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Topic: Stoves, how to decide, jetboil, msr, alcohol,< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 9:27 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello all I am looking for some help on finding a lightweight stove to carry while backpacking.  I have virtually no experience using a stove in the backcountry and really do not know what to look for.  All I know is that I want something lightweight.  I have looked at various models from msr and jetboil, and some other various brands.

I have seen a jetboil used before and it appeared fairly easy to use.  Some of the msr models appear lighter however I would still need a cup or bowl to cook with which would add the weight.  What are everyone suggestions, what should I look for?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 9:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't like jetboil cook systems(I'm one of the few)...I've seen many components on them warp, even under normal use.
I like any basic canister stove. They're all reliable, and they're super easy to use.
I always recommend them to new users.
A personal favorite, Snowpeak's Gigpower stove. I use Jetboil fuel however, but they're all really pretty similar.
Overall though, my true favorite stove is the MSR whisperlite 2. The stability is great.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 9:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Go with cheap to get started.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 9:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Eventually, you will own 5-6 stoves.  I went from Coleman, to MSR Pocket Rocket, to White Box alcohol.  One advantage is that none of them are really expensive.  $40 for a PR, $20 for a White Box.

Alcohol stoves are sometimes the victim of fire restrictions, whereas canister stoves are not usually.  That valve on the side allows them to be used when others cannot.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 9:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It really depends on where/what your regulations are, what you plan on cooking, and in what seasons.

For instance, I boil water, period. The only thing that hits my pan is water for my freeze-dried food and water for my coffee. I use my stove in temps down to 0. I rarely have a fire ban and even then, only extreme fire ban conditions am I not allowed to use my alcohol stove...so that is what I use 99% of the time. Ultralight (1 oz), super small (windscreen, stove, and pot stand all fit inside my pot), very inexpensive, no moving parts or maintenance needed, and even my fuel bottle is ultralight (water bottle). Not as robust in windy conditions as other options. However, alcohol stoves are not allowed everywhere because you have to manually extinguish them using a cup (or a pan).

My old standby (MSR Whisperlite) comes out on some winter trips when I have a large group. Reliable, starts easily and works well in winter conditions. It can simmer to cook food (not that I care), moderate in weight though heavier than many of the "lighter" options. Requires priming.

Canister stoves are widely available and very popular these days. Simple to use, usually lightweight, and most simmer very well. Can be an issue in lower temps.

Then there are sterno stoves and wood stoves which fall into the "open fire" stoves (like the alcohol stove).


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Looks like I have some thinking to do now.

I probably will mainly be boiling water for things like noodles, and hot chocolate.  Most of my camping will be 20 degrees up to 80.  I generally camp in the mid atlantic region, and will be doing most of future camping in west Virginia.  Fire restrictions should be limited most of the time but not all.

So it is looking like alcohol stoves will be the lightest? Is burn time of alcohol stoves comparable to that of others?

What is the ease of use of an alcohol stove compared to a canister stove?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 10:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Alcohol stoves are slower than canister stoves, but only by less than a minute.  If you are that hungry, or needing your morning coffee...

As for ease of use, I found them to be similar. Canister stoves, in your chosen temps, turn on the gas, light, stove works.  Alcohol stove add alcohol, light, stove works.  

I see the main advantage of alcohol is in the simplistic design.  No moving parts, works all the time.  Weight is the stove and the fuel, and the plastic bottle you carry the fuel in.  If you are only boiling 2 meals a day, and one hot drink, you should be able to get by with 1.5 ounces of alcohol a day at max.  Out for a week?  10 ounces of alcohol.

Canister stoves use steel canisters that weigh 5 ounces empty, plus the gas.  4 ounces canister weighs 9 ounces full, and would last about a week under the above conditions.  Difference is that hiking out at the end of the week, you still carry the 5 ounce steel can to the car.  May not be much difference, but recycling that can helps reduce the footprint.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 10:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The weight advantage of alcohol over a canister isn't quite that simple.  You'll consume a much larger mass of alcohol than a comparable amount of canister fuel for the same heating capacity.  This means that for a group of backpackers on a week long trip the alcohol stove setup will likely be heavier at the beginning of the trip than a canister one because of the volume of alcohol you'll need.  However for a solo hiker the advantage stays with the alcohol stove for a weekend and usually a week depending on how much water you're heating every day.  I can exceed even this since I just boil water for a freeze dried meal for dinner.  

