MSR Reactor Stove System

9.2 score
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Editor rating: 9.2 / 10
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When out and about whether you are hiking, backpacking, or on a weekend camping trip having all the necessary gear to make your time in the outdoors more enjoyable is a must. One of the most important tools to have at your disposal, especially if you are a lover of trekking in the winter months or in colder areas, is a gas-powered stove that can withstand the elements and aid you in making quick meals, boiling water, or melting snow. The MSR Reactor may be the very thing you’ve been searching for. This handy little gas-powered stove has the ability to boil water in seconds while being lightweight enough to carry with you on your journey. Below, we will review the MSR Reactor, looking at all the features, both good and bad, to help you decide whether this is the portable stove you’ve been searching for.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Easy to Use
  • Rapid boiling time
  • Completely wind/storm proof
  • Built in colander for straining water
  • 40% more fuel efficient that other stove combos on the market
  • Heavy (can be transported but not considered lightweight)
  • Does not simmer well
  • Not self-igniting
  • Expensive


The MSR Reactor has the ability to boast about being one of the most durable and reliable stove combos on the market. When taking this stove out into the wilderness for long hikes or short trips you’ll find it’s quite reliable. Being completely windproof it lights each time without issue. This enables enthusiasts the opportunity of enjoying their time out and about instead of worrying their equipment won’t function as it should. Powered by isobutane gas, this stove will stay lit even in windy conditions. The lack of a large flame also makes it possible for this stove combo to be used when avoiding a storm. These features coupled with one another makes the MSR Reactor one of the most durable gas-powered stoves available.

Key Features

When you find yourself looking for a great, portable, stove to use when facing off against harsh weather or even cool, fall nights, finding one with the best features is the key to a successful purchase. The MSR Reactor has a lot of these to go around. This makes it one of the most popular gas-powered stove combos on the market. Here we will discuss these features and give you a look at what makes the MSR Reactor so popular.

The MSR Reactor is compatible with any size container of isobutane gas. The canisters must have threads that are mates to the originals on the stove. Although this is not a common problem for those in the United States, in the UK and Europe other forms of canisters are available and may be an issue.
One of the most popular features of the MSR Reactor is the heat exchange fins and built-in windscreen on the pot. This windscreen is what allows this stove to stand up to storms and other winds. In some tests, the stove was used under enclosures as would be necessary for the outdoors. Extreme caution must be used when operating the MSR Reactor or any portable stove in these conditions.
The pot of the MSR Reactor pot also comes with a plastic lid and a collapsible metal handle that allows it to be stored. One of the downsides to this collapsible lid is that it can easily become dislodged when being stored or transported. On the upside, however, the pot is interchangeable. The pot from the MSR Reactor can easily be used with other stoves but the MSR itself has a unique shape. This means only certain shaped pots will fit. The MSR is compatible with 1.0 liter, 1.7 liters, and 2.5-liter pots only.


When facing the wilderness, its important to have all your necessary equipment. The best backpack, comfortable clothing, and of course great hiking boots will make any excursion not only more enjoyable but also the exhilarating time away you expect. When deciding what to take with you, your meal preparations must be considered. This is why taking along a stove combo such as the MSR Reactor is such a great idea.

These gas-powered stoves make life easier, but unfortunately, at a price. With the great features offered by the MSR, there are a few downsides. Weight is one of them. By no means is this stove combo considered lightweight. Weighing in at 19 ounces, the MSR is one of the heavier stoves available. Although it is quite versatile it does take a bit of effort to transport this stove on both short and long trips. For many lovers of the outdoors, the sheer weight coupled with the addition of other gear you need may be a deal breaker for some. The decision, however, must lie with the one who will be carrying the weight.


When facing the outdoors, especially the cold which is where the MSR Reactor does its best work, it's important to remember to bring gear that has flexibility. No matter what you pack for your journey, you expect those items to do what you need them to and quickly. This is why many people choose to bring the MSR Reactor with them for their boiling needs. This pot offers the boiling speed you need. Able to bring water to a boil in only a few minutes, with or without wind, the MSR is great to have on any trek. Showing its true flexibility, it can also melt snow rapidly for those who enjoy journeying in the harsher of environments. Although it struggles with simmering, the MSR can also cook small meals but has issues maintaining low temperatures.


The unique design of the MSR Reactor is one of the aspects that draws consumers in. This little stove offers sturdy construction that is great for facing the outdoors. Made from steel and aluminum this stove has the potential to last an owner for years. With its short, stout, appearance the MSR Reactor offers less tipping which can be dangerous.

