View Full Version : Stove Help

01-19-2003, 20:30
Hey all.
I need help! I'm starting march 1st on a thru-hike and don't know what to do about a stove. I have a very old whisperlite, that my parents used 30 years ago, and I've used it a bit in the last few years. I don't really like it. Never got used to priming it and all that.
Can someone instruct me to a good site or person who makes light stoves? Are there makeable stoves that do well in the cold? I've heard those alcohol soda can stoves are almost impossible to light in the cold. Is this true? Anyone started 3/1 or earlier used one before? Thanks 2 million 1 hundred 72

01-19-2003, 23:35
this past weekend it was the alcohol stove that saved us.
I carried a SnowPeak and it could not boil the water, it was on a pad....
the Brasslite Duo (alcohol stove/work of art) easily boild the water and it was just sitting on plain ground...
Do alcohol stoves ususally get bad reports in the cold? if so it is new to me, but I know canister stove like the SnowPeak do get bad marks....
The whitegas stoves which I have used for 30 years always-once primed-did well no matter what the temp especially if on a pad to insulate them from the ground....

So the question to alcohol stove users is this: are they known to do poorly in extreme cold?

Trail Yeti
01-19-2003, 23:37
Sgt Rock is the stove man. I used alcohol the whole way last year, I started 3/10....never had a problem lighting it.
I used Rock's stove from Tn on....its awesome!
the only problem w/alcohol in cold weather is that it takes longer to prime....however, this problem is easily fixed. I carried a 1 0z plastic bottle in a ziplock. If it was gonna get really cold I filled this w/alcohol and put it in my pocket during the day or sleeping bag at night. Your body heat keeps it warm and then it primes fine.
Use alcohol....the weight savings are extremely worth it.

SGT Rock
01-19-2003, 23:55

I agree. Worst stove failure I ever had was in 1987 in the Bavarian Alps with a canister stove. It was so darn cold the canister stove wouldn't work correctly. I've never had a problem yet with alcohol, even after putting the alcohol in the freezer overnight, alcohol at 26* F. still lights and works, just do like Yeti said and add just a little extra.

Honestly it gets pretty darn cold in Europe, but those darn Europeans still use Trangia stoves. Hmmmmm :-?

01-20-2003, 00:33
and just to have an extra I ordered another Brasslite Duo...after what I saw it do in the cold I figured I wanted one for my bug-out bag.....

Wander Yonder
01-20-2003, 00:47
A friend of mine in Alaska told me that they use big alcohol stoves (big enough to cook for a group) outdoors in winter as gas stoves don't function in that cold.

Just make sure you buy or make a good windscreen.

01-20-2003, 01:35
The coldest ive used an alcohol stove was 18 degrees with winds gusting to about 25 mph. it was a tuna stove and it was sitting right on a rock and it cooked up my ramon noodles and tea just fine. Streamweaver

01-20-2003, 08:54
The coldest I've ever used my alcohol stove was high teens.

I fully agree with Sharon on the windshield, it will make your stove MUCH more efficient. They are very easy to make, I have a very simple one when I use my mini Trangia...all it is is a piece of tin sheet metal with a some small holes...you can get directions to make one that doubles as a pot support and adds very little weight.

The Pepsi can stove, cat can, tuna stoves are EASY to make but if you don't want to make one the best deal in town is over at Sgt.
Rock's site...you can get directions to make one there or you can buy one from him. Here is a link to his site for stove offerings:


That is a good deal for someone who doesn't want to make one..a 1.4 oz. stove for 8 bucks!!!!

I can personally attest to how simple it is to make one of these stoves but since I have a husband who feels that anything that contains fuel and must be lighted should be a store purchase ....so I own a Trangia. :D :D :D

IT DOES have limitations however. If you need snow melting ability an alcohol stove, such as a Pepsi can stove or mini Trangia is not an efficient stove to use and would require an awful lot of fuel to accomplish that task. If it gets very cold you might try to warm the burner, that is filled with alcohol, in your hands to warm it before lighting. (Just a suggestion.)

