MSR Dragonfly Stove Review

We arrived home last week tired and exhausted after our transcontinental cycle tour. After five months away we were both glad to be back in the safe, hygienic surrounds that we take for granted in the UK. All our bags and my bike eventually arrived on the luggage belt at Heathrow and despite being the very last out it all looked safe and sound. After we got back to my parents there was one more surprise in store.

wpid-20141007015550_img_0909.jpg My MSR Dragonfly multi fuel stove and its empty fuel bottle were missing. Was it a little light finger work or the Nepalese customs smelling petrol and confiscating it, either way we will never know. If you see a well used MSR stove for sale on the streets of Kathmandu, you might as well buy it, but treat it well and keep fulfilling its penchant for adventure!
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It may sound like I am overly attached to a camping stove but it has been on a lot of adventures over the last 8 years. It has travelled to five continents and been on bike tours that would stretch far enough to cover the entire planet. All the time it has never let us down, a quick pre-expedition service and we were good to go again. It heats up quickly and uses anything from diesel to strong alcohol! You are supposed to change the nozzle for fuels but we never have and it still worked. In Argentina the dirty fuel blocked it up, but a quick clean and it was working again. While in Canada the -25 degrees kept it working hard to melt and boil snow but it always lit and worked, when gas canisters lose pressure from the cold. In my opinion it is the best and only option for international adventuring, there are other models and other brands but except some niche requirements there is no competition worth considering, it is the first item on the shopping list. I wont write more for the review because it’s worked perfectly for 8 solid years so there’s no point, it is the only option for adventures and I bought a replacement ASAP. OK so there are lighter options for shorter faster trips, but for cycle touring you need a petrol stove that works. Here’s a quick history:
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Its début for us it came in 2006 with a short 3500km cycle ride around New Zealand. The MSR stove kept us company and served us well. We had a quick leak after a few months of use. THis taught us the importance of keeping the seals lubed and fresh. A service kit was added to the bag and we’ve not had any issues since.

It proved a reliable source of warmth during our camping adventures in the Scottish highlands. It survived the relentless wet and midges.
A year later we were melting snow to survive while ski touring in the Canadian Rockies and when the snow melted in spring we were cooking pasta between mountain bike rides in the heat of the Utah desert, not affected by either extreme nor the dust.
Back living in Chamonix, we used it for warming cups of tea while glacier camping in the Alps.
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It was back in survival mode as we used it for snow melting in the Monkey Puzzle forests of volcanic central Chile.
It still burnt brightly when cooking pasta yet again while trekking in the foothills of the Patagonian Andes.
Last year while cycling to Istanbul it was used daily for tasty meals. Then this year while cycling to Almaty it has been a trusty companion over three months and as the miles stacked up I just refilled it and on I went. It also works as well if not better than other models at extreme altitude. At 4600m it is burning cooler and less efficiently but still cooked food for us when other peoples Primus stoves weren’t lighting.
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Sadly the trusty stove never returned from my cycle ride to Almaty. Was it stolen in Kathmandu or confiscated incorrectly at customs? We will never know and I wont point fingers but with tighter restrictions it is always a bit of a gamble fyling with kit like this.
Either way we will never see our trusty adventure companion so I’ve bought a replacement that’s exactly the same.
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It seems cheapest on Amazon:


But can also get a good deal on it here it looks like:
Decent price

2 Comments
  1. Hey, I’m about to start my first serious bike tour and I found this blog quite helpful. Thx. And if I may I would like to ask a question. During your tours, in Central Asia, have you come across people using alcohol stoves? Is it possible to get methylated spirit, or similar, there?

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    • Hi Piotr, glad the blog was useful. I have never seen anyone using alcohol stoves in Central Asia, I doubt there is a reliable source of fuel in remoter parts, but I might be wrong. I also wonder what impact the higher altitude would have on the alcohol as it doesn’t burn as hot at sea level as other fuels, I suspect it would struggle. I would stick with petrol as everyone else I’ve seen uses.

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