MSR - WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

Category: Camp Kitchen


I just returned from three night trip in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada a few hours north of Toronto. I did a back-country camping and canoe trip with three other guys. I used a fuel bottle with white gas (Coleman) and used it to boil many pots of water. It boiled a big pot of water very quickly.... Make sure to prime the fuel bottle enough to get maximum performance.


So after opening up my stove I noticed plastic threads on the connector head for the isopro... No way that is gonna last long. Which means I'm going to have to replace it by the end of the summer. Or sooner? At least the connection head for the white gas is all metal. Good thing too cuz I'll be using it in the cold. If I tried using the isopro nozzles plastic threads in the cold it could easily break. Seems like a decent stove overall besides that. If it didn't have plastic threads on that one connector head I would have rated this stove higher.


we've got minimalist stoves for solo trips with just a half-liter cup as cookware, but when the family (4) goes backpacking, we wanted a lightish stove that's stable enough to hold a decent sized pot. This one did the trick. Stable, comes with everything you need in the box (stove, couplings for canisters or bottles, bottom heat shield, windscreen). Lights easily and flame nicely adjustable. Worked great the first time out.


This has to be the best stove I've ever used. It's lightweight, compact and quick. Compared to Camping Gaz and such like - there really is no comparison.


This stove has everything you need for a backpacking trip at high altitude in cold and wind. Lights easily, stable, comes with an effective windscreen, and a big titanium pot feels reasonably secure. However, the threads are a cheap, thin metal, not brass like better stoves. Cross-threaded just when we needed it most. The good news was that we had brought along the accessories needed to use liquid fuel, and so our trip wasn't cut short.


The initial quaitly of this stove sucked and almost made me return it.On the burnner it self stuff was over tightened. The Fuel pump was full debri(red paint on o-rings and no lubrication)so it leaked fuel every where on my first use. My advise is to follow the instructions and preform a full matinence cleaning before first use. That being said, I've used it in the field and it preformed flawlessly.


I've taken this on a few trips now and it's been a great decision. It's a little difficult to light but once its going its easy to control the amount of heat. I use this most to brew coffee but its also good for heating up whatever you have that needs heating up if you've got the pots for it.


this is a late review. i bought my stove 8/14/94 (original receipt from the REI santa ana store #17). it cost $38.99 + tx, 33 oz. fuel bottle cost $8.50+. my stove still works after all these years. i had to buy a service kit last year as the leather gasket on the pump got old, the repair worked. today 4/25/16, i had to lubricate the leather seal and change the rubber gasket on the fuel bottle. i noticed i still had the receipt with all the info, so i decided to write a positive review (and brag about how much i actually paid for this great stove ;) honestly, i can't say how well the current stove is made (it might be better?) but i can tell you that my 1994 stove still works and really pumps out the heat! PROPS given to MSR for a well designed stove and MSR?, you might even think about bringing back this design if your new stoves can't hold up to my great-stove-design--- era...


Like most everyone, I have owned a collection of great stoves. But this one is special. I would pair this stove with a pot that has a built-in heat exchanger (mine is Esbit) and you will be so impressed with the efficiency of the stove. I spent a recent 6 day trip in Canada with the four total people and only used one 16 oz Primus canister for cooking two meals a day (sea level/warm weather).


(Second review after more use) I own this stove, have used it for a few years, and love this stove for white gas. However, I would highly recommend buying a Whisperlite International instead. The extra $40 for a Universal is wasted money in my opinion. The canister option for this stove works very well as long as you can connect a canister. However, the metal of the stove's canister connector is much softer than the threads of the canister itself, and the first time someone cross threads a canister or just fails to start the threads VERY carefully, the connection is shot and the stove is out of action unless you carry a spare connector/valve assembly. Because of this, I feel the stove cannot be relied on when using a canister. (Using a Whisperlite with canisters is a very heavy stove configuration anyway.) Might as well just by an International and save the $40. Again, the Whisperlite series is a great white gas stove. Reliability is good, but you should carry a backup pump if you don't have a backup stove/plan due to the plastic breakage issues a lot of people have experienced.


Even though I haven't taken it into the country yet, I have still used it at home. The boil time was about three minutes using iso/butane canisters with the snow peak hybrid trails cookset. The pot in that set is about 4 and a half inches on the bottom and is a little unstable when empty, but when you fill it with water the weight holds it to the stove.


