Review: MSR’s WhisperLite Stove

I first learned how to cook on the MSR WhisperLite when I went back to school.

While many may complain about its one speed (hot), its noise (loud), and its difficulty to clean (I beg to differ), I am comfortable and happy cooking for myself and clients on this stove.

kate cooking over the whisperlite

Features & Benefits:

First the specs: the MSR WhisperLite weighs 410 grams (14 ounces). Dimensions: 10 cm X 10 cm (4 inches X 4 inches). On average it takes 3.2 minutes to boil a liter of water. The standard model burns white fuel while the international WhisperLite will burn either white gas or kerosene. A purchase of the stove includes the fuel pump; however fuel bottles are sold separately. It also includes a heat reflector and windscreen which are fabulous for conserving gas. It burns at 11,000 BTU.

The stove is relatively inexpensive at C$109.

All of this tucks nicely into a nylon bag which then tucks nicely into my pot set, reducing wasted space.

Problems & Possible Solutions:

It does not simmer. It burns at one speed: hot, hot, hot. I’ve managed this quirk with a number of tricks over the years. Sometimes I’ll put a pot of water between the stove and say a frying pan of pancakes to avoid burning breakfast. Or with a good glove or a potholder, I’ll sauté veggies a couple of inches above the blue flame. Often times I am boiling water for pasta dishes or making a big pot of stew. The pot works just fine directly on the flame at that point.

It is quite loud once it’s up and running. If you’re traveling with friends and you want company during cook times, encourage them to bring the conversation closer.

It’s finicky if it gets wet. My only recommendation here would be avoid the temptation to leave your stove out overnight. Pack it away well and keep it stored under a tarp or fly to keep the moisture out of the lines.

Who Should Buy the MSR WhisperLite:

Anyone looking to travel with a lightweight, compact stove (especially during times of potential fire bans) will benefit from this stove. I’ve taken it backpacking, canoe tripping, kayaking, and even car camping. As a sidenote, MEC is a member-only co-op. $5 will get you a lifetime membership.

You can read more about my fun with the WhisperLite herehere, and my personal favorite… here.


What do you like to cook on when you’re out in the backcountry?

5 Responses to “Review: MSR’s WhisperLite Stove

  • Great article. I just finished up my 1st summer using the whisper lite universal and I’m still trying to get the hang of things. I find that food tends to burn fast (like within seconds sometimes). I have an old mess set that I believe is aluminum, do you have any tricks tips etc that would help to not burn food so fast or at all? Would upgrading to a titanium cookset or something similar help? I’m usually car or canoe camping so weight isn’t the biggest deal

    • Hi Tony,

      My pot set is stainless steel and I also occasionally experience burning but not as fast as your set. I often use the pot holder to hold the pot close to the flame but not directly on it. Sometimes I’ll also go for a double boiler effect, by cooking over a boiling pot of water (sort of like how bakers melt chocolate).

      There’s a great article about titanium versus aluminium versus stainless steel here:

  • This is a great post! I just got done with my first summer using the Whisperlite Universal but still burn white gas. I have found that it doesn’t take long (as in seconds) for food to burn at the bottom of the pan I use. It is an old mess set, couldn’t even tell you what material it is made out of though I would guess aluminium. Any recommendations on getting food to not burn, nor take as long to burn, etc? Would something like a titanium set work better?

  • Anne Youldon
    6 months ago

    Thanks for posting this. I am still learning how to use this stove. To be honest I’m a bit afraid of it. Car camping in provincial parks on my own, I’ve opted for cooking over a wood fire. In other words I’ve chickened out on the WhisperLite thus far. But you have encouraged me to move forward with this tiny volcano of a stove.

    • Tiny volcano is a great way to put it! (And really, there’s something quintessential about cooking over a fire. )

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