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Live the Journey
07-17-2008, 00:35
I was wondering if there were any more recent thru hikers who could give their input about fuel availability on the trail.

I know that years ago it was only alcohol or liquid fuel that had high availability along the trail, but I'm hearing more and more people who have been using canister fuel.

I'm planning a nobo thru hike for 2009 and am trying to narrow down my stove options.

I'd really like to bring an MSR Pocket Rocket, but I'm worried about canister fuel availability...is this a valid worry?

Also, if anyone has some serious Pocket Rocket experience I'd love to know any tips you have with this stove, esp. how it performs in very cold weather. Thanks!

take-a-knee
07-17-2008, 00:50
A cannister stove doesn't make sense for a solo hiker on the AT, you can resupply every 3-6 days, alcohol is readily available, that is why most use it. An alcohol setup looses its weight advantage to a cannister stove on a long trek or 10 or more days without resupply, this need never occur on the AT.

fiddlehead
07-17-2008, 02:09
I used cannister stoves for my last 2 AT thru's as well as my other thru's out west.
Worked for me.

Bob S
07-17-2008, 02:16
People have hiked with both kinds of stoves and did fine. I would say it’s more about personal choice as to what one you like.

Marta
07-17-2008, 06:26
Interestingly, Skittles has switched from alcohol to the Pocket Rocket for his second set of triple crown hikes. When I asked him why, he said that he'd noticed people with canisters stoves were already eating when the people with alcohol stoves were still waiting for the water to boil.

So, ditto on the above: It comes down to personal choice. You can get fuel for either type of stove.

There are a few tricks to making a canister perform in the cold. One way to revive a dying flame is to shake the canister, which mixes the fuels. You don't have to turn the stove off to do this.

rafe
07-17-2008, 08:01
I used a canister stove last summer. "Resupply" was sketchy through PA, but fortunately the fuel held out until I got to Harpers Ferry. Nothing will get your dinner cooked faster.

take-a-knee
07-17-2008, 11:28
All of the cannister stoves that don't have a remote cannister, like the MSR Windpro and the new Jetboil, suck in the wind, negating there supposed efficiency. These stoves are a bit heavier, making them less ideal for a solo hiker. I'll stick with my Caldera Cone.

gravityman
07-17-2008, 12:43
All of the cannister stoves that don't have a remote cannister, like the MSR Windpro and the new Jetboil, suck in the wind, negating there supposed efficiency. These stoves are a bit heavier, making them less ideal for a solo hiker. I'll stick with my Caldera Cone.

This is not true. There is a great article on Backpackinglight that tests canister stoves in the wind. Remote canister doesn't mean good wind resistance.Remote canister usually means good cold weather performance because it can use the liquid rather than relies on the gas pressure in the canister.

It is true that they are NOT all equal.

The Coleman F1 ultralight performed the best I believe.

We used the Giga Power in 2005. We built a homemade wind screen for it because it didn't do great in the wind. It solved any wind issues and was light.

You do have to think about resupply, but finding the canisters was not hard.

Gravity

Mags
07-17-2008, 13:36
..and remember, ultimately, gear is perhaps the least important part of the outdoor experience. :sun

Ender
07-17-2008, 13:45
..and remember, ultimately, gear is perhaps the least important part of the outdoor experience. :sun

Ain't that the truth.

You'll be able to find canisters for the most part. There may be a couple times you can't find them, but in those cases you can always make a small cook fire (if allowed in the area). Another option is to just carry the cut off bottom of a beer can and a small amount of alcohol with you in case your canniseter runs out as a backup.

rafe
07-17-2008, 13:47
All of the cannister stoves that don't have a remote cannister, like the MSR Windpro and the new Jetboil, suck in the wind, negating there supposed efficiency. These stoves are a bit heavier, making them less ideal for a solo hiker. I'll stick with my Caldera Cone.

I'm not sure I'd go that far -- but I did take the effort to fashion a windscreen (and a way to mount it) for my pocket rocket.

bulldog49
07-17-2008, 13:59
All of the cannister stoves that don't have a remote cannister, like the MSR Windpro and the new Jetboil, suck in the wind, negating there supposed efficiency. These stoves are a bit heavier, making them less ideal for a solo hiker. I'll stick with my Caldera Cone.


