Another Stove Question

11:31 a.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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I would like to start by saying that I have been lurking on this site for a while now and recently joined. I am very impressed by the amount of clear and concise information that is availalble on this site and how the members who post in these forums conduct themselves. So my question is: I am just beginning to get into backpacking and I am planning a few long weekend trips (3 days-ish) later this spring as trial runs before a longer 7 to 10 day trip this summer. I have some camping gear from base/car camping that I have done but I have never purchased or used a trail stove before. I was wondering which setup would be the best for me. Thank you in advance for any input. -Nate

12:21 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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In the long run, for most purposes, a liquid fuel stove is the most satisfactory in terms of price, long-term costs (fuel mostly), heat output, and weight on long treks. But you do have to learn how to use a liquid fuel stove properly (even many long-term users do not know how to properly light and maintain their liquid fuel stoves).

The easiest to use, lightest (for short trips), and cleanest are the compressed gas (canister) stoves. But they are more expensive for fuel and, on trips more than 3 or 4 days, the total weight of stove, fuel, and containers that you have to pack out is greater. Also, most canister stoves perform poorly at temperatures below about 40F (there are some special designs that work at very low temperatures). Also, the "stove top on canister" designs tend to be very "tippy", making it easy to dump the whole pot of soup on the ground.

Since you have not done the long trips before, I would suggest a canister stove such as the MSR Pocket Rocket or SuperFly. Stoves that are a "complete system" like the JetBoil PCS or MSR Reactor tend to be a bit on the bulky and heavy side. There are a number of other brands out there, each with their "champions" who will tell you that their choice is the absolute best. (I have way too many different stoves of various brands, liquid and compressed gas, to have any favorites - they all have virtues, and I have used expletives on all of them, though some are much worse than others, including ones that some people will loudly proclaim as the best thing for cooking since some protohuman discovered fire).

In liquid fuel stoves, you might find the MSR Simmerlite to be pretty easy to use, plus it does simmer fairly well, if you get into gourmet backpack cookery, or the Primus Omni (which can also use canisters as well as white gas).

3:15 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Nate, you may first want to consider what your requirements are. Do you want to melt snow/boil water, or do you want to cook? Generally stoves with micro burners tend to behave like blow torches(MSR pocket rocket) and concentrate heat in a small area; great for melting snow or boiling water in a hurry, bad for creating a delicate beurre blanc. Stoves such as the MSR Simmerlite have a larger burner, deliver heat more evenly, and as the name implies, simmer quite well. As Bill S stated, stove preferences are a personal valuation, and should fit the needs of the situation. I have an Coleman Peak 1 model 400 stove that is the old school "pack stove". It is by no means light, but will both simmer and work as a blast furnace. I also enjoy using a Coleman Powermax Expedition, as it has 2 burners and the added benefit of using recyclable aluminum canisters. Unfortunately, both of these stoves are heavy by today's standards.

7:01 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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I have also been moving for the base/car camping to more backpacking / back country side of things. The first stove I picked up a MSR pocket rocket and I will agree that is can be a bit of a blow torch. It can boiling water great but also learned it can burn right through the thin aluminum pan of some Jiffy Pop. There is nothing like hot oil spilling on the shot off value to make you make it fun to shut off. Though undaunted and after a bit of trial and error I was able to figure it out without burning a hole through the pan. I was able to learn how to cook with, it was a bit tricky and you had to pay attention to what you were cooking so you didn't burn things. But I found I really like the how small and compact it is and how easy to pack, including in your pocket, no pun intended. :)
After a while I also picked up the MSR WhisperLite. I did found it was easier to cook on because you have better flame control. Frying a bacon and egg on this was pretty easy as well as simmering other foods. It does have a bit more setup and prep though. Not quite the instant flame of a canister type but it's not as if it takes hours to get going, takes me a few minutes.
So depending on the type trip I am taking and what I plan on cooking I end up taking one or both along.

