MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove Review

The MSR Whisperlite family just got a little larger. The MSR Whisperlite Universal is their latest offering, and it’s a great little backpacking stove. Combining both liquid fuel and canister capabilities, and having an upgraded body, it’s the best of the bunch.msr whisperlite universal

It’s reflected in a price that’s a little higher than the other Whisperlite’s, but if it’s within your budget it’s well worth the price tag.

It’s incredibly light at under 1 lb, it’s easy to use and maintain, and you can hook up just about any fuel type you’re used to using.

It packs a big punch for a small stove. Let’s dig in to some of the specifics and see if it’s exactly what you’re missing in your backpack right now.

Set up and Design Features

It’s instantly obvious that there are quite a few parts included in the box along with the stove. You get a windscreen, heat reflector, gas adapter, liquid fuel adapter, burner assembly, alternative fuel jets, stove tool, lubricant, stand, and pump.

It’s not complicated to construct, and comes with some handy instructions. However, it’s advisable to be familiar setting the stove up at home first. Finding yourself scrambling to figure it out for the first time after a long day hiking and as the evening draws in is the last thing you want.

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Reading through some of the positive feedback from owners, there isn’t much to complain about. It performs just as well in all weather conditions, operates on most fuels, the flame is highly adjustable, it’s easy to maintain and has MSR’s self-cleaning technology that works really well.

It sits very firm when set up too, MSR realized their mistake using wire legs on some of their stoves in the past. You get good solid stainless steel legs with the Universal, so no need to search for a perfect flat spot to set up. It’s able to hold large pots and pans, so you can be adventurous with your cooking. It has a hybrid-fuel performance too, meaning it optimally uses a fuel and air mix to maximize its performance.

MSR stoves are well-known for being economical with the fuel, and this model is no different. You can get around 155 minutes of burn time from a 20 ounce kerosene cannister. Not bad at all!

Dimensions – 5″ x 6″ x 6″ and weighs 0.72 lbs.


Comparison Information

It’s worth looking at how the Universal stacks up against the International, and original Whisperlite as they are all part of the same family and the Universal costs a little more than the others. I will say up front that in my opinion the Universal offers good value for money, and is worth the extra cost.

Click this link to see how to set up the universal stove.  The overall finish of Universal is a step up, and as previously mentioned the legs are a lot stronger on this model. The previous versions were known for being durable so there are no concerns about the Universal being reliable.

The pot supports are around half an inch in diameter larger than the previous models too, another small difference that makes a huge difference. This puts the stove in the range of holding pots and kettles that hold over 2 liters of water.

Another neat little change is that this model can connect directly to a gas canister. You can hook it up to just about any fuel device with the correct connector, great versatility and very useful if you have several stoves and tanks lying around.

It does weigh a little more due to these changes, but at less than 1lb you really aren’t going to notice the difference. In summary, the Universal has enough positive changes to add more than enough value to justify the slightly higher price point.

The Pros

  • Burns almost any fuel
  • Highly adjustable valve and flame control
  • Can handle large pots and pans
  • Self-cleaning and easy to maintain

The Cons

  • There are a few small pieces that can potentially be lost
  • Fuel line is very stiff making it easy to pack tightly


Insider Tips

Although it’s the newest edition in MSR’s Whisperlite family, it’s not compatible with any of MSR’s other fuel pumps at time of writing this. So if you have a few odd fuel pumps collected over the years, and think staying with a MSR product will help you out. Unfortunately not. It is however compatible with any gas canisters you have with the right connector.  If you have additional questions, see the manufacturers website here.

MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove Summary

The Whisperlite range of stoves may be the best all round stoves in their class, and the Universal is the best release yet. MSR have done a great job at making a versatile stove that’s strong and light, while still coming in at an affordable price point.


The MSR Whisperlite Universal is popular with people looking to own a small stove that’s light and easy to carry, while being able to handle medium size pots and cook well in a variety of conditions. Take a closer look for yourself and if you give it a try let me know what you think.

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