Reactor Stove System—Behind the Gear:

MSR Product Manager Steve Grind answers a few questions about the design and performance of the Reactor Stove System.

Who was the Reactor Stove System engineered for?

Reactor System 1.0The Reactor is designed for folks who are heading outside into real and often challenging mountain conditions. That means cold, windy, and often space-constrained. Whether you’re tucked into a port-a-ledge on Baffin Island, or doing an ultralight traverse of the Sierras, this is a stove that performs when most other canister stoves will not. It is certainly an elite piece of gear, but it’s also amazingly versatile for people doing more moderate activities where the weather conditions might not always cooperate.

How is the Reactor different from other stove systems on the market?

One of our favorite anecdotes is a story we’ve heard from several different users over the years—both from professional guides and from private parties heading into the alpine. It always goes something like this: “We made it to base camp on the first day of a four-day climb and got started melting snow. We had a Reactor and three [Brand X] stoves. The Reactor performed so much better than everything else that, by the end of the first day, we packed up the other stoves and didn’t take them out again for the rest of the trip.” The difference is performance in tough, windy conditions, where this stove stands head and shoulders above anything else ever made.

What materials are used in the radiant burner head?

Unlike traditional burners, the Reactor uses a special metal foam to provide 100% primary air combustion. The foam is made only one place in the world from a high-tech alloy called “Fecralloy”. This comes from the chemical composition of the metal itself – FeCrAlY. MSR has exclusive rights to this material for use in outdoor stoves, so you won’t find it anywhere else.

What other unique features does the Reactor Stove System have?

There are a lot of details that go unnoticed by most users, but that we really enjoy geeking out on here. For example, the black bottom base of the stove is actually magnesium made by a process called thixomolding. It’s insane how much lighter this part is than it would have been in other suitable materials. The stove also incorporates an internal safety feature to prevent the fuel canister from overheating if the stove is ever damaged or misused.

We’ve been listening to our customers and have added several accessories for the Reactor, including new cookware sizes, coffee press accessories, and a really slick hanging kit that weighs less than an ounce and packs into the cookware without disassembly. The Reactor is the ultimate hanging stove—stay tuned for a separate post devoted to that topic.

 How was fuel efficiency a goal of the design?

Everything about the Reactor was done to maximize efficiency in real world conditions while keeping weight to a minimum. That’s the key for us— it doesn’t do much good to perform well in a mild lab environment, only to let you down later when you’re outside in the wind trying desperately to melt snow. Between the unique pot design with integrated heat exchanger and fully-enclosed burner head, the pressure-regulated fuel delivery system, and the unparalleled 100% primary air burner, this stove is tuned to outperform everything else.

 How was local manufacturing a goal of the design?

MSR has always worked to keep as much of our production in-house as possible. This is especially important to us for signature products like the Reactor. All of the burner’s assembly and testing occurs at our factory in Seattle, where we go the extra mile to ensure that our exacting quality standards are met. We also try to source locally whenever possible, so critical items like the burner foam and the magnesium burner base are all made in the USA.