Selecting a Camping Stove

4:12 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi everyone,

I find myself in the market for a new "camping" stove. I did quite a bit of backpacking years ago (dating myself here, I'll mention that I used my trusty SVEA 123R back then:). In recent years I've been doing mostly 'car' camping. Actually it's Jeep camping - so even then compactness counts (there's not much storage space in a Jeep). Lately I've been feeling an urge to start doing some backpacking again. So I want a stove I can use for either type of trip.

For the past couple years I've been using a Coleman Peak 1 stove (an earlier version of the Exponent Feather 442). But it's starting to give me trouble (pump not working well, and I think the regulator is failing, judging by the poor flame quality).

I'm thinking of moving to a true backpacking stove which will be compact for Jeep camping, and light for backpacking. However I'm having trouble making up my mind which one will be "best".

I am sure I want a liquid fuel stove, for a variety of reasons. But I'm not sure which one. I boil water of course, but also need a "simmer" capability.

I've read some good things about the MSR Dragonfly, but the plastic pump in MSR stoves really turns me off (actually, it scares me). The Optimus Nova Plus (the new version) is intriguing, but a few reviews leave me skeptical it works well. The Snow Peak WG model almost sounds like the one, but there are very few reviews out there, so apparently it's not well known, or not popular (and not stocked many places, so spare parts/repairs may be a problem).

So, as you can see, in spite of lots of reading, I haven't been able to zero in on a decision. I'm wondering if any of you have been through this process recently, and might have some thoughts to share as I close in on a decision Real Soon Now.

Thanks!
-Bill

6:28 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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I am an alchohol stove man myself, but, I have had friends with the dragonfly and I always call their stoves "the conversation stopper" Because of the noise. I've had a whisperlite with the plastic pump with no problems and have never heard of any problems with it plastic pumps.

6:58 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Hello Bill,
To back up what Jeffrey said, I wouldn't worry too much about the MSR plastic pump fitting.
I have an MSR Whisperlite with plastic pump that is still giving me good service after 17yrs of rugged use and that has included continuous daily use over periods of several months at times.
The only thing I have ever had to replace in these 17yrs is the leather washer at the end of the pump piston, something which will understandably wear after a long period.
I imagine the 'Dragonfly' pump is a very similar design.
You do mention you require a 'simmer' quality - managing a simmer is not the best feature of the Whisperlite and the Dragonfly looks like it may be similar. Having said that, you'd get to know your stove and eventually be able to 'tweak' it to get the desired result I'm sure.
What I like about the MSR (Whisperlite) that I have is its capability to achieve a fast boil and to be able to use multi fuels - white gas, kerosine and even standard gas once when nothing else was available. The usage of fuel is pretty efficient too.
So my advice for what it's worth, is check out the various stoves and if an MSR model with plastic pump fits the criteria you're looking for, then go for it.
Cheers, George.

7:17 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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I use Primus Omnifuel. So far it has been reliable and has decent flame for simmering. And it burns all types of fuel, including canister.

8:38 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill,
I have a Dragon Fly stove and although I did have a pump that broke but I bought the stove in 98 and they have since improved the pump so I doubt you will have any problems with the newer version,they look to be much better then the old model.I replaced the broken pump for a new pump because I like the stove so well.I don't have any problems simmering with it as well.It does a nice job for that but I will agree that the bugger does sound like a jet ready for take off but then,you don't need a reminder that something very hot is going on..And bringing water to a fast boil,holly smokes,the only thing quicker then that,would be a hand grenade.I heard good things about the other stoves that were mentioned also.

8:53 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, I have an old MSR XGK with the plastic pump and although mine doesn't have a lot of use, it still works,even after setting it on fire once (fuel leak from not hooking it up right). The XGK doesn't simmer, so not the stove for you. Sounds like a jet engine, too.

I have a Nova-mine is a lemon, other people love them. They are complicated and mine has never worked right. The pump on mine broke almost immediately and the stove clogged up right away too. I bought it on eBay so I'm stuck with it. I emailed Brunton, the distributor and never heard back from them.

MSR has great customer service. They sent me parts for my 20 year old XGK for free.

An alternative is the Coleman Extreme stoves-they use a proprietary gas cartridge. I have one of them and like it a lot. The cartridges can be hard to find, but REI has them. These stoves simmer pretty well. They are about $50 or so on sale.

I also have a little Primus Micron I like (canister) and an old Svea 123. I use the Primus for day hiking or for a backup with the little canister. I have a small pot the whole thing fits into.

As you can see, I didn't pick just one out of the herd. You may wind doing the same thing.

9:49 p.m. on August 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Tom, Optimus stoves are now distributed by Katadyn. If you contacted Brunton within the last year or so you probably fell through the cracks of that transition. Give Katadyn a shout.

7:04 a.m. on August 11, 2007 (EDT)
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I recently bought a JetBoil PCS stove (with the 1 litre mug).

I absolutely love this thing!!

Here is a websight selling stoves, backpacking food items and supplies...

http://www.wildernessdining.com

Since they are selling the JetBoil for only $59.95, I'm presuming the prices are good for the liquid stoves too.

10:50 a.m. on August 11, 2007 (EDT)
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Thank you all for your comments. I'll post a summary when I make my selection :).

-Bill

12:55 a.m. on August 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Dave, the Optimus stoves are being displayed at the Brunton booth here at the OR Show.

Bill, I would avoid the Dragonfly. Although the needle valve (the "simmer" valve) has been improved, it tends to clog rapidly if you don't follow the shutdown procedures in the instructions exactly. The MSR Simmerlite is a much better performer overall and for simmering (if you do gourmet cooking, for example). Depending on intended usage, the MSR Whisperlite International or the XGK are also good choices. I have never broken even the older MSR plastic pumps in 30+ years of using various ones of their stoves (every break I have seen was operator carelessness).

Primus makes several stoves (Liquid Fuel System, Multi Fuel System, and Omni, the latter 2 burning compressed gas as well as white gas and kerosene) that perform quite well.

4:09 a.m. on August 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks Dave, I knew someone was taking over the distribution, but didn't know who.

I've read about MSR pumps breaking, but I could never figure out how this would happen. One thing I did with mine was keep it in the fuel bottle and keep the bottle in an outside pocket on my pack. As long as you don't toss the pack around, I don't see why it wouldn't last a long time. What happened to my Nova pump was that the pickup tube separated from the pump-the tube and pump are metal, so I have no idea how they were joined together.

Like I said, some people love this stove and give it rave reviews. It is an interesting, if complicated design. One thing that is strange is that to turn off the stove, you have to flip the bottle over because of the way the shut off valve is designed. On the MSR pump, you just close the valve, let the stove burn the fuel in the line and disconnect it. You can then depressurize the pump. It just seems a simpler design.

3:48 p.m. on August 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill S, have you found the Dragonfly to clog even burning Coleman fuel? That's all I use (well, that or the Coleman fuel clones). But I don't burn regular gas or anything else.

I'll take a closer look at the Simmerlite... and I guess I won't worry about the plastic pump.

9:20 p.m. on August 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, are you sure those were Optimus stoves? This winter they were displaying a line of Bruton-branded designs that were very, very similar to the Optimus designs they'd previously distributed (e.g. Brunton Vapor AF = Optimus Nova, Brunton Flex = Optimus Crux)

12:04 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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Corrections and additions

My last couple of posts to Trailspace were toward the end of the Outdoor Retailer Show - after about 5 days of 10-12 hours of wandering the several thousand displays. So my brain was a bit fried. Some relief came with pleasant discussions and dinners with friends (like the very pleasant dinner with Alicia and Brian in SLC, who are well-known to Trailspace, and a couple friends of Brian's).

Soooo, a bit of correction with respect to stoves.

First thing is that this year has seen a lot more consolidation in the outdoor industry. I was a bit surprised/overwhelmed that K2 was acquired by a larger company (Jarden), as was another of the large conglomerates in the industry. Jarden already had Coleman camping gear (including Camping Gaz), Sunbeam kitchen appliances, Ball canning jars and Crock-Pot cookers, now along with K2 ski gear, Penn fishing reels, Marmot apparel and Rawlings baseball equipment.

Brunton is distributing stoves under their own name. A couple years ago, they imported the Optimus stoves. When I visited the Brunton booth, I was looking at some other things, but just happened to notice their stoves. Since their former stoves were the Optimus stoves, my fried brain latched onto "Optimus", hence my post "correcting" Dave. When I went by the Katadyn booth Sunday to pick up some items to test (including the filter-bottle, so I can give a better answer to the person who asked about it here on Trailspace a month or two back), I noticed the Optimus section of the Katadyn display. Hmmmmm - fried brain has moment of confusion. Last night after getting back to Palo Alto, I looked at the Brunton dealer catalog and perused the stoves. Yeah, they say "Brunton", but some of the models sure resemble the Optimus stoves. Wonder who makes them for Brunton? I guess I will have to ask at the Winter show.

