in wide (10 x 12 cm), either expanded or collapsed

• Weight

Manufacturer claim, confirmed by Backpacking Light 5.1 oz (145 g). Removing the piezoelectric igniter decreases the weight by 0.5 oz (14g)

• MSRP

$59.95 with piezoelectric igniter, $49.95 without

Usable Features

MSR SuperFly Canister Stove - 2
The MSR SuperFly is not very compact when configured for storage. The four pot supports close like a pair of scissors, rather than like a fan (shown here in closed and open configurations).

Compactness - For a canister stove, the MSR SuperFly is comparatively large. It does not nest in most small pots. It is a tight fit in the Evernew 1.3-liter titanium pot (5.75-inches diameter), but only due to this pot's wide, short stature. This problem could have been lessened had MSR designed the pot support differently. As it is, the four tined pot support folds like scissors. An improved design, from the viewpoint of compactness, would permit the tines to close like a fan, thus reducing the stove's maximum collapsed width to 3.75-inches and allowing it to nest in smaller pots. Exacerbating the problem, the stove support tines are pointed and could easily puncture a light silnylon stuff sack (and other soft gear packed next to it), making the heavier MSR stuff sack the necessary alternative.

Weight - At 5.1 ounces, the MSR SuperFly with piezoelectric igniter is far from a featherweight. The piezoelectric igniter is unreliable; purchasing the stove without the igniter saves 0.5 ounces and a few dollars. A contributor to the weight is the very feature that gives this stove its niche in the canister stove market: the large, high-BTU burner. Without this feature, the SuperFly would be nearly identical to other canister stoves. The steel pot support tines and a few other components could be replaced with lighter titanium components, and the aluminum base is larger than needed, particularly around the burner control valve.

Ignition - MSR offers the SuperFly with a piezoelectric igniter, which was the model tested. The igniter attaches to the stove above the valve and can be removed simply by unscrewing the brass burner pedestal from the aluminum valve base. The igniter fits as a washer between the two. I found ignition much easier with a lighter or match since the piezoelectric igniter performed poorly.

Flame Control - The flame controller flips out to keep fingers away from the flame. The end is 2 inches diagonally from the edge of the burner. The brass construction of the valve is very smooth.

Pot Support - Like all canister stoves where the stove mechanism sits atop the fuel canister, the MSR SuperFly creates a somewhat precarious cooking arrangement simply because the pot is elevated so much above the ground. However, as far as canister stoves are concerned, the pot support on the SuperFly is ideal for a 1.5-liter or smaller pot. It is also usable, with caution, for pots up to 2 liters.

Options and Upgrades - The piezoelectric igniter can be purchased as an upgrade or replacement for $9.95 and weighs 0.5 ounce. Another option is the Ascent Titanium Hanging Kit, which converts the MSR SuperFly into a hanging cook system suitable for big-wall climbing. This kit works with most 1.5-liter and 2-liter pots, costs $69.95, and adds about 4.4 ounces to your pack. It can also be purchased with the stove for a total price of $109.95, saving $19.95 over ordering these components separately.

Ease of Use

MSR SuperFly Canister Stove - 3
The MSR SuperFly can be disassembled to remove or add a piezoelectric igniter.

Setup - Setting up the MSR SuperFly is super simple, requiring less than half a minute to go from the stuff sack to cooking (time dependent on user experience and dexterity). Once out of the bag, the SuperFly is tightened onto either a threaded or unthreaded fuel canister. It does not use the canister threads when it attaches; rather it uses its own threaded clamp described by MSR as the "Multi Mount Graber." After spreading the pot support, you fold out the flame adjuster, and open the valve. Lighting the stove usually takes a single match. Setup takes longer when trying to use the piezoelectric igniter, but is still much faster than setting up many alcohol or white gas stoves.

Lighting - Although theoretically convenient, the piezoelectric igniter added to the SuperFly stove did not function well. It took approximately 20 or more clicks to ignite the stove. Adjustments to the gap between the electrode and burner did not help. On the other hand, one flick of a lighter lit the stove the first time, every time. We recommend against purchasing this stove with a piezoelectric igniter.

Adjustment - Where the MSR SuperFly truly excels is in flame control. Adjusting the flame from barely staying lit to blowtorch intensity was as easy with this backpacking stove as it is with a home gas stove.