I like alcohol stoves for most backpacking trips.   I use a zelph starlyte.  Its not much harder to use than a canister stove.  For winter backpacking and mountaineering I use a white gas stove or a jetboil depending on the temperatures.  The jetboil is simpler and more efficient but cold temperatures decrease the vapor pressure of canister fuel so the stove won't light.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 10:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"but cold temperatures decrease the vapor pressure of canister fuel so the stove won't light'
Just sit the canister in  a bowl of water and it will start as long as you don't use butane only.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Franco @ Jul. 10 2013, 7:43 pm)
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"but cold temperatures decrease the vapor pressure of canister fuel so the stove won't light'
Just sit the canister in  a bowl of water and it will start as long as you don't use butane only.

Guaranteed to be higher than 32F, clever.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd start with something like an MSR Pocket Rocket or MicroRocket.  They are easy to use, inexpensive, reliable, reasonably light (to most people!), and fuel is widely available.  Pretty effective solution in my book!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 11:31 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I saw it here once, and can probably recreate the chart, but it goes like this. Consider a 2 week trip for 2, boiling 1 L of water a day, for 2 FBC meals, using 1.5 oz of alcohol per 1 L boiled

Day1 alcohol set up weighs 23 oz (21 for alcohol + 2 for bottles)
        canister set up weighs 13 oz ( 8 oz of gas + 5 oz canister, should last for 14 L of boiled water easily enough at about 1/2 oz per 1L boil)
Continue plotting the reduction of weight until the end, then tally the total carried.  Alcohol set up tallies 67.5 while canister set up tallies 72.5.  Like I said, not all that much, but the alcohol is lighter over time.  


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 12:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One more consideration.  When I used my PR, I had partial canisters laying around.  I seldom go out for a weekend, so I had to carry 2 partials to make sure I had enough for a week once they got down to a certain weight.  Using up the older canister first, meant carrying that 5 oz of useless steel the rest of the trip, along with the 5 oz of steel for the good canister.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 12:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Convenience is another sometimes important consideration.  You can get denatured alcohol almost anywhere at any time of day.  When your trip involves air travel, that allows you to get quickly from the airport to the trailhead with minimal wait.  Usually a gas station, Walmart, or Home Depot is all you need.  The fuel can is almost weightless (once you've guzzled a bottle of water) and the remainder is easy to dispose of after the trip.

But, as ol-zeke mentioned, you'll probably end up with a bunch of stoves.  I use a  Snowpeak Gigapower when burn bans are in effect.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 5:30 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sgt. Rock has a definitive comparison...

http://hikinghq.net/stoves/stove_compare.html#original

Considering everything, alcohol and canister stoves are very similar in total weight carried.

I've had several alcohol stoves over the years...They are simple but  finicky, slow and dangerous. I always go back to my 10-year-old Pocket Rocket. It only weighs 3 ozs, has been absolutely trouble-free for a decade of hard use and burns like a blowtorch.

I always weigh my cannisters when I get back from a trip, subtract 4.8 oz., and write the difference on the can. That way I know exactly how much fuel is left in each can when packing for the next trip. One canister will conservatively cook 24 meals.

On cold mornings, I just tuck it under my coat for a few minutes to warm it up, and set in on a 5" diameter piece of a high density foam camping matt to keep it off the snow or cold ground while in use.

Most folks use their pot exclusively for boiling water, (easy clean-up,) so you needn't spend a lot of money on cookware. A three oz. Walmart pot or a one oz. (24 oz. capacity) Heinekin beer can, (it's shaped like a little keg,) works just a well as a $60 Ti pot.

You can save a lot of money over backpacker dinners by making your own. (Freezer-bag cooking.) Here's the best site by far...

http://www.trailcooking.com/
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 5:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

More information, I love information.

Thanks for the side by side weight comparision ol zeke.
And all the other product information and comparisions by everyone else.

I am getting a lot of posts about pocket rockets, microrocket and a few about the whisperlite and gigapower so I will be doing more research about those as well as some alcohol stoves.

Highpeakdrifter, is there a tendency to burn through a heinekin beer can, but I am awsoming the flame of the heat is not strong enough for such a short amount of time.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 6:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Start with a pocket rocket and a white box stove...and try to fbc(freezer bag cook), so all u really need to do is boil water. Yes you will probably end up with multiple stoves, that's why I recommend 2 off the bat, and they are both inexspensive and simple to use, while also being light weight and very small(packable).

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 6:40 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One other nice thing about alcohol stove I did not see mentioned. They are dead silent. Nice to have a diner conversation without the roar of a canister stove.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 7:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Match your stove to your pot. If it's a tall narrow pot use a stove with a small burner head to it. If it's a short wide pot use a stove with a wide burner to it. The reason is if you use a wide burner with a narrow pot the flame will not be efficient as it will be going up the sides of the pot and if you use a small burner with a wide pot it could cause burning of food in that small area.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(BigRick @ Jul. 10 2013, 9:27 pm)
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Hello all I am looking for some help on finding a lightweight stove to carry while backpacking.

