Gear Review: MSR WhisperLite™ Universal Backpacking Stove

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Hilary and I took the WhisperLite Universal stove on two trips this summer—a 10-day bike tour in Norway, and a seven-day backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. I’ve owned a WhisperLite International, an older model, for years and loved its reliability, but never enjoyed priming it or its inability to simmer.

We picked out this stove for a couple of reasons: 1) stability—it sits low to the ground, not on top of a fuel canister; and 2) it runs on almost any kind of fuel, making it ideal for worldwide travel.

MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

This model comes with three self-cleaning shaker jets that enable it to run on white gas, isobutane canisters, kerosene or unleaded gasoline. We prefer to cook on isobutane canisters when we can, but in case we end up somewhere where they’re not available, we can just switch out the shaker jet and buy the more commonly available white gas. That’s a great benefit not just for foreign travel, but for bike touring and backpacking in more remote regions of the U.S.

We’ve loved the WhisperLite Universal’s ability to simmer on canister fuel as well as in liquid fuel mode. The stove comes with a plastic attachment that holds the isobutane canister upside-down, enabling it to deliver fuel more efficiently when the canister isn’t full.

The only concern I’ve had in our 18 days of use so far is a sputtering noise that sometimes comes from the burner; however, this doesn’t seem to affect the stove’s performance. One downside is that adjusting the flame takes quite a while when the canister is flipped in the liquid fuel mode. Some users have said that the threads on the shaker jet can easily strip when screwing on the fuel canister, but we’ve been very careful and haven’t had an issue yet.

MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

We haven’t used the stove yet with white gas, so I can’t speak on its performance in that respect. But so far I love the stove’s new design, performance (boils a liter of water in just under 4 minutes) and reliability.

Shop the MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove at REI.com.

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