FWIW, the alcohol stoves that are commonly used in Europe are the Trangia 25 or 27 series (FANTASTIC stove but very heavy and an item that I personally would not consider taking on an extended hike), and possibly the stove that Sgt Rock and Sharon were referring to,...they come with a stand that keeps the burner off the ground, protected, and an upper windshield...these are much more fuel efficient and easier to cook on than the mini Trangia or Trangia 28 that is the stove that is offered for sale 99% of the time in this country.

01-20-2003, 10:09
A couple more things A-Train...

I wouldn't get rid of the Whisperlite just yet. You might want to hear from some others out there who carry gas stoves on their thru. The weight savings and fuel efficiency of using gas might just be a big consideration. How long are you going between re-supplies??? I know there are times when I'll leave my alcohol stove at home and take my trusty old Svea, even in the summer, when going on some extended trips, depending upon WHAT I'm planning for meals, the abliity to have more control over the flame and better BTU output it sometimes works out to be just less weight TOTAL and more convenient.

And, please don't let the priming steer you away. Essentially, all you have to do is to "assist" the liquid fuel in order to get it to vaporize. This takes very little in "priming fuel". The problem many times occurs when one uses too much priming fuel. This is a case when a little is better. And be accurate, don't spill fuel all over the stove. There are a few things you might want to try. Some people use what is called Fire Ribbon...I think years ago it was called fuel paste...as in a little dab will do you. I've heard that some use cotton balls soaked in Petroleum jelly and you can use alcohol as a primer. And the most readily accessible is of course the fuel you are already carrying. I don't know how the new MSR bottles come into play with this equation because I'd imagine they need to be pressurized somehow...so that would be a question to ask a MSR owner.

I'd suggest you take the Whisperlite outside and just practice priming...once you have the knack you just might decide to use that stove. I would be very interested in hearing from others who have used the newer MSR's since they seem to be very fuel efficient and can boil a liter of water in less than 4 minutes. If I'm not mistaken your Wisperlite comes under that under 4 minute catagory. (Just some info you might want to consider.)

Trail Yeti
01-20-2003, 13:18
I have had a Whisperlite for over 12 years and it still works fine...I grant that it is a great stove. I am not saying throw it away....I keep mine for car camping.

" You might want to hear from some others out there who carry gas stoves on their thru. The weight savings and fuel efficiency of using gas might just be a big consideration. How long are you going between re-supplies??? " posted by Ann

IT is a FACT that most (say 85-90%) of thru-hikers that start w/whisperlite or equivalent stove switch to alcohol by the time their hike is over.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
1. alcohol is more fuel efficient...it takes a little getting used to ccok with but its about the same as the practice required for priming a whisperlite.
2. alcohol is CHEAPER
3. you can buy fuel at any gas station (heet)
4. and most important....WEIGHT SAVINGS
-whisperlite weighs 11oz by itself, my v-8 turbo w/potstand (built in) and windscreen weighs 1.4
-an empty coke bottle weighs practically nothing compared to an MSR fuel canister and that coke bottle will last you 20 days!!!

ON my thru-hike the last hold out for a whisperlite that I knew made it to Trail Days....from there on he carried a pepsi stove.
If you don't want to make a stove (recomended, they are just fun to play with), and don't want to buy one, email [email protected] makes pepsi can stoves out of cans he finds along the highway and sends them FREE to hikers.
If you want, you can pay him postage, but you don't have to.

I think you should try one out on a shakedown hike. If you are not doing a shakedown hike how about this. Bounce your whisperlite to Neels Gap. Carry your alcohol stove for the first 3 days....if you don't like it, pick up your whisperlite, if you do send the bulky, heavy thing home.

01-20-2003, 17:18
Obviously, I'm the exception. This year, I carried my Whisperlite to Trail Days and way beyond.

But I'm tempted to try alcohol.