There are now several (backpacking) stove labels that are of generally high quality. My personal top picks, based on experience in using them, are (in some random order) MSR, Primus, Coleman (they have several labels, including Camping Gaz)), Optimus for both liquid and compressed gas, and Markill, Jetboil, and Snowpeak for compressed gas (I think there are liquid fuel stoves sold under the Markill label, but I am not sure of that). Sigg also sells stoves, but I haven't used any of their recent models. They looked good in their display at the OR Show, and in the distant past when I used them a few times, they were very good. Optimus, by the way, still sells the Svea 123, still in the beautiful shiny brass finish - a work of art that every outdoor enthusiast should have in her/his collection, even if you don't actually use it.

I had a long discussion with one of Coleman's top stove design types about the Camping Gaz situation, in particular the C100 series of puncture canisters (100 gram content). The short answer is that these canisters have not been brought into North America is several years. There are very few of us in North America that have the Globe Trotter stoves, so there is essentially no demand worth the cost of importing the canisters. But there are a few boxes at dealers around the continent, and he thought there might be a couple of boxes in their warehouse (returns from dealers). They had a half dozen boxes until a university (state school in Michigan, if I recall correctly) figured out a way to attach them to a field bunsen burner and took most, if not all, of what Coleman had on hand. The good news, though, is that they are looking at a new version. With the bad news that it is likely to be a European only stove if it actually gets made. The "IF" is a big one, since even the European market is likely to be small, possibly too small to justify making a new version, especially since there are other alternatives.

12:13 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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I've got a 22 year old MSR Whisperlite - although like George Washingtons hatchet it's been rebuilt a number of times (actually I've replaced jets and rebuilt the pump a couple of times). Never let me down in the field. It packs nice and small, lights easily, it's simple to field strip. If I was in the market for another stove I'd go MSR again - but I'd go multi-fuel (mine is white gas only).

12:20 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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Dragonfly clogs and stove shutoff

The clogging of the Dragonfly's needle valve (aka simmer valve) has to do with the shutdown of the stove. This is also related to Tom's comment about the Primus flip-over shutoff method. All stoves will accumulate a bit of "lacquer" in the fuel lines, valves, and jets over time if you do not clear the fuel system of the fuel when you shut it off. This is the heavier (high molecular weight) part of the fuel. No fuel you can buy commercially is perfectly pure.

With the Dragonfly, you can prolong the time between clogs by following the shutoff procedure in the instruction leaflet (GASP! Read the instructions?!?!?!). Basically, you close the valve at the pump and fully open the needle valve at the burner of the Dragonfly. Let the flame burn, sucking the liquid fuel out of the fuel line until it goes to a yellow flame. Then blow it out, leaving the needle valve open. You will hear the hissing of the vapor for a while, as the line finishes clearing. Store the burner with the valve open, but be sure to close it when assembling the stove for lighting the next time.

Tom, the reason for the flip-over shutoff for the Primus LFS, MFS, and Omni is to accomplish the same thing - clearing the liquid fuel out of the fuel line to slow the buildup of the "lacquer". This also depressurizes the fuel bottle. You can depressurize an MSR bottle the same way. Note which way the bottle sits when the stove is in use, then flip it 180 degrees and open the fuel valve. There will be a few drops of fuel in the pickup tube, but this clears quickly. This works because the fuel pickup tube is angled down into the liquid when the bottle is in normal position and up into the air cavity when the bottle is reversed. Depressurizing this way means you don't get the spurt of vapor+fuel when you remove the pump - less mess and no stinky fuel on your hands.

1:59 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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I think I've made my decision. I almost went for the Primus Multifuel - the reviews I've read are all great, and it's on sale at a closeout price at several online shops. But I think I'm going with the MSR Simmerlite instead. The Primus is twice the weight of the MSR.

Weight wasn't going to be a primary factor for me, but the stoves seem comparable, so why carry the extra weight. The multi fuel feature is nice - but the reality is, I've always used liquid fuel, I'm comfortable with it, and I'm not crazy about the cannister idea (for one thing, at least here in CA, disposing of things like that is a hassle, requiring a special trip to a recycling center). Who needs the extra "overhead".

This has been one of my more difficult equipment purchase decisions. They all seem so similar, and each seems to have its faults. If it weren't for the weight and bulk I'd fix up my Coleman Peak 1 (or buy a new one).

Thanks again for all your feedback.

p.s. I think I still have my SVEA 123 somewhere :)

4:26 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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If you haven't already read the multipart articles on stoves and CO emissions at backpackinglight.com, you might want to take a quick glance before your purchase. I used a Peak 1 for years and thought that liquid fuel was the best for all around backpacking also. I didn't realize that white gas was a far more complex hydrocarbon than butane, and is more prone to CO and CO2 emisions. I switched to a Jetboild PCS and never looked back. It IS the most unfun stove I ever owned - just turn it on, push the igniter button, and you have boiling water in a couple minutes. BTW - the backpackinglight tests are the ones that killed the MSR Reactor stove - their tests discovered the extremely high CO output that caused MSR to pull the stove off the market.

4:51 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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Hmmm, that's an aspect I hadn't considered. I never cook inside a tent (I never take so much as a morsel of food within 50 feet of my tent). Is the emissions issue a factor out in the open?

I figured the Jetboil was just that - to boil water. Does it work for cooking that involves simmering?

5:02 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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I have to admit that I have never used mine for simmering, but it does give you considerable control over the flame. I don't cook near my tent either, but the articles were eye opening, and they do explain the lacquer and soot issues that the complex hydrocarbons produce as opposed to the simple butane, isobutane, and propane molecules. There are quite a few reviews on here for them - or maybe Ed G has a comment on this.

8:29 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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USMCSarge, the Reactor has not been pulled off the market. It was modified slightly and is available for purchase. By the way, the problem was one that is common to all the stoves, liquid and compressed. They all produce CO, which is why the standard advice includes "do not cook in tents or other enclosed spaces." The problem is exacerbated when the pot is in close proximity to the flame (partial quenching) or the air flow is restricted (as it is in finned pots and heat exchangers that direct the fuel-air flow close to the pot). If you cook in the open, as the manufacturers and all backpacking instructors recommend, there is no problem (yeah, yeah, "we all" cook in tents, especially in storms).

11:11 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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> (yeah, yeah, "we all" cook in tents, especially in storms).

I guess "you all" must not camp in bear country. Or maybe it's just me being paranoid about "food smell" anywhere near my tent :)

I cooked that way 25 years ago but it was in New England, where there wasn't any danger of marauding bears :)

8:50 a.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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no simmering with the JetBoil PCS but you can with the JetBoil GCS (group cooking system).

Here is a great Trailspace article to read:

https://www.trailspace.com/news/2007/01/17/integrated-canister-stove-showdown.html

The stove can be a little fun if you slightly delay pushing the igniter after turning on the gas!

11:40 a.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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First, an MSR Reactor update/clarification: while the Reactor has been significantly delayed from its originally scheduled spring 2007 release due to higher levels of CO (see announcement: https://www.trailspace.com/news/2007/06/29/msr-delays-reactor-stove-release.html and our blog: https://www.trailspace.com/blog/2007/06/29/msr-reactor-delayed-or-vaporware.html) the stove hasn’t been killed off and is expected to be for sale *hopefully* fairly soon.

I talked to MSR while at Outdoor Retailer last week and they're not willing to publicly give any dates, or even an ETA, on the Reactor's availability, based on past experience. We’re going to have to wait until it starts to ship before they’ll announce anything this time around. But I expect it will appear at retail sooner rather than later (only time will tell). It's not available as of today.

An understandable effect of the Reactor’s long, drawn-out, delay is that other companies are not willing to tout their new stove models too early in the process now, making us wait for their news.

As for cooking and eating in your tent, even here in New England I don’t do that. Proper cooking and food storage are good habits to get into no matter where you routinely camp, and of course there’s the CO safety concern. You’ll also be better prepared when you stay in locations where being bear aware is of the utmost importance.

But, like Bill S mentioned, there may come a time when you have no other choice. There's a difference between carelessly cooking and eating in your tent because it’s easier, and doing so because of a severe, windy, winter storm, where bears aren't an issue, but CO still is.

By the way, we’re very happy with both of our JetBoil stoves (PCS and GCS, depending on the trip).

12:25 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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As Alicia noted, the forbidden act of cooking in the tent is one of emergency need. The most common case is when sitting out a storm at altitude (when the CO problem is highest, by the way) or other circumstance where getting out of the tent to cook is problematic. People who do this are well aware of the CO and fire problem and proceed with extreme caution. There are too many well-known incidents of death or near-death from cooking in confined spaces (Richard Byrd's near-death in Antarctica is perhaps the most famous example, and the Wilcox expedition on Denali where a tent vanished in an estimated 10 seconds due to a flash-over during refueling a stove in a tent while cooking on another stove close at hand, along with a sleeping bag, a parka, and some other fabric gear - the new book "Forever on the Mountain" is a modern recounting of the whole expedition, in which this incident was only a minor one compared to the ultimate deaths of 8 of the 12 expedition members).

By the way, the backpackinglight and other test reports all state that it is only a small percentage of the MSR Reactors that exceeded the CO limit. Cooking in the open with plenty of ventilation is no problem. Remember this when cooking over your gas stove at home, or when using your wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace in your living room - fires produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless highly poisonous gas that is detectable only by your death or a properly working CO detector (yes, you need a CO detector in your home as well as a smoke detector).

But a side effect of cooking in the tent is that the tent will pick up food odors. So any tent you cook in should not be used subsequently in bear country.

