Review: MSR Whisperlite Internationale Stove

Alee December 26, 2013 2
  • Functionality
  • Durability
  • Value for Money

The MSR Whisperlite multifuel stove has been a favourite for bicycle tourers, hikers and travellers alike, for both it’s simplicity and versatility. We used our Whisperlite 700x per year when we were crossing from Europe to Australia and never actually had a technical issue with it – it seemed nothing we could do could break it!

The major drawcard for travellers like us is the fact that this stove runs on petrol! We rolled into petrol stations all over the world and filled our fuel bottle for next to nothing. It was never stressful thinking about fuel; we’ve found that petrol stations are EVERYWHERE.

The plastic componentry and rubber seals of the flimsy-looking fuel pump was a worry for the first few months, because we really had no idea whether they would last the distance. Once we’d built up our confidence in MSR’s plastic and had been burning dirty, DIRTY petrol for a while there, it was evident that the Whisperlite is, in fact, built to last.

Lighting / pre-heating takes some time. You need to fill the lower cup with fuel, light it and wait until the metal is hot. It’s during this time that the stove gets really sooty and black. That said, we’ve found that after you’ve finished using it, you can blow most of the soot off fairly easily.

To be honest, the stove’s performance with petrol is quite poor. It can take up to five minutes to boil a litre of water, depending on the quality of the fuel we’re using. Time was not really a concern for us for most of the trip –  you can be doing other things while water boils.

Our only REAL gripe with the product is that we can’t change the heat level while we’re cooking, but more on that below…

The Why

- You can burn almost any fuel available all over the world (we use petrol because of it’s abundance).

- We haven’t yet replaced a seal in the pump or stove, despite using the stove for four or five years. Due to the Whisperlite’s simplicity and sound construction, it seems like it will genuinely last a lifetime.

- It’s silent compared to other multifuel stoves with simmer control (eg. MSR Dragonfly).

- It’s super easy to clean and rebuild.

- It burns very cleanly and efficiently with high quality fuels such as ‘Shellite’.

- It doesn’t require aluminium cans (like a gas canister stove) which can be a pain to find and a waste of resources (aluminium waste) in our opinion.

The Why Not

- You have very little heat adjustment at the control valve when you’re cooking. If you know your Whisperlite well, it’s possible to pressurize it to a low level (for simmering a curry) or high level (for boiling water) when you start it up. But once it’s on, you can only increase the pressure and therefore the temperature. We have a solution for this problem though: the SIMMER RING!

- The stoves performance (boil time) is quite average compared with most other camping stoves out there.

- The most recent model has teeth on the top of the legs to keep your pot secure when cooking. The problem is that the legs are sharp and tend to cut through the stove bag (or whatever the stove is packed next to).

- When using petrol, the Whisperlite is dirty compared to other stoves. We blow off most of the black grime after use and store our stove in a plastic ziplock bag to prevent it making everything else dirty. To combat this issue, it is possible to use a clean fuel (eg. Shellite) to prime the stove (preheating the metal so that the fuel instantly vapourises) before turning the control valve to do the cooking part with petrol.

Price

$150 USD

Would we buy it again?

The Whisperlite is a brilliant product for cycling through 3rd world countries, given its reliability and versatility with different fuel types. We would certainly use it again for any other big journey we undertake, or even for short tours through regions where we are unsure on what fuels will be available.

The Whisperlite isn’t necessary for short tours in regions where you can easily pick up fuel canisters /burning alcohol. Save yourself the weight, lighting time and dirtiness and grab something smaller, faster, more adjustable and lighter.

Similar products:

- MSR Whisperlite Universal (multifuel + canister stove)

- MSR Dragonfly (heat adjustable)

- Primus Omnifuel

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  • Andy

    Have you heard of this mod?

    http://etrike.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/msr-whisperlight-alcohol-mod/
    Supposedly, if you file down the valve screw to a conical tip, the stove suddenly becomes infinitely more adjustible. I have no experience with this myself, but came across it when I was researching stoves. Maybe something to think about…

    • http://www.cyclingabout.com/ Alee Denham

      Thanks for the heads up! Might have to see what happens on a rainy day sometime soon. ;)