MSR Whisperlite Universal Camp Stove Review
Active Gear Review is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
When you are travelling the globe, you don’t always have the luxury of being able to find a certain type of fuel for your camp stove and that’s where a universal stove comes into play. Multiple companies have created universal stoves but they have all had their weaknesses. MSR has put its considerable experience in the camp stove industry to the task and made a universal version of the legendary WhisperLite, called the MSR WhisperLite Universal. Universal really means universal, accepting the following fuel types: white gas/ naphtha, kerosene, unleaded auto gas, butane, isobutane, and propane. No matter where you are or what fuel you have access to, you’re covered.
MSR has made the WhisperLite camp stove for many years and it’s common to find people who have had theirs for a decade or more. This is a testament to the durability and reliability of this line of stoves and it carries on with the Universal. The WhisperLite is field serviceable and keeps working under varied conditions. To adapt to different fuel types, the stove comes with different jets and fuel adaptors that need to be swapped out. While not a difficult process, it is slightly inconvenient to have to switch two different components in order to use a different fuel type. Fortunately, most people will not be switch fuel types on a regular basis and don’t have to worry about it. The case that comes with the stove includes a storage area for the adaptors so that you don’t lose them. I tested the WhisperLite Universal with both canister fuel and liquid white gas and didn’t notice a difference from the non-universal version of the WhisperLite, which is a very good thing. The problem with most universal stoves is that they don’t do as well at burning any of their fuels and this stove does not suffer from that issue in my testing. To aid in canister fuel performance, the WhisperLite Universal uses the liquid, instead of the vapors, to get a more even fuel use. A stand is included for inverting the canister to aid in this design.
Cook times were as advertised with the WhisperLite Universal with boil times (1 liter water) of 3.5 to 4 minutes depending on fuel type and this was perfectly adequate. The flame control on the stove offered a nice range from full jet flame to simmer. Using the included flexible aluminum wind shield helped keep the stove working at optimum efficiency. I wish MSR would have included a wind shield that didn’t seem so home made but it gets the job done and is light weight and portable. The stand and pot holders on the WhisperLite Universal are stable enough for a 9 inch pan but the flame is definitely not going to fully heat the outer edges of a pan that size. The three leg design is collapsable and everything packs into a bag that will fit in most camp pots, minimizing wasted space.
The MSR WhisperLite Universal is the first multi-fuel stove that I would recommend and that is as strong a review as I can offer. At around $140, you definitely pay a premium for the added functionality but if you don’t want to be in a situation where you can’t find fuel for your stove, it’s worth the price. For more information on the Whisperlite Universal Camp Stove and other MSR products, visit www.msrgear.com or www.amazon.com/msr.