I use a wind screen with my cannister and it works just fine in the wind. I will gladly trade an oz or two for the convenience cannisters have over alcohol.

For my taste it's the cannisters that are ideal for solo hikers.

Mags
07-17-2008, 14:42
For my taste it's the cannisters that are ideal for solo hikers.


Exactly.. There is no BEST stove. Some prefer light weight. Some like speedy stoves. Some prefer simplicity.


Though I do wonder how the canisters taste? ;)

Marta
07-17-2008, 14:43
Though I do wonder how the canisters taste? ;)

Just like everything else: They taste like chicken.:D

Mr HaHa
07-17-2008, 14:46
Hiked from Ga. to Va. this spring and only ran out of fuel one time and that was in Pearisburg Va. May possibly be a place there that sells them but I could not find one. Might be a good idea to carry an extra canister out of Damascus or out of the Troutville area if sobo. I noticed that canister stoves were by far the most common type of stove while I was on the trail. And It seemed that hikers were very content with whatever brand and type they happened to be using. Stoves are not the problem,its the flys that will drive you crazy!

Live the Journey
07-17-2008, 14:59
Great Posts All.

Thanks for all the input and please keep it coming. I have a small arsenal of stoves that I've collected over the years (a personal Jetboil, a pocket rocket, and a windpro) and I've been toying with looking into an alcohol stove, but the more I research the more I think that I could definatley do an alcohol stove for shorter trips, but for a thru hike I'm pretty sure that when I'm ready for a meal, I'm not going to want to wait for my alcohol stove to bring on a boil when the guy next to me has one in less then half the time with a canister stove. My real issue is being able to restock canisters along the way without rendering myself fuel-less because I couldn't find any canisters (and kicking myself because of the abundance of liquid fuel and denatured alcohol/heet!

Mags
07-17-2008, 15:09
I'm not going to want to wait for my alcohol stove to bring on a boil when the guy next to me has one in less then half the time with a canister stove.


In all honest though, it is only a matter of minutes difference. Esp, for the boil and quick type meals many of us do.

Many times, I am actually quicker with an alcohol stove due to the "putz factor" (Getting the meal ready, boiling water, etc.) that less experience hikers sometimes do not have down yet.

YMMV

tucker0104
07-17-2008, 15:18
I personally hate alchohol stoves. I love the convenience of the cartridge. Screw it in and turn it on.

fiddlehead
07-17-2008, 15:27
I use to mail myself the canisters when I knew there would be a problem with buying them. Is that no longer acceptable? (via ground of course)

Mr HaHa
07-17-2008, 15:37
I use to mail myself the canisters when I knew there would be a problem with buying them. Is that no longer acceptable? (via ground of course) I am sure on some trails and in some places that would be the necessary strategy. I can not get canisters here where I live so I sometimes order them through Campsaver and I believe they come parcel post. Ground of course.

Bob S
07-17-2008, 17:11
Just like everything else: They taste like chicken.:D

That was funny!!!

NICKTHEGREEK
07-17-2008, 17:52
This is not true. There is a great article on Backpackinglight that tests canister stoves in the wind. Remote canister doesn't mean good wind resistance.Remote canister usually means good cold weather performance because it can use the liquid rather than relies on the gas pressure in the canister.

It is true that they are NOT all equal.

The Coleman F1 ultralight performed the best I believe.

We used the Giga Power in 2005. We built a homemade wind screen for it because it didn't do great in the wind. It solved any wind issues and was light.

You do have to think about resupply, but finding the canisters was not hard.

Gravity
Did you try the "optional" wind screen for your Giga? My Gaz 270 had a similar design windscreen that kinda worked, mostly didn't.

Mags
07-17-2008, 17:56
Read this link:

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=20055&highlight=stoves+mags

I am biased, though. ;)

gravityman
07-17-2008, 18:50
Did you try the "optional" wind screen for your Giga? My Gaz 270 had a similar design windscreen that kinda worked, mostly didn't.

