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Gear Pick: The Ultimate Backpacking Cooking System |

Gear Pick: The Ultimate Backpacking Cooking System

When accomplishing the completion of your ultimate gear closet, you won’t get far without a great backcountry cooking system including a lightweight stove and cookware. Mountain Safety Research (MSR) out of Seattle, Wash., has been at the forefront of backpacking stoves for nearly 40 years and, consequently, has some of the best options out there for outdoor enthusiasts of all climates.
 
The MSR Whisperlite Universal is a hybrid-fuel stove that can function as a remote canister stove or a traditional liquid-fuel stove and is capable of burning unleaded gas, kerosene, white gas and standard canister mixes such as isobutane/propane. Why is that a big deal? Because different fuels have different performances in varying temperatures, and mountaineers and backpackers of the past typically had trouble finding a stove that would burn both liquid gas and canister fuel, burn them equally well and easily convert from one mode to another. The introduction of the Whisperlite Universal a few years ago was a great solution to this problem and many enthusiasts say it’s the last stove you’ll ever need to buy.
 
This stove utilizes MSR’s AirControl technology, key to efficient burning with the variety of fuel types by managing the ratio of fuel to air. This is what keeps the burning of the stove consistent in differing altitudes and temperatures. I found that around our 9,000-foot altitude the stove will boil a liter of water in four to five minutes, with the liquid fuel boiling even faster. It took me about a minute to switch the connection from canister to liquid fuel. The liquid and canister fuel couplers pair with fuel-specific jets for easy transitions although it can be a bit tricky if you are changing the couplers in cold temps with your gloves on. I would recommend first practicing the transition at home.  
 
The stove packs extremely light considering its function, weighing in at 1 pound, 3 ounces, with all components and the stuff sack (fuel canister not included). I found the fuel line to be a bit short and rigid. To avoid losing your eyebrows, I would recommend taking extra precaution while lighting and moving the stove around.
 
When coupled with the MSR Quick two-person cook system that combines insulated mugs, plates and two non-stick pots, I can’t imagine a better all-around cooking system. I also tend to keep it in my car for unexpected uses. It has even come in handy during car-camping trips when the varying stoves of my friends have failed to function, or for brewing up a fast cup of joe while waiting for the pancakes and eggs to cook on the Coleman. Overall, this stove is excellent, light, versatile and reliable and may in fact be the last stove I buy.

Get Your Own
MSR Whisperlite Universal $140
MSR Quick 2 System $100
Bristlecone Mountain Sports
781 E. Valley Rd., Basalt
970-927-1492

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