For 99% of people in the woods and hills, follow the manufacturers' advice - do not ever cook in a tent or within 20 feet of a tent or any other potentially flammable material. ALL stoves produce carbon monoxide, and ALL flames, including candle lanterns, have the potential of setting the tent and other fabrics on fire. For the other 1%, proceed at your own risk and with utmost caution. And if you die from CO or are severely or fatally burned, remember, I TOLD YOU NOT TO COOK IN YOUR TENT!!! The Old GreyBearded One often jokes or posts things with tongue firmly in cheek, But on this, I am DEADLY SERIOUS! DO NOT COOK IN YOUR TENT!

4:31 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Those of us here who live in Grizzly country but also winter camp in weather that mandates cooking just outside your tent, which WILL infuse food odours into it's fabric, simply use two separate tents for winter/summer and NEVER get food close to the summer one.

I have a base camp system and I do get mocked about it by those who have never lived in BC wilderness; this is a Kifaru 8-man tipi with folding wood stove AND, for sleeping ONLY, my superb Hilleberg Saivo, set up quite a way apart from the cooking/living tipi.

I have enough firsthand Grizzly experience that I DO NOT take risks with them, especially on solo trips. I have an Integral Designs MKI-XL for winter and I will cook just outside it's door or vestibule, often under an ID Sylshelter rigged as a tarp roof, this works well.

9:21 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Re: Dragonfly clogs and stove shutoff

Thanks Bill for the explanation. I still prefer a simpler design. Of course, if you like canisters, you can't get much simpler than that. My little Micron with the piezo starter works like a charm so far. I do like liquid stoves though, but I think I've got enough stoves to last me a very long time.

9:55 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Tom, Tom, Tom, ya gotta understand

You can never have enough stoves, or tents, or sleeping bags, or sleeping pads, or rain parkas, or down parkas, or fleece jackets, or electronic widgets, or compasses, or day packs, or expedition packs, or weekend packs, or ice axes, or crampons, or cams, or chocks, or carabiners, or (name any other kind of gear).

The only caveat is that you have to convince the financier in your household that all these things are necessary. It is much easier when you check your potential "constant companion" out before making the long-term commitment - does s/he meet (or better,exceed) the minimum standard "woodsiness quotient"? In my case, Barb does. We did a 60 mile backpack through the Yosemite backcountry as a trial run, plus she inspected my gear closet and I checked hers (and her parents' - we currently still have her parents' 1960-era Kelties). I also know for a fact that Dave and Alicia fall into the right category as well (you didn't think they did the gear reviews without actually trying everything out in actual hills and woods, did you?).

Then again, it does constitute a problem when, like us, you are getting ready to rebuild the house or move.

12:06 a.m. on August 16, 2007 (EDT)
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Wow, what a thread this turned out to be! This is a great group here :)

I bought my new Simmerlite tonight, and a little 11 oz fuel bottle to go with it. The salesman wanted to sell me some $10+/quart MSR fuel, but I opted to take my chances with my trusty Coleman Fuel. I'll let you all know how it went after I try it out this weekend :-)

2:34 a.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, hehehe. If I had a bigger wallet, I'd need a bigger closet. The stuff I have doesn't get enough use as it is, let alone all the stuff I would buy if I win the Lotto.

bh-there are some threads here and elsewhere regarding different fuels with lots of mysterious discussions about carbon chains and all that stuff. Coleman fuel should work just fine. I would be very surprised if it didn't. Usually it is operator error (like not screwing the pump on right) that causes problems. Just be sure it's all put together right before firing it up.

11:11 a.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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Here's a thought on the "only a few of the MSR stoves were found to produce CO" comment from MSR. Are they blowing glass or carving these from blocks of wood by hand? Anything built to tight tolerances in a production enviroment is basically identical. If they aren't, then there is a problem with the manufacturing process. If only a few of their stoves produce CO, then they have a production issue, and the quality of their product comes into question. If all of the stoves produce CO, then they have a design flaw that can be corrected, and it proves that their manufacturing line can produce a quality product. As far as "Cooking in Tents" article, I thought it was a catchy title for an otherwise great analysis of the operation of various types of stoves. I'm not trying to bash MSR here, but I'm sure their sales rep is about as far removed from their production test department as the person that empties the trash cans in the front office. On a last note, my "killed the MSR reactor" was only a figure of speech. I'm sure the project manager for the Reactor was the only one "killed" when the financial and management team realized the lost revenue due to the anaomoly.

11:59 a.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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USMCSarge, all combustion of carbon-containing fuels (white gas, butane, propane, the gas supplied by your local gas utility, wood, coal, ...) produces a certain amount of carbon monoxide and a lot of carbon dioxide (plus other molecules, depending on the exact makeup of the fuel). How much CO depends on the conditions of combustion and will vary with any given stove over time (including your kitchen stove or gas furnace). Your "quote" from MSR ("only a few of the MSR stoves were found to produce CO") is inaccurate. MSR stated that only a few of the Reactors exceeded the CO limit considered acceptable - the key words were "exceeded" and "CO limit". I am sure Chumango and Brian in SLC can explain in more detail, but among the factors that affect the amount of CO are air flow (oxygen supply), completeness of mixing at the jet (soot, dirt, and other buildup over time and with lack of continuous maintenance), flame quenching (against a cold pot when melting snow for water, for example), and many others. There is generally a higher percentage of CO when using the stove at high altitudes where the lower air density means less oxygen available. When cooking in confined spaces (such as a tent or snow shelter) or other places with poor ventilation, during combustion the available oxygen gets depleted and combustion becomes less complete, hence more CO.

Or simply put, ALL stoves produce CO. Use your stove and lantern in well-ventilated areas only. Maintain your fuel-burning gear and use it properly (READ THE MANUAL!) to keep combustion as efficient as when it was factory new (this includes replacing worn jets and gaskets, as well as cleaning the fuel flow system and using quality fuel).

One other thing about stoves - to quote Clyde Soles in one of his excellent articles testing stoves - "Treat all stoves as the barely contained explosions they are."

2:16 p.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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I always use Coleman fuel in my MSR Whisperlite. The only problem I had was on the shore of Lake Superior when my stove simply would not light. Fortunately, there was a backup wood stove and plenty of wood to boil my water. On returning home, I realized that I was using old fuel that had been stored outdoors for at least two years. I simply refilled the stove with new fuel and it worked fine.

I think the fuel is touchier than the stove.

4:13 p.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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I fired up the Simmerlite last night, on my balcony :), and it worked like a charm. This weekend I'll try it for real ;).

The only thing I noticed is the plastic pump feels "sticky" when I try to pump it. It made it a little difficult to pump it more for further pressure (as indicated in the instruction sheet) when the stove is running. Maybe this (stickiness) will improve with use?

I must *really* be a geek ... all excited by a new STOVE :-).

8:00 p.m. on August 17, 2007 (EDT)
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bh, you should have gotten a tiny tube of pump lubricant with the stove. Put a drop or two (very tiny amount) on the "leather" (the "leather" is neoprene in all the stove pumps these days). To get at it, notice that the handle can be removed by pulling it part way out (to the position indicated by an arrow and a number "1" on the side of the stem of the handle, then rotating it (in the direction indicated by arrow "2" to undo the locking disk, then pulling it the rest of the way out(as indicated by arrow "3" on the stem). If you position the handle correctly as indicated by the arrows, it will twist loose and remove easily. If you are having to use force, check the position of the arrow "1". The rubbery-looking cup on the inside end of the handle is the "leather" (a few decades ago, this piece really was a piece of leather). Just rub a drop of the pump lubricant on the outside of the cone, then reinsert the handle in the reverse direction (with the arrows positioned with respect to the locking piece as when you took it out), and twist to lock it in place.

It should pump fairly easily. 20 strokes into a full fuel bottle is usually adequate (more needed as the bottle is emptied). It gets harder to pump as you add pressure. Eventually you will learn to feel when the pressure is about right, even on a half-full fuel bottle.

When priming, you only need a tiny spritz of fuel - pump up to pressure with the valve closed, then crack the valve open until you hear it start to "spritz", then close the valve. The cup on the stem of the burner is called an "overflow cup" by MSR for a reason - if you have visible fuel in it, you have overprimed and will get stupendous flames during the priming procedure. If you have just the right amount, the priming flame should never get more than 3 or 4 inches above the burner. When the flame starts burning down and you can hear the characteristic hissing, then is the time to open the valve - too soon and you will get a huge flare from the still-liquid fuel, too late and you will need to use a match or lighter.

And, by the way, the yellow flame you see when priming has lots of carbon (and will deposit soot), and carbon monoxide - this is why you should never ever light the stove inside a tent, vestibule, or other confined area. Always light the stove outside with plenty of ventilation and 20 feet at least from anything flammable (NO OPEN FUEL CONTAINERS WITHIN 20 FEET EITHER!).

12:05 a.m. on August 18, 2007 (EDT)
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If you want a liquid fuel stove, there are 2 worth considering in my opinion. The MSR Whisperlite and the MSR Simmerlite. The Whisperlite is not as quiet as a whisper, but cranks out the heat. It does not simmer that well. The Simmerlite weighs a few ounces less than the Whisperlite and does a great job of simmering but also cranks out the BTUs when needed.

