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jimyjam
12-19-2018, 11:19
Opinions on 2 different types of stoves for thru hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Caldera cone system with liquid fuel like denatured alcohol/Heat versus a canister system.

How easy is it to find canisters along the trail? Iíve done research and it seems pretty easy to find liquid for penny can type stoves.

Any advice given towards either or both system types is welcomed!

Thank you


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Rain Man
12-19-2018, 11:40
I rarely carry a stove any more, but it is pretty darn easy to find fuel along the AT, whether gas canister or other.

Gambit McCrae
12-19-2018, 11:55
about 2 years ago I converted to alc stove and I will never go back to canister system again

trailmercury
12-19-2018, 12:08
double post

trailmercury
12-19-2018, 12:08
It comes down to personal preference. On a long distance hike weight savings is probably slightly in favor of canisters, shorter hikes likely favor alcohol. Finding either fuel on the AT is not an issue. A hot meal is always a nice thing, and even if you donít carry a stove, is not too far away on the AT. My personal preference (with slight bias) isa Trail Design Sidewinder Ti Tri with Inferno insert and a Zelph Starlyte burner. This gives one the option to cook with a wood fire if needed and an esbit option as well. Esbit is harder to find than the other 2 fuels you mentioned.

There have been multiple other long threads on the same topic here at White Blaze. Itís one of the topics near the top of the list that has been beaten to death here in IMHO.

Starchild
12-19-2018, 12:21
No issue finding fuel, there is a issue in the need to find fuel. A small canister can last for weeks, Alchy fuel is usually refilled far more more often, thus another town chore to do.

peakbagger
12-19-2018, 13:55
If you don't mind carrying half to 2/3rd empty ones, many hiker boxes have cannisters for free.

Starchild
12-19-2018, 16:51
IMHO

If you are comfortable with shaking a canister and knowing how much is left, and know if you can make it to resupply on the fuel in it, and plan to use the small canisters, and rarely if ever will be carrying a large size or 2 canisters at the same time, go with the canister stove. You will get the greatest bang for the buck (weight and connivence wise) .

If you don't like the shake test (or other method to determine the amount of fuel remaining in a canister), will be carrying more then one small canister or the larger size, will be disposing/hiker boxing canisters with lots of fuel in it to buy a new one, then go alcohol, you will not reap the benefit of a canister.

With Alcohol fuel everything should work out to a equation, one should know how much they need for so many meals/days. It turns art into science, for those who prefer to be exact. And for those people who like to be exact they can realize some good weight savings on a thru. Though if you are more inclined into art then exact measurements you will most likely carry extra alcohol and another thing to consider is that if you buy a bottle of HEET, will you carry the whole thing (ending weight savings of the alchy stove - this is the equivalent of carrying more then one small canister at a time)?

As for convenience, to me canisters can't be beat - so much less fiddle factor. That is said by a hiker who loves to set it up the night before so while still in the sleeping bag I can turn on the gas, press the ignitor and hove hot water to make instant coffee with before the brain wakes up..

nsherry61
12-19-2018, 20:05
. . . As for convenience, to me canisters can't be beat - so much less fiddle factor. That is said by a hiker who loves to set it up the night before so while still in the sleeping bag I can turn on the gas, press the ignitor and hove hot water to make instant coffee with before the brain wakes up..
This pretty much sums it up. If you want to fiddle with your cooking, go for alcohol. It's a lot of fun and highly effective. If you want simpler and safer, stick with canister. I like'm both. I end up using canister most of the time because lazy/easy/no-thought-required wins out most of the time.

HooKooDooKu
12-19-2018, 20:25
Yeah, when it comes to convenience, canister stove can't be beat.
But even if you choose canister, there's still lots of choices to make. Do you go minimulist with something of the style of MSR Pocket Rocket, where the pot precariously sits on top? Do you go with a heavier setup like Jetboil, where the pot attaches to the stove, and the pot has a heat exchanger for fuel saving? (If you only boil water for dinner, a standard canister can last two weeks in a Jetboil).

