For over three years I’ve counted on the MSR Reactor to boil up water for tea, coffee and meals at camp. It’s become something of a fixture at HikersBlog camps, affectionately known as “the kettle” in reference to its low boil time. Sadly, while the reactor is an absolute animal for boiling water, it can do absolutely nothing else. Simmering, frying etc. are all off the menu.
Versatility is an area where liquid fuel stoves shine, so I’ve been using the MSR XGK Liquid fuel stove extensively for cooking tasks the Reactor is not well suited for, such as frying up breakfast, or anything which requires a more gentle touch.
- Packed Weight: 489g
- Retractable legs and pot supports
- Burns white gas, paraffin (kerosene), petrol, diesel etc (versatile fuel choices)
- Shaker jet cleaning system
- Boil time for 1 litre of water – 2.8 minutes (using paraffin)
- Includes fuel pump, wind screen and reflector (but not fuel bottle)
- UK RRP £139.99
As the XGK EX is a multi-fuel (liquid fuel) stove, there are much more options for available fuel sources than with a regular gas stove. Do bear in mind that while ethanol is a liquid fuel, the XGK EX like many other liquid fuel stoves cannot operate with ethanol of any kind. A different type of sealing is required to burn these fuels.
Like all liquid fuel stoves it requires priming, whereby you need to burn off a small amount of liquid fuel before the fuel burns as vaporised gas. This is an entirely normal part of owning a liquid fuel stove, but do bear in mind operating the stove will take longer than with canister gas stoves.
I usually run the XGK EX on white gas, as it burns clean, reduces the need for maintenance and leaves less residue on cookware. There have been trips, such as last weekend’s two night camp, where I have needed to resupply on a Sunday. With no outdoor stores nearby selling white gas, I have used petrol on occasion to run the stove. Having this option is not only convenient, but less expensive. To fill a small MSR 325ml fuel bottle with regular unleaded costs around 35 pence, just be prepared to clean some soot off the bottom of your cookware.
A variety of fuel choices is one of the primary strengths of a multi-fuel stove such as the XGK EX
The XGK EX includes a shaker jet which allows you to clean soot or residue from the jet by shaking the stove. This is essentially a tiny needle which moves to clear the jet when shaked.
The stove is loud like other liquid fuel stoves. While I don’t find noise to be much of an issue, do bear this in mind if this is important to you.
The stove is quite small, shown below packed with fuel pump, reflector, wind screen and 325ml MSR fuel bottle (bought separately)
The fuel line on the XGK EX is short and very stiff. This is both a benefit and a drawback. It is beneficial in that less fuel needs to burn off after switching off the supply. I have found it to occasionally cause difficulties in re-arranging the stove on uneven ground. The stiffness of the fuel line means moving the fuel bottle shifts the stove along with it, so make sure your fuel bottle is well placed before lighting up.
The catch arm which holds the end of the fuel line in place inside the fuel bottle is a little fiddly and awkward on the first use, but soon becomes second nature. The fuel pump itself is made of plastic. I admittedly had some concerns around durability when I first noticed this, however the pump is yet to suffer any breakages to date.
Priming time is quite low, possibly owing to the inclusion of a generator tube, which directs the fuel line past the flame to aid quicker vaporisation. The XGK Ex achieves an excellent high temperature when set to full, while still being reasonably adjustable. There’s a knack to fine adjustment of the stove’s temperature, whereby both valves are used to reach the perfect heat. While I have found the XGK EX to simmer very well, it isn’t quite as simmer friendly as some other liquid fuel stoves I have used.
The retractable pot supports and legs feel reassuringly sturdy, as does the housing which surrounds the stove body. There is a solid, well made feel to the main stove body, which is reassuring when cooking with a bottle of paraffin.
The pot supports are serrated which helps avoid pots and pans slipping off the stove.
The stove does come with a wind screen, which is lightweight and malleable. I have found it to be useful in high winds, even if carelessly wrapped around the stove in a hurry while setting up.
It is worth noting that the MSR XGK EX does not burn canister gas, and runs on liquid fuel only. This isn’t much of a drawback, considering liquid fuel stoves are terribly wasteful with canister gas anyway.
The MSR XGK Ex is an extremely sturdy liquid fuel stove. It can burn a variety of fuels and the shaker jet eases maintenance. It is reasonably light and packable for a liquid fuel stove and it performs well.
The stove is expensive at an RRP of £139.99, which does not include the required fuel bottle, which will set you back an additional £15-20. The stove and fuel bottle (various sizes available) are listed below on Amazon. Both are usually available together for around the RRP of the stove at ~£140.
Like all liquid fuel stoves the XGK EX requires priming, which may not be ideal for day trips. The ability to burn almost any liquid fuel (paraffin, diesel, white gas etc.) makes it an excellent choice when travelling to parts of the world where some fuel choices may not be obtainable.
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If you like the look of this gear, please consider purchasing from Amazon via the link below. We receive a small referral fee at no cost to you if you do. Please also be assured that this in no way affects the content of our reviews, you’ll see these purchase links in the products we hated too, just in case you disagree with us!
Stove Body Fuel Bottle (Various Sizes)