7:12 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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MSR used to make a canister stove called the Rapidfire. It looked exactly like a Whisperlite. Every once and awhile one turns up on eBay for a reasonable (I know can you believe that?) price. The Rapidfire had it all: easy flame control, bullet proof, inexpensive, extremely easy to maintain... maybe yhats why MSR discontinued them. I have 2 of them, bought 6 rebuild kits and have yet to use 1 of the kits.

4:07 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Nate--

My first comment will be this: Plan on buying more than one stove, if you continue backpacking, etc. for any length of time. I'm presently at five different stoves (I think--could be six). Only two are used frequently at present, but that could change.

My current go-to stove for most basic 3-season outings is the SnowPeak GigaPower Auto. The "Auto" refers to the piezo-electric igniter attached, and it works like a charm. It is a canister-top stove, and so has the usual attributes and concerns about stability, etc., but it's dependable, light, small, and cranks out the heat well. Simmer? Ehh...not so much. Not horrible, but.... My winter-time stove is a Brunton multi-fuel stove I've had for several years--I forget the model name of it, but it's a remotely-attaching stove (via braided SS hose) that I usually run on white gas. A little cranky about starting up sometimes, but once it's going, it does very well. Simmers reasonably, heats water quickly. And it really is a multi-fuel stove. I've run it on white gas, kerosene, diesel, and unleaded gasoline. (I won't do the gasoline again unless I absolutely have to, but it did well with the others.)

I think the real bottom line is to try to pick what you think is gonna be the best choice, after reading reviews, playing with 'em in the store, and--perhaps most importantly--talking with outdoors folks you know and trust. And after you buy that one, wait a bit, then go back and buy the one you should have bought the first time. That's how I do it, anyway.

9:03 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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My first choice is a canister stove. There are so many option, designed for so many different conditions that you should be able to find something that meets most of your needs. They are easy to use, clean, less likly to leak fuel in your pack, quick setup, cheap..... As you get further into backpacking you will find that one stove does not meet all of your needs. You have to start somewhere, so start simple.

Before you purchase anything, you need to decide your basic requierments. As Abman47 said:
"you may first want to consider what your requirements are. Do you want to melt snow/boil water, or do you want to cook?"

He is right. The pocket rocket is a great light stove. It is not ment for the backpacker gourmet. If you like to cook fancy backcountry meals go with something like the MSR Windpro or another stove that has good flame control.

Winter hiking you may use white gas or an inverted fuel system. High winds you may need want something like the JetBoil.


Hope this helps.

10:43 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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As far as stoves go there are a lot of different choices but bottom line is they all do the same job more or less. A MSR Pocket Rocket is a popular canister stove it is 3.0 oz the MSRP is $39.95 and also comparable to the Snow Peak Giga-Power it comes in 4 versions from 2.5 - 3.75 oz with a MSRP of $40.00 - $75.00 . If you want a lighter weight canister stove there is the Snow Peak Lite MAX canister stove it only weighs 1.9 oz with a MSRP of $55.00 that burns at 11,200 BTU's. Some burn hotter some burn cooler there all burn around 10,000 BTU's give or take 1,500 BTU's. Or another choice are Alcohol Stove's there are a lot of them out there from a beer can stove to brass construction from a 1/2 oz and up. Price wise they range from free home made and up. Alcohol fuel is chap and can be bought most any place because you can use any type of alcohol including 151 Bacardi Run Why you would burn that I don't but you can. I have found that HEET gas line antifreeze in the yellow bottle works the best and its cheap too.

Myself I like my Trangia Mini set http://www.trangia.se/english/2924.mini_trangia.html or my Snow Peak Giga-Power Titanium Auto Lighter.

9:38 a.m. on March 6, 2009 (EST)
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I'm not as experianced at backpacking as most on this site but the stove I use is the MSR pocket rocket for a couple of reasons. I bought the stove because it is simple in design, easy to use, low inital cost (incase I didn't want to really get any further into backpacking) and it's light and packs small. I don't really do any real cooking, mine tends to be heating up water for rice, pasta, hot cup of joe, or a freeze dried meal so it's blow torch cooking method works great. Plus most of the spots I camp at in the BWCA of MN have campfire rings so if I do any real cooking I'll use those. Like Perry Clark mentioned as you get into backpacking you will more than likely pick up additional stoves because it's nice to have a stove that is tailored to your trip. Good luck.