BTW: When I did a JMT thru, I enjoyed what today would be the Jetboil MicroMo, which the stove claims to be usable below freezing (most canister stoves have issues as temperatures approach freezing, and likely no canister stove will likely work if temps drop to 20).

nsherry61
12-19-2018, 20:38
. . . (most canister stoves have issues as temperatures approach freezing, and likely no canister stove will likely work if temps drop to 20).
I regularly use my canister stoves down to sub-zero Fahrenheit without issue using the "Moulder Strip".
This thread may start you on your deep dive (https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/115424-How-low-will-a-cannister-go!). ;-)

Starchild
12-19-2018, 21:08
... I enjoyed what today would be the Jetboil MicroMo, which the stove claims to be usable below freezing (most canister stoves have issues as temperatures approach freezing, and likely no canister stove will likely work if temps drop to 20).
I use a Jetboil (Sol Ti) in 10F temperatures and was able to boil water for me and others. But yes cold weather is a consideration and it took longer but not that much longer. A bit lower then that and it may not have worked. IIRC Jetboil is rated to 20F

peakbagger
12-20-2018, 09:16
One thing to point out is in typical AT conditions its not a major crisis if you run out of fuel a day out of town. There is always the caveman method which is find a few dry twigs and light a fire to supplement fuel use. Sure there are a few very limited areas (I think CT) where you legally cannot do it but for the vast majority of the AT its an option. Once you realize this you can run a cannister or bottle of alcohol a lot closer to empty. Obviously wood fires have their limitations if everyone did them but I feel its a dying art that's worth keeping the skills for. Even in the rain in New England, there is frequently white birches and firs, grab a few sheets of loose white birch bark and even if its damp it will light up and burn. Looks under any small fir tree and you will find dead dry twigs. They may be damp on the outside but usually dry on the inside. Find a sheltered spot, and its highly likely that you can get a smoky fire going quickly especially if you have practiced it. One hint is if you are headed to a campsite where you may need to start a fire is grab some materials and keep them dry a few hundred feet before the campsite as folks tend to "browse" the woods near the campsite for fire building materials.

Odd Man Out
12-20-2018, 10:02
For me, most of the fiddling with alcohol systems came with the years I spent evolving my system to work the way I wanted it to. My objective was to be able to boil water with a set up and boil time that was almost as easy and foolproof as a canister and I'm pretty much there. Alcohol stoves have a steep learning curve compared to canisters, but a lot of that effort takes place before the hike.

HooKooDooKu
12-20-2018, 10:26
I use a Jetboil (Sol Ti) in 10F temperatures and was able to boil water for me and others. But yes cold weather is a consideration and it took longer but not that much longer. A bit lower then that and it may not have worked. IIRC Jetboil is rated to 20F
I've personally experienced issues trying to use something like the pocket rocket with temperatures in the 30's. Since then have always taken my old white gas stove on weekend trips where I expected cold weather.

I haven't tried using any canister stove in below freezing temperatures, but from what I've read, I'm under the impression that it becomes a chore to try to use it at such extreme temperatures... things like keeping the canister under your jacket to keep it warm, placing the canister on an insulated pad to prevent cold ground from chilling the fuel, etc.

Basically, I'm under the impression that canister stoves loose their 'convenience' factor once temps get to about freezing.

Starchild
12-20-2018, 10:45
I've personally experienced issues trying to use something like the pocket rocket with temperatures in the 30's. Since then have always taken my old white gas stove on weekend trips where I expected cold weather.

I haven't tried using any canister stove in below freezing temperatures, but from what I've read, I'm under the impression that it becomes a chore to try to use it at such extreme temperatures... things like keeping the canister under your jacket to keep it warm, placing the canister on an insulated pad to prevent cold ground from chilling the fuel, etc.

Basically, I'm under the impression that canister stoves loose their 'convenience' factor once temps get to about freezing.

I do agree with this, I just lucked out in my thru and it worked, but not something I would plan to go out with knowing the low temps expected.

But to add some stoves have a temperature compensating regulator including my above mentioned Jetboil which is rated to the 20f mark. It sounds like your pocket rocket didnít have that so yeah 30f limit sounds about right.

