Marc MacMillan, December 29, 2010
When planning a trek in the Børgefjell National Park, the main criteria was to get reliable and lightweight gear that could cope with the wild weather that the park gets throughout the year. Due to be hiking for 3 weeks meant that we were looking at carrying 30-35kg backpacks at the start of the trip. We calculated that we would need to carry 15kg of food each which worked out at roughly 2400 kcal per day, this was to be supplemented by fish caught in the many lakes and rivers.
I purchased this stove before the trip, attracted by the simple, reliable design and ability to burn multiple fuels. A very popular expedition stove used worldwide, this stove has a strong following among outdoor enthusiasts. I have now used my stove on over 3 trips, daily or twice a day for an overall period of 6 weeks.
The Whisperlite is unlike the gas cartridge stoves I had previously used since it runs on liquid fuel. Liquid fuel has advantages: it works better in cold temperatures, is more space efficient than gas canisters and it boils water faster than a gas canister stove of the same size. The Whisperlite was excellent at boiling water fast with little fuel which made it ideal for my uses. With self-cleaning and simple repair parts and instructions this stove certainly seems bomb-proof. The stove tested well in very windy and even wet conditions with the wind guard supplied. The MSR bottles which need to be bought separately are strong and secure safety tops with which I have not had any leaks whilst using them.
Although the Whisperlite is labelled as multi-fuel compatible, I struggled to burn alcohol camping fuel, managing only to burn using paraffin and white spirits. Another disadvantage is that the Whisperlite needs to be primed before use, a job that can be fiddly at times and often causes a small fireball around the stove making cooking in a tent potentially very dangerous. Further, although excellent at boiling water fast, the Whisperlite burns extremely hot and therefore can be tricky to simmer liquids. Priming with paraffin also causes black soot to coat the stove, this however can be avoided by priming with alcohol.
Overall this stove proved a success and have found no significant problems with it so far. I would recommend buying the expedition service kit, which includes spare parts should any part break or go missing. Make sure you learn carefully how to prime the stove and it will be a joy to use.