For my lightweight trips I use the MSR Pocket Rocket with home made wind screen and heat deflecter. For my trips when I am taking the fly rod and cooking fish, the Simmerlite is my choice.

2:39 p.m. on August 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, you seem to be well read. At what university did you do your graduate or post graduate research?

4:03 p.m. on August 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Sarge asked "Bill, you seem to be well read. At what university did you do your graduate or post graduate research?"

Well, my formal academic training is not where I learned about the outdoors, camping, backpacking, climbing, backcountry skiing, etc. So where I got my academic training is not really relevant. I learned (and am still learning) about the hills and woods the same place people who post here like kutenay, chumango, Fred, Ed G, Jim S, Dave and Alicia, Brian in SLC, Tom, and several others who make valuable contributions here - by actually getting out there, trying out many things, and listening carefully and critically to what others out there have said. I had lots of excellent mentors, some of whom are famous climbers, skiers, backpackers, and other woodsy folk, most of whom are much more experienced and knowledgable than I am, and some of whom wrote the books to which I refer most of the time. If I am at all well read, it's because I read books and other publications, rather than vegetating in front of the tube (hmmm, can't call it "the tube" anymore, can we, now that "everyone" has flat screens).

6:24 p.m. on August 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill is being a tad bit modest, and I'm sure I've learned more from him than he's learned from me. But he makes a good point about continuing to learn from both other people's experiences and books, even after decades of expertise.

We might be most dangerous to ourselves, and others, when we think we already know everything we need to know.

10:06 p.m. on August 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Late to the party, as usual -

Bill has it right, all stoves create carbon monoxide. Just how much depends on a host of factors - burner design, proximity of pot to flame, flame at high or low level, type of fuel, etc. But they all put out CO. Cooking in an enclosed area should only be done in emergency situations, and even then with serious precautions regarding ventilation. You can't see or smell CO, and by the time you realize your stove puts out too much (headaches, etc.) it may be too late (and fatal).

As for stoves, my experience with the Dragonfly has been better than Bill's - no problems with clogging. Admittedly, I don't spend nearly as much time outdoors, but that's something to consider if you are not spending months at a time outside. The DF is loud, but it has a wonderful simmer.

The Nova is a lot quieter, and it also has a very nice simmer. I have heard both rave reviews and reports of problems. This is true of many stoves. You have to see them in use to really see for yourself.

I have never actually seen a Simmerlite in use, but from what I have heard, it does not simmer all that well. The Whisperlite (I have one) can be made to turn down, but I would not call it a simmer, defintely too hot for rice or an Outback Oven.

I have settled into using a canister stove for backpacking (for the low weight - stove plus fuel weighs less), and the DF for car camping and canoe trips. A couple of weeks ago I was the appointed baker for a canoe trip - biscuits, cinnamon rolls for 9. The DF works well for this, the stove has to be able to turn down a lot to use an Outback Oven. Most of the cooking was done with Dutch ovens. We eat quite well on the canoe trips.

3:11 p.m. on August 19, 2007 (EDT)
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With the Whisperlite, I discovered that the best way to reduce the cooking temperature is to raise the pot higher than the stove pot supports, perhaps by simply holdoing the pan up off the stove or by using rocks or logs and a pair of metal tent stakes to form a new, higher pot support. It is cumbersome and not an exact science, but you can approximate a simmer if necessary.

3:48 p.m. on August 19, 2007 (EDT)
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a.k.a. P Gunyon, Phil Gunyon

It looks like you have all ready gotten your stove of choice. But I would like to add another to the list of stoves I have seen here. I baught a Brunton Raptor (propane butane mix) stove. I love this little sucker!! I used one can of gas this past week for a 5 day trip, cooking 1 to 1 1/2 qts of water twice a day. It folds up into a nice little 1.5 x 1.5 x 3.5 ish case. The cans of fuel can be a bit combersome but I just put them in my cooking pot and put it all in the top compartment of my back pack. Phil g Hiking the great state of Wisconsin!!

9:22 p.m. on August 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I have an Optimus Nova, and it works like a champ. When I first got it, it plugged quickly, and that seems to be a common problem. Just pull out the fuel filter and carefully shave off a tenth of a mm. Apparently there is a little aluminum dust left over from the manufacturing process that has to work its way through the system.

It simmers well and is a lot quieter than a DF. And it is simple to operate.

Two of my friends saw my Nova in operation on backpacking trips and bought one of their own. One works well, the other has had a lot of problems. So it seems to be hit or miss with them. And the guy with the problem Nova was replacing a DF that was prone to huge flame flares during operation. Nothing like having your stove suddenly shoot a three foot wall of flame up while you are cooking.

For backpacking I recently converted to a hybrid setup of an MSR Windpro canister stove coupled with a Jetboil GCS pot. The standard Jetboil GCS has two faults, IMHO: Poor performance in wind, and the inherent instability of the top-mounted design. And you can't use it with an outback oven, which I may get one day to improve my menu choices. With my setup I can use a windscreen and it is much more stable. I just got back from an 8-day trip in Kings Canyon, and for two people one 8-oz Brunton canister lasted six full cooking days, boiling over 16 qt water and simmering for about 45 minutes total.

2:46 a.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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bh, As you can see, the choices can be maddening. The Nova for example, has its lovers and detractors (me being one of the latter), so you did the right thing-just pick something and start using it. If it doesn't meet your expectations, there's always eBay.

11:27 a.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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I went from a 1988 Peak1 to an MSR pocket rocket and havnt looked back. I really had to think about the type of trips I was doing, and where and when, and my outcome was to go canister. It is simply mindless. HOWEVER, I will still bust out the Peak1 for higher elevations and lower temps. I will never get rid of the peak1. It's definately a tried and true Coleman product and is worth changing out the plunger every 10+ years or so.

6:58 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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I tried out my new Simmerlite this weekend. It worked fine in terms of firing it up and boiling water. But it certainly doesn't simmer, or at least not in any "real world" conditions. I understand if you pump it to a lower pressure, it'll simmer... but that's no good, since normally you need to bring something to a boil (e.g. water), add the ingredient (e.g. noodles or rice), and then back off to a simmer. I don't see a way to get the stove to simmer under these conditions.

I guess I need to live with it ... and do as I did this weekend with my Red Beans and Rice dinner ... holding the pot above the stove for 20 minutes .

It also seemed like the stove used a lot of fuel compared to my old Peak 1. I went through nearly a whole 11 oz fuel bottle just making the aforementioned dinner, and boiling water for oatmeal & tea for breakfast. That means even a large (22 oz) can would only last me 2 days (or I need to revert to simple "boil water" type meals, like the yechhy freeze dried ones.

7:44 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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BH -
Wow! 11 ounces of fuel for a red beans and rice dinner! That's sure contrary to my experience using the Simmerlite. How did you prepare the dinner, particularly the beans? Are you using a mix (like Zatarain's), or starting from scratch? Assuming you started with dried beans, you should have soaked them overnite before cooking (that's what I always do at home, too). I do the same with 7-bean soup (and 13-bean soup as well). Maybe my Simmerlite is different, but I don't seem to have the problems simmering mentioned by several others here.

But 11 ounces for a day's worth for one person is more than I use in winter, including melting the snow to get water.

8:07 p.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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11 oz is a lot for 1 person and one day, even for 20-30 minutes of cooking. 11 ounces should give a full hour or so of burn time at full tilt. You will need to experiment with how much you pump the stove - you probably don't need it that hot. And watch how much you use for priming. Do you keep it burning while not cooking? There has to be a reason why so much fuel was used.

When I use liquid fuel (typically with my Dragonfly), the "normal" fuel usage for 3 people over a 3 day trip - two full cooking days - has been 16-18 fluid ounces (11-13 oz by weight). That is with a rice or pasta dish for dinners (the type that does not take more than 5-10 minutes), oatmeal for breakfast, cinnamon rolls or similar for a treat (Outback oven), and water for cleaning up. This does not involve melting snow, nor do we heat a lot of water for hot drinks.

I use noticeably less fuel with a canister stove - about half as much. This is due to greater stove efficiency, greater pot efficiency (Jetboil GCS pot), and I am more careful to not heat more than I need. I also don't bake with it.

6:56 a.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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using one (yes, just one) 110g jetboil fuel can, I had enough fuel to boil water for....

Thursday:

five 8oz cups decalf tea
2 8oz cups for Mountain House pro-pack
1 8oz cup water for bedtime bathing

Friday:

five 8oz cups of coffee in a bag
two packages of instant grits
five 8oz cups decalf tea
2 8oz cups for Mountain House pro-pack
1 8oz cup water for bedtime bathing

Saturday:

five 8oz cups of coffee in a bag
two packages of instant grits
five 8oz cups decalf tea
2 8oz cups for Mountain House pro-pack
1 8oz cup water for bedtime bathing

Sunday:

five 8oz cups of coffee in a bag
two packages of instant grits

still a lillte fuel left when I packed up to go home.

One little itty bitty fuel can that fits inside your drinking cup!!!!

JetBoil - I love this thing.

When I bought it, the guy who owned the store told me to expect to be able to boil about 45 8oz cups of water per one 110g fuel cannister.

