MSR Dragonfly Multi-fuel Stove
August 25, 2011
VERDICT: An excellent stove for expedition use, excellent flame control too. A first for MSR!
PRO’s: Powerful, adjustable flame, multi-fuel capable
CON’s: Noisy, fuel hose a little short
TODAYS BEST PRICE: £126.00 from Go Outdoors
MSR camping stoves are legendary among hardcore outdoor folk with this reputation having been earned on countless expeditions to far flung corners of the globe. However, this reputation has always come at a price: cooking on an MSR stoves is like cooking on a blowtorch. MSR is touting the Dragonfly stove as a softer version of their expedition-grade XGK stove with one important additional capability: controllability. But is it any good ?
The MSR Dragonfly is the heaviest of the MSR range of stoves but that’s not a complaint. MSR stoves are so light that you’ll barely know that you’re carrying one and this one is no exception. There have been no compromises on the quality of materials used to make the stove so the additional weight comes purely from the additional components needed to adjust the flame.
So how does it differ from the XGK ?
The MSR XGK uses large diameter tubing between the fuel tank and burner to ensure that, no matter how dirty the fuel that you use, it simply won’t clog up. The Dragonfly, on the otherhand, has a tapered needle mechanism to adjust the flow of fuel at the base of the burner and it’s this weak link which can clog. If it does, stripping it down for cleaning is relatively straight-forward but it’s quite easy to lose one of the tiny safety seals. In our opinion, you should carry spares and try not to strip it down in the first place ! Fortuantely spares are very easy to get hold off as the design has barely changed is its introduction in 1998 which is testimonary to the robustness of the design.
So, accepting that this could be used as an expedition-grade stove so long as some spares as taken with you, what do you get ? You get the burner, the pump and the hose to connect them plus a foil circle to protect ground, a windshield and a small bag to carry everything. What you don’t get is the fuel bottle but this is because MSR want buyers to chose the size that suits their needs but these are inexpensive.
This is a true multi-fuel stove: although it work best with Coleman Whitegas it will also burn unleaded petrol, kerosene, diesel, and even jet fuel ! All without the need to leave a trail of empty gas canisters behind you.
Starting the stove is easy, if a little scary the first time you do it. Simply pump the fuel bottle 20-30 times to pressurise it, open the flame adjuster to let out a small amount of fuel, then close it again. Light the fuel carefully if you wish to retain your eyebrows, wait a few seconds and then slowly open the flame adjuster. The stove will burst into life with a satisfying roar. Actually, we mean ROAR ! This stove is noisy!
What’s immediately clear is just how powerful this stove is (boil time for a litre of water is 4 minutes) especially if you put the included windsheild around it to ensure that the maximum amount of heat goes into your pot. Annoyingly this is not adjustable and limits the size of the pot that you can put on the stove. This seems strange as the pot supports can actually take larger pots that the windshield allows so our advice is to ditch the included windshield and buy two of the folding ones that most camping shops stock.
But does it simmer ? After all MSR’s main selling point for this stove is its controllability. And the answer is . . . . yes ! It really does simmer and the flame adjuster offers the ability to go from a gentle flame to a passable impression of a blowtorch with a fair degree of control.
On the face of then, this is the best stove in the MSR range. We’d certainly take it anywhere that we go camping but we’d also take a spares kit just in case we needed to strip it down. There’s no getting away from the noise of this stove but then all pressurised multi-fuel stoves are noisy to some extent – the quietest one we’ve tried is the MSR Whisperlite International. If we were being super critical we’d also say that the fuel line is just a tad short which limits where you can place the fuel bottle. A longer, more flexible fuel line would be nice but we can live with the one that it comes with.
Overall this is a good stove – the controlability of the flame is excellent and its light weight means that you simply won’t know that it’s in your rucksack. Coupled with its ability to run on almost any fuel and we reckon that this is an excellent stove for expeditions. Just remember to pack a spares kit just in case.
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