Pros and Cons between the Jetboil and the MSR Whisperlite
Find your self camping or trekking through nature for more then a day and you’ll realize that you will most likely need some sort of portable stove. I have come to the conclusion that you really need both the Jetboil and the MSR Whisperlite in your arsenal.
I have had the opportunity to camp and trek through a wide variety of places; from the arid lands of Death Valley, to the wet forests of Big Sur, through the glaciers of Patagonia all the way to the summit of Mount Shasta and Mount St. Helens. Both the Jetboil and the MSR whisperlite are great, but depending on where you are going ; you might prefer one over the other. Let me explain.
Temperature and Region
When I went on a 3 day adventure up Mount Shasta I failed to think about some basic things that happen when you are in sub freezing temperatures and at altitudes above 5,000 feet. At the time, I had my Jetboil which performs exceptionally well in most cases. But as soon as it gets chilly and you start climbing upwards its weaknesses start to show.
In subfreezing temperatures myself and a few other individuals discovered that the jetboil canisters quickly lose reliability. Due to the cold temperatures, the pressure inside the canister drops causing poor lighting and a low burn. You can try and mitigate this by keeping the fuel canister in your sleeping bag when you sleep. But as soon as you start cooking the canister will begin to chill.
It might seem like a small problem, but when you are relying on your stove to melt snow for drinking water and to cook your meals it becomes a debilitating issue. This is were the MSR Whisperlite outshines the Jetboil. The MSR white gas Stove comes with a fuel pump allowing you to pressurize the tank as much as you need in order get a good light. While we sat trying to solve our issue with our Jetboils, our friend who brought the MSR stove had no problem cooking his food and heating liters of water. This problem exists because the canisters that the Jetboil uses are pre-pressurized “one-time use” canisters as opposed to the MSR canister which you can refill and pressurize as you please. This gives you more versatility and dependability spanning a wider range of temperatures.
A big issue when traveling abroad or into remote areas is that sourcing the correct type of fuel can be challenging. The MSR Whisperlite has the advantage over the Jetboil in terms of overall versatility because It can burn different types of fuel from white gas, kerosene, to automotive fuel. While the Jetboil requires the standard pre-filled canister which can be difficult to find in remote areas.
Design wise the Jetboil will always win, the burner, canister and included cup is awesome. When not in use, you can fit everything inside the cup keeping everything compact and in one place. If my environment permits, I prefer grabbing the Jetboil over the MSR Whisperlite. The Whisperlite on the other hand has the burner, the fuel pump, the refillable canister and then what ever pot or pan that you decide to use with it. It’s a little sloppy to set up and is slightly cumbersome to use when all you want to do is heat up some food after a long day of trekking.
The Jet boil is more compact than the Whisperlite and its kind of a set and forget type of stove. You attach the canister and hit the starter. The MSR whisperlite on the other hand; is more involved, there are simply more pieces required for the MSR, so if you are looking for a total light weight compact design and efficiency during your relatively short trip, with none extreme weather then I would choose the Jetboil. If you are going on an expedition abroad, where fuel availability is questionable and there are more wild cards at play then the MSR will have more grounds covered especially in changing environmental situations.
I own both the Jetboil and the MSR whisperlite and use them equally.