Looked at it, but made my own out of a disposable pie plate for the lower part (similar to the much heavier one made by giga) and some tripled up Aluminium foil for the 'walls' with a paper clip to hold the loose ends together to make the cylinder around the pot.

Gravity

NICKTHEGREEK
07-17-2008, 18:59
Looked at it, but made my own out of a disposable pie plate for the lower part (similar to the much heavier one made by giga) and some tripled up Aluminium foil for the 'walls' with a paper clip to hold the loose ends together to make the cylinder around the pot.

Gravity
I have a great mental image of the set up. Thanks

hopefulhiker
07-17-2008, 22:09
If you like the cannister stoves, just carry an extra cannister.

I switched from a cannister to alcohol to save weight. While I was waiting for the water to boil, I would set up my bear bag, pitch my tent, go get more water, or just shoot the bull with other hikers...

I saved about a half a pound using alcohol..

Jim Adams
07-18-2008, 00:59
Great Posts All.

Thanks for all the input and please keep it coming. I have a small arsenal of stoves that I've collected over the years (a personal Jetboil, a pocket rocket, and a windpro) and I've been toying with looking into an alcohol stove, but the more I research the more I think that I could definatley do an alcohol stove for shorter trips, but for a thru hike I'm pretty sure that when I'm ready for a meal, I'm not going to want to wait for my alcohol stove to bring on a boil when the guy next to me has one in less then half the time with a canister stove. My real issue is being able to restock canisters along the way without rendering myself fuel-less because I couldn't find any canisters (and kicking myself because of the abundance of liquid fuel and denatured alcohol/heet!


I have 3 or 4 alcohol stoves and I use them anytime NONE of my other stoves work. I can't understand why anyone would ever use acohol stoves. My pocket rocket with a cannister has almost identical weights as most alcohol stoves and their fuel. I hike all winter and have been at altitude (13,000') with my cannister and never had a problem. Cannisters allow you to cook immediately and be done with it and there is alot less danger of an unwanted fire.
I wouldn't worry about availability of cannisters...you will be amazed at how many 1/2 full ones that you can get from hiker boxes.:cool:

geek

slow
07-18-2008, 19:52
Esbit,smokes all for all around use.

jzakhar
07-18-2008, 20:53
My 2 cents.

Walked from springer to harpers ferry this year. I began with a canister stove. My first run in with no canisters was fontana village (they were just sold out, yay me). Leaving standing bear I had none either, but that was two days.

Next time was Marion/Troutdale, again no fuel. When I got to Troutville (the one with the outfitter, after pearisburg). I switched to a Whisperlight. One bottle of fuel is a good week or more for me. Couldnt be happier.


-Blackberry

Bob S
07-19-2008, 00:31
I like white gas stoves (actually gasoline) even at $4.00 a gal it’s inexpensive fuel for my Svea. But honestly any stove will work for hiking. It’s not really important what you cook with, it’s important that you are out hiking.

Panzer1
07-19-2008, 00:49
What you are going to have for dinner is more important that what your going to cook it with..

Panzer

smaaax
07-24-2008, 19:21
I just finished my thru-hike. Canisters were easy enough to come by, and most hikers were carrying them. I even did about 1000 miles without buying one because I kept finding them in hiker boxes or shelters. After a while you learn how to use them most efficiently, and in the end I was doing about 2 weeks on my windpro with a jetboil canister. You learn to judge how much fuel is left by shaking it. Don't expect to get them except at an outfitter. Just know where the next couple are.

Scrape the date you started using a canister into it so you know how long it lasted you. Helps with planning.

Canisters work great and last a while, don't worry abour resupply.

whitefoot_hp
07-25-2008, 08:55
i once had a pocket rocket user marvel at how fast i got a boil with my alcohol set up on a windy ridge. coincidentally, he ran out of fuel a few minutes later.

one advantage of liquid fuel over cannisters is that you can see what you have left.
cannisters are simple and quick though, slightly less fiddle factor, to me its a coinflip as to which is better, alcohol or cannister.

