In the modern era of cheap flights and multiple travel opportunities the frequent flying outdoor activist needs not only to keep his or her pack weight down for carrying purposes, but also to keep it in check with messrs O’Leary and Stelios’ latest weight restrictions. It was with for this reason, along with my desire to reduce the necessity of using of my messy liquid fuel stove on all trips; I decided to purchase an MSR Superfly stove. That was 5 years ago – a somewhat lengthy test period, I grant you! Here’s how I got on with my lightweight cooking companion. Why did I decide to stop using my Whisperlite, you may wonder. Well, realistically there are three good reasons for using a liquid fuel stove: a) use at altitude (above 2800m), b) use in colder climes (below -1) and c) use in locations where canistered gas is not easily accessible. If you are using your stove in situations where these scenarios are unlikely to be encountered then I would suggest you are better off having one of the many modern efficient gas stoves available. Especially when you consider that the newer mixes of gas available (such as Isobutane) will burn efficiently down to -8 degrees, and at relatively high altitudes. The Superfly is a veritable ball of feathers compared to my old Whisperlite, and the handy piezo ignition makes for even easier and safer usage. Despite its small stature it is far more adjustable, in terms of fine tuning the burner, and also more stable than many other small gas burners available, such as the MSR Pocket Rocket or the Optimus Crux. The greatest plus point of the Superfly (and the main reason I originally chose it) is its adaptability when purchasing gas canisters. The Superfly will bolt-on to pretty much any resalable disposable gas cylinder available – a handy facet when you consider that many areas of the globe have their own preferred gas brands, many of which utilize differing valves. Road tripping: The Superfly stove in use at around 2500m in Utah's western desert, just south of Notch Peak. Another great feature of this stove is its efficiency. The Superfly will comfortably boil a litre of water in two to three minutes, depending on status of the gas cylinder. It is also pretty economical: I have easily made a 450g gas cylinder last 4-5 days in the Alps, cooking one or two meals a day, whilst also necking plenty of brews. The final major plus point I’d bring to your attention is the build quality. As stated above, I have had my stove for nearly 5 years, using it for backpacking in the Lake Dirstict, numerous European climbing trips, as well as several US road trips around the Sierra Nevada, western Utah and Texan deserts and in all that time I have neither cleaned nor maintained the unit, and it’s still functioning perfectly – even the piezo igniter still works!
Aside from the obvious limitations of all gas stoves, the only real negative aspect of this stove is its height off the ground (dependent on the type of cylinder used) when in use, this can sometimes make sheltering the burner from the wind a little tricky. However this can usually be overcome with some later thinking.
The durability, workmanship and reliability of this unit have been top notch. I tend to take pretty good care of my gear, but at the same time demand a lot out of it. This unit is ideal for backpackers and frequent flying campers, looking to keep weight to a minimum, and will cook for 1-2 people in 3-season conditions. You can use it in cold conditions with the right fuel blend, providing you keep the canister insulated prior to use. Overall a great product and excellent minimalist stove for lightweight camping and general backpacking.