Joshua Trees and Stoves

I woke earlier on April 13 than the previous day, and I was hiking soon after 8 AM.  Since it was a Saturday, I saw weekend motor bikers on the bike roads at a distance but passed no PCT hikers who were heading north.  This was a drier and less high portion of the trail with lots of yellow flowers and Joshua trees.

Here is a single Joshua tree that looks something like the cover photo of the southern California PCT book that I have.

At mile 623.1, Dove Spring Road, which goes two miles west to Willow Spring, there is a nice picnic table.  The downside is that this location is very windy.  Nevertheless, a nice picnic table is too much of an amenity to pass up, and preparing lunch here would be a great test of my new MSR water boiling stove.

I bought this at the REI in Oklahoma City after talking with a guy at the store who said that he used to work for MSR, visiting stores and representing MSR products.  He was working for NEMO when I talked to him, but he was still touting the MSR stove to me.  I needed a new stove because my Jetboil was becoming difficult to use – I had to keep twisting the stove-fuel canister connection in order to get fuel to flow.  He claimed that this was likely an O-ring problem that happened to all the stoves with age and possibly from screwing on the fuel canister too tightly.

His biggest claim was that the MSR stove stayed running in brisk wind, whereas Jetboil stoves tend to blow out.  I have certainly had this problem with my Jetboil stoves in the past, and on a windy trail like the PCT, this could be a real annoyance.  I already noticed that the MSR’s burner is a lot heavier and actually glows orange inside when the stove is running.

At this windy picnic table, indeed, once I got my MSR stove lit, it stayed lit and did not blow out, as advertised.  There is a downside.  Since this stove has a burner, it is more like an electric stove, which means that it is much easier to have boil overs.  I had this problem the first few times using the MSR stove, but I became more skillful pretty quickly.

Another feature of the MSR stove is that it is easier to sit the water cup on the stove base.  I had become skillful at performing this task with my Jetboil, but it did take some learning because there are only a couple of orientations that work.  The MSR stove is much easier in this regard with many more orientations that work.

One thing I do not like about the MSR stove is the little plastic base that you attach to the fuel canister.  I like the orange Jetboil base that just seems more sturdy, although I am getting used to the MSR base.  I can always commandeer my Jetboil base for future hiking trips, if I think this is necessary.

Finally, the MSR stove costs more.  I paid $189, whereas the Jetboil stoves cost $149 and $169, and I don’t remember details about which Jetboil stove costs what price.  I do like the fact that my new stove doesn’t blow out all the time in the wind, so I am happy with my purchase.

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