Monday, August 02, 2010

My Review of MSR DragonFly Backpacking Stove

Originally submitted at REI

For the international backpacking gourmet, the multi-fuel MSR DragonFly stove has the most adjustable flame of any liquid fuel burning stove.

My favorite stove so far!

By thelosthiker from Central Kentucky on 8/2/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Stable, Lightweight, Easy to Light, Powerful, Easy To Clean, Great temperature control

Cons: Bulky

Best Uses: High Altitude, Car Camping, Hiking, Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Professional/Guide

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

This is one of my favorite stoves of all time, although it does have some drawbacks...
I love the fine control over the flame and the ability to use pretty much any liquid fuel imaginable, which is a HUGE plus when camping in locations where specialized fuel and canisters are few and far between (overseas, long-range trips, etc). The stove is relatively easy to setup and take down, albeit a bit bulky compared to others. Some may not like having to refill the fuel bottles, but it's usually not a big deal, it comes with the territory. The varying sizes of fuel bottles available will accommodate pretty much any trip, whether it be a overnight, weekend, or week long expedition.

I have heard complaints that the jet will clog up from time to time, but I've only used white gas and kerosene and have had zero problems out of three years of use. With some "dirtier" fuels or fuels that you think might be a bit contaminated or dirty, most people expect that cleaning the jets will become necessary at some point in time. If the shaker mechanism doesn't clean it, it's usually easy to take apart and clean the jet yourself.

I wish the stove were a little easier to pack, but it's more of a basecamp style stove anyways, so if you're packing one around for an expedition or big adventure, you'll usually have a pot or cookset big enough to stick it in. It's great for car camping and basecamps and will do good for weekend trips...just not the easiest thing to pack for all the minimalists out there.

It works perfect for what I've needed it for, my only real gripe other than the bulk, is the noise. That being said, I was warned before I bought the stove, when you really have it cranked up beyond a simmer, it's a bit loud. The thing sounds like a jet engine, it's almost hilarious. However, it is a powerful stove that can boil water extremely quickly, but still able to simmer a stew or cook eggs for breakfast.

Although I think it would take a near hurricane to blow the flame out, it comes with a windshield/barrier that helps keep an even flame as well as facilitate quicker cooking times by reducing the amount of heat lost around the sides. The shield also seems to dampen the sound a bit, which is nice. It also includes a circular shield that goes under the stove with its main purpose being to reflect heat, but it also keeps the stove from scorching the ground underneath.

It seems to be a pretty economical stove to use as well. I have a small 8oz MSR fuel bottle and I've used it for several multi-day or weekend trips and haven't had to refill, and that's cooking breakfast and dinner for 2-3 days.

Bottom line, it's a great stove for bigger/longer trips with several people. Excellent for base-camps and car camping. Not so much for thru-hikers and fastpackers, but there's other stoves in MSR's lineup that are better suited for that style or method of travel. It's loud, but not to the point of being unbearable. Fuel is available pretty much anywhere. SUPER stable and quick to setup. Will operate in the coldest environments and at any altitude. For this style of stove, I highly recommend the Dragonfly!

PS: A few people have heard of the issues MSR had with their earlier fuel pumps breaking and have asked me if I've experienced any problems out of mine. I've never had any issues with mine and I think when MSR changed the design a bit a few years ago along with using a tougher material, they remedied any issues with breakage. Although with any plastic or composite material, extra care should be taken when being used in colder environments as the colder temperature causes it to become brittle and more susceptible to breakage/failure.


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