Another design aspect is the addition of the cooking pot makes the MSR not only great to look at but one of the most efficient products available for outdoor cooking. This pot can be used for more than just cooking. It can be used for storing other things you need for your stove such as fuel canisters and accessories. The pot also offers a built-in pouring spout that makes spills less likely.

The surface of the stove is shaped like the sun. This is quite different for a portable stove considering most are shaped like a gas burner. This burner puts off a great amount of heat which allows for the quick boiling power the MSR is famous for, while not emitting an actual flame. With the included heat exchange and compact design, there is no need for a separate windscreen considering it is basically built-in. This technology is how the MSR is able to be used even in windy conditions.


When talking about the performance of a portable stove, cooking time is the main focal point. The MSR Reactor is designed to do this job quickly. Boiling water rapidly is one of the main selling points for this portable stove. It is possible to cook small meals with it however. The key to cooking with this rapidly heating portable stove is to practice. Items such as meat and other foods that require longer cooking times are doable on the MSR Reactor, but this stove isn’t made for quick foods or simmering. Trying foods like this will result in burned meals which are avoidable if caution is taken.

Fuel Efficiency

When choosing a portable stove to take on outdoor adventures, one of the primary things to consider is fuel efficiency. The MSR Reactor is in the middle of the spectrum is this department. While being slightly more fuel efficient than other portable stoves on the market the MSR can’t boast being the best in this aspect. Where this stove truly shows its fuel efficiency is when there are winds involved. During this time the MSR Reactor runs close to the top performers on the market. This shows this portable stove’s strength when it comes to high winds and weather issues which is one of the main reasons consumers choose this model.

Ease of Use

The MSR Reactor is one of the easiest portable stoves on the market. Setting up for use doesn’t take much considering everything is easily stored inside the pot for travel. In most cases, consumers have had issues with the fact that the fuel canisters must be bought separately. Another issue with the use of the MSR Reactor is that it is not self-igniting. This means you must have the tools to light your stove before boiling or cooking can be done.

Best Applications

Hands down, the best application for the MSR Reactor is boiling water. Whether you are on a long trek or taking a short trip, having a portable stove that can get the water you need for drinking and preparing foods to the temperature you need it quickly is crucial when facing the wilderness. The same can be said for when you are on a trip into the frigid temperatures. This portable stove can melt snow quickly and easily to aid you when having fresh water can be an issue.

The MSR has other applications for use when taking it out on a trip. This portable stove can cook simple meals and meats. One of the most noticeable downsides to this stove is that simmering is not one of its strong suits. Preparing meals that require low temperatures is not a practical idea when using the MSR, but it still offers great versatility in other areas.


Compared to other portable stoves on the market, the MSR Reactor can be quite costly. This price stems from the fact that in ideal conditions this product has the ability to bring water to a boil in around three minutes. Another factor in the price of this portable stove is its wind resistance factor which is possibly its biggest selling point. The price of the MSR Reactor comes in at a few cents below $240.00. When compared to others on the market, it is easy to see that for the advantages this product offers you’ll find yourself paying almost $100.00 more. For those who hope to save money when purchasing a portable stove, the MSR may not be the ideal choice, but for the price you pay, you’ll find yourself pleased with the extras you receive.

The Bottom Line

The MSR Reactor is one of the most popular portable stoves on the market today. This popularity comes with both a list of ups and downs that can leave potential consumers debating whether it’s the best choice for them. Before purchasing this item it's important that you weigh all the pros and cons completely before deciding whether the MSR is the stove you want on your long excursions.

When it comes to taking this stove on the journey with you, the MSR Reactor can be stored quite easily. The unique design of this portable stove allows for all the needed accessories to be placed in the attached pot for easy transport. The only downside to this transportation is the fact that the weight of the MSR can be quite hefty on long outings.

The innovative design of the MSR Reactor is what brings it to the top of the list when talking about portable stoves. Its ability to boil water rapidly and melt snow quickly is two of the primary reasons consumers prefer this product over others on the market. The addition of its ability to resist high winds gives it yet another aspect to appeal to outdoors lovers. If you have a pull to experiencing colder climates, this stove may be exactly what you need for your journey.

The bottom line, when it comes to the MSR Reactor, is simple. If you can handle the hefty price and other small issues with this portable stove, you may find yourself with an incredible piece of equipment to use when you are out and about experiencing life in the great outdoors.