Also the fuel blend(brand) and how full the canister is matters at cold temperatures. Snow Peak contains one of the best blends, MSR and. Jetboil also pretty good, Coleman is one of the worst IIRC. Near full canisters help out a lot here too and at low temperatures you will be burning off much of the isobutane which is the good low temperature gas and left with more of the harder to use propane.


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QiWiz
12-20-2018, 12:56
I used Esbit in a Caldera Cone system on a 3-week AT section hike and was very happy with it. I mailed myself resupply packages to pick up every 4-5 days and included the Esbit in these packages. No worries to find fuel as a result. Just another option you may want to consider.

HooKooDooKu
12-20-2018, 13:54
I used Esbit in a Caldera Cone system on a 3-week AT section hike and was very happy with it. I mailed myself resupply packages to pick up every 4-5 days and included the Esbit in these packages...
From what I've read online, to legally mail Esbit, there are certain postal regulation you need to follow.
Don't know if the data is still valid, but here's a web site that has posted information regarding the shipping of camping fuels (http://www.gottawalk.com/planning/57-2/).
If the web site's info is valid, the key thing to know is that Esbit should NOT be shipped in priority mail. In needs to be shipped via ground with ORM-D labels.

RangerZ
12-20-2018, 14:04
IMHO

If you are comfortable with shaking a canister and knowing how much is left, and know if you can make it to resupply on the fuel in it, and plan to use the small canisters, and rarely if ever will be carrying a large size or 2 canisters at the same time, go with the canister stove. You will get the greatest bang for the buck (weight and connivence wise) .

If you don't like the shake test (or other method to determine the amount of fuel remaining in a canister), will be carrying more then one small canister or the larger size, will be disposing/hiker boxing canisters with lots of fuel in it to buy a new one, then go alcohol, you will not reap the benefit of a canister.

With Alcohol fuel everything should work out to a equation, one should know how much they need for so many meals/days. It turns art into science, for those who prefer to be exact. And for those people who like to be exact they can realize some good weight savings on a thru. Though if you are more inclined into art then exact measurements you will most likely carry extra alcohol and another thing to consider is that if you buy a bottle of HEET, will you carry the whole thing (ending weight savings of the alchy stove - this is the equivalent of carrying more then one small canister at a time)?

As for convenience, to me canisters can't be beat - so much less fiddle factor. That is said by a hiker who loves to set it up the night before so while still in the sleeping bag I can turn on the gas, press the ignitor and hove hot water to make instant coffee with before the brain wakes up..


My alcohol fuel bottle (Jim Beam, 375 ML bottle) is marked in ounces on one side to buy fuel and "burns" on the other to judge how many days are left. Buying fuel was always a priority and I usually carried too much, only ran short once.

nsherry61
12-20-2018, 20:01
I've personally experienced issues trying to use something like the pocket rocket with temperatures in the 30's. Since then have always taken my old white gas stove on weekend trips where I expected cold weather. . .

I do agree with this, I just lucked out in my thru and it worked, but not something I would plan to go out with knowing the low temps expected. . .

Maybe I'm just neive, but I'm at a loss as to why there are people here that are are still talking about and concerned with using canisters below freezing. For $2 worth of supplies and a few minutes of effort, you can make pretty much any canister stove work, without issue to temperatures below zero!! We've been doing this for several years now!

The Moulder Heat Shunt Rocks! (https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/testing-moulder-strips-at-15f-26c/)

Come on folks. Get with the times!!

nsherry61
12-20-2018, 20:09
. . . The Moulder Heat Shunt Rocks! (https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/testing-moulder-strips-at-15f-26c/)
Come on folks. Get with the times!!
Let me put this into perspective a bit. I own both an MSR XGK liquid fuel stove and an MSR WindPro II remote/inverted canister stove, both intended and used for heavy winter alpine use. I quit using both about 4 years ago when I started using a Moulder Heat Shunt with any one of my canister top stoves including MSR Pocket Rocket II, SnowPeak Lite Max, BRS3000T, Jetboil MiniMo, Jetboil Flash.

The whole discussion about canisters stoves not working in winter is completely outdated at this point.