I guestimate that I actually boiled about 43 8oz cups of water.

11:43 a.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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"Optimus, by the way, still sells the Svea 123, still in the beautiful shiny brass finish - a work of art that every outdoor enthusiast should have in her/his collection, even if you don't actually use it."

Excellent point Bill. I would only add that everyone should actually use a 123 every so often because it is a great stove that is fun to use and always works in all weather.

I did not know that Sigg still made stoves. I don't recall having seen any on their website in some time. Are stoves being reintroduced to the market by Sigg?

11:53 a.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Ed had "five 8oz cups decalf tea"

Ed, does that mean you don't follow the Brit habit of milk in your tea?

Then Ed made up for the "decalf" tea with 15 cups of high octane caffienated coffee (and 10 more cups of "decalf"inated tea, adding up to 30 cups, or 6.5 liters of fluid, most of which was highly caffienated - no wonder you were able to use the remedy you mentioned in the urushiol thread ;). And he was clean, having taken 3 baths during his weekend trek.

A bit less sarcastic - That works out to about 4 ounces of fuel for the 2-day weekend, or 2 ounces per person-day. Chumango's 11-13 ounces (wt) for 3 people for a 3-day weekend also works out to about 2 ounces per person-day. The number I give in my backpacking workshops and have mentioned on this website several times for 3-season trips also happens to be 2 ounces per person-day. Good to see the same number coming from disparate sources, but not surprising. The common thread for the food is that pasta (quick cooking like instant rice - white or brown, grits, or angel hair, or in the freezedry) is a major ingredient). Ed consumed some extra in personal hygiene.

Gourmet cooking does consume more, although it should not take as much as bheiser1 used. bh, try soaking the beans ahead of time (cold water works fine for this - try it at home to get the soak time right). Also, stirfry makes for gourmet Chinese or Japanese, and doesn't require any more fuel than boiling water (I have an anodized aluminum wok from GSI that works almost as well as the iron wok we use at home, but one of the coated anodized aluminum skillet/lids from GSI, MSR, Snowpeak, others will work for stirfry as well - use canola or olive oil, but just a tad. you are'nt deep-frying).

12:23 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, just to set the record straight...

The JetBoil cup safely holds 20oz of liquid at a time. So, I in fact, have 2 vessels of decalf tea and and 2 vessels of coffee per day.

I do like milk in my coffee, so I always camp near the cows

12:26 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Ed G - wow ... if I ate like that I'd feel like I was about to die of starvation :). or maybe you also had lots of non-cooked food in addition to your tea and grits?

Bill S - the red beans and rice I cooked was some kind of dry mix (similar to the Lipton meals someone mentioned earlier). Basically you bring it to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes (or in the case of using a Simmerlite, you boil it for another 20 minutes, lol).

Thinking more about the fuel consumption issue, I think I may have forgotten to factor in the test run (at home), where I boiled a 1.5 liter pot of water. And I probably didn't really use a full 11 oz of fuel for now what amounts to about 1.5 days. There was a small amount left in the can (1-2 oz).

Even that is about 3 oz per meal (6 oz per day), 3x the reference amount you've all mentioned.

I guess what I'll try next is not pumping the stove as much. I'm used to the Peak 1, where "more pumping is better" (because it runs better with more pressure, and boils faster). So being used to that I probably went over the recommended "20 pumps" with the Simmerlite.

So my lessons for next time: hold the pan while simmering, and pump less :).

12:45 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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I do have a sandwich or two for lunch. Just didn't mention it since it doesn't consume any fuel.

1:27 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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"and do as I did this weekend with my Red Beans and Rice dinner ... holding the pot above the stove for 20 minutes ."

In many cases you can reduce cooking time by soaking meals like this in advance (cold) - then just bring them to a boil to make them nice and hot to eat. If I'm going to have pinto beans or some other dried food (rice, pasta, oatmeal, dried fruit) I'll generally put it in a ziplock, with some water and try to place it somewhere that it won't get squashed (inside a cook pot works very well) - that way I don't waste fuel. As an aside, the same theory works well at home, and keeps the gas or electric bill a bit lower. When you go to cook it, use the water you soaked it in to keep all the flavor!

3:16 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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The thought also occurred to me that I could find (or create) some kind of wire grate that would stand above the stove to hold the pot for simmering. But by the time I do all that I probably should have just bought the Primus Multifuel, which allegedly really does simmer, unlike the falsely advertised MSR product :-|

Ed, your comments about what you eat really makes me realize how much more I must eat than most people do (especially when I'm hiking!!!). But I knew that anyway - seeing as my Bearcache allegedly holds 7 days of food, and I'm lucky to fit 3 days in, and to do that I'm really scrimping!
This gives you an idea how I normally eat, though of course I can't really do this while even Jeep camping, not to mention backpacking:
http://www.calorieking.com/public/?member=bheiser

BTW, what's the "best practice" for transporting these little stoves? Do you all normally disconnect the fuel line from the stove, leaving the pump in the bottle? or do you normally remove the fuel pump from the bottle and cap it? Either way seems to have its risks (pump damage, fuel line damage/dirt, leaking fittings etc). Which approach works the best?

3:21 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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The 20oz Mountain House pro pack meals are pretty filling.
I really like them. They have some great meals.

4:25 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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So I guess they've improved then in the nearly 30 years since I've eaten one of those, eh?

10:04 p.m. on August 21, 2007 (EDT)
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Hmmm, bh, CalorieKing requires a sign-in to see your URL. And it looks like a "loser" website (all the testimonials about how much weight various people lost). Does this mean you are working on losing weight, but still only able to get half as much food into your bear container? Man, you must really burn the calories!

Anyway, for transporting the stoves, always disconnect the fuel line from the fuel bottle (except stoves like the old Peak 1s of course). And you probably should remove the pump from the fuel bottle, though that isn't really necessary. I store the pump in a ziplock to keep any residual fuel away from food, clothes, etc (after doing some clearing of the pump and fuel lines to get rid of as much fuel as possible). And the fuel bottle goes in an outside pocket of the pack.

Some of the freezedry meals are quite good, as Ed says. But you should try them at home, since some may be too spicey and some may be too bland. I generally like my meals spicey, though I found a couple of the Alpinaire ones that I normally like too spicey when I was at High Camp in Antarctica (tastes change with altitude - some people like MORE spice at altitude than usual).

12:15 a.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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BH, I would agree that is way too much fuel consumption regardless of what you are making. I'm usually cooking for one, so that obviously takes less, but my suggestion is to alter what you are cooking. There are a lot of tricks and substitutes for cooking. Not many of which I have much experience with, I must add, but plenty I've read about. I'm a pretty basic eater, so my meals are very simple.

Try this website for some ideas-
http://www.freezerbagcooking.com

Also, The Lightweight Backpacker-
http://www.backpacking.net/bbs.html has a dedicated food forum where people post recipes, ask about stoves, etc.

5:53 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill S, Oh, sorry, I thought the meal diary was publicly accessible. And a "loser web site", eh? geesh! :-P

Anyway, I use the site to track my calories as part of my health and fitness program, along with my exercise routine.

I left the pump in the fuel bottle on my trip this past weekend (and it's still there). It just felt too clumsy to be pulling out and dealing with the wet pump. But I can see how it could easily be damaged if not stored right. I like your ziplock bag idea, maybe I'll try that.

And Tom, thanks for the references. I'll check those out. And maybe I'll get to try the stove again this weekend :).

8:17 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm a Scoutmaster with over fifteen years of backpack camping behind me. Over the years my troop has tried a number of backpacking stoves.

We like the Coleman 442 because it can set to "simmer" so that we can actually cook things with it and not scorch the bottom. We use these 442s when we truck camp and when we backpack camp. Coleman fuel is easy to find, another plus. My twelve-year-old 442 finally needed a new piston thsi spring. I bought a new piston from CAMP-MOR and fixed the stove in fifteen minutes. This is my go-to stove when I want to make Egg-Beater omlettes for my adult leaders.

When we go backpacking we use "just add water" meals. Some we buy prepackages, most we make ourselves. This is when we like the MSR and Snow Peak canister stoves. They boil water in a hurry. A big hurry. Definitely a good thing when you have a gaggle of hungry Boy Scouts milling around waiting to eat. These canister stoves aren't worth shucks for simmering, however. I've yet to actually cook something on one of them without scorching the bottom of the pot.

So, it boils down to what's most important to you. A stove that will let you do some real cooking or one that will produce boiling-hot water in two or three minutes. They both store in a two-liter cookpot, so space isn't a factor.

So, IMNSHO if you're packing a Jeep with a weekend's worth of stuff, why not reserve two two-quart-pot-sized places? Pack one of each. The 442 will let you make gourmet meals and the canister-type stove will let you boil water in a jiffy. This also gives you great flexibility when you decide to go backpack camping.

Drew

3:42 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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Well, I used my new Simmerlite for its second trip this weekend. I have to say I'm not thrilled with it. I'm even contemplating going back to the bulkier, somewhat heavier, Coleman.

What I discovered this weekend is that not only does it not simmer, but even trying to boil with it can be tricky. The "tricky" part comes in that you need to have a reasonably full fuel bottle, or it requires pumping every few minutes.

