MSR Reactor Hanging Kit: Thoughts on stoves in tents

MSR Hanging Kit

I recently bought the MSR Reactor Hanging Kit for my MSR Reactor Stove System and had an opportunity to test it out.

At this point I guess I need to state that MSR recommends that you do not use their Reactor stove or the hanging kit inside the confines of a tent. For legal reasons I understand why they need to do this, it’s the same reason Q-tips needs to warn on their packaging “Do not insert in ear canal” which I’m pretty sure is the actual use of 90% of Q-tips. It is inherently dangerous and hazardous to operate a canister stove inside a tent. Not only could you melt the tent down around you, the stove is also pumping out carbon monoxide which could kill you. You are also making boiling water in an extremely cramped space, which, if knocked over, could severely scald bare skin.

In saying all that, if you are smart, and can effectively mitigate those risks there are benefits to hanging a stove inside your tent.  For myself I’d be interested in keeping my stove inside my tent when the weather is extremely bad outside, it’s the dead of winter and extremely cold, outside space is limited (camped on a ledge or ridge crest) or all of the above.

The benefits of using the stove in this manner, in my opinion, are:

  1. Stove runs more efficiently due to less or no wind and by keeping the canister warmer.
  2. Less fuel is needed due to the previous benefit.
  3. Heat output by the stove is radiating into the tent raising the ambient temperature.
  4. Less body heat is being lost by having to operate the stove outside of the tent and outside of your sleeping bag.
  5. More appealing to hydrate. We tend to forget the human factor sometimes. I’ve made the bare minimum amount of water before because I wanted to spend more time in my sleeping bag and less time out in the cold. Making water, especially at higher elevations, can be a pain. Usually by the time you have to make water you are already exhausted and just want to lie down and rest. Being able to rest and have your water boiling makes it more appealing to hydrate more. The better hydrated you are the warmer you’ll be, the better you’ll sleep, the more energy you’ll have the next day… etc.

If these benefits seem desirable then here is how I recommend mitigating the risks.

  1. Light the stove outside of the tent. Canister stoves can flare up when first ignited. You also don’t want to have a few misfires and fill your tent with gas which will combust when you finally do warm your bic lighter up and strike it.
  2. Ventilate. I’ve chosen a tent (Sierra Designs Convert 2) with top vents that fully open on two sides allowing for a cross flow of air. If you’re in a single wall tent you will be ventilating anyway under the prerequisite conditions I outlined earlier.
  3. Be very conscious of your movements. If someone else is in the tent try and have only 1 person moving at a time. The lid on the reactor stove seals so for this kit I’d lock the lid down to stop boiling water spilling. I’d also recommend not completely filling the pot, allow space for the water to roll when it’s boiling so it doesn’t spit over the sides.

So, the choice is up to you. Note that if you do follow my advice you do so at your own risk.

Getting back to the MSR Reactor Hanging Kit. It does exactly what it’s supposed to. It sets up in seconds, secures the pot and stabilizes it by means of a simple sliding tensioner. During use I did not notice it getting noticeably hot.

Other uses for the hanging kit are big wall climbing when you are hanging everything, or, if you have a snow kitchen dug out you could hang it off a snow picket to stop the canister touching the snow and cooling down.

If you already have the Reactor Stove and like to camp high in the mountains in heinous conditions or through the winter then I’d definitely recommend adding the Hanging Kit, which weighs a tiny 28g’s, to your setup.

Buy Stove: MSR Reactor Stove System

Buy Hanging Kit:  MSR Reactor Hanging Kit

Author: Leigh McClurg

I grew up in County Dublin, Ireland and moved to British Columbia, Canada with my wife in 2010. I fell in love with being in the Backcountry and Mountains that are all around me here and try to spend all of my free time exploring those wild places. My main goals are to chase happiness, see as much of this planet and its cultures as possible and grow every day through knowledge and experiences.

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