We used this stove one on a car camping trip and it worked very well. It was very easy to light and too no time to warm up our chili. I liked the fact that we could use wind screens with the canister. I can't wait to take it backpacking. The only one con was the stove is very expensive compared to other stoves on the market.


Great stove. fits inside my 2 liter pot easily. it was easy to light and boiled water in seconds. good flame control also, and very efficient as well


I have just upgraded to the universal from the international, but the review will go for both.


I just upgraded to this because: Uses almost any fuel (cannot vouch for diesel uses, but stuff on the internet says it works; looking for an LPG/green lantern connection, then truly "universal").


I bought the WhisperLite Universal stove as a backup to my Pocket Rocket on a remote river trip in Alaska. I was running low on gas canisters, but I had a lot of Coleman fuel available. I decided to use the WhisperLite. For whatever reason, it would not work correctly. I had a minimal orange flame, not much different than a match. It was not effective. I had brought the various maintenance instructions for the stove. I did the flipping to utilize the needle, and the sound was great. It still did not work. Then I did the next step of removing the fuel line. I followed the recommendations, but I was unable to replace the fuel line in the cable cover. No amount of effort worked. Thus, the stove was useless for the rest of the trip. When I returned home, I was able to replace the fuel line, but only with the aid of a vice, WD40, pliers, and a hammer. I will probably not use this stove again. I cannot trust it. It is impossible to do maintenance in the field. Maybe my stove was an anomaly. However, I think there are design flaws because trying to force a fuel line into a tight curve is difficult without special tools.


This stove is absolutely perfect for my needs. It has really fast boil times, i have yet to use gasoline but i have been pleased with isobutane. I use it with the MSR Peizo igniter and it works very well. Absolutely NO drawbacks!


This stove ROCKS! Got it for a cross country trip and so I started using it to make sure, before we hit the road, I got it down. I like it so much, I now take it to work with me and make my own hot lunch with it. I have only tried the ISOPRO fuel so far and love the ease (and non-messy) use. I like that it runs multiple fuels just in case! For those that have had this question, and I did want to know, I have been able to get it to simmer foods with my snowpeak titanium pots. Another added benefit is that it is quiet too...I upgraded from my old PEAK II Stove and am very happy with this new stove! BTW...my peak is still working after 26 years so I am hoping to get the long life out of this one too! It appears to be well built and easily fixable if needed. Nice job MSR on this one!


I have a whisperlite (20 yrs old, use with white gas, love it) - but husband who makes coffee in the morning thinks it's hard to use and we carry a jetboil (which is great for boiling water and nothing else). I thought we could carry one stove and both fuels pleasing us both. Unfortunately, way too much effort to change from white gas to gaz daily. Decided on pocket rocket instead. Fwiw, Universal weighs more than International + pocket rocket and costs the same as both stoves together.


The threads on the coupling to the fuel tank are cheap and wear out very quickly. I'm surprised this thing is rated so highly considering that this happens to a lot of people.


I upgraded from a Whisperlite international to have the convenience and control of using canister gas. I really like the flexibility that this stove offers when burning gas, however I still prefer to use white gas as it creates a much more consistent flame. When using canisters, I often find myself flipping my canisters over to use liquid mode mostly because the performance is so much better, especially if you are boiling multiple pots of water. That being said, I know this stove will last me years and the quality of the stove is amazing. It's built like a tank. One key difference that I've noticed from the Whisperlite international is its ability to simmer. You have FAR more flame control with the universal model than you do with the international model. I don't understand why as they seem to be built on the same platform...Anyway, just buy this stove, it's fantastic! :)


I've used older versions of the WhisperLites before and always loved them. The upgrades on the Universal make it even better. I've only burned liquid fuel so far but I like knowing I can switch if I need to. Setting up for liquid is easy enough (comes setup for isobutane), the base is solid with a pot of water on it and everything breaks down small enough to fit inside my 2 liter pot.


Used this stove to boil water for coffee after tornadoes took out power for three days, also some light use while car camping to boil water. At this point I have only used the MSR superfuel. While it's not as simple of a system as some canister stoves, the versatility more than makes up for the added effort. Very pleasant experience.


I have only gotten to test this locally so far, but stove works great. Lights easily with the piezo lighter on first go, and gives off a decent flame and heat. Using the inverted gas canister gives a staggeringly fierce flame and it's a bit surprising how long it keeps burning after you shut off the valve when using upside down (due to the liquid fuel in the line/burner that gets burnt off) so keep that in mind if you are hoping to extinguish quickly for some reason.