I had probably an inch of fuel in the 11 oz can - and as I was boiling (should have been simmering) my Lipton rice dinner - the stove kept sputtering out, and I had to rush to pump it some more to keep it going. I had to do this probably 4 - 6 times during the 7 minute "simmer" period.

I guess what this also tells me is that, even backpacking (I was Jeep camping), I should carry the small can to use with the stove, AND a larger can, so I can refill the small one. If I were to carry just a larger can, then I'd have troubles with the stove once the fuel level got low.

So, the act of juggling intermittently holding the pot off the stove, to keep the rice from boiling away & burning, and pumping the stove, must have been quite a sight :).

Are all these backpacking stoves this finicky to use?

4:20 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm not familiar with the Simmerlite. However, I checked on another site I post on and saw the same comment-the stove won't simmer (in spite of the name). I'm not sure all stoves are that finicky, but you do run into the problem of dealing with decreasing pressure as the fuel is used up with just about any design I can think of. My Coleman Xtreme, a gas cartridge stove, has this same problem in cold weather-as the pressure in the canister decreases, you have to open the valve up more to maintain the flame.

If you had to pump the stove that much in a short period of time, I don't think it was pressurized enough to start with. Although I haven't used it in a while, I don't remember my XGK having that problem. Then again, that stove is either on or off-no simmering-but the principle is the same.

4:47 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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No, they are not all that finicky. Although I've never used the Simmerlite, I've never had that problem with my Whisperlite. In fact, I rarely pump while I'm cooking. The stove always works well, even with low fuel levels in the smaller tank. However, an inch of fuel is a pretty low level.

5:32 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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Backpacking stoves are not, in general, that finicky. It's probably a matter of experience with operation.

You should have to pump the bottle LESS often to maintain pressure when the fuel level is low. That is because there is more pressurized air in the bottle to expand when the fuel is consumed (fuel consumption rate is the same whether the fuel level is low or high if the bottle pressure is the same). This assumes a properly pressurized fuel bottle to begin with. The exception to this would be if the fuel is so low that the fuel line begins picking up air along with the fuel, then the pressure would drop rapidly.

You may not be pumping the bottle up enough when you start. You have to pump more when the bottle has less fuel in it, quite a few more pumps at really low fuel level.

Check the plastic fuel pickup tube. Make sure it is not bent out of whack - it should contact the lower edge (side wall) of the fuel bottle when the fuel pump is installed. That way it will continue to feed liquid fuel right up to the last of the fuel, or close to it.

You should not have to carry two bottles unless you need that much fuel. The fuel bottle should perform fine at low fuel levels. I have not experienced these problems with my Whisperlite or my Dragonfly.

As for simmering, that is something the Simmerlite just won't do very well. I say this without ever seeing one in action, but I have spoken with enough folks who have one to feel comfortable with that statement. With some practice you can get it to turn down, but a true simmer is probably not within its capabilities.

8:21 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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What it comes down to is experience and paying attention to what happens as you experiment with the adjustments with the stove - any stove. "Finicky" is a relative term - to a large extent, that's the nature of the beast, UNTIL you learn the peculiarities of your particular stove. When I first started using backpack (and earlier, Coleman 2-burner) stoves without parental supervision, I had lots of problems lighting and adjusting the flame. Eventually (with good mentoring and parental supervision) I learned to have most stoves become quite dependable. Some (like the Dragonfly) require more care and maintenance. Some (like the XGK family - which I have used for 40+ years now) are like a Sherman tank - sturdy and dependable unless you get really negligent (which I have seen way too often) - Oh, yeah, Tom D, you are flat wrong about the XGK. It is not true that it is "is either on or off-no simmering." The XGK has TWO levels - "full afterburners" and "launch the Shuttle" ;) (noise-cancelling headphones are suggested in either case).

I have heard people say that the Simmerlite doesn't simmer. Maybe I got a special version, but mine simmers just fine, and without all the fiddly "low pressure in the tank" business. I can also simmer with my (and my son's) Whisperlite International, though that took a bit of a learning curve. I have also heard people say they have trouble simmering with the Primus MFS and Omni (even though the Omni has basically the same needle valve as the MSR Dragonfly). Again, I have had no problem with this.

Part of simmering properly on any backpacking stove is the amount of liquid you are trying to simmer - it is much harder to control with a single-person amount of fluid.

But then, I have something like 15-20 stoves of various types in the garage ... er, I mean, gear closet ... and have cooked something like 10 percent of the cooked meals I have eaten in my life on camp stoves of one sort or another (plus a few campfires). In the past 3 days, it was 100 percent of my meals (I was climbing in the Sierra). So maybe it takes a bit of practice.

One thing that makes a big difference that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is the pot you cook in. A lot of people these days are using titanium pots. Unfortunately, they are light, but are poor conductors of heat. So you get a concentrated hot ring on the bottom of the pot directly over the flame - you will often end up with part of your meal being charred with the rest raw with Ti. Stainless pots are better at spreading the heat, but are also mediocre heat conductors. There are a few anodized aluminum pots that are good at distributing the heat from that tiny burner on your backpacking stove - these are much better for cooking gourmet meals in the backcountry. One thing I have been noticing about my JetBoil (large pot version) is that there frequently is a hot pattern mimicking the heat exchanger ring - a ring of radial hot spots on the bottom.

10:03 p.m. on August 27, 2007 (EDT)
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Good point about the pot. In order of more to less scorching - titanium, stainless steel, aluminum. A good example of how well aluminum works was when my assistant Scoutmaster made a batch of pancakes with his brand-new MSR XGK (all the scouts lined up for them). He used an aluminum skillet, a little thicker than the typical lightweight backpacking skillet. It dispersed the heat quite well. The pancakes cooked fast, but scorching was at a minimum, even for that hot-burning stove.

When I use the larger Jetboil pot (with an MSR Superfly) the water starts boiling above the heat exchanger fins, rather than above the flame of the stove. Simmering shows more along the fins than in the middle as well. This helps prevent scorching in my experience, since the majority of the heat is coming from a larger surface area rather than from a concentrated point.

2:17 a.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill, like I said, it's been a long time. All I remember was "jet roar"=on; "quiet"=off. It takes a sophisticated user such as yourself to coax anything else out of that thing, although I do vaguely remember kind of a half setting that was not exactly a simmer by any stretch of the imagination. The XGK is much like the amp in Spinal Tap (the fake rock movie) that goes to 11, when all others go to just 10.

One other thing I remember about it, is setting the whole thing on fire the first time or two I started it up (not the pump, the stove itself) without harming either the stove or myself in the process. There is much to be said for a separate fuel bottle.

12:10 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Tom, your comment about setting the stove on fire during start-up reminds me of a point for BH (and others) -

Perhaps the hardest thing to learn about liquid fuel stoves is proper priming. If you are doing the priming correctly (with any liquid fuel stove I have ever used), you should get no flare-ups and the priming flame should never get more than a couple inches above the burner. I have seen flames leaping up 3 to 6 feet (literally!), far too often, and from people supposedly experienced with the stoves. "Priming" this way seriously increases risk of injury and other damage. Do that in a tent and obviously you will soon have no tent.

All liquid fuel stoves require some priming. The main purpose is to heat the generator section of the fuel line, which is where the fuel is vaporized before getting to the jet. Even the Wood Badge Buffalo's favorite Coleman 442 (a stove with innumerable flaws) requires priming under some conditions, although use in temperatures above 40F usually will allow lighting fairly directly after pressurizing the pump and cracking the fuel knob (one of its few virtues).

You only need a tiny amount of fuel for priming. If you were to use an eyedropper to measure it out (one of the old tricks with the Primus 71L and Svea 123), it is about 1/3 of the dropper. With the MSR, Primus, Optimus, and Brunton stoves, with the fuel bottle properly pressurized, just open the fuel valve enough to get a couple seconds of "spritz". MSR even refers to the little cup on the stem of the burner as an "overflow cup", meaning if you start filling that, you have too much priming fuel. With the Dragonfly and Primus Omni, open the "simmer" needle valve fully before using the fuel knob on the pump to get the priming amount. Light the priming fuel and let it burn almost completely out (timing is everything here), then open the fuel valve. If you do it right, the main flame catches from the priming flame, just as the priming fuel runs out. If you are in a moderately quiet location, you can tell by the sound when the generator tube is hot enough, but even then, wait until the priming fuel is almost out to avoid a flare-up.

An alternative that will always avoid the flare-ups is to use FireRibbon or FirePaste. This "jellied napalm in a toothpaste tube" (Coghlan's is one of the brands) is used by squeezing a tiny amount (1/4 inch) onto the generator tube (that's the section of the fuel line that curves over the top of the burner (in the Coleman Peak 1s like the 442, it is the straight section of the bent Z-shaped tube that passes over the side of the burner). Light this and let it burn almost out, then open the fuel valve. This is actually the easiest way to light many liquid fuel stoves in extreme cold, and is easier for lighting kerosene stoves (the "K" in XGK, for example, when using the "K" jet) than the traditional tiny bottle of alcohol.

Main thing is just practice a lot at home before heading into the woods (in the back yard, of course!)

12:50 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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I recently downloaded the current MSR instructions for the Whisperlite. MSR instructs the user to release approximately 1/2 spoonful of fuel into into the priming cup; however, they don't say what size spoon.

