Ever since I was a kid, cooking in the wild has always had a certain charm for me. Either camping minutes away from civilization or grilling on the starlit Cayo Costa island, cooking in nature always feels more satisfying.
However, one thing that has never failed to be a problem is getting the food warm. Fires always seem to go out from weather conditions or just a lack of resources, and to bring a full cooking setup with you, especially when adding a cooking setup on a pack that you walk 68 miles with, can be an absolute chore. That can be just, plain frustrating.
Luckily, there is a solution. Grant just got back from a 68-mile hiking/backpacking trip across Colorado. He tested the MSR WhisperLight Stove with Mountain House Adventure Meals during this time and said it worked wonders. He took some time to demonstrate its functionality and review the product.
How to Prep the WhisperLite Stove
You start the cooking process by pumping the MSR liquid fuel bottle until the pressure from the valve begins to push back against the force, but not enough that you struggle to get a full range of motion. You then want to use a lubricant on the connector piece between the stove and fuel bottle.
Grant recommends just using spit if you don’t want to carry a bottle of lubricant on your pack. You know, “ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain.” You can now connect the two and lock them together with the silver lever. And now, you can turn the valve to let fluid onto the pan. Once the pan is full, you can turn the valve again to cut the gas off.
Now you want to set a flame to the base of the stove. Again, ensure the gas is off. The stove will form a large fireball around the stove, starting to heat the pan before you get your gas stove effect. Grant found the stove worked at elevation levels as high as 12,000 feet, the highest he had set up camp during his trip.
You can now sit back for a second while waiting for the fire to die. Make sure to keep an avid watch on the flame. If any wind is giving you trouble with the fire, use the wind cover packaged with the WhisperLite. Grant says that one full fuel bottle would’ve been enough to last him his whole hiking trip, but he filled it again once it got lower than half full.
Prepping the Food
The food Grant used on his trip for this WhisperLite stove review was from the Adventure Meals line by Mountain House. His favorite from the selection is the Breakfast Skillet.
Once the flame has died down, and the pan is heated, you can turn the gas on again. You should now have a solid blue flame similar to a gas stove you may have at home. At this point, you can follow whatever instructions the food you brought has. However, we will follow the instructions of the Mountain House meals.
Grant used the MSR Trail Lite Duo Cook Set for his demonstration. Grant says the Trail Lite was great because it has a lot of options while weighing just 1.35 lbs. This camping cook set comes with two bowls and double-insulated mugs inside an aluminum pot and lid. You just need the pot, lid and water for the Mountain House meals. You’ll need some form of boiling container for your water.
Make sure your flame is consistent, and get your water in the pot you’ll use for boiling. Pour about a cup and a half of water into the pot, place it on the stove and put the lid on the top. You can now wait for the water to start boiling. Boiling times may vary based on altitude, but at our elevation, it was an impressive two minutes.
Cooking the Meal
Once your water is at a ripping boil, you can go ahead and open up the Adventure Meal of your choosing and take the lid off your pot. The entire meal can be made in the bag at this point. Make sure the oxygen absorber is out of the package, and pour your cup and a half of boiling water into the package. You can mix up your Adventure Meal with a utensil and seal the top of the bag with the Ziploc-type liner.
Now comes the fun part — you wait five minutes. After five minutes, you can open your bag and repeat the process. Mix up the meal, seal it and let it sit for four more minutes. During this time, you can always start the prep for another dinner or attend to whatever other things you need to do.
How’s the Taste?
It all comes down to one thing, is it good or bad? Grant has eaten a good amount of dehydrated meals over the years. I guess you could call his palate “experienced.” I, on the other hand, have lived primarily off of comfort foods and meals made to be eaten by your average citizen, so I stepped up to the plate of eating the Mountain House meal to decide if it’s good enough for an average Joe like me.
What’s my first impression? It was surprisingly good! The texture was a little mushy, which is probably my biggest complaint about it, but besides that, the spices and the flavor were quite good.
Here’s a look at the specifications for this stove:
|Weight (Without Fuel)||9.5 oz|
|Height x Width x Length||6″ x 4″ x 4″|
|Burn Time per 20 oz (White Gas Fuel)||~136 minutes|
|Boil Time (White Gas Fuel, 1 L Water)||~3.9 minutes|
|Water Boiled per 1 oz of White Gas Fuel||1.5 L|
Final Thoughts on the WhisperLite Stove
The WhisperLite Stove and Mountain House Adventure Meals exceeded my expectations with the efficiency and quality of the product. The food is good, and the lack of frustration you could get from cooking these meals is pretty impressive.
Packing and preparing food has always been a part of hiking and camping that often keeps me from getting motivated to start a new journey. With access to options like these, however, the complications involved with cooking during these trips will be the last thing on my mind.
Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!