MSR Reactor Stove System Review

The list of positive words and testimonials for the MSR Reactor Stove System is long. Simple, efficient, powerful, durable and compact are just a few that come to mind when describing the Reactor.

Setup and Design Features

The innovative design uses an enclosed radiant burner to protect it from wind and provide one of the fastest boiling times on the market.  MSR Reactor Stove SystemIt is considered a stove system because the stove and cookware are all one self contained unit that increases efficiency and ease of use.  Take a look at MSR’s website if you need addtional information abut their stove system concept or other similar products.

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To use the stove, first screw the stove onto the fuel canister.  Then put the pot onto the burner, light a match and fire up the stove.  It burns isobutane (also called methylpropane) or propane canister fuel and is super efficient.  It will run for 3 hours on 20 ounces and boil a liter of water in under 3 minutes putting it at the head of this class for this key feature.

The dimensions are 4.75” x 6.1” and it weights 14.7 ounces.  The Reactor System was higher priced than many of the backpacking stoves that I looked at.  It definitely has some great features that are worth a little additional money but you have to decide if they are critical for your trip.  Take a look at this information for some great trailmix ideas for the trail.

Comparison Features

The MSR Reactor Stove System landed at the #2 spot this year.  The stove system design really helped to put it on top of the list.  There are some stoves that are lighter, and some that are smaller, but nothing that boils water as fast.  The downsides of this stove include the inability to use pots other than the Reactor specific brand, it’s expensive and it doesn’t simmer food well.

On the other hand the great things about this stove is that you will cook your meals super fast and have time for additional camping activities.

There are a number of great positive features for this stove including the fast boil rates, highly wind resistant and efficiency.  The stove is super quiet and the 1 liter pot system has a strainer lid and pack towel.  The stove system comes in three different sizes.  The 1 liter size for 1 or 2 people, the all around 1.7 liter for 2 or more, and the 2.5 liter for those larger trips with large groups. MSR Reactor Stove It

includes the pot and stove, lid, pack towel and locking handle.

Because it is a canister fuel stove there is very little soot created on your pot.  There is no auto-ignition and it is highly wind resistant because of the enclosed pot design.  This stove will work more effectively than other canister fuel stoves in high altitudes and extreme environments because of a feature that helps draw all of the fuel out of the bottle.

The simple and compact design makes putting it together and cleaning it up as part of your daily duties a snap. You will be cooking dinner very quickly because of this simplicity.  Prices range from $180 to $220.

The Pros

  • Highly wind resistant and efficient
  • Reliable and lightweight
  • Fast boil rates
  • Cooking pot included
  • Super quiet
  • Strainer lid feature

The Cons

  • Does not simmer well
  • Can only use reactor pots
  • No piezo ignitor
  • Expensive

Insider Tips

Canister stoves can sometimes be affected by very cold weather and may decrease heating potential. In these situations it is important to keep your fuel canister warm. Keep it in a bag overnight and try to avoid butane only blends.  The Reactor does a better job than most canister stoves at keeping a strong flame in very cold environments because of a feature that helps draw all of the fuel out.

MSR Reactor Stove System Summary

The innovative design, efficiency in bad weather, and power puts this stove in a category of its own. It has not been around as long as the MSR XGK, but is quickly proving that it deserves to be at the top of the list with the best stoves.

It is fully protected from the wind and boils water about as fast as possible.  Very easy setup and cleanup give the Reactor another big bonus for folks camping at multiple spots along your trip.


I highly recommend the MSR Reactor Stove System and have confidence that it will meet the expectations that you should have for all MSR products.  Take it on your next extreme trip and let me know how it performed for you.

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