Ender
07-25-2008, 13:55
Read this link:

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=20055&highlight=stoves+mags

I am biased, though. ;)

I love the title of that article! Perfect!

Best quote of the article is the one below...


But what stove is "the best"? The true answer is: NONE OF THEM.

Kirby
07-26-2008, 09:43
I used cannister stoves for my last 2 AT thru's as well as my other thru's out west.
Worked for me.

I used a Jetboil this year that I bought in Neel's Gap and carried all the way to Katahdin, and I loved it.

Canister stoves are heavy, but they are quite simple to use. Worth the weight to me.

Kirby

SurferNerd
07-26-2008, 13:26
I prefer canister stoves. I'm taking a SnowPeak LiteMax next year for the thru hike. I've used alcohol, canister, and sterno cooking systems. The alcohol was my worst in attempts to make it work, my stupidity. The Sterno was just an aweful idea.

mudhead
07-27-2008, 08:19
I used a Jetboil this year that I bought in Neel's Gap and carried all the way to Katahdin, and I loved it.

Canister stoves are heavy, but they are quite simple to use. Worth the weight to me.

Kirby

Curious. What did you start with, and why did you prefer the Jetboil?

Kirby
07-27-2008, 20:44
Curious. What did you start with, and why did you prefer the Jetboil?

I started with an alcohol stove, but I am poor with matches and lighters. I went with the Jetboil because of it's automatic igniter and it's efficiency when it comes to boiling, well worth the weight for me.

Kirby

oops56
07-27-2008, 20:55
I started with an alcohol stove, but I am poor with matches and lighters. I went with the Jetboil because of it's automatic igniter and it's efficiency when it comes to boiling, well worth the weight for me.

Kirby

Man if you not good with matches or lighter so i guess flint steel is out also metal match stay out of the woods you going to freeze your ---- off

Kirby
07-27-2008, 21:03
Man if you not good with matches or lighter so i guess flint steel is out also metal match stay out of the woods you going to freeze your ---- off

Well....just returned from a thru hike, did fine without matches or a lighter.

Kirby

Pedaling Fool
07-27-2008, 21:09
I started with an alcohol stove, but I am poor with matches and lighters. I went with the Jetboil because of it's automatic igniter and it's efficiency when it comes to boiling, well worth the weight for me.

Kirby
I have a jetboil and never had the igniter fail, but I'd never go on a hike without at least one lighter, those igniters will eventually fail, which would suck, unless you have a lighter to start your stove.

Bob S
07-27-2008, 21:47
Not good with matches or a lighter?


Those are pretty basic items to use. Can’t use them right, I would question the wisdom of going hiking in the woods.

rafe
07-27-2008, 21:51
Not good with matches or a lighter?


Those are pretty basic items to use. Canít use them right, I would question the wisdom of going hiking in the woods.

Kid made it from Georgia to Maine, and in good time. How about you? :-?

HikerRanky
07-27-2008, 23:58
Let's play nice folks, and remember that the original subject was about Liquid Fuel vs Canisters, not about the method of starting a stove.

Randy

Mags
07-29-2008, 10:48
I used the original stove this past weekend for making bread...a campfire. :D

Inefficient, long time to start..but sure beats the other stoves in terms of ambiance. Telling stories around a campfire, with wine and good company, (while making bread) is rather nice...

Cookerhiker
07-29-2008, 11:36
This is not true. There is a great article on Backpackinglight that tests canister stoves in the wind. Remote canister doesn't mean good wind resistance.Remote canister usually means good cold weather performance because it can use the liquid rather than relies on the gas pressure in the canister.

It is true that they are NOT all equal.

The Coleman F1 ultralight performed the best I believe.

