Thanks to PWDR8S for mentioning it I went looking to beta.
Here is what Duane Raleigh says about it in a head-to-head battle with the Jetboil (btw: the Reactor has a built-in starter theses days. There is a great picture in the article, a pdf file- http://www.msrcorp.com/rock_ice_reactor.pdf
msr reactor 20 ounces with 2-quart pot
Jetboil 15 ounces with 1.25-quart pot
(also available with 1.5 liter pot;add 4 ounces)
Boil times at 65 degrees F
reactor 2:38 minimum; 4:50 maximum
Jetboil 4:49 minimum; 8:50 maximum
Boil time at 9 degrees F
Boil time in 7mph Wind
Jetboil would not boil
Number of quarts Boiled
(220-gram propane/butane mix)
total Burn time
reactor 77 minutes
Jetboil 197 minutes
It was only a matter of tIme before
MSR, the Toyota of climbing and backpacking stoves,
picked up the gauntlet shoved down its throat three
years ago by the upstart Jetboil, which unleashed an
integrated stove and pot that touted fast boil times,
decent performance in wind, and the best fuel-effi-
ciency ever seen in a propane/butane canister cooker.
Jetboil did this by inventing a more-efficient heattransfer
system. Rather than relying on a simple
flame licking the bottom of a pot, Jetboil welded a
heat-absorbing radiator to the pot. The accordianlike
device absorbs heat that would normally be lost
and transfers it to the pot. Simple and effective. Jetboil,
the first real stove innovation in decades, was
an overnight sensation and developed a new category
in which it was all alone.
It took MSR’s best minds several years to work out
the bugs, but their Reactor is in most regards the bestperforming
canister stove yet. Like the Jetboil, the
Reactor sports a heat-exchanger on the bottom of the
cookpot. In this case, however, the heat-exchanger is
larger and heftier, improving heat absorption. Moreover,
a special fabric-like material covers the heat
source, making it virtually flameless. The fabric
glows red hot like a branding iron, rather than spits
wasteful flame into the air like a conventional burner.
The bottom of the pot, which is concave, nests over
the convex burner. The close fit and the combination
of the stove’s convection and conduction properties
make the Reactor virtually impervious to wind. A
swing lever lets you control the heat from maximum
blast to simmer.
With a full canister, the Reactor boiled a quart of
water in just under three minutes, the equivalent of
breaking the sound barrier in the world of camping
stoves. And, owing to a built-in pressure regulator,
the Reactor largely kept that performance, never
taking longer than four minutes to boil even when
the canister was nearly empty. In comparison, other
canister stoves, including the Jetboil, saw a radical
decrease in heat output as the canister gas depleted,
taking nearly twice as long to boil the last quart of
water as the first.
But that’s indoors, where even a pile of Kingsford
briquettes will perform admirably. Only in the wind
and cold can you separate the wheat from the chaff.
Here, the whisper-quiet Reactor pulled away with the
ease of a floored Lamborghini. In a 7 mph wind—a stiff
breeze—the Reactor still boiled in under three minutes.
For perspective on this water-to-wine miracle, of
the 23 other stoves I’ve tested in the past three years,
not a single one including the Jetboil could boil water
in under 10 minutes in the same conditions.
The Reactor’s cold-weather performance, the bane
of canister stoves, was also standard-setting. Typically,
below-freezing temps cause canister fuel’s vapor pressure
to drop and burner output to plummet, often to
the point where the stove will no longer function. At
9 degrees F, however, the Reactor’s pressure regulator
let it boil a quart of water in 5:25—a time that bests
some canister stoves’ warm-weather performances.
Weaknesses? Costing nearly $140, you’d expect
the Reactor to at least come with a coupon for a
neck rub. The Reactor package is also heavy. The
burner component itself weighs only 6 ounces, but
the hefty heat-exchanger bumps up the weight to a
whopping 20 ounces. If you’re looking for a featherweight
cooker, one to toss in your pack “just in
case” or for brewing up now and then, this isn’t it.
The Reactor, like the Jetboil, also only functions
with its pot component. Meals are limited to one-pot
dehydrated affairs, rice and the like—no bacon and
eggs for you! The pot’s two-quart capacity would
be good for melting snow.
The Jetboil does outshine the Reactor for pure
fuel efficiency, although barely. In a head-to-head
test, the Jetboil boiled 28 quarts of water, and had
an elapsed burn time of 197 minutes, compared to
24 quarts boiled and a 77-minute burn time for the
Reactor. (Tests used a 220-gram propane/butane
mix.) Lastly, the Jetboil’s built-in electric ignition
simplifies lighting up. Presently, MSR is working on
an electric-ignition, but the current Reactor lacks
one—don’t forget to pack a lighter.
Recommendations? The Reactor would be just
about ideal for two people preparing hot meals
for more than one day. Its wind- and cold-weather
performances put it at the top of my list for alpine
climbing and situations where you melt snow for
water. While the stove’s long-term durability and
field-repair-ability are yet to be proven (I did test the
stove 30 times and encountered no problems), it’s
clean, no-fuss operation and fast boil times make it
the only propane-canister stove that trumps whitegas
stoves in an alpine or mountain environment.