Technology: How Stove Pressure Regulators Work

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It’s evening in the alpine and after a long day on the trail, you’re set to boil water for that hot, comforting meal. As soon as the sun dips below the surrounding peaks however, the temperatures plunge and your canister stove, though cranked up to full blast, suddenly loses its powerful output and oomph.

What gives?

Seasoned backpackers will recognize that the pressure has dropped in their canister. A stove’s output relies heavily on its fuel pressure, and when that pressure drops in cold weather or as you simply use up your fuel (which cools as it vaporizes), your stove’s output naturally declines.

Because of this, each back-to-back pot of water you heat with that canister can take longer to boil.

So, what makes certain canister stove systems like MSR’s Reactor, which is an alpinist’s snow-melting powerhouse, able to deliver consistently fast boil times, even amid the extreme conditions and icy temps of high altitudes?

The answer is a pressure regulator.

Photo Credit Paul Bride

Photo by Paul Bride

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Plan It Like a Pro—Strengthening Your Pre-Season Backcountry Brain

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Ali Ritter and Chris Solomon inspecting a slope on the Chiwaukum Traverse. Washington.

Ali Ritter and Chris Solomon inspecting a slope on the Chiwaukum Traverse. Washington.

Every season around this time—often sooner—we start dreaming about winter. Before long, our dreams turn into plans and plans become reality.  This evolution from office-time daydreaming in the fall to shredding wintertime powder is a process that we shouldn’t take lightly, and it rarely is, especially when it comes to our gear.

If you’re a backcountry snowshoer, skier or rider, odds are you already prep for the coming snow.  It’s good practice to prep for your season by changing the batteries in your avalanche beacon, getting your skis/board tuned, dialing-in your pack and other gear, and maybe you’re even sweating away in a conditioning class at your gym. Volumes of enlightening articles have pontificated about this pre-season ritual—both print and online. Read More →

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MSR Dromedary Bags: My Guardian Angels For More Than 50 Expeditions

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Cooking in Greenland with my Dromedary Bag nearby.

Story By Mike Libecki

MSR Dromedary Bags have become my guardian angels, providing me life––yes, literally providing life––on more than 50 expeditions around the world to complete major athletic goals.

From first desert crossings in China to climbing huge first ascents on vertical rock walls in Greenland, on every continent and beyond, they have kept me alive. Let me explain: Water. It is the sweet giver of life.

This transparent fluid forms the world’s streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of living things. We are water and water is life. And, of course life is sweet. Read More →

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WindBoiler vs. Reactor: What’s the Difference?

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By Steve Grind, Category Director for MSR Stoves

How does the all-new WindBoiler™ Personal Stove System stack up against the legendary Reactor?

By now, you may have heard that our all-new WindBoiler Personal Stove System is built around some of the same award-winning technology that’s found in our Reactor Stove System. But is the WindBoiler simply the Reactor’s little brother? How does its performance really stack up against the Reactor’s? And which of these incredible stove systems is best for which trips?

So, what exactly is going on over there at MSR R&D? Read More →

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Backcountry Water 101: Danger Zones

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After a long day trekking in the backcountry, that idyllic, trickling stream may look extremely tempting, but a cool sip isn’t worth the risk of ingesting waterborne contaminants. The best way to greatly minimize the risks of infection is by treating backcountry water with a filtration or purification system (more on that later), but you should also educate yourself about the wilderness water contaminants that pose immediate threats to your health, and the backcountry “zones” in which you are more likely to encounter them. Read More →

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Timelapse of a Glacier: A Climbing Ranger’s Perspective of Mt Baker

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Photos and story by Leif Whittaker

Every weekend when I arrive at a trailhead that I have been to a hundred times before I wonder if I should get a new job. Most climbers would find it monotonous to visit the same ridges, valleys, glaciers, and summits over and over throughout the summer. Admittedly, I often look at the first few steps of a familiar trail and have trouble getting motivated. But after three years on Mount Baker I have learned to appreciate the tiniest details of the seasonal cycle and I believe the mountain is always telling a new story. 