12:29 p.m. on March 6, 2009 (EST)
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I'm in the same situation and after many hours of reading I've narrowed what i think will fit my needs to the Snow Peak GigaPower and the new Primus EtaPacklite. I really like the all in one self contained system of the Packlite. It's low to the ground and has a remote gas configuration which i prefer over the inline stoves. I'll probly be ordering one of these soon.

1:06 a.m. on March 7, 2009 (EST)
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If you are going the cannister stove route, check out the Exponent (Coleman) F1 Powerboost. No other cannister is even close to its BTU output --23,900. A very good stove.

http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/detail.asp?product_id=9740-750

Due to the peizo lighter it weighs in 4.5 oz. Strip it off if you're a gram weenie.

I use both white gas and cannister stoves. My MSR XGK in the cold & nasty and the F1 for most three season trips. (If I am feeling 'retro', I pull out the Svea)

9:58 a.m. on March 7, 2009 (EST)
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Almost 24k BTUs and it still takes it 3.25 mins to boil 1 liter of water? That sounds very inefficient. How long does a 100g canister last with the F1?

Maybe I'm too nerdy about it. There are just so many smarter and better designed stoves out there these days. Not only that but the cooking pots as well. A normal stove like the Snow Peak GigaPower and say a jet boil cooking pot with heat exchanger would seemingly make a very efficient cooking system. In fact the only reason i'm not going this route is that once you put together the canister, stove, and pot together the center of gravity is too high for my likings. Especially when using a smaller 110g canister all that is resting on a 3.5in footprint. Not very ideal.

 

2:52 p.m. on March 7, 2009 (EST)
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I would have to believe(after doing the rough math) that if a 220g canister lasts 35 minutes on high, a 110g canister would last a whopping 17.5 minutes; long enough to boil 5.385 liters of water(give or take a drop).

3:45 p.m. on March 7, 2009 (EST)
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Nate--

My first comment will be this: Plan on buying more than one stove, if you continue backpacking, etc. for any length of time.

I think the real bottom line is to try to pick what you think is gonna be the best choice, after reading reviews, playing with 'em in the store, and--perhaps most importantly--talking with outdoors folks you know and trust. And after you buy that one, wait a bit, then go back and buy the one you should have bought the first time. That's how I do it, anyway.

This is funny because that is how most of my camping gear purchases have gone, I research the heck out of stuff and then in the field I decide that I needed "the other one". Thank you to all that have responded so far. After the input here and a bit more research I have narrowed down the search to a canister type stove (Pocketrocket, JetBoil PCS, or Snow Peak GigaPower) that will mainly be used for boiling water "blowtorch method" and not so much for simmering or low heat type cooking. I am new to backpacking in general so I will start with kind of stove and as I gain more experience and learn more what to pack and which types of trail food work best for me, I will most likely expand to different types.

7:05 a.m. on March 8, 2009 (EDT)
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A lot of it depends on the ambient temperature you are dealing with to as far as fuel canisters go if you are going over night or you don't cook much a 110g canister will last longer than you think it will. But I would recommend buying a larger canisters.

As far as you thermal pics go look closer one is cover one is not a cover pot always boils considerably faster. You have to consider the the material and thickness the pot's are made of. And you can get a MSR heat exchanger and accomplish the near same efficiency.

10:20 a.m. on March 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Mike,

I realize that. The pics above was more to demonstrate the loss of heat without heat exchanger. I mention earlier that given all the options in cookware these days you can mix and match certain pieces and have a wonderful system. I was just explaining that there are extremely well designed modular system that offer all these advances in one easy to use product.

