Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

First Look: MSR Reactor + Passaround

Time is up and the testers for the MSR Reactor Passaround have been selected:

- Lightening up
- Litekayaker
- Toby
- Thomas
- Richard

A big thank you to all who participated, though only five can take part in this passaround - but do not despair, another passaround is just around the corner, so stay tuned for that! The five lucky ones, please contact me via email (its on the right under in the Copyright Notice) and give me your full name and address. I'll take the Reactor up north for a trip next week, and send it to the first in line the week after.

Last weekend I used the nice weather to go out and make a HD video of the Reactor in action, and see if it stays true to its promise of boiling a liter of water in less than three minutes - click play to see:

Great results for an initial test, though we'll see what the testers will put it through and if it then still looks so good! To see how much gas has been used for boiling this one liter of water, I put the canister on the weight scale back at home, and it told me that its now 346 g heavy - that means 18 g of gas have been used. I'm no expert on gas stoves, but that does sound rather good to me. I will be chasing the winter and leave on Friday for a week to the north of Finland, together with my fiancée and her family, for a week of relaxing in a cottage and enjoying the last bit of winter - even proper minus degrees have been forecasted, so I will give the Reactor a test run there before it goes on its journey.

First Look: Tenkara Fly Fishing Gear

It is Tenkara USA's 1st birthday today, so I thought it appropriate to share with you a look at the tenkara gear I purchased recently. You'll have to wait a while still to hear and see the stories of me catching plenty of fish with it, it are the last weeks of winter here, but I reckon until Phil and Steven in three weeks arrive I'll have caught a trout or two!

Packed up for transport.

I have been angling since over twenty years now - I started as I was seven years old with a simple rod, line and float - and I have many good memories of going angling with my dad and brother. Fishing evolved for me from the rod and line to a nicer rod with a reel in many variations, and now I am going back to the rod and line, though this time with a fly at the end of the line instead of the float and worm on a hook.

Ayu rod, 390 cm of pure beauty.

The nice cork handle, which also acts as a counterweight.

Partly opened, you can see the red braided rod tip - that's where the line gets connected to.

So what is tenkara fly-fishing, and why did I get this rod, line and flies? Well, tenkara is the traditional Japanese method of fly-fishing - it is simple (but can take a lifetime to master) and it is well suited for fishing while backpacking because of the light weight of the rod and its small size. Here is a pretty good explanation of tenkara fly-fishing, so I don't repeat that here. I got this gear because I always have been curious about fly-fishing, and the elegance, lightweight and simplicity of tenkara immediately caught my attention as it came out last year, and it took me some months of reading and thinking till I ordered the tackle.

Collapsed AYU rod, 56 cm long.

I got the AYU rod as that is what Daniel, the founder of Tenkara USA, recommended me to get, together with some traditional tenkara line, tippet, some tenkara level line and of course flies. Now flies are definitely a topic for themselves, and I am tempted to bind my own flies, but for the moment I went with the tenkara flies for simplicity reasons. Let me tell you one thing, though: Dr. Hisao Ishigaki, one of the leading authorities of tenkara angling, only uses one fly pattern! If I look back to the box of different lures I used to carry around, I still can learn a lot.

Tippet spool, traditional tenkara line spool, tenkara level line and my box of flies...

... and a close-up of those flies, true works of art!

A look at the weights:

AYU rod: 104 g
Protecting sleeve: 9 g
Protecting tube: 180 g
Fly box & flies: 31 g
Spool of tippet: 9 g
Spool of tenkara line: 6 g
Spool of tenkara level line: 11 g
MLD pouch: 29 g

For a backpacking trip I would leave the protection tube at home, I am careful enough to not needing that, which means the complete pack of kit is 199 g. What is missing here is my fishing license and a fish hook remover, so that might add another 20 to 30 g to the kit. All in all, not too bad, I'd say.

All fits perfectly into the Mountain Laurel Design pouch with place to spare.

I'll keep you up-to-date with the developments with my excursions into tenkara style fly-fishing. If you got curious, head over to the Tankara USA website and have a look at their superb videos, that definitely should get you "hooked" ;)

MSR Reactor - Passaround

Another gas stove, another passaround. The MSR Reactor says it is the "Fastest, Most Efficient, All Condition Stove System" - reason enough for me to have a closer look at it, and organize a passaround!

In its box.

Lets start with the important bits:

Lid: 48 g
Stove: 176 g
Pot: 256 g
Cloth: 5 g
Full 230 g Gas canister, 4 season mix: 364 g

Makes a total of 485 g for the stove, pot, lid and cloth, or 849 g for the set with a full 230 g gas canister, which fits into the pot together with the stove. I don't put this down as ultralight, but it is light - especially in comparison with a Trangia, which is usually double the weight for the small set. MSR says the pot is fine for 1 - 3 persons, that is realistic if you eat ready-made meals and all you need is boiling water.

The lid has a handy rubber grip and a steam hole, and the pot a long handle. It is a 1,7 l pot and has markings on the inside, but the max fill is 1 l which is a bit odd - maybe MSR wanted to make sure that nothing boils over. It also has an internal heat exchanger. The stove is one solid, well-made piece and is screwed on the canister, with a tight fit. The Flame Adjuster has a piece of rubber, so you won't burn your fingers and it makes for easy operating with gloves.

The pot closes tight with stove, cloth and a gas canister inside.

The stove nestled on top of the cloth in the pot.

It is a nice compact system, and is supposed to be brutally fast - it should take between three and five minutes to boil a liter of water in real world conditions - something I will test in the upcoming video. I think it is an excellent stove for those who need boiling water, and need it fast with as little fussing as possible. If you're planning to cook and simmer, I believe that should be possible as well - you can adjust the heat output. It also has the integrated wind screen with the pot, as well as the heat exchanger, a well thought out system if you ask me.

Pot and the stove on a canister, ready for action.

The whole system set up.

I'd like to pass the MSR Reactor set around to five different readers and have them test it. If you're a total newbie to gas stoves like me or a seasoned veteran, anyone can apply for a test of the set. So how does this work? I send out the set to the first reader, and he gets to play around with it for two weeks. You need to have access to gas cartridges (I can't send those) and you need to be willing to pay the postage to send it to the next person, but besides that its completely free to you and allows you to test the stove without shelling out the money first. After your two weeks of playing you send the set forward to the next in line, and drop me a short email about what you thought of the set, which will be published here on the blog. In that way we can collect different viewpoints on the MSR Reactor, see how it performs in different environments, and get a nice review together.

You want to take part in the Passaround? Great! What you need to do is leave a comment underneath (preferrably not anonymous), and next week Tuesday (13th of April) around noon I will randomly pick the five people who get to test the MSR Reactor. While I'd love to have this Passaround open to everyone, sending packages, even small ones like these, is expensive, so I'd would like to limit it this time to Europe, with a preference for Scandinavia and the Baltics. Before you hit the comment button, I'd like to remember you - you should be able to get a gas cartridge for the test in your town, you need to be willing to pay the shipping costs to the next person, and you're fine with sending me a short statement of your opinion with a photo or two. If that sounds like a good deal to you, please comment!

And in case you say "That's all I needed to know, thanks!" and want to buy one right away, Ultralight Outdoor Gear has a good offer for the MSR Reactor at the moment, and their service is outstanding, so a good recommendation if you don't want to wait for the outcome of the Passaround.