MSR Whisperlite Stove

Aug 26, 2006
my guess just based on the photo in that link is that you hook it up to a fuel canister from the local store, propane, white gas, etc.

you might have to prime it or you might be able to just stick a match in it and light it up.

someone that actually knows something should be along shortly...
Jul 21, 2008
forgot to mention, it comes with a fule bottle with a priming pump, the bottle is full of petrol, i just didn't want to get it wrong and spary burning petrol all over my bedroom!
Jan 22, 2007
I have a Whisperlite, and let me tell you, it's not the easiest stove to use. But at higher altitudes/colder weather, it really shines. As far as how to use it, I'm assuming you have not just the stove, but the fuel pump, that screws onto the fuel bottle. If you don't, you'll need to get one from somewhere. And be careful, not all the MSR pumps are compatible. For example, I have a Whisperlite, and a Dragonfly. Made the mistake of bringing my Dragonfly on a trip but didn't switch out the fuel pump from my Whisperlite. Luckily my friend had his Sierra Zip stove along just in case.
Anyway, you fill the bottle with fuel, screw the pump onto the bottle, plug the hose from the stove into the aperture on the pump, and flip the little retaining lever across the pump, so that the hose does not come loose from the fuel bottle. Next, get to pumping! It takes a bit of time to get adequate pressure, depending on how full the fuel bottle is. Expect a minimum of 40 or 50 pumps to get there. Next, open the fuel dial (located on the fuel pump that you just screwed onto the bottle) just a little bit, and let some fuel into the cup at the bottom of the stove. Turn off the fuel dial. Light the white gas in that little cup. Let the flame burn down to just about nothing, then before the flame goes out, open the fuel dial again to about 1/3 to 1/2 way. The stove should sputter, then start. If you just hear hissing, then your flame went out before you opened the fuel valve. If you don't hear hissing, then your pressure is lacking. Get back to pumping.
All this is much easier to demonstrate, or at least detail with pictures. The complicated and labor-intensive nature of such stoves is one reason why I went to canister or alcohol stoves for my non-mountaineering trips. Your best bet? Go to the local camp store/REI, and ask for a demo of their Whisperlite (they're bound to have one set up on display). That'll get you there quicker than following my arcane directions. Good luck.
Oct 14, 2006
Nathan, if you go to MSR's website, here, you can download a PDF of the owner's manual. If you didn't get one in the trade, you will also need an MSR fuel bottle.
Mar 26, 2002
PLEASE don't light it up indoors. Even with proper usage, there is a chance for you to spray burning petrol over everything. Find a nice, non-flammable surface to test it out on - preferably dirt or a concrete slab, with a clear area of at least 3'. When you use this in the woods, you should clear out burnable material from a similar circle, just like making a fire.

If you get good at using it, you'll be able to light it without the huge fireball, and without needing a second match after priming.


Feb 28, 2007
Yep, the non-intuitive thing about these stoves is that you have to first get a little pool of fuel into the cup when starting it cold and light it and let it burn down. This heats up the nozzle assembly needed to aspirate the droplets at the burner. Raindog's description is very accurate. Once you get used to it, you won't allow too much fuel in the cup and you will get a fuel so it doesn't flame to high or long during the warm up phase.

Also sometimes the fuel nozzel gets stuck with debris when first putting it together. Some of them have a little shaker which you shake and a sliding bar cleans the line. Otherwise just give it a good flick and blow prior to hooking the fuel line up.

Once lit these little stoves work excellent. Also, as mentioned above, the warming method allows this stove to be used in almost any conditions from ultra-cold to warm and at pretty high altitudes.
Jul 15, 2002
The point of priming is to get the liquid fuel in the generator line to boil, producing a vapor. The vapor exits the nozzle, and burns nicely.

If you open the valve prematurely during the prime burn, you will get a big, ugly, badly burning fireball (fueled by liquid fuel), instead of the desireable smaller blue flame (permitted by the sufficiently heated, vaporized fuel).

Good luck with this.
Aug 30, 2006
There should also be a set of instructions printed on the fuel bottle. Also check the primer cup. some of the older models do not come with a piece of fabric what holds the fuel. If you have that piece of fabric you only need to prime it enough to get the fabric wet and then light it. You can buy those pieces of fabric seperatly so get one if you dont have it. I have seen a few people fill the cup completely and then light the stove.
Aug 21, 2007
Once you master it, which shouldn't take that long, you will realize that you have an awesome burner. I have had mine for almost 17 years and it still works like a charm, wet, cold, or hot weather. Stick with Coleman's white gas, it burns cleaner and hotter. Did you get the other fuel jet with it as well, it comes with two.

Any Cal.

Jan 1, 2006
The Whisperlite, I believe, comes with one jet. The Whisperlite International comes with two.
Aug 4, 2004
Not to rain on your parade, but if you want a bombproof design for a white gas stove, try a Optimus Svea 123R. They are a bit harder to ignite/prime, but they are extremely reliable.

I've got an MSR, and it's also an very reliable stove, and is more easy to work with.

Overall a good choice.

Jun 2, 2007
I've been using my WhisperLite Int'l since 1988 (my first MEC purchase IIRC)and I've replaced the washers that make up the burner ring, the pump washer, and O-rings and that's about it. The repair/maintenance kit is a lifesaver. Mine's got the older grey and black pump but these tips should still work...

If you unscrew the primer cup from the bottom, you can put a little piece of fiberglass insulation in there and use the primer cup to hold it on. That makes a far better wick for preheating than the one mine came with, it just doesn't last as long.

If you keep a separate bottle of fuel and only keep the attached one 1/2 full or so, the extra air space means you don't have to pump it as much after you build up the pressure initially. I keep a 33oz bottle on the outside of the pack and the little 8oz one in the bag with the stove.

The only negative I can say about these stoves (and it's minor) is that the pump-to-bottle O-ring needs to be replaced every year. You don't notice at first, but it'll bleed off pressure, requiring pumping more often. A new O-ring makes the problem go away. Same for the O-rings on the fuel bottle caps

Use the windscreens

+1 on the Coleman fuel (fresh fuel burns better - use last year's for starting the bbq or cleaning engine parts or something...)

Edit: one other thing on looking at the manual in Iuke12's link...I can't handle packing the stove inside the cookset. I'm never so cramped for space that I like having everything I cook taste like naptha, lol
Aug 6, 2007
Eveerybody has pretty well covered starting the stove. This little bugger will boil water in a heartbeat. I first pack the stove in a zip lock bag to keep the soot off of everything else. Also allow plenty of time for cooling before packing. It will get red hot!