Personally, I like my home made alcohols stove best for most trips where fuel restocking intervals are 10 days or less.  

The rub comes in when you hike somewhere with fire bans.  If you will hike somewhere that is likely to be the case, a canister stove is nice.  Something like the Pocket Rocket or Micro Rocket then fit the bill.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 10:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

First, you get the stove you think you need. Then you get another one because it's lighter. Then you get another one because it's cool. Then you end up with a dozen stoves, and use them on a schedule so none of them feel left out....

I have a dozen alcohol stoves because they are cheap and effective, but am currently using canister stoves because of the fire bans in place here in California.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 11:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ok I am thinking I will likely get a canister stove like the microrocket, but I have also seen the snowpeak litemax  which appears much like the gigapower but lighter.  Thoughts on the litemax?

I think I may also attempt to make some alcohol stoves as they are obviously very cheap to make.

One thing I just saw is the stoves that use the solid fuel cubes.  This looks like a very light weight way to cook, but I havenot heard any talk about this before.  Is that because this system sucks? or is it just that it has not been mentioned?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 11:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

highpeakdrifter in post 15 has a link that includes esbit stoves.  They are the solid fuel ones I know about.  Esbit stoves probably come under the same fire restrictions alcohol stoves come under.  No shut off valve

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 12:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, Esbit tabs are like alcohol stoves in the "no turn-off valve" open-burn category.  Which is fine in places without active fire bans, verboten where such restrictions are active.  Other downsides are the smell (some folks rather dislike the fumes they emit) and the fact that you can't really tailor your fuel amounts to whatever amount you need.  I.e. if one tab is still burning when you're water's boiling, you just have to let it burn all the way.  And conversely, if your water isn't yet boiling after one tab, you'll have to use a whole-nother to get it there.  With alcohol at least (with a little experience) you can pour in however much fuel you think you need for that meal.

But some folks like 'em.  They do seem a fair bit less popular though.


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(GoBlueHiker @ Jul. 11 2013, 12:29 pm)
QUOTE
Yes, Esbit tabs are like alcohol stoves in the "no turn-off valve" open-burn category.  Which is fine in places without active fire bans, verboten where such restrictions are active.  Other downsides are the smell (some folks rather dislike the fumes they emit) and the fact that you can't really tailor your fuel amounts to whatever amount you need.  I.e. if one tab is still burning when you're water's boiling, you just have to let it burn all the way.  And conversely, if your water isn't yet boiling after one tab, you'll have to use a whole-nother to get it there.  With alcohol at least (with a little experience) you can pour in however much fuel you think you need for that meal.

But some folks like 'em.  They do seem a fair bit less popular though.

Gotcha thanks.   One thing that is drawing me to homemade alcohol stoves is that a few of my friends informed me that when flying they sometimes have trouble getting a canister stove back.  So if have to ditch just a quick made and cheap alchol stove it is no big deal.

However, I have just tried to make some pop can stove  an failed both times haha.  I keep ripping the sides of the can when putting the top and bottom together.  I shall keep trying and researching.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 2:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use esbit now. I actually took sticks idea (sticks blog), and made my own set up with a piece of titanium foil folded up to hold the esbit tab, and then I built my pot stand out of some wire mesh(I forget what it is called), and use a titanium windscreen. I use 1 esbit tab to boil about 2 cups of water. I can also use mini twigs with this setup if I want to, instead of the esbit tab. My entire cookset, stand with with mug, mini lighter and 2 esbit tabs weighs in at 4.5 ounces roughly. I like it, it works for me and it all nestles in the 450ml mug and packs away to nill.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 3:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

here is a link to Sticks blog..for where I got my idea..if you want to check it out..

http://sticksblog.com/2012/06/09/sul-cook-kit/


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 3:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Not homemade but well worth every penny: http://whiteboxalcoholstoves.com/

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 3:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

yeah, I have a whitebox stove and for the price...well, you cant beat it. It works great..if alcohol is the way you want to go.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 11 2013, 3:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have never had any problems with flying with a canister stove.  The canister is the problem.  I flew many times with my PR, and now many times with my WB.  Neither has any fuel residue.  

As alluded to before, canisters are sometimes hard to find late at night, or in remote locations.  Alcohol stoves will burn Yellow Heet just fine.  I can find it for about $1.50 in most any gas station, 7-11 type market, or Wally World.  


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