Thursday, February 17, 2022

"Made in the USA" Gear Review: MSR XGK EX Multi-Fuel Backpacking Stove- Must Have Preparedness Item


Photo credits: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2012/2022 All Rights Reserved

Long popular as a high altitude backpacking and mountaineering stove, MSR's XGK EX Universal Stove is also a great choice for preparedness kits or as a cold weather bushcrafting stove.

The ability to run on almost any liquid fuel, including Diesel, Unleaded Gas, White Gas (Coleman Fuel), Jet Fuel, Kerosene, or Aviation fuel, makes the XGK infinitely flexible and economical to boot. The high heat it produces, needed to melt snow for drinking water quickly in freezing, high altitude environments, also makes it highly efficient for boiling large amounts of water for cooking in less extreme environments. This is an important feature if you're relying on Ramen Noodles for the majority of your camp or preparedness food arsenal!

Using the XGK to boil Ramen noodles at my base camp:

The XGK's ability to use many different fuels would be a huge asset in a disaster situation. Literally any vehicle, lawn mower, tractor, train, or aircraft could be pilfered for a source of fuel to power the XGK in an emergency.

This same fuel flexibility also makes it a great companion to take along on backpacking trips to Third World countries, where diesel and unleaded gas are common, but high quality white gas can be difficult to locate.

Amazing Efficiency 

Another outstanding feature of the XGK is its efficiency. If you have to camp out to survive during times of economic hardship or SHTF, the XGK is much more efficient and cheaper to run than stoves that use pressurized propane/butane or alcohol. I was able to boil a large pot of water three times a day for two weeks straight, on just 0.43 cents of diesel. How's that for efficiency?!!

Fill'er up! Filling an MSR bottle with cheap unleaded gas to fuel the XGK:

The first thought that comes to mind when mentioning the word "diesel" is "dirty!," but in actuality, the XGK runs so efficient that the flame leaves virtually no soot on the bottom of your pot. The only time the flame is "dirty" is during the priming and shutdown operation. Since the pot is not on the burner during these operations, it doesn't effect it.

Diesel fuel burning hot, clean, and efficient in the XGK EX Stove:

The SPECS:

Proven: No. 1 choice on expeditions worldwide.
Multi-Fuel: Reliably burns more liquid fuels than any other stove.
Dependable: Easy to field maintain; Shaker Jet™ cleans fuel jet with a simple shake.
Compact: Flexible fuel line allows stove to fit in a 1.5-liter MSR pot.
Superfast: Boils 1 liter of water in just 2.8 minutes (using kerosene fuel).
Extra-Stable: Retractable legs and pot supports provide a secure platform.
Includes: Fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and stuff sack. (Fuel bottle not included.)
Minimum Weight- 13.2 oz / 374 g
Packed Weight- 1 lbs 1.2 oz / 489 g
Can use these fuels- White Gas, Unleaded Gas, Diesel, Kerosene, Aviation Fuel, Jet Fuel
Burn time (white gas) per 600ml / 20 oz. of fuel- 109 minutes
Burn time (kerosene) per 600ml / 20 oz. of fuel- 98 minutes
Burn time (diesel) per 600ml / 20 oz. of fuel- 170 minutes
Boil time (white gas), 1 liter- 3.5 minutes
Boil time (kerosene), 1 liter- 2.8 minutes
Boil time (diesel), 1 liter- 4.5 minutes
Country of Origin- Made in Seattle, USA
Street Price- $189.95

ACCESSORIES

The XGK EX comes with a carrying bag, instruction manual, fuel pump, aluminum wind screen and ground protector, and a basic maintenence kit:


FIELD TESTING

Since my testing began many years ago, the XGK EX has been used heavily on backpacking trips and at my old extended base camp for boiling large amounts of snow for drinking water, boiling pasta, Ramen, heating water for washing dishes, etc. Over the course of this testing, the XGK EX has been dead reliable using many different kinds of fuels. The only problem I had was when I rushed the priming sequence once and fouled up the jet. Letting the stove cool and shaking out the jet easily fixed the issue, and the stove was immediately back up and running within minutes.


Bears Beware-- the XGK "747" is ready for take off!

Once the XGK EX is warmed up and running, it is loud compared to other backpacking stoves, sounding almost like a miniature 747 jet plane readying for takeoff. It especially gives this effect when running on Kerosene. Kerosene and Jet Fuel are pretty similar, so the XGK will burn noticeably hotter and louder when using it. Between the roar and the "jet-engine" like smell, it really gives the whole airport tarmac experience when this thing is going full blast!

