I’ve owned an original XGK for many years and have been very happy with it. Earlier this year I traded up for a brand new XGK EX. Largely because the old stove was starting to “feel” unreliable. It never failed me but taking a fifteen year old stove on a three week trip doesn’t seem too bright after a while.
Out the box the EGK EX looks like it had a bit more design put into it then its older brother – which let’s face it looked like a tin can and some accidental tubing. Initially I was concerned that the holes around the base of the stove body would allow priming fuel to spill out when starting the stove. In fact this turned out to be a non-issue. The stove is maybe slightly more controllable than the original version but don’t expect too much. This is still a jet engine for melting snow on.
I’ve used the EX on several winter climbing trips in the Cascades as well as longer trips to the Waddington Range and Elias Mountains. A total of about two months of use. I always use white gas as fuel. My experience with using car gasoline in my first XGK is that it doesn’t perform as well and needs cleaning more frequently.
As with the XGK the biggest possible point of failure is the pump unit. MSR have made some improvements to this. The plunger doesn’t pop out when pumping and some of the plastic parts have been replaced with nice brass ones. Spare pumps are available from MSR, as is a field repair kit. I take both on all but weekend trips. The new repair kit comes in a nice box, rather than a plastic bag, which makes it much easier to keep everything together.
- Much larger base and pan supports making the stove much more stable.
- Flexible fuel line makes the stove much easier to pack.
- Main stove body seems much more durable than the original XGK.
- Improvements to the pump unit.
The only real negative I can think of is that my stove base for the original XGK doesn’t fit the new stove. This doesn’t impact the stove in normal usage but is key to use on snow or in a tent.
If your existing XGK is working fine then I don’t think there’s any need to dash out and drop over a hundred bucks on an EX. If it’s on the way out or you’re just in the market for a new gasoline stove then the XGK EX gets my vote. If you’re tight for cash and want to give your existing original XGK a new lease of life then a new pump unit and, if you have the original four wire pot stand version, a set of the new two wire ones will give your XGK a new lease of life.
WARNING: Neither I nor MSR recommend using any stove inside a tent or on a wooden base. Gasoline stoves give off toxic fumes and their heat may set nearby items alight. Use at your own risk and fully consider the implications of your actions before attempting. The author disclaims all responsibility implied or expressed.