We’ve loved the Reactor system—which integrates a burner, pot, and heat exchanger for superfast and efficient performance—since it won our 2007 Editors’ Choice Award. This new 1-liter version is ideal for solo hikers. I used it on a nine-day, 200-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail and burned through only half an 8-ounce canister (cooking breakfast and dinner for one). Boil times averaged less than two minutes in temps down to 30°F. The puck-shaped burner nestles securely into the tall aluminum pot. The stove burns ultrahot (there’s virtually no simmer) and the pot lacks a nonstick coating, so it’s best for boiling water or heating up simple meals like ramen. $170; 14.5 oz.; msrgear.com
Solo hikers who prioritize cooking, convenience, and speed
» Brian Mockenhaupt (other tester: Kristin Hostetter)
» Duration Aug. to Jan.
» Locales/conditions WA, MA; 30°F to 70°F; wind, rain
» “The add-on Reactor Coffee Press Kit ($20; 1.7 oz.) let me easily make my brew right in the pot.” The Caldera Keg-GVP Stove System features the popular Caldera conical windscreen. It is designed to support and completely surround the supplied (recycled Australian) pot, and completely capture 100% of the heat produced by the supplied solid fuel (or optional alcohol) stove. The system includes all the pieces you see here and is designed to provide the ultimate in wind protection, fuel efficiency and stability for the ultralight backpacker.