MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit – Best for 1-2 Backpackers
The wide world of backcountry stoves can be a complicated place to navigate with many questions to answer. What are you cooking? For how many people? What kind of fuel does that stove need? How good are you at reverse-engineering when something inexplicably stops working?
Why do we have an extra screw now? Sometimes it is just better to keep it simple, which is exactly what Mountain Safety Research has done with their improved PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit ($115). Testing out the PocketRocket has been a nice reminder that some gear just works well and maintains reliability regardless of the adventure. In my travels and meals with the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit I have spent close to 20 days backpacking and car camping around western Colorado cooking solely with the rocket, so much so that it is a staple of my kit for whatever version of camping I intend on doing.
To start, what’s in the kit? Well, the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit comes with a concise, minimalist cooking set best suited for 1-2 people, which is really just MSR’s Trail Mini Duo Cook Set. Of course, the main piece is the PocketRocket Stove, which includes a nice drawstring storage pouch.
The primary cookware of the kit is a 1.2 Liter hard-anodized aluminum pot, with a complementary plastic lid and mini pot handle. Secondary to the main pot is a plastic companion bowl/measuring cup. To pack it all up, a mesh stuff sack is included.
The entire kit (fuel excluded) weighs in at a meager 13.1 oz., and has packed volume of ~5 cubic inches (well, a little less being a cylinder). Depending on your backcountry cooking style and/or group, I could see adding a little more to this kit, like another pot or bowl, however for my style I found this stove kit to be spot on. Of course, the whole kit is still centered around the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove.
The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove:
The PocketRocket Deluxe is the light and fast, full-functioning backpacker’s dream stove. Weighing in at 2.9 oz/83 g the rocket is hardly noticeable on the back and falls solidly in the ultra-light category. To facilitate the smallest packing volume, the stove’s pot-holder wings and flow regulator are able to fold in tight to the stove’s main body becoming surprisingly compact.
To achieve the Deluxe title over the standard pocket rocket, the Deluxe has a broader burner head, a more sophisticated pressure regulator, and a tougher piezo-electric lighter, all for just 0.3 oz. more than the standard. Just as impressive as the specs, was the function.
It seems that most camp/backpacking stoves have some sort of niche that they fill. In my opinion after testing it out, the PocketRocket Deluxe’s niche is providing fast boiling times and decent cook-ability in the smallest, lightest package possible. With the broader burner head and upgraded pressure regulator, it’s clear this stove can put out some heat.
With the flow regulator opened up the flame jet is close to a foot tall, a nice hot blue color, and has the distinctive rocket ‘whirrrhhh’ when fired up. Cranked up I was boiling ¾ pot of water in about 3.5 minutes which is a pretty competitive time in the world of backpacking stoves. Sure, there are faster boiling backpacking stoves out there, but none are even nearly as lightweight and compact as the Deluxe.
To be honest, I somewhat expected the high heat, fast boiling ability of the stove, I mean Rocket is part of its name, however the stoves versatility into decent cooking was unexpected. Personally, I am more of a “keep it simple,” add water type of backcountry stove user, however, I made a couple of pasta dishes to test out the simmering/cooking function of the stove.
Between the broad head and fine tune-ability of the flow regulator, I found you could adjust the flame down to a very low simmer (wind variable excluded), and get a decent moderate-heat simmer going in the pot. Many similar style backpacking stoves usually just scorch whatever’s inside, but I didn’t generally have this problem as long as I paid a little closer attention to the flame and gave a few more stirs to the pasta/sauce. I think the Pocket Rocket Deluxe’s primary strengths and selling points are still fast boiling time and ultra-light, but it can cook pretty well when you’re tired of the rehydrated stuff.
It is worth mentioning that the PocketRocket Deluxe has pretty limited built-in wind protection, though the broader burner head and slight lip aim to limit wind effect. I found that moderate winds were not too bad when the flow/burner was cranked way up, however slower cooking and simmering were hard to accomplish without a wind guard.
Since the primary idea behind the PocketRocket Deluxe is function while remaining minimalist, I don’t think the lack of heavy-duty wind protection detracts from the stove’s value, however if you know you’ll be camping out in windy conditions a lot you should definitely toss in a wind shield.
Although the PocketRocket Deluxe is all about limited frills and simplicity, it does include a couple pretty useful features. The deluxe has a new and improved, built-in piezo-electric lighter, which MSR claims to be their most durable design yet. I’ve had only good experiences with this piezo, having reliable lights in 1-2 clicks, and no durability issues, though it does have a little ‘wobble”’ on its mount so we’ll see where that leads.
