MSR Dragonfly Stove, $129.95. cascadedesigns.com
The Good: Finely-tuned controls let you cook and eat real food when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The Bad: Weighs almost a pound, setup can be a bit complicated.
The Ugly: Does bacon attract bears?
With the variety of backpacking stoves out there, it’s hard to know which to choose, especially when saving weight and space is important. But if you’re the type of outdoor enthusiast that enjoys eating more than freeze dried meals, the MSR Dragonfly could be your perfect match. I’ve taken the Dragonfly backpacking in the Adirondacks, the Catskills, even to campgrounds across the East Coast, and I don’t plan on taking a different stove on trips anytime soon.
The Dragonfly is a multi-fuel stove, which means it will run on white gas, kerosene, and even jet fuel. Be aware that some fuel types will clog the stove more quickly and increase the water boil time, though. Weighing in at 14 ounces (not including the separate fuel bottle) it’s a bit heavier than other MSR models, but it’s worth the extra weight. Just unpack it, pop the three extra-wide pot supports into place, connect the fuel bottle, pump it up and you’re good to go. If you’re not familiar with setting up MSR stoves with separate fuel bottles, the thorough and well-written user manual provides instructions. Even though you’re required to buy the fuel bottles separately, MSR makes them in a variety of sizes. If I’m on a short overnight trip, I’ll take the smallest bottle to save weight. You’ll also have better control over the internal pressure of the bottle than you do with butane canisters. The Dragonfly features a self-cleaning jet, which makes unclogging the stove a cinch.
What really sets the Dragonfly apart from other backpacking stoves is the option for temperature control. With many backpacking stoves, including the MSR Whisperlite, the stove is either on or off. With those stoves, there’s no option to control the level of heat. If you’re planning on pancakes for breakfast, don’t; they’re going to burn. The Dragonfly features two control valves – one for gas flow and another one for the flame itself, which makes it possible to simmer a meal – a luxury I won’t soon give up. I’ve been able to cook perfect fried eggs, bacon and pancakes exactly how I like them.
Despite how much I like the Dragonfly, there are definitely a few issues with it. First, when it’s running full-blast, it sounds like a jet taking off. The thing so loud that it’s tough to carry on a conversation right next to it. Not a big problem, but it’s not ideal. Second, though I was familiar with setting up stoves like the Dragonfly before I used it, setup and breakdown of all of the parts can get complicated. Between the fuel bottle, the separate pump, connecting the bottle to the stove, pumping the bottle up, and preheating the stove before it’s lit, there’s just a lot to do. I’m willing to go the extra mile for temperature control in the backcountry, but that might not be the case for everyone. Third, and though I’ve never had an issue with this, the fuel pump itself is plastic. If it breaks in the field, you’re in trouble. The stove does come with a repair kit, but I always carry an extra pump just in case.
Bottom line? The MSR Dragonfly is a great backpacking stove for backcountry adventurers who want more control over stove temperatures, as long as you don’t mind the noise.
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Author: Katie Levy