In the world of backpacking and backcountry cooking systems MSR and their camping stoves standout for their quality and heating efficiency. Today we compare two of their top stoves – the MSR Reactor and the MSR Windburner.
While both stoves are rated as high performance and come with a number of useful features, we compare them side by side to help you figure out which is the best option for your needs.
We compare their dimensions, weight and fuel efficiency later on in the article. First up though, we list their similarities.
Similarities between MSR Reactor and Windburner
- Fuel type – both are designed to work with MSR IsoPro fuel, which is an 80/20 blend of isobutane and propane. All of the heating times and fuel costs to boil water that we talk about further down the page are done using MSR IsoPro fuel.
- Capacity – the MSR Windburner only comes with a 1 liter pot while the MSR Reactor comes with multiple sizes. Because of this, we only compare the 1 liter options in this article so that you can compare apples to apples. If you want to check out the larger Reactor sizes, use this link to see the product listings.
- Single burner – both stoves use a single burner.
- Ignition – neither stove come with a built in ignition system. This means you can use the one you already own or that you might need to add on the MSR Piezo Igniter. In either case, remember to pack it with you when you head out.
With the similarities out of the way we continue on to highlight the differences between these two stoves.
MSR Reactor vs Windburner
Like we mentioned earlier, the MSR Reactor comes in a variety of sizes – 1.0 liter, 1.7 liter and 2.5 liter capacities. The Windburner on the other hand only comes in a 1.0 liter model.
The 1.0 liter Reactor measures 4.75 x 6.1 inches when it is packed up. Since it is a cylinder that translates to 432 cubic inches. You can also fit a 4 ounce MSR IsoPro fuel container inside the pot and still have the same dimensions.
Without the fuel canister this stove weighs 14.7 ounces, just under a full pound.
The MSR Windburner is 4.5 inches by 7.1 inches giving it a volume of 451 cubic inches. This is a 4% increase in size even though the cooking capacity is still 1 liter.
The weight is also higher at 15.3 ounces – another 4% increase.
When it comes to being space conscious and saving weight in your pack, the MSR Reactor is the clear winner.
We go into the heating efficiency of these stoves in the next section. The Reactor wins there as well. The only place the Windburner is superior is in its pricing and it is a significant difference. You can either keep reading or use the links below to compare prices.
Thankfully both the Reactor and the Windburner run off the same fuel type. This makes comparing their heating capacities a lot easier.
The Reactor can boil 1 liter of water in three and a half minutes while the Windburner takes four and a half minutes for the same task. Personally, this is not a big deal. I am more concerned with the weight differences between the two stoves.
The Reactor can burn through 8 ounces of IsoPro in 80 minutes while the Windburner can last 95 minutes with the same amount of fuel. Basically, we are seeing a difference in output here. The Reactor can burn more fuel at one time, which makes it able to heat up water faster.
This is one article in our series of camping stove reviews. Be sure to check our site for more reviews by using the search bar on the right hand side near the top of the page. Other articles feature MSR, Jetboil and of course Coleman.
For a more general read about camping stoves and the features you may want to consider, check out this article.