As mentioned earlier, the stove’s pot holding arms are on a double-jointed, folding swivel to allow for compact packing as well as a large cooking platform. Again, I’ve only had good experiences with these and have seen no signs of wear; the entire arm and joint is metal and feels solid. Really, the stove has aged quite well in my testing with very little wear showing, just minor heat discoloration, and no hiccups mention. This speaks very well to the solid reliability of this stove, in my opinion, and gives me the confidence to take this stove out on much more committing trips.
Trail Mini Duo Cook Set:
While the PocketRocket Deluxe stove is still the star of this kit, the rest of the cook set completes the stove’s function. The primary cookware is the hard-anodized aluminum pot with a capacity of 1.2 liters and a convenient plastic lid. The pot has a rubber grip around the outside lip, while the lid has a rubber grip/tab in the center, a cut-out for the pot grips, and some straining ports on one side.
I was mostly cooking for one and was quite content with the pot size, though I could see it falling a hair short depending on the meal if you were trying to cook for two very hungry people, otherwise, I think the 1.2-liter capacity strikes a good balance between enough volume and staying minimalist. For reference, the pot has measuring marks inside at 0.5 and 1.0 liters. The pot is holding up well with very few visible scratches and no denting. For that matter, the lid is doing well too. I have found the straining ports on the lid a nice feature for the couple pasta dinners I made.
To add a little versatility and hit the Duo point, the cook set has a plastic partner bowl that allows the aluminum pot to next inside it. The main bonus function of this bowl is that it has some more detailed volume markings on the inside in both standard and metric at 200, 400, and 600 milliliters and at 8, 16, and 24 ounces, and a total capacity of 0.85 l/28oz. Otherwise, the bowl is pretty simple I’m sure you can figure out how to use it.
Also included is a super lightweight, clamp-style, aluminum pot grip. I appreciate the inclusion of this piece and have used it quite a bit, however, it is the one piece I think might be a little to minimal, at least for my big mitts. I’ve decided the pot grip’s handles are too short, as I find I have to squeeze fairly hard to feel confident when picking up a full pot of water, and then once squeezing hard the thinness of the aluminum can be somewhat uncomfortable, or perhaps I’m just being soft.
Because of this, I am relying on the pot’s rubber grip more and more and doing without the pot grips. Either way, I think that if the handles were a half-inch longer, and maybe included a light rubber coating, it would provide a better feel in hand a stronger grip through increased leverage. I’ve since added some medical tape to the handles on my own pair and that has helped a bit.
For packing, the cook set comes with a light mesh sack with drawstring, and altogether the cook set weighs in at ~10 oz. Another nice feature of the aluminum pot is it is wide enough to nest an 8 oz. fuel canister inside as well as the pot grips and the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove. It is a minor detail, but depending on how protective/OCD you like things packed, I found that the lid will not sit quite flush on the pot when packed if you have the stove in its small pouch and a cap on the fuel can.
However, if the stove is out of its pouch and there is not thread protector cap on the fuel can, everything sits nice and flush, compact. In either case, it had no actual impact on how things survived the packing/hiking.
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit Final Thoughts:
This is a great minimalist stove-cooking set for 1 or 2 people with fast and light in mind without sacrificing function and reliability. Honestly, this kit is worth it for the PocketRocket Deluxe alone with fast boil times and the ability to cook as well, MSR really nailed it with this one. Still, you’ll be glad you have something to cook in with the 1.2 aluminum pot and partner bowl. With the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove kit there’s no need to worry about weight or function, so grab a friend and get out there, way out there.
A transplant of the Midwest, Austen immigrated to the promised land of western Colorado in 2012 in search of good climbing, deep snow, quality rivers, and a college degree when his goofing off allowed. He learned pretty quick the difference quality gear can make on the outcome of a day (or days) in the mountains and began looking for the best gear to abuse.
In the summer Austen is an avid whitewater kayaker, bouncing his boat down the steep, rocky waterways of Colorado, trad climber in search of the route less traveled, and works as a federal river ranger along the Gunnison River. During the winter Austen spends his time telemarking around the backcountry of western Colorado and working as a ski patroller up on the continental divide.
Austen says, “A hundred days of skiing and paddling each per year and you’ll figure out what is wrong or right with your equipment, especially when your lively-hood depends on it.” Austen also has his American Avalanche Association Professional Level 1 avalanche certification, EMT-B, and ACA swift-water rescue cert, as well as a member of the Search and Rescue team in Gunnison County for 6 years.