Posted by: GeekHiker | July 1, 2009

Why Did They Have To Improve It?

For the past 12 years or so, I’ve been using the MSR WhisperLite Internationale on my camping and backpacking trips.

It’s the first stove I ever bought, and it runs flawlessly.  Cold, hot, wind, whatever; it’s never failed to light.  Traveling solo, cooking up breakfast and dinner (and hot chocolate for dessert, natch), a single tank of fuel will last a week.

The only drawback to the stove is the playful derision I get from my fellow backpackers.

Most everyone else on my backpacking trips uses the nifty JetBoil.  Undeniably, it’s cool.  No having to pressurize the fuel bottle with 40 pumps.  No priming to heat up the vaporizer tube, just push a button and it’s lit.  Boils up a couple of cups of water (which is usually all you need for the freeze-dried meals) damn fast too.  Most of my fellow campers are re-hydrating their meals while my water is just barely starting to warm up.

Still, I couldn’t see replacing my stove.  A new JetBoil runs a hundred bucks, and why would I replace a perfectly good working stove for that kind of price?

On the backpack a couple of weeks ago, the old trusty stove fired up at dinner just like normal.  The next morning, I got up and went to heat water for breakfast.  I pulled out the pump to start pressurizing the bottle… and the plunger came off in my hand.

It was so unexpected, it took me a second to realize what happened.  Turned out that the entire top housing had cracked and broken apart.

Not that I went without breakfast, mind you.  I went to my backpack, pulled out the small roll of duct tape I usually carry, and taped the thing back together:

Repaired Stove

And I’ll be dammed if I wasn’t able to pressurize the bottle and fire the thing up.

Still, duct tape isn’t really the proper way to hold a stove together.  So I figured “cool, I finally have the excuse to buy the way-cool Jet-Boil!”

So I headed to REI and looked at the JetBoil.  But I also decided to see if there was a replacement for the pump assembly for the WhisperLite.

Big mistake.

Not only is a replacement available, they have improved it.  Better assembly, better flame control, etc.

And it’s only thirty bucks.

So now I’m not sure what to do.  Replace the part for my old WhisperLite with the new, improved part?  Or go all the way and buy the new stove?

If only they hadn’t improved it, this decision would be so much easier, damn it all…



  1. If you were looking for the excuse to go jetboil – you’ve got it – use it!

  2. Wait. Wait. Wait!

    You’re prepared to spend $70 (minus 20%) on a bamboo dish rack but you won’t spend $100 on the fancy schmancy camping stove??? GH, what is wrong with you? Spend the money you silly goat! I’m officially smacking you on the forehead.

  3. Well, you did buy the dish rack…I say go for the Jet-Boil 🙂

  4. Too bad you bought the expensive dish rack. If you’d bought the el cheapo dish rack you could have afforded the super-duper, singe your eyebrows camping stove.

  5. Oh, no, replace the part on the old one. Really.

  6. I like and will probably have both. The jet boil has a huge appeal to me for car camping and short trips locally but the multifuel stove I’ve had for years is my long haul stove. On longer trips I want to do more than boil liquids and when flying its impractical to take fuel cannisters or go shopping for them when I hit the ground. Id say buy the jet boil and a repair plunger and jet kit for the old stove. Options/backup are never a bad thing. Two is one, one is none.

  7. I think I would replace the WhisperLite. I believe that’s the kind of stove my ex used when we went backpacking, so I may have a soft spot for it like you do. AND it’s $70 cheaper than buying a new stove. You could use the leftover money to buy another dish rack. 😛

  8. Dang! I didn’t see that Homer beat me to the dish rack joke…

  9. Buy the new one!!! You know you want it and will eventually get it anyway — buy now and save you days/weeks/months of longing and agitation 😉 Well, that’s my “buy or not buy a certain piece of apparel” approach — not exactly relevant to your question here…

  10. Buy the new one. I mean, really, just buy the new one. Your duct tape can be put to more productive uses like, like, um, like more productive uses.

  11. The old one seems to fit you so keep it. You can be the OG of all hikers.

  12. Am I too late to vote? Because I’m gonna say replace anyway. 😀

  13. I say stick with tried and true. I am loyal to Primus but we used the whisperlite in Alaska. Loved it. I often wonder if any of my primus stoves konked out would I try an MSR? Here’s an idea. Get both!!!!

  14. Starry-Eyed Barefoot Bride – Welcome to the blog! Yeah, I know, I should…

    Mrs. Chuck Bartowski – True, but the old dishrack was dead as a doornail!

    ECT – Wait, does buying the dishrack mean I always have to buy the more expensive option from now on?

    Homer-Dog – Good point. Darn me and my budgeting failures…

    Kori – Hmmmm..

    Me – There is something to be said for a stove that can run on anything, including unleaded gas…

    Mel Heth – True, I have to admit, the old stove had been faithful…

    Mel Heth – LOL, don’t worry, funny the second time around too

    K – Well, in that case, maybe I should wait for it to go on sale…

    Dingo – True, but wasn’t it cool the duct tape fix worked?

    TheCoconutDiaries – *snicker*

    Narami – Maybe I should have put up a poll!

    BackPackerMomma – Why do I somehow suspect that I eventually will?

  15. So what did you decide?

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