What surprised me was to read that "a brief soccer ball-size flam is normal." I don't recall ever having a flame the size of a soccer ball when lighting my stove.

1:57 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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It's rather amazing to me, given that (apparently) some of these stoves have been being manufactured since I was a toddler ... that they haven't been refined further.

I guess it must be harder than it seems to engineer these things.

It's disappointing :(

3:01 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill S wrote this:

Quote:

What it comes down to is experience and paying attention to :what happens as you experiment with the adjustments with the :stove - any stove. "Finicky" is a relative term - to a large :extent, that's the nature of the beast, UNTIL you learn the :peculiarities of your particular stove

Yes, I guess you're right Bill. Although I don't recall this kind of "learning curve" with the SVEA, years ago, or more recently, the Peak 1. Both "just worked". Though, admittedly, I did read (from books!!!) the tips and tricks for the Svea, and was constantly wary of the legendary "exploding stove". I remember well priming it with the little plastic eye dropper.

When I say "finicky" in this context, I mean something that doesn't work (1) as advertised, or (2) without lots of tinkering.

I guess one could argue that when I'm camping, I have nothing better to do than tinker with my stove :-). Maybe through that tinkering I'll gain that experience to which you alluded. I haven't given up yet. I sure don't want to end up with a garage full of stoves myself :-P.

One perspective I'm finding interesting as we discuss this, is the term "gourmet cooking". I haven't done any of what I would consider "gourmet" cooking, at least not recently, if ever. I think of that as preparing delicate sauces and puff pastries :). But I guess the folks at Lipton would be quite flattered to hear of their "Mexican Rice" mix referred to that way. I think of it simply as "bring to a boil, then simmer for 7 minutes".

Apparently, in backpacking terms, anything other than "add boiling water" is considered "gourmet cooking"? :)

Bill S, I take your point regarding cooking for 1 vs a group. Though, in my case, I eat a lot (hence my earlier comments about wondering how I'd fit more than a couple days food in a bear cannister). For example, when I'm in the outdoors, burning 1000 - 1500 calories in a day of hiking, a whole package of Lipton rice is "1 serving" :).

Oh, and someone mentioned titanium vs stainless vs aluminum. While Jeep camping I have been using a regular kitchen post (steel???) because it has an oh-so-convenient slotted lid for draining things like noodles without losing any (bear food). But while backpacking I plan to use what I think is an aluminum cook kit. I haven't convinced myself I really want to spend $50-70 for a titanium pot, though they sure are nice and light, and from what I'm hearing, they aren't actually very good for cooking.

Oops, sorry, this is getting long...

9:16 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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BH said he burns "For example, when I'm in the outdoors, burning 1000 - 1500 calories in a day of hiking,"

Man, I burn that just sitting around! For training I use a heart rate monitor that gives a fairly accurate measurement of calories burned. In my typical several-times-a-week hike, I burn between 2000 and 4000 kcalories. During expeditions, we plan on 5000-6000 kcalories per day (I still usually lose a half pound or more per day during expeditions, though Antarctica was an exception, with the huge amounts they fed us at base camp). We usually have to supplement the regular meals with a half dozen energy bars per day to get enough calories in.

If you read the nutrition guides (I have a couple centered on orienteering and bike racing), they give the base rate for a "standard male" (75 kg) as 1800 kcal per day. The canonical number for walking or running is 100 kcal per mile, plus a fairly large amount per 1000 ft of climb (include the rolling hills - don't recall the number off the top of my head).

10:34 p.m. on August 28, 2007 (EDT)
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Yah, you're probably right Bill S. I was probably way low on the calorie estimate. I think I read "hiking" is typically ~300 calories/hour but that's probably low, especially on rough terrain.

I should know better, seeing as I track every calorie in and out in my day to day life :)

But my point really was - what I cook when I'm camping is about what a family would cook at home. I shouldn't have quoted a number without a reference... I should have just said "lots of calories" :).

9:42 p.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)
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bheiser1:

I retract my comment about the Whisperlite not being finicky. I purchased a new one today, on sale at REI, and could not get the pump assembly to stop leaking, even after checking and cleaning O-rings and seals.

The pump assembly has been "refined" since I last purchased one, but it has not been improved, if this new model is any indication. I'm very disappointed, because I like the stove so much.

9:43 p.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)
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As an aside, my Whisperlite purchase also included 9 separate instruction manuals, each in a different language.

11:43 p.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)
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rexim, did you get one of the "dent and scratch" ones? REI sells their rentals for really cheap prices. The one I got required a pretty complete overhaul, but it works great now.

As for the multiple instruction manuals, use them as a way to learn new languages ;) Although, I have found multi-language instruction sheets sometimes say different things (at least for those languages I can read well). I just got a new lens for my camera, with 8 languages, 4 of which I read and 1 I am learning for my upcoming climbing trip. The 5 all say not to use the camera in the presence of flammable gas (Kamera oder Objektiv keinesfalls bei Vorhandensein von brennbarem Gas einsetzen, N'utilisez pas l'appareil photo ou l'objectif en presence de gaz inflammable, etc). Seems it might explode. Also keep the lens out of reach of children, since they might swallow the batteries (hmmm, didn't know that the lens had batteries, but in all 5 of the languages I can read, it says to keep the lens out of the reach of children.

So don't take photos of your Whisperlite while children are playing with it (or something like that).

10:04 a.m. on August 30, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill:

I'll probably be able to learn from the French, Spanish and German versions, where at least the letters look familiar. However, I'm pretty much at a loss with the Cyrillic, Arabic, and Asian alphabets.

The way it was leaking fuel, I sure it would be dangerous to photograph the stove, at least with electronic flash. Might make a nice fireball picture, though--say 1/1000 at f/64?

It's not a rental, it's brand spanking new. When I took it apart to see why it was leaking, I noticed flakes of red plastic on the gaskets.

2:38 p.m. on August 30, 2007 (EDT)
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Quote:

As an aside, my Whisperlite purchase also
included 9 separate instruction manuals,
each in a different language.

Ditto with my new Simmerlite. Interestingly, the instructions are clear on stove operation, but don't say a thing about maintenance. For example, the instructions Bill S provided here about lubricating the pump are completely missing from the MSR instructions (at least the English ones).

2:42 p.m. on August 30, 2007 (EDT)
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rexim wrote this:

Quote:

I retract my comment about the Whisperlite not
being finicky. I purchased a new one today, on
sale at REI, and could not get the pump assembly
to stop leaking, even after checking and
cleaning O-rings and seals.

I haven't noticed any quality problems like this with my Simmerlite (unless you count its inability to do what the literature purports it can do as a defect). But what I did learn, in the "pump every few minutes to keep it from sputtering out" saga, was that you need to be extremely careful pumping it while it's in operation. At one point the pump loosened a bit in the fuel bottle, and fuel started leaking out. Fortunately, it didn't explode in my face...

10:37 a.m. on August 31, 2007 (EDT)
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I returned to REI and exchanged the defective stove for a new one. Tried it out--works perfectly.

8:40 a.m. on September 12, 2007 (EDT)
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I have used a Sierra Zip stove on long trips. No fuel to spill, gathering the fuel in the last 15 minutes. I would appreciate others' opinions. Also, when lighting the whisperlite, I use a SMALL amount of alcohol and avoid all the soot; the usual caveats of course.

11:06 a.m. on September 12, 2007 (EDT)
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There are 2 significant problems with the Zip stove. First is that it requires batteries to run the fan. Batteries tend to run out, usually at just the wrong moment (I have seen this with the Zip), which means a disposal problem. Rechargeables eventually won't hold a charge, so they too have to be properly disposed of.

Second is that they burn wood. Wood of the right type (small chips, twigs, branches that can be broken into small enough pieces) are lacking or in short supply in many places (above timberline, and ironically, given the "Sierra" name, in many places in the Sierra where the bonfire, errr, campfire fans have scoured the area thoroughly of all down wood). Also, the downed wood is an important part of the environment, providing nutrients back to the soil (especially nitrogen) as it decays, and sustenance for many tiny critters (insects and other tiny arthropods and others, many of which are food further up the food chain).

You may want to join the BackpackingStoves Yahoo Group. They mostly discuss home-made alcohol stoves, but they do discuss the Zip and homebrew versions of it.

- "I used to be an Owl ..."

12:06 p.m. on September 12, 2007 (EDT)
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I loved my Zip stove.

Never had a battery problem and when I couldn't find wood to burn, pine cones work great.

Then the JetBoil and mountain house pro packs were invented.

2:34 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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My new Simmerlite worked out fine on the two 2-night trips I took last week. I took the suggestion made by several of you, and used freeze dried foods, so all I had to do was boil water. Not having to play the "simulated simmer" game (by repeatedly moving the pan to/from the stove) was nice, and the convenience of the freeze dried meals was nice.

As someone mentioned, the MountainHouse 20oz meals aren't bad. They taste reasonable, and provide a reasonable amount of food (though I could have eaten at least half again as much, if not double). I also tried one from Backpackers Pantry - and it was OK too - with larger portions - though slightly less flavorful than those by Mountain House. These meals have really improved over the past 30 years!

