View Full Version : Canister fuel availability

01-17-2003, 23:12
I have been preparing for a thru-hike for quite some time. I have read everything I can get my hands on, and I have only one question. I have seen this question asked many times, but never answered.

I have a MSR stove (Pocket something, 3 oz.) that uses mixed fuel canisters that you can buy for a few dollars. I have been able to find these at hostels and stops throughout the south on the AT (Walasi-Yi, NOC, etc.). Are they readily available the entire length? It would seem that trail towns would try to cater to thru-hikers and provide such products. I see that many use alcohol soda-can stoves, but has anyone actually thru-hiked with a canister mixed fuel stove?


01-17-2003, 23:31
Originally posted by Squirrel
I have a MSR stove (Pocket something, 3 oz.) -Squirrel

That would be the pocket rocket stove.

As for your question, I hiked with a few people that used canister stoves and they had no problem with finding them at outfitters along the way. They just had to be more aware of when the canister would be expected to run out of fuel.

Bad Ass Turtle
01-18-2003, 13:15
I hiked with a pocket rocket and canisters for about 1400 miles in 2001. I was really surprised at how long those buggers lasted! Footslogger mailed me canisters, for the most part. There were a couple of times that my maildrops didn't show up, but then I was always able to get canisters at an outfitter. [Not really an answer to your question, but the best I can do.]

01-18-2003, 15:42
I thought it was against postal regulations to mail fuel canisters.
Is it legal?:confused:

Jack Tarlin
01-18-2003, 16:53
Pushing Daisies is correct, the cannisters are available everywhere, tho you'll discover the price varies widely. Avoid carrying the enormous ones, even if it's cheaper to buy the big ones, as the big cans contain enough fuel to last for weeks and are quite heavy.

As to the mail issue, I also suspect that these are NOT supposed to be mailed, tho it may be OK if you specify "GROUND ONLY" on the package. (Obviously, give yourself more time on anything sent by "ground" mail.) To be sure about this, I'd ask your local postmaster, but even if they tell you, as I suspect that they will, NOT to mail them, don't worry. You'll have no problems finding them.

They're available everywhere, and are easily replacable as you move down the Trail, i.e one cannister will more than get you to Neels Gap, the next will get you to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, the next will see you to Gatlinburg or thru the Smokies, the next to Hot Springs, then Erwin, Damascus, etc. Your Thru-Hikers Companion or Handbook will provide all necessary info as to where the Outfitters are that carry them; it may take you awhile to figure out your weekly needs (Are you cooking every day? Do you cook in the mornings or during the day? Do you take a long time to cook, i.e. are you making stuff like rice or some soup dishes that take more than a few minutes, etc.) In short order, you'll figure out your fuel needs, which will enable you to figure out how long a can will last you; there will be a few places where you'll be wise to pack an extra cannister, but not many. I've used these stoves several times and have been very happy with them. This system is a bit more expensive than a White Gas stove, and certainly weighs more than a lightweight stove such as an alcohol tin-can job, but they start up IMMEDIATELY, burn hotter, and will prepare food MUCH more quickly. As far as the weight issue, the weight of the cannisters more or less equals the weight of a fuel bottle, so this system is probably LIGHTER than a typical white gas stove such as the Whisperlite 600 or International. In any case, your question was about fuel availability. I discovered that this wasn't a problem.

Papa Bear
01-18-2003, 18:41

It may NOT be the case that they are heavier than lightweight stoves. My partner weighed his cannister very carefully at home and found it took 1/4 oz. of fuel to boil 2 cups of water. I have verified this by counting the number of boils I get (about 30 out of an 8 oz. canister)

Most alcohol users I have heard from say they use about 1 oz. of fuel per boil (some probably wasted). That's a big difference, more than enough to make up for the 2 oz. difference in stove weight (1 oz tin can vs. 3 oz Pocket Rocket), Even a weightless stove would lose at 1 oz. per meal.

Not sure how Esbits would fare, but I think those tabs are 1/2 oz. Anyone know?

Anyway, YMMV. This is not intended to provoke a stove war.


01-18-2003, 22:26
I personally mailed several iso-butane cannisters to BA Turtle during her thru in 2001 with full post office knowledge and approval. The mailing of flammable/combusible liquids is permitted per USPS Publication 52. The only restriction is that the package be marked "Surface Mail Only - Consumer Commodity ORM-D"
Here is the website reference for anyone who is interested in reading the entire document.