Gravity

Glad to hear that. I've been very happy with my Coleman ultralight. My only problem was on a very cold morning on my Lauel Highlands hike (http://www.trailjournals.com/cookerhikerLHT) in March when the canister was low.

darkage
07-29-2008, 13:55
Chiming in, Friend of mine uses alchohol ... wasn't much of a fan of it watching him cook with it ... So this is another pro canister post ... butane/propane mix 7oz canister's for my pocket rocket ... sure it doesn't do well in wind, but there's allways a way to shield around ... just wouldn't use a windscreen .. i've heard they can cause the canister's to overheat an explode .... =0

Still, i'll go with a canister.

rafe
07-29-2008, 14:56
Chiming in, Friend of mine uses alchohol ... wasn't much of a fan of it watching him cook with it ... So this is another pro canister post ... butane/propane mix 7oz canister's for my pocket rocket ... sure it doesn't do well in wind, but there's allways a way to shield around ... just wouldn't use a windscreen .. i've heard they can cause the canister's to overheat an explode .... =0

Still, i'll go with a canister.

You can use a windscreen; just make sure that it doesn't trap heat around the canister itself. To wit: a windscreen for, say, an alcohol stove or white gas stove sits on the ground and extends, say 6-8" up. For a canister stove you can use the same windscreen, but just make sure that the bottom edge is a 2-3 inches or so up from the ground. One way to accomplish that is with short lengths of coat-hanger wire and a few holes punched strategically in the windscreen. A bit of a PITA, but manageable. The stove in the picture shows the general arrangement, if not the fine details:

http://www.terrapinphoto.com/cpg143/albums/userpics/10001/normal_IMG_0820_ann.jpg

Gumbi
07-29-2008, 15:11
In cold weather, place the canister stove in water. It will give the stove better performance. Here's why: http://www.backpacker.com/gear/ask_kristin/63

smaaax
07-29-2008, 15:21
Or if you have an external canister stove like the MSR Windpro, just flip the cannister upside down so it has a liquid feed. The fuel goes over top the burner to evaporate it. Works great, and don't need to sleep with it or anything.


In cold weather, place the canister stove in water. It will give the stove better performance. Here's why: http://www.backpacker.com/gear/ask_kristin/63

smaaax
07-29-2008, 15:25
Also with external canister stoves, you can use a normal windscreen since the canister is seperate. Some of them even come with one.

darkage
07-29-2008, 19:24
I've never needed one, but as i prepare for longer hikes further away from home that info will do me well ... thanks.

Panzer1
07-29-2008, 20:10
Most serious hikers will have several stoves. One for cold weather and one for warm weather. If its cold bring the coleman fluid stove, if its not cold bring the canister stove.

Panzer

yaduck9
07-29-2008, 20:30
Or if you have an external canister stove like the MSR Windpro, just flip the cannister upside down so it has a liquid feed. The fuel goes over top the burner to evaporate it. Works great, and don't need to sleep with it or anything.



This web site has about the best info on what your trying to accomplish:


http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_GasStoves.htm#Remote

:sun

Grinder
07-30-2008, 09:07
I thought I would add my general comments to this thread.

I am among the most frugal of hikers out there. The high cost of the "best that money can buy" approach that many take put me off from hiking for a lot of years.

I finally backed into it via a homemade hammock. That project led me to the wealth of information about hiking available here on the net.

Soon I had made a pack and an alcohol stove. I actually bought a passable pair of hiking boots. I got on the trail for only a few hundred $ total.

Now back to the subject of this thread: An alcohol stove works just fine for boiling water. Be sure you have a windscreen. The mountain breezes wreak havoc with an unshielded alcy stove.

You can "cook" with one, but that is kind of a fiddley operation. You need HOT for boiling and then have to wait for the pot itself to cool before you can switch to simmer mode. Alcohol cooking is slower than the alternate methods. That's why the proponents always seem to say ' I just set up camp while the water gets boiling. Who's in a hurry anyway?' Actually, I am in a hurry to eat!!

That said, I always have a kind of stove envy in camp when the alternate fuels start to hiss!! (Especially the Jetboil!! That is one slick rig!)

So if money is no object and you are not a complete weight weinie get what ever you want. If you are a gourmet, give alcohol a bye. Weight weenie go alcohol. If you are a frugal hiker like me, alcohol is the only option.

Miles of Smiles
Grinder