Cold Weather Use - The MSR SuperFly is easy to set up, use, and take down while wearing gloves, except for operating the piezoelectric igniter. The igniter has a small plastic button on its right side that is covered on the top by a small metal heat shield. The heat shield catches on gloves making actuating the button more difficult.

Cooking Performance

MSR SuperFly Canister Stove - 4
The smooth burner control of the MSR SuperFly makes easy work of boiling water or frying eggs without burning.

Capacity - The easily adjustable flame intensity combined with its ability to deliver high BTUs makes it capable of handling a variety of cooking tasks, for one person or several. I tested the SuperFly on solo and family trips and found no situation this stove could not handle. Turning the BTUs down made cooking for one easy with a 0.9-liter pot. I cooked meals in a 1.3-liter pot and cooked for four using a 2-liter pot. As with other canister stoves, care must be exercised to ensure that the canister base is stable, especially when using larger pots.

Versatility - The SuperFly can be precisely adjusted to handle any culinary task with its easy to adjust burner control. We tested this stove's cooking ability boiling water, frying eggs, and simmering stew. With any of these tasks, the SuperFly preformed like a home stove, limited only by the abilities of the person wearing the chef's hat.

Wind Effects - Like many canister stoves, the SuperFly lacks a much-needed shield from wind. The four pot support tines are mostly solid in profile view, which partially protects two to three quarters of the burner, depending on wind direction, while leaving one or two burner quarters directly exposed to inbound wind. The SuperFly sputtered and flickered, but did not go out, when hit with high wind gusts. During windy weather, there was a significant decrease in cooking efficiency as we also observed in our lab tests (see below).

Heating Efficiency

The MSR SuperFly has the second fastest boil time with full flame under optimal conditions of the stoves we tested, but is among the worst for fuel efficiency. Reducing the flame to a moderate level increases the fuel efficiency but, compared to other stoves in our test at moderate flame, the SuperFly is still among the least fuel-efficient. The time required for the SuperFly to boil water with a moderate flame in optimal conditions increases to the point that it is comparable to other smaller, lighter canister stoves under the same conditions decreasing the niche this high output stove fills.

Heating efficiency worsened considerably under windy conditions without a windscreen and improved when a windscreen was added as was the case for all the stoves tested (except the Jetboil which has built in compensation against wind effects).

The SuperFly performed poorly in cold conditions as compared to the other stoves in out test suite.

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 SuperFly stove
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
SuperFly Boil Time (min:sec) 3:21 5:09 2:15 7:51 61 degrees*5:36
Average Boil Time for all stoves tested (min:sec) 3:33 4:51 2:18 7:35 87 degrees**5:12
SuperFly Fuel Consumption (g) 18.1 12.5 9.4 13.5 39.3 22.7
Average Fuel Consumption for all stoves tested (g) 16.1 11.7 8.1 11.5 30.0 18.6
SuperFly: water boiled per 4 oz/113 g fuel canister (qt)6.2 9.0 6.0 8.4 -5.0
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

MSR built the SuperFly to take the abuse dished out in the backcountry. This stove has a sturdy feel from the pot support to the burner control valve. The clamp that connects the stove to the canister forms a sturdy union between the two. During our testing the MSR SuperFly held up well, bouncing around in packs and getting knocked over in camp. Its construction resists dings and dents well.

The MSR owner's manual does not mention maintenance. This is probably because the clean burning nature of canister fuels nearly eliminates the need for maintenance.

Value

The MSR SuperFly with igniter is reasonably priced at $59.95, but a better deal at $49.95 without the unreliable piezoelectric igniter. The stove has a high heat output, is durable, and is versatile, but also heavier than many canister stoves. The SuperFly is the only stove we reviewed that will attach to the threadless CampingGaz canisters, which is an important consideration when traveling in Europe.

Recommendations for Improvement

The piezoelectric igniter does not work well enough to warrant its additional weight, minimal as it may be. It is likely that the culprit is the large burner area that dissipates the gas, preventing enough gas to buildup for ignition. We recommend omitting the igniter altogether, if an appropriate solution cannot be found. In addition, MSR could alter the pot support design to facilitate greater collapsibility. If the pot supports were able to fold like a fan, rather than like a pair of scissors, the stove would fit in a greater number of small, lightweight pots. Finally, MSR could reduce the weight by replacing some of the steel and brass hardware with titanium, a change that will undoubtedly raise the price.


Citation

"MSR SuperFly Canister Stove REVIEW," by Jay Ham. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_superfly_canister_stove_review.html, 2005-02-15 03:00:00-07.

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