One thing I learned is to bring an "odor blocking" bag for packing the residual package though - otherwise, once the food inside has been reconstituted, the packages are very odorous - and made the whole inside of my bear cache smell strong (not something I like to do in bear country). These bags seem to work well (though the seal opens more easily than I'd like). http://www.rei.com/product/758706?vcat=REI_SEARCH

BTW, on the issue of fuel consumption - even sticking to just boiling, and not trying to "simmer", I think my consumption is still much higher than what you all reported. I think you all agreed around 2oz per day is all you use. To boil water for dinner & cleaning on the first night, then for oatmeal & tea & then dinner the second day, then oatmeal & tea the third day, I seemed to use about half of the 20 oz can I carried. I pumped about 20 strokes to pressurize the fuel before each meal.

3:28 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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BH,
There are lots of variables that can affect how much fuel you use. That's why in my backpacking courses I tell people to keep track of how much they actually use. However, if you used half a medium bottle (nominally 22 oz, but a bit less if you fill to the "fill line" marked on the bottle), that says 10 ounces, or 5 ounces per person-day. That seems rather excessive. Last weekend, for Barb and I Friday through Monday (2 persons x 3 days = 6 person days), I used down to the half-full mark on a medium bottle that I realized on Friday night after cooking up a Tasty Bites (10 min of simmering, and yes, my Simmerlite simmers just fine, none of the remove/replace/hold 6 inches away business) plus rice plus hot water for the spiced cider (about 2 liters of water, including the rinse water), that I hadn't filled the bottle before the trip (doh! beginner dumb blunder). So the two of us used a bit less in 3 days than you say you used in 2 days, around 10 ounces for 6 person-days, or 1.7 ounces per person-day. We had oatmeal and hot chocolate each day at breakfast.

A couple things many people do which uses excess fuel -

- leaving the stove on while there is no pot on the stove (for example, get the water boiling for their coffee, pour the water, refill the pot, put it back on to boil for their freezedry, take it off to pour into the packet, refill the pot, put it back on to boil for the dessert, and finally set it aside, then turn the stove off, after it has been going at full blast the whole time. Boiling up the whole amount of water at one time, shutting the stove off, and setting the remaining water on an insulating surface covered and wind sheltered for the later use helps a lot.

- heating the water in an uncovered pot (slower to heat). Heating the water in a covered pot helps a lot.

- Thinking there is no wind, so not using a windscreen. Using the windscreen closed around the pot helps a lot.

- The pot makes a difference - anodized aluminum and pots with heat-aids (heat exchangers, flame directors, etc) and more efficient than plain aluminum, which in turn is better than stainless, which is better than titanium (Ti is used on supersonic and ultrasonic aircraft not only for the great strength to weight, but also because Ti is a poor heat conductor).

- over-priming wastes fuel, as does frequent shut-off and restart of liquid fuel stoves (these require sufficient time to cool, which requires re-priming. Restarting a partly cooled liquid fuel stove often is very fiddly).

3:50 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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A couple of the things you mentioned probably contribute to my excessive fuel consumption.

The pot I am using is one I bought years ago - probably pretty cheaply. So I guess it's probably stainless steel. I can consider replacing it with aluminum.

I'm probably also slightly careless with leaving the stove on when there's no pot on the stove - though I tend not to do this for very long, so I wouldn't have thought it would be a major issue.

Other than that, I'm pretty much doing as you suggested. I guess (as with yours simmering and mine not) there must be significant variations between the different stoves (production years?). I guess for now I'll stick with the convenience of freeze dried while backpacking, and will probably buy a different stove (or fix up my old Peak 1) for Jeep camping, where I'm more likely to want to really 'cook'.

9:17 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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5oz/day seems like a lot to me, too. From your brief description, it sounds like your usage is similar to mine. For comparison, consider an 8-day trip I took last year using my Optimus Nova.

Day 1 dinner involved full blast cooking for about 45 minutes (two batches of fried potatoes and steak). After that, it was oatmeal for breakfast, an occasional lunch of easy mac or onion soup, and freeze-dried dinners with more water boiled for cleanup, plus about 10 minutes of simmering each dinner. The first three days I was cooking for four people, and after that I only cooked for two people. My total fuel use for the trip was 26 fl oz.

Compared to that, you seem to be using a lot of fuel. And now I have switched to a combination of an MSR Windpro stove with a Jetboil GCS pot, which gives even better efficiency (on a trip this year, for two people doing similar cooking, one full 8-oz canister lasted six whole days).

With my Optimus Nova last year, I used GSI hard anodized aluminum cookware.

As a side note, dark colored aluminum cookware is more efficient than light colored. Aluminum is more efficient than stainless steel. And titanium has poor heat conduction properties.

4:21 p.m. on September 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Leaking seals...sticking pumps...plastic parts...heh.

That's probably why I stick to my SVEA 123 all year round, including northern (quebec) winter in the backcountry. It's been with me to 4 continents, on duty as well as on civilian trips, and has never failed to do what it's supposed to do with the minimum of fuss/complexity.

For "gourmet meals" that don't include SVEA + freezer bag, I make a small bed of coals using wood fuel as available (even when not in a survival mode, be sensible about minimal impact SMALL fires/sustainability/safety), then grill steak or fresh caught fish; I sometimes skewer premarinated onions, maters, peppers & shrooms on a titanium wire tent peg to get that complete balanced meal experience, chased by a couple ounces of Old Forester.

All in all, my pack weighs ~35lbs including food, fuel, a small hatchet, recurve bow (sometimes) a good book & snowshoes for a week in the backcountry in winter.

When you're out there, take what's neccessary to keep you alive/safe in relative comfort, and enjoy the experience without getting bogged down by the vast array of gear choices out there.

7:09 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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a.k.a. Jeffrey Chandler, Jeffrey C.

www.hikelight.com
www.backpackinglight.com

Those have great articles on lightweight packing.

I use a Jetboil PCS

8:13 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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The Svea 123 is how I started out, too, years ago. I thought I still had it around somewhere, but haven't found it yet. I do recall it working very well, albeit a bit on the heavy side, especially compared to my MSR noSimmer Lite :).

9:26 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Over the past couple of years, I have occasionally been using a Jetboil group kit. And am becoming more than a little disillusioned with it. The boil time is actually no faster than other compressed gas stoves, and slower than some when you compare on a apples to apples basis (turns out their claimed boil time is for a lot less than a liter, which is the usual comparison amount). Also, being a canister stove, it suffers from the same problems as any other canister stove in cold weather (except for the Coleman inverted canister stoves). A trick I have had to make a lot of use of is the "canister in water" one - set the canister in an inch of water when the temperature is below +40 and the flame is a lot stronger, especially when the canister is less than half full. (turns out that is JetBoil's recommendation, and the secondary purpose of the heat exchanger protective cover). An elaboration on the trick is to start with cool water straight from the stream, then as you get the water in the pot warm, put some of the warm water in the lower cover or pot or whatever you had the cool water in - this really boosts the heat output.

Before you say I am being too harsh, let me repeat - the JetBoil is basically no different from any other canister stove. It isn't magic, and it is no better a performer than any of the other canister stoves. I note lambertiana's comment above about using the Jetboil pot on an MSR Windpro - it is the pot that makes the real difference. I haven't found the foam insulation to help that much - GSI's anodized aluminum pots (black, with circular grooves on the bottom) are just as or maybe faster than the JetBoil with its foam jacket on the same stove.

As said before, the Simmerlite is my main stove these days, except when an XGK is required (winter, high altitude, on the glaciers). But sometimes my Primus MFS is just the ticket with its ability to switch fuel types with ease.

11:19 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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a.k.a. Jeff Chandler, Jeffrey C.

Alright yes the jetboil does have some downsides for sure.
https://www.trailspace.com/news/2007/01/17/integrated-canister-stove-showdown.html
There is the link that has the showdown on it.
If you eat dehydrated meals such as mountain house and such then the jetboil is great. Since most of those meals take 2 cups of water and that is what the jetboil is very quick to boil. I do not think it is particularly suited for much more than ramen and boiling water for food and drinks.
A note about canisters not working. put your canister in your sleeping bag with you and it will stay warm for when you get up in the morning to cook. If you are in conditions that this won't work then you prolly need an expedition stove anyways.
The reasons I carry the Jetboil are:
It is easily packed.
It boils quickly for my needs.
It doesn't use a lot of fuel.
Also since I got the Java kit I don't need to take a seperate coffee press.
Easy to set up.
The ease in which I make hot chocolate is the envy of the camp.

I am going to get a Snow Peak Gigapower at some point for trips when I feel like cooking something special.

3:19 p.m. on September 25, 2007 (EDT)
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Your best choice is the Snowpeak Gigapower canister stove, IMO. It is very compact, lightweight, and efficient. You also have other options like alcohol stoves, esbit stoves, or even wood burning.

-Eric

9:52 p.m. on November 6, 2007 (EST)
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I just used my gigapower for the first time. The piezo starter failed the second time I used it and never worked again. It used fuel inefficiently compared to the Jetboil. I was psyched to lighten up my stove situation. Not worth it. I will give it one more shot, but I was surprised to be so displeased with the set up. If you go gigapower, forget the starter and buy the windscreen.

Todd

July 17, 2018
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