The MSR Whisperlite Universal is the successor to the enormously popular Whisperlite Internationale stove. It adds several new features to an already excellent stove however most significantly it now works with both gas canisters and liquid fuels. This increases both the flexibility and convenience of the stove - letting you use gas canisters where available and switching easily to liquid fuels where available.
The Universal's burner unit has been substantially redesigned to provide better simmering capabilities and flame control. The changes mean that heat is trapped in the preheating coil ensuring that even at low flame levels there is still enough pressure to prevent the stove going out. For more details of these changes check out this very thorough review.
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I've had a MSR Whisperlite for many years now. The Whisperlite oozes quality and this does provide an element of confidence and reassurance.
The stove is light, compact and efficient. As the fuel bottle sits beside the stove, it is quite stable. Setting up the wind-shield and heat-reflector is a little fiddly and feels decidely old school - I avoid using it if I can and have heard of other people using a Trangia windshield.
The downside is that this is not a novice stove. You need to be careful with petrol, priming is delicate, it can flare, adjusting the flame is difficult and it is easy to burn food. These can all be dealt with once you are aware of them and practice a little.
The construction of the MSR is simple and this means it is easy to take apart to clean or fix bits. I've done this a few times and fixed any problems. The problems were from using dirty normal petrol and/or me not looking after the stove. Following some years of neglect it refused to work for me on a camping trip; after an evening of cleaning I gave it and started whacking it - problem quickly solved.
Maybe it is because I haven't done any long camping trips (mostly just 1 or 2 nights or hut to hut) but I think that I've never gotten the most out of my MSR. I think at the time it was a great stove, but technology has moved on and the MSR Reactor/Windboiler, JetBoil and Primus Eta are much more thorough solutions. Of course, these are all cannister gas stoves and there are limitations to where you can get that. I just don't think I'll be going anywhere where I'll have that problem.
I think it is time I retire my Whisperlite and look at a Primus Eta.
The perfect all-round stove.
I recently upgradeed from MSR Whisperlite international to MSR Whisperlite Universal to get the ability to use gas during summer, while still be able to run off snow-scooter petrol during winter in a pinch.
It works like a charm, is reasonable quiet and have a hight effect. It is also stable and light. In other words: it works well.
Just a note: Be careful when using petrol, it can burn you badly. And start it up outside your tent.
What a stove!
I bought this stove as I wanted an alternative to the the smaller and yet amazing Pocket Rocket. The versatility that this multifuel stove gives you cannot be underestimated. You no longer have to pack several used gas canister to make sure you will have enough fuel for your trek. The fuel bottle are easy to use burnt efficiently.
Whilst using gas the whisperlite is the most quiet stove I have ever used and even using liquid fuels you won't feel like you are sitting next to an airfield.
When using stainless canteens, the burn time to get your food ready or water boiling is clearly mind boggling. Last but certainly not least, it has been said for many years that the newest stoves could at last simmer and cook food rather than being only able to prepare porridge and boil water, well for the first time this statement is actually true.
The Whisperlite Universal can simmer and won't burn food in your pan.
Could not recommend this stove strongly enough. A must have for any avid trekker looking for a reliable and versatile stove.
While in many ways this is a great stove, for the camping novice, I found it quite complicated and not great after a long trek in terms of ease of use. Creates a good flame fast once it gets going, but sometimes more than expected and burnt food too often. Would recommend for those that are used to this style but not for the outdoors beginner.
The Swiss army knife of stoves! The Whisperlite international was always an incredibly versatile stove and with the new changes it has become even better. Super easy to maintain and repair in the field (can be stripped down with the convenient single tool included), bomb proof construction, and new simmer function! Used to be pain cooking more complex meals then pasta or porridge due to the lack of flame control and this seems to be the best addition to the new version. Pretty handy having the canister compatibility (especially if using in a tent!), but liquid fuel will always be cheaper and more readily available. An awesome stove for any activity.
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Ultimate versatility. Runs on gas canisters or liquid fuel. Super adjustable flame. 464g