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The Svea 123r climbers stove vs. the MSR Whisperlite; an argument solved by the scales by Catherine Horne


The object of a backpacking stove is to heat water and to be light.  There are always drawbacks such as the heating surface area, control of heat and silence.  The Svea is noisy but with the pressure pump it is relatively fool proof and it is (Yes it is!) lighter than the WhisperLite.  I’m willing to put up with a little friendly, camp noise during meals for the advantage of less weight.  You have to be careful not to let fuel spill and burn on the fill lid.  It can damage the rubber gasket, hence no pressure, hence no gas, hence no hot food.  However if you happen to be a photographer or have Tupperware type containers all is not lost.  With your handy Swiss army knife you can cut a new gasket out of any soft plastic.  The Kodak film can lid is satisfactory.  The other thing that can get damaged by fire on the fill lid is the pump pressure mechanism. Here you have two choices.  Use the spare, original lid you brought that came with the stove or cut a small cylinder of rubber from your flip flops and replace the damaged rubber bit inside the brass column that sticks down from the lid.  You unscrew it carefully on your ground cloth or spread out T-shirt so you don’t lose the spring in the dirt in the dark.  The awl on the Swiss army knife is perfect for this job as you can stick it in the holes and just twist. 

Whisperlite has its problems too.  It can get clogged with soot especially in cold weather when it is hard to light and get going because of the problem of pre-heating the fuel before it reaches the burner.  There is nothing to do about this until you get home and can clean it in solvent with a very fine wire.  Or if you have brought your repair kit spend a morning doing this in camp.  Svea has a self-cleaning feature.  If you twist the “on valve” all the way on before you light it you will see the cleaning wire stick up, neatly cleaning the fuel port.  Don’t try this while the stove is running or it will put it out, and don’t think that you have turned it off by turning it all the way counter-clockwise.  You have just blocked the fuel with the wire but it will leak in your pack.  If the ground you have your stove on is cold I recommend that you put the stove (Svea) or fuel can (Whisperlite) on a small insolite pad to insulate it from the cold.  My friend Midge carries a “sit-upon” and I have my hip pad which both work for cold stoves.  I have eaten frozen partially cooked scrambled eggs made while trying to cook on frozen cement.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  It was better than the snow which was the alternative.  Now we won’t have to do that again. 

Yes Whisperlite does have a larger burner but it is also harder to turn down to a low heat without going out.  So when you are doing eggs or curried tuna glop keep stirring.  Ok, so back to the weight argument.  The Svea holds its own gas and the Whisperlite requires a gas can.  You have to weigh both so guess what?  The Svea wins. 

SVEA $69.95   -   Whisperlite $59.95