Fuel Usage

7:01 p.m. on June 15, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

I've been a rock climber for years but am only now getting into longer, alpine style climbs.

I'm wondering how you gauge for fuel usage per person, both for regular, Dragonfly style stoves and I'm also looking at canister stoves like MSR pocket rocket. How do you gauge how much fuel to pack?
Thanks

1:27 p.m. on June 16, 2001 (EDT)
(Guest)

As for the non-cartridge types there seems to be a general consensus of 3-4 oz. per person per day in summer-like conditions; provided no major culinary projects are planned. If you are to be doing winter alpine thing (melting snow for water), a tried and true guideline is 6 oz. per person per day. However I just found 6oz. to be stretching it, of course my suppers usually take 10 minutes as opposed to freeze dried stuff.

Quote:

I've been a rock climber for years but am only now getting into longer, alpine style climbs.

I'm wondering how you gauge for fuel usage per person, both for regular, Dragonfly style stoves and I'm also looking at canister stoves like MSR pocket rocket. How do you gauge how much fuel to pack?
Thanks

12:23 p.m. on June 18, 2001 (EDT)
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Since I have been called the Stove Guru, I guess I should reply. I have been tracking fuel usage for various fuels and various stoves for quite a few years for my own use, various trips I have led, and for Scout troops and adult leader training courses. YMMV, obviously, and the best guideline is to keep track of your own personal usage on your own stove.

But I have found that even as wasteful as the boys and inexperienced adults can be, the following works out pretty well -

white gas and kerosene -
"boil water" meals (freeze-dry, fast pastas, hot drinks,
soups, oatmeal) - 1.5 oz/person/day for experienced
hikers in summer, 2 oz/person/day for reserves and
inexperienced people who leave the stove running a
lot.
"boil water" meals when melting snow for the water -
8 ounces/person/day for winters in New England,
Rockies, Sierra, Cascades. Boost that to 16 ounces
when going to areas where the air temperatures stay
subzero continuously (higher altitudes on Denali,
for example).

Butane mixes, propane - This gets a little tricky, but
basically, compressed gases have about the same
heat output. The problem is that there is a strong
air temperature effect is butane is in the mix.
The rate of fuel flow when the cartridge is low and
when the air temperature is below 35-40F can be slow
enough that you have significant heat loss from the
pot, resulting in extra fuel consumption. I had a
good illustration of this during this weekend in the
Sierra. However, I set the cartridge in some water in
the spare pan, which boosted the heat output of my
Superfly to blowtorch output, even though there was
less than an ounce of fuel left in the cartridge.
Basically, use the same 2 ounce/person/day allowance
in summer. If you use one of the heat-transfer methods
discussed previously in this board and elsewhere, use
the same figures for winter as white gas or kerosene.

Alcohol - alcohol stove fuel has a somewhat lower heat
output than white gas or butane, but the stoves are
more efficient designs for heat transfer (at least,
the Trango, Sigg, and their imitators are). Allow
4 ounces/person/day.

A couple things that make a big difference in fuel consumption are wind screens, black pots, and heat exchangers like the ones that come with the MSR Superfly hanging kit, Bibler hanging stove, and that MSR sells separately as well as in one of their cook kits. Each of these can make as much as a 10 percent difference in fuel consumption efficiency.

But the thing that makes the biggest difference is proper stove maintenance. Since I keep my stoves in good shape, I can consistently get the standard 3-3.5 min boil times for my MSR XGK, Whisperlite, and Dragonfly and Primus MFS (now called Himalayan). I have seen other people get no better than 5-7 min boil times on the same stoves, with correspondingly higher fuel consumption rates.

September 23, 2014
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