4:40 p.m. on March 8, 2009 (EDT)
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With out a doubt mixing and matching is the way to go, that way you can best suit your needs likes & dislikes. Jet boil has a setup like that to you maybe interested in too.

9:37 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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for short trips i take my little pepsi stove. It's free, boils water, totally quiet, 100% reliable, recyclable and when you get the hang of it you can cook anything with it......

http://zenstoves.net/Stoves.htm

after over 200 meals it never let me down and was never maintained (you just cant)

It's a looooong way from car camping, but just tought i'd put it out there.

My winter stove is an XGK (think about David and Goliath!)

8:48 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi,

I just discovered this forum and am thrilled.

The stove question has been an ongoing discussion in my household for many years.

Like most folks here we have tried many different types of stoves and have found that there isn't really one stove that does it all and does it well. Luckily, most stoves can often be purchased on ebay, yardsales, craigslist or at second hand gear shops for a fraction of the new cost.

Alcohol stoves work well, the fuel is cheap and they are fun to build. If you want to boil water or melt snow in seconds flat they probably aren't for you.

The point of my post is to discuss the Stratus Trail Stove http://www.trailstove.com/

 

This is a stainless steel woodburning "hobo" stove. I was pretty impressed with the video and purchased one for a two week trip to the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico.

Originally we were just going to bring a whisperlite on the trip, but read that white gas was not available on the island. Also considered shipping my two burner coleman down, but heard propane was also not available.

Anyway, I tried the stove in the garden at home and it worked great. We fired it up out in the snow. Started it with cedar shingles and used dry oak and maple for the cooking fire. The kids all had a good time watching the show and we had boiling water in 20 minutes. Stratus claims the stove boils water in ten minutes. Stupidly, I didn't factor in the time it takes to start the fire.

Culebra appeared fairly wooded and We figured fuel would not be an issue. Wrong again. Most of the "trees" are basically succulents (arid climate), We did finally find some dry hard wood. No idea what the wood was, a gorgeous red color, somewhere between mahogany and teak. It burned hot, smelled bad and didn't last long.

I ended up buying charcoal, pretty heavy to carry and canned heat to get the fire going. 45 minutes to boil water, seriously!

 

This stove is ok if you have all the time in the world and loads of good dry wood.

It does ok as a charcoal chimney.

 

Love to hear if anyone else has tried this stove

 

On Culebra I saw white gas and Coleman fuel for sale. Now I'm considering an MSR International.

 

Thanks

J

10:08 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Hello ejg, welcome to Trailspace.

I sometimes use a wood burning stove I made myself, well I made several before I fine tuned it. I have looked at a trailstove video on YouTube, but I do not have one.

As far as the time it takes to start the fire, If I'm with a couple buddies this is time we spend talking and such, I don't get in a big rush anymore, just try to have a great time. I think fire building and cooking on a fire is an important skill to have, one I enjoy.

Of course one must take into consideration whether or not it is appropriate for the area you will be venturing in. Some areas I take my wood stove & some areas I take my white gas stove just depending on the amount of impact that area has seen,or is seeing.

There are several different species of Mahogany, just as with Oak or Pine, and yes, Mahogany stinks when it burns. I have burned a lot of it with power tools. HaHa.

Possibly what you had was Sapele (su-PEE-lee ), it grows in that region I believe.

Some of the areas I backpack in have coal mines and coal is plentiful, I have seen campers burn it before mixed in with a wood fire. A lot of what you can find laying around is what they call dirty coal, doesn't burn well.

So you thinking of going back to Culebra?

10:32 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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I used a coffee can in california for about a month and liked it. Easy to make, light, silent, free. You can always use an alcool stove in the middle if it's illegal to have fires (yep! not too good for fire season in SoCal). I used to carry a small ziploc bag and fill it with dry tinder before getting to camp. Shortens things by a few minutes.

Why buy when you can make your own for free?

The only stove i bought was a white gas blowtorch for winter expeds.

Then again, I'm always broke!

