Page Type Gear Review
Object Title DragonFly
Manufacturer MSR
Page By John
Page Type Dec 19, 2001 / Dec 19, 2001
Object ID 94
Hits 5914
The DragonFly is a stove that's won design accolades in both the North American and European outdoor industries and stands alone for many reasons. One of the most noteworthy is its innovative CoolFuel™ Valve, which yields an adjustable flame that goes from birthday candle to blowtorch with a simple turn of the knob. MSR designers infused this stove with simple and straightforward features like super-stable pot supports, a self-cleaning Shaker Jet and field maintenance as well as a design that folds compactly into itself. The Dragonfly can run on a variety of fuels as well, which will enable you to slay the hunger dragons quickly.

  • Legs spring open for ease of use and fold compactly for storage -- fits inside an MSR cook set, sold separately
  • Field maintainable stove stays clog-free with a self-cleaning jet
  • Comes with windscreen, heat reflector, fuel pump and stuff sack
  • Burns almost any fuel, including white gas, kerosene, diesel, automotive gas, aviation gas, stoddard solvent and naphtha
  • Extra-wide pot supports and base for stability
  • Folds down to 1/3 its' working size
Specifications based on use with white gas, a 22-oz. fuel bottle at 20 psi and starting water temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Requires an MSR fuel bottle (sold separately) for operation. Made in USA.




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John - Dec 20, 2001 11:35 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
The primary downfall of this stove, and all new MSR liquid fuel stoves, is that MSR now uses a plastic pump that impacts cold weather performance. In cold temperatures, the plastic gets brittle and can break which happened to me on Mount Rainier in March. Basically the blue plastic bits that held the red pump in broke so the entire red assembly would just fall out of the blue pump. Cooking like this worked once but then the stove started misbehaving, occasionally losing power, until finally giving out and not running at all.

After having this almost ruin our trip, we went to the Seattle REI and talked to the stove guy there. He told us that he's seen many broken MSR plastic pumps and for multi-day expeditions he recommends every member of the team carry a spare fuel pump because of breakage potential. He also said that the primary advantages of the plastic pump are that it's lighter and cheaper to manufacture (not that MSR passed on any savings). An additional safety advantage is that if there is a leak in the pump (if the o-ring fails), the plastic pump will melt (before the fuel bottle explodes) resulting in the fuel bottle becoming a flame thrower. According to MSR, this is better than the metal fuel pump which results in the fuel bottle blowing up. In any event, it seems like the metal fuel pumps are more durable. He even said that while the XGK is an excellent expedition stove, the plastic pump makes it less ideal now. I think MSR should at least make a metal pump an optional component.

Although I've since replaced my pump for an outrageous $29 (the pump unit cannot be repaired when the plastic fails), for the Rainier trip, we purchased a $25 Camping Gaz Turbo 270 stove instead of playing games with a stove that might not work on the mountain.

Chenault - Mar 6, 2002 9:25 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I love this stove. If you want serious power, and cold weather performance, cartridge stoves don't cut it, and this is the best of the MSR lot. The XGK is hotter, but doesn't really adjust w/r/t flame. You can make pancakes with this one easily.

I have found the durability and field maintinence to be great. No problems. The windscreen however, is a piece of crap. The first time you try to cook outside in serious wind, you will get holes melted from the flame blowing sideways. Thicker aluminum would be really nice.

To address John's concern, 10 minutes and a flat file will add all the pot traction you need.

Chucky - Jul 21, 2002 9:39 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I purchased my Dragonfly stove from REI. I used it on Mount Whitney in January and June of 2001. The variable flame is VERY nice for varied cooking. I have only used white gas in it. It worked very well at 8F and more normal temperatures, plus at nearly 100F on May 2001 at 2,000 feet. I had to field clean it in June 2001 (after only two previous camping events), at 12,000 feet and it worked very reliably afterwards. For brutal hard core winter mountaineering, the XGK would be better, but short of that, the Dragonfly is great, despite being noisey. I was impressed with the quietness of the whisperlite international, but I have no major complaints with the Dragonfly. Two of us carried a Dragonfly on two trips which made parts issues very easy. See them in use in snow at 9,500 feet at http://photos.yahoo.com/C4M3caa/

PCHoran - Jul 29, 2002 12:58 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
Went out and bought the Dragonfly specifically for its ability to go from a simmer to a blow torch. Used it for the first time in the Yosemite high country. Performed as promised. Great temp control. Great heat output at the high end. Reasonable fuel usage. Easy to prime and light. Only downside? A little bit bulky.

climberkristin - Sep 2, 2003 6:07 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Owned this stove for nearly 5 years, used it at various elevations, never used anything other than white gas. Have never had a problem with the plastic pump but I think I will run out and buy a spare just in case....

