Gear Archives: Diving Deep—The Evolution of the MSR® Snow Fluke

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Blog_Fluke Catalog pic_April 78 copy

Some people love snow flukes: skiers who want a low-profile anchoring device that fits in their packs; mountaineers traveling in softer or uniform snow conditions; rescue guides or climbing pairs who may need to anchor with only one free hand. As snow protection gear, the fluke definitely has its place, and it’s been part of MSR’s history from nearly the beginning.

It goes back to 1969, soon after Larry Penberthy founded Mountain Safety Research, Inc. to support the work he began with The Mountaineers of independently reviewing climbing equipment and making gear that was safer and easier to use. Penberthy published his findings in the Mountain Safety Research newsletter, which also sold third-party and MSR brand gear. The first two pieces of gear featured in the newsletter were Edmont cold-weather gloves and MSR first-generation snow flukes. Read More →

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Fuels Around the World: Finding Stove Fuel In A Foreign Country

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Planning for an international adventure—whether it’s trekking in the Himalayas, bikepacking the Alps, or hiking through Pakistan—requires extra consideration of gear, especially stove options. While you can fly with your stove, you can’t fly with most common stove fuels. Which may leave you asking:

How do I find the stove fuel I need in a foreign country? And, what other types of fuel can I use?

Multiple things come into consideration when deciding which stove to take in the first place—region, trip duration and season all factor in. And it’s important to thoroughly research the specific locations you’re headed to (travel forums are a great place to start). But here are the basics to know when planning to take your favorite stove abroad with you. Read More →

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Gear Archives: The Simple Perfection of a Good Bowl

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The new MSR Alpine Nesting Bowl

The new MSR Alpine Nesting Bowl

In the 1970s and 1980s, focused on using the latest technologies, MSR made its early cookware of the lightest modern materials available—titanium, aluminum and non-stick aluminum. While carrying the lightest possible gear was the priority of most backpackers, the MSR product development team recognized the undeniable benefits of stainless steel as well, which was more durable, conducted heat more evenly, and ultimately was more affordable than aluminum or titanium. Read More →

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MSR Kitchen Sets: Behind The Gear

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MSR Alpine Kitchen Set

Product Manager Steve Grind answers a few questions about the design and performance of the various sets of kitchen tools offered by MSR.

What is the process behind deciding which utensils go into each set (Ultralight, Alpine, Alpine Deluxe)?

We’re always working to understand our customers as well as we can, and the customer for one product is often different in some ways from the customer for another product, even within a single product line. In the case of a kitchen set, we know that users are likely to cook differently in a base camp or car-camping scenario than they are in an ultralight backpacking one, and this informs what we design and what is included in each kit. Read More →

Evolution of the MSR XGK EX Stove

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Model 9 Stove

Photo of the original MSR Model 9 stove (simply called the “MSR Stove”) from the April 1973 MSR Newsletter.

Trusted by mountaineers everywhere as the world’s most reliable extreme-condition stove, the MSR XGK EX stove is still remembered by many as the MSR Model 9. Originally introduced in 1973, the Model 9 stove has evolved along with material and manufacturing technologies, and its current incarnation—the MSR XGK EX stove—still remains the number one liquid fuel stove choice on expeditions worldwide.

Remote Fuel Revolution

The Model 9 was the world’s first remote-burner component stove. The remote-burner design was developed in response to MSR’s finding that Acute Mountain Sickness and other altitude-related health problems were related to a climber’s poor hydration level, caused by the inability to melt snow on traditional stoves. Several years of field and in-house stove testing by MSR had demonstrated the increased performance and reliability that remote, pump-pressurized liquid-fuel tanks could deliver, especially at altitude.

While white gas and stove and lantern fuel were recommended, this stove could also burn non-leaded and leaded gasoline if the screen was cleaned every two quarts. Additionally, it could burn alcohol “if the air inlets of the burner are mostly closed with foil.” Lightweight (at 12 ounces), compact, and reliable, the MSR Model 9 stove quickly became the gold standard in mountaineering after its release in 1973. Read More →

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Manufacturing Safety: Snow Tools Made the MSR Way

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MSR products are known for being precision-engineered and thoroughly tested in our lab and in the field for reliable performance. But did you know we also make many of our own products on-site in our Seattle, WA and Cork, Ireland factories? Manufacturing our products in-house gives us quality control over the process, ensuring that the same attention to detail that went into the design goes into the production. Here’s a look at the fabrication process of our lightweight, durable MSR Snow Picket and MSR Snow Fluke in the Seattle factory.

The MSR Snow Picket

MSR Snow Picket (60 cm. size)

MSR Snow Picket (60 cm. size)

Read More →

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Trekking Pole FAQs: Your Questions Answered

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Photo: Hage Photo

Photo: Hage Photo

As many hikers and backpackers will attest, trekking poles offer great benefits—from helping you maintain stability over changing terrain, to minimizing fatigue and reducing joint impact. Adjustable trekking poles are especially useful for navigating steep inclines and descents, letting you shorten or lengthen poles to match the terrain for improved efficiency. Adjustable poles also pack up easily when not in use.

Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) of our customer service department along with information to help you select and use MSR® poles that are right for you, for your environment, and for the activities you like to do. Read More →

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APPALACHIAN TRAIL THRU-HIKERS HAVE A BURNING QUESTION ABOUT OUR STOVES

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Last month, over 4,000 hikers and 15,000 visitors descended on the small town of Damascus, Virginia, for the annual Trail Days Festival. This multi-day event celebrates the Appalachian Trail community, providing hiker workshops, food, gear repairs, and plenty of entertainment, including the hiker talent show. (What happens at the talent show, stays at the talent show.)

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Trail Days Crowd

We’ve been attending this festival for many years, providing free maintenance and repairs on MSR products in the gear tent located in the main campground. It’s always a great time meeting the thru-hikers and geeking-out over gear. We find that we help and learn in equal proportions.

This year, MSR’s Stove Category Director Steve Grind attended and was asked one question far more than any other:

What’s the difference between the MSR PocketRocket and the MicroRocket stoves? Read More →

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MSR SUMMER TREKKING POLES WILL CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT A POLE SHOULD BE

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Some people are big fans of trekking poles. If you don’t happen to be one of these devotees, or if you have never used summer trekking poles before, here are some great reasons to consider trying them out this summer.

Research is beginning to show the benefits of hiking with trekking poles. In a 2010 study conducted by Northumbria University in England and reported on ScienceDaily.com, researchers tested the heart rates, perceived exertion, and muscle damage and function of two groups of hikers—one group using trekking poles and one going unassisted—while hiking Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. The results showed that trekking poles helped support muscle function and significantly reduced muscle soreness in subsequent days.[1] Read More →

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