MSR PocketRocket 2 Review: Trail Tested.

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MSR claims to have rolled in the best features from both the much-loved PocketRocket and the ultralight MicroRocket to offer a lighter, more versatile sequel. Here’s our thoughts after using the Pocket Rocket 2 ultra-compact canister stove for a couple months as well as a comparison to the Snow Peak LiteMax Ti.

Before getting started, I should admit former spirit burner devotee. Canister stoves were merely an effortless convenience that created excessive waste. No need for anything much fancier than a beer can stove and a plastic bottle of denatured alcohol. However, I’ve been a part-time convert for a while now, especially when it comes to shorter trips into the backcountry and colder weather bikepacking. Compact canister stoves are easier to carry, cleaner, work better in sub-freezing temps, and are just as lightweight if not lighter than most alcohol configurations. They’re fast to light and actually more efficient too. In addition, fuel canisters can be recycled with a little extra effort… and honestly, the number of beer cans I am responsible for far exceeds the number of stove fuel canisters I’d be able to use in several dozen lifetimes.

MSR has long been the foremost brand when it comes to backpacking stoves. In addition to their classic line of multi-fuel options, they currently offer two ultra-compact canister models, the MicroRocket and the PocketRocket. The former collapses neatly by way of three dual folding pot stand arms. And the original PocketRocket has just single hinged legs. It’s slightly bigger and an ounce or so heavier. Even so, the PocketRocket is a longstanding favorite amongst lightweight backpackers, and for good reason. It’s durable, dependable, and inexpensive. It boils water quickly, has good simmer control, and packs up relatively small. Generally speaking, some people prefer the MicroRocket as it is slightly more compact and lighter, although it has received a few gripes regarding the stability and spacing of the pot stand arms. Their latest creation purportedly combines the best features of both to offer a lighter, more versatile and compact canister stove in the MSR PocketRocket 2.

MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove

  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove
  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove
  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove
  • MSR Pocket Rocket 2, review, bikepacking stove
  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove

Similar to the MicroRocket, the MSR PocketRocket 2 features dual-hinged folding arms. It is quite the neat design, really. When unfolding each arm, the first hinge rotates 180° counter-clockwise on the body of the stove. Then the second hinge allows the outer part of the arm to swing outward. Tabs anchor the arms so they have a very sturdy feel when locked in place. MSR designed the serrated ends of each arm to be on a slight angle, ensuring pots of varying diameters remain in place on the stand. I found the stand arms to be very secure with both the thinner Vargo BOT, a larger 1.2L titanium pot, as well as the MSR Titan Kettle (shown). In addition, the arms’ rotation points are also stiff enough so they can be rotated to include smaller cups, such as a ~450ml mug; although it’s a little unstable for a coffee warmup.

MSR Pocket Rocket 2, review, bikepacking stove

  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove
  • MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove

MSR PocketRocket 2, review, bikepacking stove

MSR PocketRocket 2 vs Snow Peak LiteMax Ti

While there are a few more options, the Snow Peak LiteMax Ti is another popular ultralight compact canister stove on the market. I’ve been using one for a while now so I thought the two were worth comparing. For those really honing their kit weight, the LiteMax Ti is about 20 grams lighter (0.7 ounces) and slightly smaller. It doesn’t come with a hard case like the PocketRocket 2. While the PocketRocket 2 is a little iffy when paired with a smaller mug, the LiteMax Ti fits a 450ml coffee mug without issue. Head to head, I was surprised to find their boiling times quite different. The Pocket Rocket 2 brought 600ml of cold water to boil in 03:45 while the Snow Peak took 05:10. Note that this timed test took place just a couple hundred feet above sea level. It’s also worth noting that the PocketRocket 2 is significantly louder than the LiteMax.

In my opinion, the pot stand on the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is far superior to the one on the LiteMax Ti too. The folding serrated arms of the latter have become loose over time, and sometimes even over rotate; there is also rotational play in the stand on the LiteMax. That said, I have used the LiteMax Ti a lot more, so only time will tell for the PocketRocket 2. I will make sure to update this post after more time with it.

MSR PocketRocket 2 vs Snow Peak LiteMax Ti

  • Weight 73 g (2.6 oz.)
  • Dimensions (Stowed) 4.5 x 3.8 x 7.5cm
  • Boil time as tested (600ML) 03:45
  • BTU 8,200
  • Width of pot supports 121mm diameter
  • Price $44.95

Wrap Up

The new MSR PocketRocket 2 is hands down the best compact canister stove I’ve tried to date, hence the fact that it was awarded a spot in our Gear of The Year post. The pot supports are sturdy and seem well designed. It boils water fast and seems fairly stable given it’s diminutive size and weight. If I had to come up with a complaint it would be that it’s quite loud for a little stove. But considering how fast it boils water, that’s a fair tradeoff. The new MSR PocketRocket 2 will be available in January.

  • Dan

    The flame on the MSR is more direct to the pot, where the flame of the Snowpeak is more spread out. It could make the MSR faster. But for me that was a reason to go for the Snowpeak. Because your food is less prone to getting burned when simmering. When you only boil water then it wouldn’t be an issue.

  • Mike

    I had the original pocket rocket but got rid of it. I found that when dealing with a canister that was half full or less, the stove just didn’t have the output needed to cook quickly. I would be curious if anyone else found this to be true. I like to cook in the backcountry and ended up getting the Jetboil mini mo.

  • Antony

    I’m a big fan of the original Pocket Rocket, but I’ve also noticed the drop-off in pressure as the canister runs out. I think all gas stoves do this to some degree but it’s more pronounced with the sort of small canister you might take bikepacking. A windshield is also a good idea.

    I also saw the comment about gas stoves being better for low temperatures: they are, but it depends on what fuel you’re using. Pure butane can freeze in cold conditions, you want butane/propane mix.

  • Bert Schuh

    Yep ..Jetboil mini mo FTW

  • Mike

    Just for the record, MSR actually advises against using a windscreen with the pocket rocket. Something along the lines of the potential for explosion? I might need to check the fine print.

  • Antony

    If you use a windshield that completely encloses the burner and the canister, yes, it’s risky – apparently this is the case with many canister stoves. But there seem to be a lot of people out there using a clip-on or freestanding windshield on a Pocket Rocket with no problems. As long as the canister doesn’t heat up, you’ll be fine.

  • Spindoctor220

    Actually, normal butane will not freeze until temps drop below -200F. It boils around +30F, which is what creates the pressure that forces the fuel out of an open canister. (Poor cold-weather performance is due to the fact that the fuel stays in liquid form, not that it freezes.)

  • Nichole Cotugno

    I agree my pocket rocket seems to not run at full pressure unless the canister is brand new .I have had it about a year .I have been eyeing the snow peak one for its smaller size

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