Very pleased with it overall, packs easily in my MSR pots.

Downside, it sounds like a jet engine when at full tilt.

WildMan21 - Jan 2, 2005 9:37 pm - Voted 2/5

Untitled Review
I used the MSR DragonFly extensively on a five-day backpacking trip in Zion National Park, Utah. While the white gas burned exceptionally clean (as any white gas would in a comparable stove), the folding legs without any grip on top proved to spill more than one pot, even on the flattest ground. All it took was the slightest stir in the pot, and it slid all over. Further, the extra space the legs took up did not only added weight, but did nothing to improve the ability of the stove to balance. I give the MSR DragonFly a rating of two stars and would not recommend it to anyone.

chef007 - Mar 30, 2005 11:00 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I have loved my dragonfly for the 4 years that I have been using it, that is the stove itself I have other issues with the pump. First of all I have never had a problem finding fuel as the thing burns almost anything. I have taken this stove on a number of winter trips and have not had a problem with function, it has always worked fine. Another reason that I love this stove so much is because it is the only stove I have ever used that I can make a proper beurre blanc sauce. Others might not have such high standards of cooking in the back county but what can I say, I am a chef.

Little story on why they make the pump out of plastic:

A few years ago I was doing a week long trip, trying to climb 4 14ers. I was in a high camp for most of that time and on day 3 I felt the effects of being at 13,500 ft. I decied to make ramen for dinner, so I took out my dragon. I thought that I had turned on both nozzles but only just the one on the stove. I just couldn’t figure out why the stove wouldn’t light. When I had finally figured out that I didn’t turn on the pump nozzle and twisted it open, gas spurted out everywhere, I forgot to shut off the nozzle on the stove. Not quite knowing what to do I waited 5min, thinking the gas would evaporate, Yeah that didn’t happen. I lit the gas and poof!!!!! A big fire erupted. In my slightly hypoxiated state I stared at the fire, not quite knowing what to do with it. I was looking at the pump while it was melting away and was like shit, this sucks. Well, about 1 second later I realized that I was surrounded by snow and that throwing it on the pump might be a good idea. When the blaze went down I had a melty but still functional pump. Had the pump been made out of metal I wouldn’t have seen that the gas tank was heating up so much and it would have turned into a bomb. Unfortunately, a year and a half later the bottom broke out while I was in Chamonix, the XGK pump doesn’t fit the Dragonfly, man was I pissed.

CharlesD - May 13, 2005 12:09 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
Great stove. I've used it extensively for five years and about 500 trail miles in all kinds of conditions. Works well at altitude (10k) and in cold weather. Fuel is readily available and stable. The infinite burner control is essential for backcountry haut cuisine. That said, the stove is pretty heavy as well and not ideal for solo backpacking if all you're doing is boiling water.

Other users complain about stability which is easily solved by using the wind screen (you do use a windscreen don't you?). Someone else complained about the pump breaking. I had a similar experience with a plastic clip breaking off and the pump shaft sliding out. Pump still worked perfectly, but I had to be a little careful when actually pumping. The newer pumps have supposedly fixed this problem.

If I were to buy another stove today, I'd probably opt for the MSR Simmerlite which utilizes similar valve technology allowing it to simmer, but weighing less than half as much as the Dragonfly.

Alpinist - Jan 24, 2007 8:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Great stove
The MSR Dragonfly is a great choice for mountaineering trips. It's proven to be reliable, it works well at altitude and cold temps, it's easy to operate, and you really can adjust the flame from a "candle to a blow torch".

My only complaints are that it is somewhat unstable. You really have to have a flat surface to cook on or you'll end up struggling to balance your cook pot throughout the meal preparation. The stove is also incredibly loud, comparable to a low flying jet. It's still a great stove despite these minor inconveniences.

nothingmuch - May 28, 2007 7:51 pm - Hasn't voted

Very adjustable
I use this stove for more serious cooking (soups and stews as opposed to freeze dried stuff) and for multi day trips when gas cartriges pinch my treehugging heart. I like it a lot, despite it's bulk, because it's very very easy to get just the right amount of heat from it.