A positive thing about this jet-type noise is that it seems to keep bears away when I am cooking with it. My guess is that if they happened to come by when the XGK is running, they might think they accidentally ended up at Denver International Airport!

Now that I've scared you into thinking this stove is going to blast your ear drums out, it's actually not that bad. In fact, after I used it a couple of times, I didn't even notice the sound. It actually became a bit of a companion on dark, moonless nights at my base camp, when I could hear bears roaming in the area and I'd need to boil water for tea. The bears never came near when the XGK was running. Once you're used to it, you hardly notice.


Criticisms?

Yes -- just one. The XGK EX is not adjustable to simmer. It's an all or nothing affair with this stove. But that is why it is so dead reliable -- minimal parts to break. 

I compensated for this by using empty (steel) cans of Bruce's Yams and Great Value Roast Beef from Walmart and cutting both ends open (the Roast Beef has a pull tab on one side so you only have to cut open the bottom). 

The cans sits perfectly flat on the inner ring of XGK's pot support legs. They raise the pot high enough over the flame to perform slower cooking and simmering. The Roast Beef can is a bit lower and Yam can is higher, allowing for different styles of cooking and heat intensity. 

Steel Roast Beef can from Walmart turned into a riser for my XGK EX:


A can opener on a Leatherman or Victorinox works well for this task but be careful not to cut yourself -- wear leather gloves!

CONCLUSION

Whether you're prepping for a natural disaster, globe-trotting to less developed countries, or just want a backpacking stove that's flexible, reliable, and cheap to run, the XGK is an excellent choice. Plus, MSR still makes this wonderful stove right here in the good' ole USA.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the Founder and Senior Editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a Service-Connected Army Veteran, former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and the author of Edible & Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains Pocket Guides. Jason has also written articles on bushcraft and survival for Backpacker Magazine and The New Pioneer 
Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Review: Elite Survival Systems Liberty Gunpack- A Discreet Way to Carry Your Pistol on and off the Trail

Photo credit: Mikhail Merkurieff/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Elite Survival Systems sent me their cool Liberty Gunpack a while back to test and review. 

I've been using this pack on and off since then for my Glock 29 10mm Mountain Pistol, and it has been a great piece of gear. 

What I like most is that the pack has an inconspicuous appearance:

Photo credit: Mikhail Merkurieff/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

It has extra pockets for a cell phone, pens, spare mags, keys, flashlight, ID cards, etc:

Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

 
Photo credits: Mikhail Merkurieff/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

The pack has a four-way belt loop on the back so that it can be worn vertical or horizontal, as well as Molle attachment points for mounting on your pack:

Photo credit: Jason Schwartz/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2022 All Rights Reserved

Photo courtesy of Elite Survival Systems

The belt loop is large enough that it easily attached to the waist belt on my Kelty Redwing 50 backpack:

Photo credit: Mikhail Merkurieff/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

The Gunpack has a pull tab on each corner to facilitate rapid opening of the gun compartment. This makes it quick and easy to open and then draw your pistol for self defense against dangerous predators.

Photo credits: Mikhail Merkurieff/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft ©2016 All Rights Reserved

The pack also has the ability to carry a spare mag inside the main gun compartment:

Photo courtesy of Elite Survival Systems

Since I use the Liberty to carry a bulkier Glock 29 10mm, I've found that it's a bit too cramped to carry a spare mag like this and instead, use the front outer compartment to hold the spare mag. But for those with typical 9mm CCW pistols such as Glock 43's, Sig P365's, Smith & Wesson Shield's, etc, the spare mag carry in the main compartment works well. 

Final Thoughts

I've found the Liberty Gunpack to be a great CCW companion when walking or hiking in populated areas and around town, where the ability to be discreet is important. I've never gotten a second look from passerbyers while wearing it. The quality of the pack is high and the zippers have held up well to steady use. I think it is a great "Wilderness to Street" gunpack.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

EDITOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank my friend Mikhail Merkurieff of Emberlit Stoves and Camp Ware for his assistance in taking the photos used in this review. Mikhail's titanium stoves, flint strikers and survival fishing gear are top notch. Please stop by and check out his website at https://emberlit.com/ 

Thanks! Jason


About the author
Jason Schwartz is the Founder and Senior Editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a Service-Connected Army Veteran, former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and the author of Edible & Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains Pocket Guides. Jason has also written articles on bushcraft and survival for Backpacker Magazine and The New Pioneer 
Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)