Brandon skinning up the Easton Glacier in June conditions.

Brandon skinning up the Easton Glacier in June conditions.

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Gear Overview: The New WindBoiler™ Personal Stove System

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The new WindBoiler Stove System is the first truly personal stove system from MSR. The latest in our line of the world’s fastest, most fuel-efficient stoves systems, it features the same radiant burner and windproof technology that makes our Reactor a powerhouse in weather that shuts other stoves down. Yet, the WindBoiler brings with it personal features that solo travelers or minimalist backpacking pairs seek most. Read More →

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Behind The Photo: How To Get that Glowing Tent Night Shot

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Photo and story by Eric Larsen

Full disclosure: I’m not a professional photographer. Still, as someone who has held a camera in his hand for the better part of the past 20 years in some of the world’s most extreme and inhospitable environments, I’ve managed to snap a few sweet pictures along the way, many of which have gotten published or sold.

Nearly every day, I use photos to help tell stories of my adventures and connect people to the places I’ve been. My goal has always been to try to inspire and educate, and photographs have been and continue to be a powerful tool to help create a sense of place. Over the past 10 years, I’ve been singularly focused on improving my photography skills, but it’s been a slow process for me. After all, modern cameras are just as much ‘computer’ as your computer so mastering the technology inside a camera takes time. Equally important (and complicated) is understanding the ‘art’ of photography. Creating compelling images in today’s photography world is equal parts nerd and Picasso.

Luckily however, I’ve been able to meet a lot of professional photographers along the way. Really good ones. You know, people who take pictures for National Geographic. And a bunch of others as well. What follows is an amalgamation of information I’ve accumulated over the years—advice from pros, a lot of research, rereading of owner’s manuals, and perhaps most importantly, my own insight from mistakes and practice. Read More →

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Behind the Curtains of Hell: 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

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A report from the 9th annual 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell endurance climbing competition.  

by Andrew Chasteen

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The shotgun blasts, and 280 climbers scatter like buckshot in all directions.  Most are running—some are walking briskly up the steep approaches to the crags that make up the borders of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.  Ten minutes ago the full crowd of 700-plus was lost in a trance of psyche and adrenaline as Jeremy Collins and Kris “Odub” Hampton put on a show (as usual) for the famed Climbers Creed to “I got 99 problems but 100 pitches ain’t one.”  But now minds are focused and fixed on the next 24 hours of pain. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Make Ahead Mac-N-Cheese

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Story and Photos by Tara Alan

Where I live, in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the first yellow, orange, and russet leaves are beginning to appear scattered upon the ground. Nights are becoming cool enough to wear a jacket, and the scent of wood smoke is apparent on the breeze. It’s clear that autumn is just around the corner!

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What better way to spend these glorious end-of-summer days than in the woods? And what better way to end them than with an evening of camping? On chill nights like these, I want a supper that’s warm and cheesy, quick and easy: macaroni and cheese.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a spectrum of macaroni and cheese. On one end are those blue boxes containing a handful of elbow noodles and an accompanying “cheese” packet. The resulting dish is neon-orange, and of dubious nutritional value. On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s pasta with an unctuous cream sauce and pockets of oozing melted cheese under a burnished top. Think four cheeses melted together with bacon, chili flakes, and caramelized onions. Or how about mozzarella and ricotta with chunks of fresh tomato?

So, what do we do when we want the cozy, comforting dish of mac and cheese while on the trail? When we want the simplest of dinners, but we want it to have ingredients we recognize? When we want that delicious, cozy treat, but we don’t want to pack a ton of items to make it? We make it ahead of time and carry it along, of course!

Below, you’ll find my recipe for a version of macaroni and cheese that falls somewhere between the two extremes of the spectrum, closer to the ease of blue-box side. It’s a cinch to assemble and pack for the trail, and it’s quick to cook once you’re out there. It also makes a great base for improvisation. See my suggestions below the recipe for ways to jazz up your mac. Read More →

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