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 →

Off-Belay: Colombia Climbing

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DSC02560 (1)

Climbing in the digital age presents a philosophical dilemma. With an abundance of information on the web regarding peaks, routes, and beta – the present day adventurer has a decision to make.

On one hand, climbers can take advantage of resources such as SummitPost, MountainProject and other sites that offer full trip reports. Those who choose this path will be well-armed with pertinent information. Information which undoubtedly increases their likelihood of success during the outing. However, it’s not unreasonable to raise the consideration that extensive research detracts from the purity of a climb. It’s easy for online beta to spoil a summit view with a photo from the same vista (always taken on a day with perfect weather), or to suggest you crimp with your left and flag right before committing at the crux of a route. Read More →

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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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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Tomato Pasta

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Though it was early September when my husband and I were cycling through the Po River Valley region of Italy, the summer sun still blazed, dry and scorching, lending a golden light to an already golden landscape.


As well as being oppressively hot, the afternoon was also deathly quiet. We were used to this Italian riposo by now, that time between about two and four in the afternoon when shops closed, the buzz of activity at the local café dwindled, and the wooden shutters on everyone’s homes were shut tightly against that flaming sun. 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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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.)


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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Off-Belay: Panama – Searching for Cesar

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Story and Photos by Carson Bowlin

Story telling is deeply woven into the culture of climbing. Every crag has a first, followed by tales of triumphs and innumerable defeats. Traveling with climbing gear allows one to glean these stories, obtaining a key to communities that may otherwise be difficult to access.

With surf-softened hands we arrived in Panama. Hard-earned callouses were on their last legs but our resolve was strong to get back on the rock. Two months and over a thousand miles prior, we had received beta in the form of a cellphone photo about a unique rock wall in the heart of Panama. The image depicted sweeping horizontal lines that emerged from thick foliage. We were intrigued, and after a last hurrah of beach fiesta in Bocas del Toro, we set out toward the mountains in search of this compelling crag. Read More →

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The MSR Gear that Got Eric Larsen to the North Pole

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By Eric Larsen

On May 6th, my expedition partner Ryan Waters and I reached the geographic North Pole after 53 grueling days. To reach the North Pole from land is a journey of 480 miles in a straight line, but the route is anything but direct. With sea ice moving and shifting due to winds, tides and ocean currents, the surface is constantly in flux. Huge pans of ice collide and crack in a screeching chug, chug, chug sound. There is an overall drift to the ice, too. The entire mass moves slowly from the pole toward Canada, the U.S. and Greenland. In fact, waking up each morning, we were usually quite distraught after checking our GPS—losing up to 3 miles of forward progress while we slept. Read More →

Flashback: The 1970 MSR Climbing Tower

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We’ve been looking through the original Mountain Safety Research Newsletter archives (1969-1982) again, and wanted to share this gem from the May 1970 issue announcing the new climbing tower. MSR Founder and newsletter Editor Larry Penberthy—always meticulous about setting the standards of safety through testing—built a tower structure for product testing and made it available to the public. It was free for Mountain Rescue groups, and only $1 per person otherwise. To use it, climbers needed to bring their own ropes and safety equipment, and make sure to follow the safety rules.

The May 22nd open house offered a chance to “see (and try) the new belaying techniques” and reservations were requested by phone, so enough “soda pop and cookies” could be provided.

Climbing Tower

To see more of the Mountain Safety Research Newsletter archives, visit See something particularly interesting? Tell us in the comments!

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