Review: MSR XGK-EX (Fuel stove)

Our trusty MSR XGK-EX and Light My Fire Army fire steel
Our workhorse MSR XGK-EX with MSR fuel bottle and Light My Fire Army fire steel

While travelling on a motorbike the decision to take a fuel stove became natural. We carry fuel for the bikes anyway, so we can easily refill our fuel bottle any time.

We had been using a MSR Whisperlite International for over 12 years. Finally it was completely corroded – mainly because we left it in the rain too often. We could have repaired it with some spare parts, but it felt like it was also time to try something new. So we “upgraded” to an MSR XGK-EX.

The XGK has a very good reputation as extremly powerful multifuel stove, it’s called “workhorse” or “snowmelting” machine. The name “X” in “XGK” stands for Expedition. The “G” and the “K” stand for Gasoline and Kerosene, the main fuels the stove was designed for.
So we were a bit curious, how it would compete compared to our trusty Whisperlite.
The first thing you see is the very stable design. The legs are retractable and provide an excellent stability, that could easily carry a big and heavy pot.
Compared to a gas stove, you can’t just enlight a fuel stove. It has to be preheated to vaporize the fuel before it reaches the burner. To achieve that, open the valve until you see some fuel leaking onto the litlle priming pan and close it again immediately. Don’t open the valve too long, otherwise fuel will overflow the priming pan and flood the whole base of the stove. Afterwards inflame the fuel and wait by watching the dirty orange flame for a while.
As soon as the stove is hot enough to vaporize the fuel, you will start hearing a “blowing” sound. Now it is time to open the regulator again and you should have a nice, clean blue flame.

Bad fuel can effect the perfomance. The manufacturers always recommend to use white gasoline only. It is true, that it burns cleaner and is less hazardous. However the main point of using a fuel stove, is the availability of petrol all over the world. Otherwise you could also use a gas stove instead.

MSR shaker jet and flame spreader
MSR shaker jet and flame spreader

The MSR XGK and the MSR Whisperlite are both equipped with a shaker jet. This feature is just brilliant and one of the main reasons why we prefer MSR stoves. In case your jet is clogged, it is possible to clean the jet most of the time by simple shaking – even better when the stove is running already. Therefore we hardly really have to clean our stoves.

Don’t be surprised, the stove is incredibly loud. If you leave your tent in the morning to prepare a coffee, you can be sure to wake up the whole campground. Miri always comes out of our tent perfectly timed, as soon as the coffee is ready and the stove turned off. You rather prefer a less noisy stove? Then a MSR Whisperlite is a better choice. However – every fuel stove will always be much louder than a gas or a spirit stove.

Another disadvantage is the lack of flame control. There is a joke, that the XGK has only two settings: “Off” and “Inferno”.
It’s true, but we never had a problem with that. You also get used to it. Just keep in mind that cooking at low heat is almost impossible. So don’t even think of preparing a cheese fondue!

Overall we are satisfied with the power and reliability of this stove, although we can’t really see major advantages in comparison to our old MSR Whisperlite.

MSR XGK-EX minimum weight 0,38kg / 0.84lbs and packaged weight. 0,49kg / 1.08lbs

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