Odd Man Out
12-20-2018, 20:26
FWIW, I did a boil test with my alcohol stove one day when it was 5 below zero F. The stove worked fine, but I didn't.

Kaptainkriz
12-20-2018, 21:01
I have two setups, a cold and a warm. The warm one is caldera/starlyte/toaks based. I does what I need to do...boil stuff. For cold (cold enough my water gets hard) it's a BRS and a shunt...hands down the best way to melt my coffee in the AM. Either way, if I get in a bind and need to summon Hephaestus, I know where to find him.

HooKooDooKu
12-20-2018, 22:03
Let me put this into perspective a bit. I own both an MSR XGK liquid fuel stove and an MSR WindPro II remote/inverted canister stove, both intended and used for heavy winter alpine use. I quit using both about 4 years ago when I started using a Moulder Heat Shunt with any one of my canister top stoves including MSR Pocket Rocket II, SnowPeak Lite Max, BRS3000T, Jetboil MiniMo, Jetboil Flash.

The whole discussion about canisters stoves not working in winter is completely outdated at this point.
Given that no major manufacturer is selling moldering strips means that making them is yet something else taking away from the simplisity of the canister... Plus it still takes some knowhokn to get the stove fired up in the cold so the heat can start warming the strips.

Don't get me wrong ... It's nice to learn about tricks like this and I appreciate you guys sharing... But moldering strips don't sound like something for a beginner (gotta walk before you run).

zelph
12-20-2018, 23:04
Two diferent types of stoves used in this video, Fancee Feest & liquid feed. Temperatures got down to -40 in Minnesota:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=189&v=CTuGJgka1qc


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=181&v=RwwUANmx3o4



https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=42nCgENAmeA

nsherry61
12-20-2018, 23:22
. . . yet something else taking away from the simplisity of the canister... Plus it still takes some knowhokn to get the stove fired up in the cold so the heat can start warming the strips.
... But moldering strips don't sound like something for a beginner (gotta walk before you run).

The Molder Strips are exceptionally simple and easy, but yes, of course, they add a little complexity, sorta, maybe, but not much.
Starting a canister stove in the cold (unless it's super cold) is pretty easy. It's getting it to burn hot and keep burning as the canister continues to cool from evaporation that I find to be the challenge. BUT, I don't ever find starting a canister as difficult to do, or to teach others to do, as to prime liquid fuel stoves, or just set up an MSR Whisper Lite. My Moulder Strip system is just a silicone wrist band and a copper plumbing strap from Home Depot that I probably cut to length with either a pair of pliers or a hacksaw, filed the end on to make them smooth and pounded flat with a hammer. NOT rocket science.

44307

If you look close at this image (January 2017 in the Adirondacks), you will see my Moulder Strip sticking up into the burner area from about the 10 o-clock position on the stove. The red diabetes awareness silicone band that holds the strip in place is obvious around the bottom of the canister. For what it's worth, it was cold enough that my bic lighter wouldn't light but the stove worked fantastically. The wind screen is also a DIY project that worked out super well.

zelph
12-20-2018, 23:31
Burning Isopropyl 91 alcohol


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=RpBs54x927w

zelph
12-20-2018, 23:33
Easy to use with alcohol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=3z3vi_cxm8k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=3z3vi_cxm8k

nsherry61
12-21-2018, 00:33
The first, and only winter PCT thru hike was done by a couple guys that chose to use an alcohol stove. They can work well.

Mags
12-21-2018, 19:24
On the AT? Doesn't matter. Easy resupply for alcohol and canisters. And you aren't doing large food carries. Go with what works for you.

Draggin
03-10-2019, 07:37
If your not going to go cold (which can be done) a simple double wall pepsi can alcohol stove with side burner holes and wind screen is enough and probably the lightest.

Five Tango
03-10-2019, 08:13
about 2 years ago I converted to alc stove and I will never go back to canister system again

I once thought I would never go with a canister but recently discovered the BRS 1 oz stove.It's loud and obnoxious but it gets the job done in a hurry in the mornings especially but on a long trip I would think alcohol would have an advantage.

My next trip is to Mt. Sterling and I intend to go stove less for the first time.That's going to be interesting but cold coffee is something I drink often so why not?