MSR Dragonfly Stove

winter road side stop - Wales 2008

MSR Dragonfly - Wales 2008

MSR as a brand is pretty much the benchmark when it comes to expedition stoves, there are very few brands which people hold up to so much scrutiny.  Few pieces of kit are as important as the stove when dealing with extreme weather conditions, keeping warm, dry and well fed is absolutely critical to survival in the wilderness. It was with that in mind that I purchased my first liquid fuel stove, the original Dragonfly stove from MSR. On the surface it performed well and after 2 years of  very extensive use the stand broke resulting in the stove being unusable. Where the stove broke was along the weld that held the burner into its base. Given how useful and reliable it had been up until its fatal break I decided to re-examine the market and see what else was available. In 2003 I purchased an upgraded version of the MSR Dragonfly. The issue that I had the first time had clearly been identified and fixed, the new base was much more sturdy and it seemed as though they had really over engineered the new stand to be more reliable. After 7 years and 11 months of daily use (on various adventures) I am pleased to report its still going strong.

Build Quality

After my initial purchased I was disappointed with the dragonfly, despite having used it in some very inhospitable places I still felt that It should have lasted a little longer. The big issue was having had such a flexible product when I compared the market there was nothing that really competed against it, and after a closer inspection I was pleased to find that the stove had been re-engineered to be more durable. Since then it has been absolutely bullet proof. Unlike some of the other stoves I’ve seen people using I have always been able to cook my food in almost any situation. The design makes it fairly easy to field service the unit, its got in-line filters and other protection to ensure that there is a very limited means to clog it up. All that being said if your serious about going into the wilderness make sure you bring the service kit with you. You never know when your going to need it.

Servicing

The MSR does not come with a complete service kit but rather a cut down version which should cover most situations. In the 7 years I’ve been regularly using mine I have used all of the components in the standard kit and had to purchase a second set of spare parts. Why so many you maybe asking? The reason is simple, my wife and I spent 6 months riding on our motorcycles across Europe, Russia and Asia crossing all four seasons in some of the harshest weather we had experienced to date. The big problem with any wet/liquid fuel stove is getting fine dust into the system. Unfortunately given the parts of the world we travelled through fine dust was just part of the fun. Prior to that expedition we had never used any of the spare parts despite using the stove for more than 3months of 3 meals a day cooking over the years.

All up the servicing of the MSR is very simple. One of the complaints that I do have is some of the parts are very small and easy to loose when your sitting in the sand dunes just trying to boil some water. Apart from that minor complaint the servicing is very easy and effortless.

Adustability

One of the stand out features of the MSR Dragonfly is that you can adjust both the fuel supply and the jet size. That means its perfect for slow cooking stews and other food groups. Many of the competing expedition grade stoves we looked at simply didn’t have the build quality, adjust ability or serviceability that we really wanted in our stove. That said that market for stoves has exploded over the last few years and there seems to be more options available although I am not shopping around.

Fuel Selection

One of the important criteria for for us when looking for a new stove was that we would never have to worry about the fuel we put in the stove. The last thing we wanted to do was run out of fuel and have to worry about what we could eat for dinner. With that in mind we wanted a stove that would be able to burn kerosene, diesel, unleaded fuel, lighter fluid. We felt at the time having a stove that could burn with all those we should never have a problem with fuel and we got it right. Over the last few years our usual fuel to use was Unleaded fuel (95 RON) and while its a little stinky at times it has served us very well. We also use Lighter Fluid (Similar to Zippo Fuel) every now and then to ‘clean it out’ as we seem to see that the stove is MUCH hotter when run on Coleman cooking stove fuel. So far our methodology appears to be working although we have no hard facts to show and tell about. One key point to remember is that the Dragonfly requires the Jet to be changed if your using Kerosene or Diesel fuel due to its different viscosity.

Summary

I have to say that the MSR Dragonfly is one of the best piece of kit that we own. Over the years it has proved itself as an awesome purchase in some of the most punishing and extreme environments in the world. We have used the stove in weather ranging from Snow at -24c to +45c in Turkey. Each time it has shown its value. There are few pieces of kit that I can recommend more.

Build Quality: ★★★★★ 

Ease to Cook With: ★★★★½ 

Ease of Use: ★★★★★ 

Safety: ★★★★★ 

I have included safety in the list of features, ask anyone who has blown themselves or their tent up with a crap stove and they will understand.

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