In terms of boil times etc it's also very satisfying, especially when used in conjunction with a butchered jetboil pot (you need to bend the fins a bit) and the heat reflectors.

JonW - Dec 7, 2007 11:44 am - Hasn't voted

Great Stove
I love the simmering feature of this stove. Though in many situations you really only need to boil water. I really only using the adjustable flame when car camping. If I am boiling water or melting snow, the flame is at full blast. At full blast the stove seems very powerful and seems to burn hotter than my wisperlight.

I have had a pump fail during cold weather while in the back country. Luckily, we had a second stove. Carrying a second pump is a good idea during cold weather.

Bombchaser - Mar 10, 2008 6:31 pm - Voted 5/5

I have used this stove many times on short and multi-day trips. It has awsome flame control from a screaming torch down to a candle flame. Fuel economy os very good. I have used it to cook several meals (high flame) and heated my tent for several days (set on low flame) using one of the large fuel bottles. At the end of my trip I still have around a half bottle left over. The only issue I have is having to maintian and replace the primer/pump.

farrisgl - Mar 24, 2009 1:38 am - Voted 5/5

Fantastic Stove but...
Watch that plastic pump. I always carry a spare rather than the repair kit. Test the stove everytime before you go out. I only had one pump failure over the 10 years I have been using this stove and the only time was when I did not test before packing (Murphy at work). What i like most is this stove is realible in very cool temps and altitude. The only objection is it sounds like a jet engine when running at full throttle.

Great Stove.

NCclimber - Apr 1, 2009 1:35 pm - Voted 3/5

Dependable, but loud
I like the fact that it can take any type of fuel source, but it is crazy loud and the distance from the flame to the pot gives it a little less efficiency. I usually crank it up all the way, and set it away from where we are sitting (hard to talk over on high). I have never had to replace any parts, and it lights right away every time.

WML - Apr 26, 2010 6:49 pm - Voted 5/5

No complaints, have used it in a multitude of altitudes and temperatures, with no complaints.

tommarchall - Sep 26, 2010 9:21 pm - Hasn't voted

Still going
I've had one for around ten years now i guess and have never had one problem with it. Only white gas burnt with it but still after ten years or so with no problems it's definitely worth it. As many have said, the noise is deafening but it keeps the bears away.

rgg - Aug 12, 2011 8:23 pm - Voted 5/5

A great investment
Until recently, I was quite happy with my Trangia stove. I still am, except for cooking at high altitude. I learned the hard way that alcohol as a fuel simply does not generate enough heat at 5000m.

So, just over a week ago I bought a Dragonfly, and man, it's a life saver! Melting snow is a breeze compared to almost every other stove I've seen in action, and fuel efficiency turned out to be great too - I used my stove a lot more than expected and still came down the mountain with half the fuel that I started with.

So far I found just one small downside: it took me a while to figure out how to fine tune the preheating process properly when the wind is trying to blow out the flame. At 5300m I got it on the third try, with not all that much wind, but at 5850m it took me more than an hour to learn that I had to release more than the normal amount of preheating fuel to get things started properly. The manual didn't say anything about that. Anyway, I learned it by trial and error, and after that melting snow was as easy as falling off a log!

Occasionally I used the simmer option, mostly because otherwise I couldn't pour the freshly melted water fast enough in my water bottles because I was still drinking the previous batch with which I had made tea or soup.

Without this last minute purchase, literally one day before heading out for Huascaran Sur, I seriously doubt if I would have had even a small a chance to summit. Instead of sleeping, I would have spent many cold evening hours melting snow using the Jetboil of my two climbing partners. Fortunately, I had already experienced before that gas canisters at that altitude are relatively slow, which was the reason to look for a second stove in the first place. Browsing the internet taught me that the Dragonfly got very high marks for high altitude performance, so I was really happy when I found it in a shop in Huaraz. In fact, I ended up melting quite a lot of snow for my partners, because my stove proved to be so much faster.

The final conclusion? 600 soles = summit succes, now thát's what I call a great return on investment!

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