Opted for the Universal when replacing my old whisperlite. Number of improvements over the years, but really liking the upgrades that came with the intro of the Universal, particularly leg design and fuel choices. Have taken on a number of backcountry trips so far and haven't found anything to complain about.


I primarily use this with white gas, and have had it for a couple of seasons now. Unlike some reviewers, I have no problem simmering with it. The key is not to pump the pressure up very high. Rotate the bottle upside down to uncover the intake tube about a minute before you want to shut it down to avoid dealing with residual fuel in the fuel line. It works very well on canisters, but that is kind of the worst of both worlds from a weight standpoint. I also have a Microrocket I use for short trips, but for long trips with three or more people, I use the Whisperlite. It fits nicely in a 1.1 liter MSR pan (I leave the pump in the fuel bottle). It does not quite fit in my GSI 1 liter kettle due to the kettle opening size.


Burns every type of fuel - some cleaner than others - but, doesn't nest well in any pot system.


I bought this several years ago when my oldest son started to get interested in backpacking in scouts. So simple that the scouts had no problems getting meals prepared on their own. It has been out on probably 50 nights of trail trips and have never had a problem even in -20F where any little problem will rear it's ugly head.


We used the WhisperLite on our 12 day trek at Philmont. Even though we were at elevation (on avg 8,000 feet) the stove worked great.


Have only use on two trips but works great, easy to set up, heats really fast. I was a little scared to buy based off of some of the durability reviews but love the ability to burn any fuel i might come across as i have trips to South America and Europe planed.


Purchased as a backup to my gas grill for Hurricane Irma. I ended up using it more than the grill! Being able to screen the burner from wind with the included screen was a big plus in the post Storm breezes!


Have not used this out in the back country yet but have tried it a few mornings to make my coffee. I liked the ability to use different fuels weather it is due to weather or the part of the wold I am in.


Holds a light to medium pan well. Extremely small, good for quick meals while car camping, or a bit heavier if you want more flexibility for cooking while backpacking. Solid product.


Love this stove... easy set up and stow when done. It folds up pretty small and feels really well made. I've used it several times between New York and Maine and love it!


Worked fine, wind really effect the flame. Don’t use a big fuel tank because it won’t sit level due the the shortstiff fuel line hose . No pun intended


I bought this stove as a "second" stove for backpacking trips when we need to use larger pots and pans. It is a little bulky, but works great.

COMMENTS

Douglas

Can this stove burn propane with the adapter sold by REI?

Yes, you can use propane as a fuel type with this stove. If you are seeking to use a larger propane canister with the canister stand, it then depends on the adaptor type and the size of the canister to determine if it can work well with this set up.

Whynot

Any 2 pot aluminium, or titanium cookware that's recommended for this to nestle in?

​MSR says their Whisperlite Universal stove will nest inside any 1.5L MSR pot. The best option we stock then is MSR Alpine 2 pot set.

Fan of MSR products

I read the reviews has the so call flimsy connector been corrected?  

This feedback is not a current known issue. If you're unhappy with this stove, it is covered by our satisfaction guarantee.

Bubz

Can this stove run off gasoline?

​This stove can be configured to burn unleaded auto gas.

Blackheart

What is the minimum pot diameter that this stove will hold

​The minimum diameter pot that will fit on this stove is 3.5 inches.

GeoPhil

Have an old Whisperlite that runs on gasoline. Not familiar with the butane gas cylinders. Does this stove only use MSR brand or are they universal? I read about problems with the threaded connections. Has this been resolved?

MSR recommends their canisters, but other brands with the same type of valve can be used. There should not be any issues with the threaded connections.

PenHartz

I have an old sign tourist cook set. Will this stove fit in this cook set with the wind guard? Thanks

​Your Tourist cookset should work just fine with WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove. Just be sure to have the stove set-up on a level and even surface.

Ojii-san

Could this stove burn alcohol if the need arose? (I'm thinking "yes" but has anyone tried?)

The WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove will not burn alcohol. MSR has also stated that alcohol will damage MSR Fuel Bottles.

CaptainOzone

So .... what is the carrying weight if you're planning to use liquid fuel on a particular hike?  Is it still a bit more that the non-international version?

It depends on the type of liquid fuel and quantity of fuel/bottle size you are using.

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