10:41 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi Franc,

When I carry a wood stove my buddies and I will pick up tinder as we hike, you know, clean up the trail. This is supposed to lessen the impact you have at your campsite I'm told.

I have a white gas blow torch too, Hard to beat for a good all around dependable stove.

10:43 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for the replies. Don't get me wrong. I love building fires and cooking over them. I guess my biggest complaint with this stove is that while I can cook with it, I've had much more experience with camp fires. This stove should work well here in Northern New England and I plan on trying it again soon. I like the idea of gathering wood as I hike if open fires are allowed.

Yeah, I've burned tons of mahogany with routers and saws as well and it definitely stinks (not as bad as Spanish Cedar though). Thanks for the information on the species. Just did a quick search and it seems right.

Firewood seemed pretty scarce all over Puerto Rico. Anywhere I asked about wood locals always said no and suggested charcoal.

Definitely going back to Culebra. We should have stayed longer. Hopefully I can go again next winter and stay for another week or so. We met some folks who had been camping there all winter long.
The island is gorgeous and hasn't been ruined by developers.

11:21 p.m. on March 18, 2009 (EDT)
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ejg,

Well, on the species of wood,that is just a guess on my part, from memory I think I was told that Sapele mostly grows in Africa but has been introduced to other parts for farming to lessen logging pressure in Africa. Sapele is a reddish purple, but then again, so are several other wood species.

Some of the Sapele I get for woodworking comes from Cote d'lvoire from what I'm told, who knows really.

8:31 a.m. on March 19, 2009 (EDT)
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The wood i found looked like Sapele, but then again it resembled Merbau and other mahogany types as well. The limbs i found had been cut for awhile and had dried out very well. Incredibly waxy and heavy. Too bad I didn't save a chunk. I know where the rest of the pile is if anyone is heading to Culebra.

12:46 p.m. on March 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi Guys

Back to the canister stoves again if you will ... I had been an XGK user for about 20+ years and loved that stove. A bit fussy but talk about output! Lately I found that trying to clean the orifice with the little wire, using a headlamp, etc. to be a bit challenging. I'm thinking my next liquid fuel stove will be the Brunton Vapor AF as it burns liquid and gas fuels, all with the same burner. Not cheap, but it's sooooo sexy!

Anyway, I thought I'd try a canister stove and after researching carefully chose the Brunton Flex. Do not confuse the Flex with the Optimus Crux. The former has four flip out pot supports while the latter only three which leads me to believe the Flex is a more stable platform for your pots. I love the way the unit folds down and stows in the bottom of the canister and then the whole works fits nicely into my GSI mini pot set. BTW, I also agree that you've got to tailor your stove selection to your intended use. Quicky trips = canister stove. Longer trips + snow melting or lack of/different fuels = liquid fuel stove. IMHO

My question revolves around some research I did yesterday at the local MEC store. Wanting to get the most out of the fuel canister, especially in lower temps, I've seen and heard that turning the canister upside down will improve the fuel delivery and help get it all out. So, playing around with the various bits of gear I came up with a mix-and-match set up; screw the Brunton Flex (or other mini stove head) on to a Brunton LPG Stove Stand then attach a Primus Universal Windscreen and finally screw the canister of your choice on to the other end of the stove stand and turn it upside down. The stove stand is only $16.50 and includes a foldable aluminum windscreen if you don't want to use the Primus hard shell one, and the Primus windscreen is $14. I like the hard shell, "hinged" style of the Primus windscreen because it's less fuss and looks to provide better wind protection and will fit inside my potset with the stove and canister. Plus the stove stand lowers the whole rig closer to the ground and offers a wider base of support for more stability.

The question: Will turning the canister upside down improve performance and utilize more fuel?

1:07 p.m. on March 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I think I answered my own question by doing some more research on this and other sites. From what I understand it works great to turn the canister upside down *providing the stove has a pre heat tube*, to vapourize the fuel. Otherwise you risk pushing liquid fuel through the burner and having a fireball. Sound right?

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