i had 2 MSR whisperlite stoves and wouldnt think of using anything else. regarding the simmer, it takes a little practice, but once you get figure it out, its easy to use. i have no experience with the jetboil, but have heard lots of good reviews. IMHO if you arent in the arctic, there is no good reason to need the kind of BTUs that it puts out. plus you are limited by the type of pot you can use to cook on it. if im not mistaken, you can only use theirs. the whisperlite you can put a pan on it and fry up some tasty backwoods bacon.
regarding the pack. i wouldnt recommend buying a pack online unless you have the opportunity to try it on, load it up, mess with all the straps, walk around the store with it all loaded up just give yourself a chance to mess around with it. when i bought my Osprey i spent almost 2 hours in the store trying packs on, different weights loaded in it. i even wore the boots i wear on the trail just to make sure. REI has a no questions asked return policy, but its a pain in the ass going back and forth thru the mail. i like the quality of REI brand products, i have their 15* sleeping bag for almost 10 years now and its still as warm as the day i bought it. if the local shops have other packs you have been considering and REI or EMS has them cheaper, go to the local guy and try them out then buy online. fitting a pack is very important because if its not fitting you well after a few hours or days on the trail youre fucked. the pack is your lifeline since you will be carrying all you need in it. its as important as a good pair of boots.
if you have anymore questions, feel free....
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