This is a guest review by Jay.
I had roped (I should say noosed) my girlfriend into a very last minute cyclo-camping holiday to France. We had bikes, one rack and an overly large but lovely tent, and absolutely nothing else, so I travelled down to the south coast of the UK by train for a spot of shopping before the ferry.
We needed a camping stove. I had great hope that Worthing’s proximity to Portsmouth – the latter being a seaport to the camping runs of Normandy, would mean loads of serious outdoor shops, or at least well-stocked ones. I was wrong.
Both of the big high-street outlets were tatty and the shelves bare and, as sometimes happens when the choice is limited, you either become extravagant or indulge in tat. The decision came down to a choice between between a heavy and serious £100 Trangia or the very small (non-tat) £30 MSR Pocket Rocket. The shop assistant told us he had owned a Pocket Rocket and had used it without incident for five years… so we went for it.
I like packaging to be serious and professional-looking and this has a lovely box, a very sturdy Chinese takeaway carton. Inside, and the reason I really went for it, was the carry case. Embossed, red and Toblerone shaped about 15cm high and as wide as a… well a big Toblerone, and the stove arms fold neatly onto the body and only close completely when shoved into the carrycase, like a hermit crab pulling his claws in.
The weight as specified on the MSR website is a very impressive 85g, and about 100g with its snug case. The stove uses most types of self sealing threaded gas canisters – weighing 200g-ish and upwards (we used a Coleman C250), and with the supermarket pan we had to buy, the whole weight was about 600 to 700g. This isn’t awful to carry when cycling, considering the Trangia’s weight with fuel must be a kilo and a half.
After our first day cycling down the d650 from Cherbourg one of us was shattered and moody and as we didn’t think far enough ahead to bring the pan we bought a big tin of Ratatouille instead. The Rocket lit reassuringly with a whoosh and cooked as expected – taking about five minutes to warm through the mush. It provided a powerful jet – burning off the tin’s white plastic lining and adding a delicious faux melted parmesan to our food.
We discovered later in the trip that using anything larger than a small milk pan felt like balancing a traffic cone upside-down on a hill. The Pocket Rocket is designed for small pans only and is sold as an emergency cooking solution, to be fair.
It’s a really lovely bit of kit, tiny, light, neat and a cheap £29.99. MSR boasts a ‘Windclip™’ wind shield on the burner head. This separates the flame with a Mercedes-logo shaped clip into three segments. On our clement and windless holiday I never got to properly test this.
It cools down relatively quickly and I soon became confident putting metal into plastic then into a bag full of clothes.
I like it very much but wouldn’t take it on a cycling tour again unless what I was cooking had its own tripod. But really I couldn’t take it anyway because my girlfriend decided to keep it.
SUMMARY: The MSR Pocket Rocket is (according to MSR) the world’s most popular stove. It’s great for small pans and emergency cooking and packs down nice and small. It only weighs 85g and the build quality is good. With a built-in wind shield and easy-to-use controls it’s good in any weather.
Price: £29.99 (RRP)