XGK-EX Stove: The Expedition Powerhouse

Climber and National Geographic Explorer Mike Libecki is almost always on an expedition, and two pieces of gear that he relies on are the MSR Drom Bag and XGK-EX stove. The Drom Bags carry his life-giving water, he says. As for the XGK-EX stove? Read on to learn why he trusts this legendary powerhouse of a stove.

Antarctica, National Geographic Expedition
Mike Libecki starting the daily boil, their stoves worked for at least two to three hours a day to hydrate and cook for four people in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica for 50 days, on assignment for National Geographic that resulted in the first ascent of Bertha’s Tower, named after Libecki’s Grandmother. Photo: Keith Ladzinski.

How long have you been using the XGK and where have you taken it?

I have been using MSR stoves and of course the XGK since the early 90s, well over 20 years now. I will say without hesitation that MSR stoves are guardian angels, and without them there is no way my expeditions would have succeeded as they have—now over 60 expeditions! From -40 degrees in Antarctica to 95% humidity the jungles of Papua New Guinea, and everywhere in between, MSR stoves are mathematically reliable. Trust me, this comes from the toughest tests these stoves can be put through.

What’s the importance of a reliable stove on your expeditions?

If my stoves fail on an expedition, it means the expedition is over and quite possibly that my life is in jeopardy. I need to trust my stoves as much as I trust my harness, my ropes, my partners; I put my life in the hands (or heat, haha) of my stoves. They must work, or it’s all over!

Antarctica, National Geographic Expedition
Mike Libecki and Cory Richards in Queen Maud Land Antarctica on assignment for National Geographic that resulted in the first ascent of Bertha’s Tower, named after Libecki’s Grandmother. Photo Keith Ladzinski.

Why do you trust the XGK?

Easy. Because I have used the XGK for over 20 years, have run XGKs for thousands of hours! Hands down, the best, most reliable, bad-ass stove on the planet, period. This is not opinion, it is mathematical fact, tried and true.

What types of fuel have you had to use in it? 

I have XGKs on EVERY expedition and a lot of places have really horrible fuel to choose from.

I have used benzene, naptha, every kind of gasoline/petrol, unleaded/leaded/diesel, kerosene, and other strange high-proof fuels. Also, a lot of the fuels I get in third world countries are super dirty. The XGK burns it great, even if there is cleaning and maintenance due to super filthy fuels, the XGKs are easy to clean and maintain. Super key.

Do you use any other MSR stoves? If so, why and for which applications?

Yes, of course, I have used every MSR model of stove that they have made in the last 20 years.

WhisperLite International is another favorite, nice for everything but excels with being quiet and simmering. The Reactor is another I use constantly, just can’t beat it. It’s my favorite for climbs and alpine adventures.

Mike Libecki is an explorer, climber, soloist, wilderness athlete, father, photographer, videographer, and author. His top two passions are obeying obsession/addiction to exploring the most remote, exotic and untouched locations on the planet to climb big walls, towers, or alpine first ascents, traverses and other mysterious adventures (most of them solo), and being a dedicated father to his angel-daughter (he’s won Father of the Year more than once). When Mike is not climbing and exploring untouched earth, he is a full-time father, and part-time soccer-coach and school volunteer. He lives near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah, with his daughter and their pets. Learn more about Mike and his adventures at his Instagram, Facebook, and Website

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