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Fuel Consumption Break Even Analysis

1:06 a.m. on January 4, 2011 (EST)
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Maybe it's because I stay up way too late geeking on gear, but I am drawing a blank on how to calculate fuel consumption break even points of different stoves.  My current query is the comparison of a 2.6 oz Soto with a 8.1 ounce Evernew 1.3, plus 1.9 oz vari went windscreen. Comparing that with my 18.1 oz Jetboil GCS, I calculate a weight difference of 5.5 oz.  The GCS yields 11.44 liters per 100g of fuel burn, the Soto 7.5 liters. So anyone, please share with me your break even equation.  I should have taken more engineering classes.  But I went business....

Thank you,

Alex

4:57 a.m. on January 4, 2011 (EST)
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To confuse you even more, throw in the weight of the containers (you do, of course, practice LN and pack out the empty canisters). Some people take the tiny canisters, then discover that, not only are they much more expensive per ounce of fuel, but the canister itself is a major part of the weight.

Fuel usage is something you have to experiment with and track, since it is a personal thing. Some people religiously shut off their stove when not actually heating something, while some just leave it running. I use liquid fuel for anything over a 4 to 5 person-day trip, finding the effective weight of fuel container plus stove plus fuel to be less than even Barb's tiny Vaude titanium plus canisters (plus, of course, anytime I am in snow condidtions). Rules of thumb (like the standard 2 ounces per person per day) are only first guesses and have to change according to your style of cooking (gourmet?) and weather conditions. Don't obsess (says the techie gear guru). Just get out there and do it, and keep track of fuel usage. For your compressed gas canisters, you might add a good scale (electronic) and weigh the canisters when full and as you use them (at home, not out on the trail!). That gives you a solid handle on your personal fuel usage and you can forget everything other people say.

5:25 a.m. on January 4, 2011 (EST)
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Personal experience has lead me to believe who you camp with, where you set up camp, and your ability to create a low draft cooking space all have much more influence on stove efficiency than the difference existing between stoves under a laboratory test.  An efficient stove means nothing if you leave it unattended at a boil, set it on high when a simmer is all that is required, or lack the skills to eliminate the effects of a cross breeze.  Some stoves better avail themselves to mitigating these affects than others.  Therefore I recommend getting a stove that best suits your intended use.  You will find a roaring flame that is a gas hog and easy to start is preferable to a miserly stove with a meek flame, when you are exhausted and trying to get some drinking water from snow.  I recently camped with someone using the jet boil system.  He may have eventually used less fuel than my kitchen partners, but it seemed to take forever for them to heat anything up.  We were done and washed up, breaking out the smokes, chocolate and brandy while they were still waiting for their main course to simmer.  Such considerations withstanding, Bill is correct to suggest larger fuel vessels offer a lower weight per ounce of gas transported.  Hence if you are going for a canister stove, use large canisters when fuel requirements warrant the volume; as for liquid fuel stoves a large bulk fuel tank is preferable to several smaller ones.

1:29 p.m. on January 5, 2011 (EST)
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There are more variables to consider. For example, if you have a brother-in-law who can carry heavy loads and is easily distracted, the issue of weight is meaningless. Not only have you found a conveyance for your cooking utensils, tent, stove, gas, and possibly yourself - if you learn to limp and howl in a piteous manner; but you have won points with your wife and probably his wife as well. Good deeds like this are part of the outdoor life.

 

 

3:28 p.m. on January 5, 2011 (EST)
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There are more variables to consider. For example, if you have a brother-in-law who can carry heavy loads and is easily distracted, the issue of weight is meaningless... 

 Being one of those who usually picks up the slack for the progress and good of the whole group, I resent your variable with great prejudice ;)

11:00 a.m. on January 9, 2011 (EST)
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There are more variables to consider. For example, if you have a brother-in-law who can carry heavy loads and is easily distracted, the issue of weight is meaningless. Not only have you found a conveyance for your cooking utensils, tent, stove, gas, and possibly yourself - if you learn to limp and howl in a piteous manner; but you have won points with your wife and probably his wife as well. Good deeds like this are part of the outdoor life.

 

 

Hey man, you're blowing my cover...

Ed

1:11 p.m. on January 9, 2011 (EST)
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Yes, the "brother-in-law technique" is a handy outdoor skill to acquire. Most books don't mention it; but it is useful throughout the backcountry. For example, when doing a two-person portage of a canoe -- ask brother-in-law to take the bow and you take the stern. After a few minutes ask him to move his grip back about a foot to improve the balance of the load (true...for you). Repeat as often as needed but stop before he exceeds the mid-point of the canoe; your feet should still be touching the ground.

 

2:32 p.m. on January 15, 2011 (EST)
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As witnessed in a big name outdoor store yesterday, most people are going to canister fuel stoves (rather than liquid)for quick set up, no spill fuel, over all ease of use, but remember there is the empty canister to pack out.

Liquid fuel stoves are now mostly for winter and high altitude conditions.  I have used several white gas stoves during these more extreme conditions as well as summer time in warm climates with satisfactory results.  The biggest fear is when I'm not sure whether or not I brought enough fuel for a multi day trip.  I have never worried about having too much fuel.   

Also, are there going to be new and or young campers in your group who are learning how to cook on the trail?  You could make or brake their future by haveing a good cooking lesson/ experience with them.

Experiment and make notes like others have suggested above for appropriate quantities of fuel to carry.

The newer MREs come with a heat pack that uses very little water to heat the entree and eliminates the need for a stove. Are you familiar with those?  My trail menus now are usually only made with boiling water, rather than simmering for group size of 2-5.  For more than 4-5 people, a one pot meal is more worth it to cook. Good luck.

April 19, 2014
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