For cooking with gas you have three options: a small canister-top stove; a chunkier tower-style system; or a remote burner that sits directly on the ground. The LowDown allows you to turn either of the first two into one of the latter - something you may not know you wanted to do until you try it.
Simple canister-top stoves are generally the lightest and most compact choice, so while they lack the raw power and weather resistance of a tower system, they'll be attractive for weight-conscious uses such as backpacking in less extreme conditions. On the other hand if you just want to vapourise water as quickly and efficiently as possible, a system is a better bet.
However, both the tower system and the bottle-top burner have one big drawback - instability. Even with a support stand, balancing your pot on top of a burner on top of a gas canister can be a precarious endeavour when you factor in flame and boiling water. On uneven ground a multi-storey cooker needs careful handling. And have you ever tried using these things in a small tent awning, while children and/or dogs gambol around you, oblivious to the danger?
The less unstable alternative is a remote burner with a wide, low base connected to the gas bottle via a flexible hose. These are arguably the best option for actually cooking anything on, rather than simply boiling water. For family camping or group catering they feel a bit safer, and also tend to be less affected by wind (or at least easier to shield) than a canister-top stove. However, a remote burner will typically be heavier and bulkier than a bottle-mounted lightweight, so it won't always be best.
Maybe you already own a little canister-top burner; you're happy with it most of the time, but would prefer something lower and more stable once in a while - when car camping, say, or out with the kids? Or perhaps you're more of a power-hungry tower system type, but aware that they can also be quite tottery?
Let's assume for the sake of argument that you don't really want to fork out on a whole new model. No single camp cooking setup is perfect for all occasions, but the LowDown could definitely help make your existing stove more versatile.
It adds stability that's especially welcome if using a larger pan or indulging in camp cookery more elaborate than simply boiling water
What is it?
A conversion kit that turns a tall stove into a wider and more stable ground-standing remote burner, the LowDown reduces the topple factor common to both stove systems and compact canister-tops.
As well as working with all MSR stoves (with the exception of the SuperFly), it should couple with any make and model of gas stove using the universal screw-in thread. I've tried it successfully with a few alternatives.
With its robust metal assembly, the LowDown adds 182g to your pack weight - significantly more than the Pocket Rocket 2 (75g) that I've been pairing it with. When going as light as possible is your first priority you'll probably consider this to be excess weight for a luxury you can readily do without; it is after all an optional extra, not key kit. However in the grand scheme of things it's not much extra weight, and I think it does make cooking on a small stove a more relaxed experience, so there will certainly be times (and not just when I'm trying it for a review) when I'll be happy to take it along on a backpacking trip. It'll come in handy for car camping with the afforementioned kids too.
While it doesn't come with any kind of carrying case, the three legs fold together, making it compact enough to slip into a little stuff sack or stash in a cooking pot for easy packing.
There's really not much to it: you screw your burner to the stand, your gas to the other end of the fuel line, and you're set. There's a control valve at the canister end of the hose, and of course there'll be a second valve on your stove itself. Make sure both taps are turned off before assembly, then before lighting it, open the stove's valve fully and leave it open. Since it's easier to reach without scorching your fingers, it's best to use the canister valve as the output control (took me a while to figure out, since I didn't first read the instructions).
A specialist remote burner model such as the Windpro II is designed to be usable with an inverted canister, which gives you a liquid feed direct from the bottle for greater cold weather performance. Don't try this with the LowDown, warn MSR, or it could flare up. This is a more general-use product.
It may be an unecessary extra, and it's not exactly cheap in its own right, but in certain circumstances the LowDown should prove a really handy accessory, allowing you to boost the versatility of your existing gas stove setup, whether you own a tower-style system or a simple canister-top burner. The wide base and low centre of gravity add stability, which is especially welcome if using a larger pan or indulging in some camp cookery more elaborate than simply boiling water, and this makes the experience both safer and generally more relaxed. For car camping, families, or the sort of backpacking that doesn't involve counting every last gram, it's a bit of a winner.