View Full Version : Need Stove Help

03-28-2013, 16:07
ugh, I can't make a decision on a stove. Perhaps some advice to set me in the right direction.

I know I don't want to mess around with an alcohol stove so let's get that out of the way.

In my days of "camping" (not hiking) I had always used an old school propane stove. I loved the ability to carry non-spill able fuel and be able to regulate the temp.

But I was worried about canister availability on the AT so I at first ruled out isobutene stoves.
So then I was thinking the MSG Dragonfly since it could burn multiple fuels including unleaded gasoline (which I could buy ANYWHERE) and had simmer ability.

SIDENOTE: I know there is a big 50/50 spread about simmer but I look at it this way. I will NOT always just be boiling water. I'll be cooking other pasta side-type dishes that you can't just full-blast cook them or it will burn the crap out of it. Then someone suggested that you really only need to get it boiling for a few minutes and when it starts sticking to the pan, turn off the stove and let it sit for 5-10 minutes and it'll finish cooking.

Plus I actually finally SAW a dragonfly with my own eyes and realized how big/heavy it was and ended up buying the MSR WisperLite instead. But then again, I realized I am dealing with spillable fuel AND no ability to control temp. I COULD deal with both of those factors, but I THINK I would really like to go with a canister.

So for $39 I also picked up a PocketRocket just to see how the newer canister-type stoves worked and I have to say I like it. Other than the fact that when I first fired it up I thought they were launching the space shuttle - seriously.

My fears of canister stoves are (A) Not knowing how much is left in the canister (so do you carry 2 all the time?) and (B) Availability of fuel canisters in smaller towns like convenience stores, etc.

And what about this JetBoil? Seems kinda "can't go wrong" other than perhaps a bit heavy.
This is the last dang thing I am worrying about. At this point I'm gonna end up bringing one of each :)

Thanks everyone so much I appreciate the comments AND the criticisms; it helps me to understand everything better.

03-28-2013, 16:22
I don't have a lot to add, as I mostly use alcohol these days... But I will say that I can get a good idea of what is left in my isobutane canisters by shaking it. It's not precise by any means, but I can at least tell when one is too light to be trusted on its own... Sort of like with Bic lighters. If I doubt it at all I throw another canister in the bag.

03-28-2013, 16:27
Actually if you add everything up, pots, cup, etc,
The jetboil sol is lighter, its all in one.As far as canisters go, you can go about 8 days on a 3.9 oz canister, roughly 20 on a larger canister, it is all relative on how long you go between reapply points

03-28-2013, 16:29
Canisters aren't hard to get on the AT. Many people use them with very good results.

03-28-2013, 16:30
You worry too much. Canisters are widely available. If I were gonna use one I would get a micro-rocket. If you want a gas stove try the Whisperlite or if you want to save a few ounces look for a used Simmerlite.

Mountain Mike
03-28-2013, 16:36
You can simmer with a Whisperlite, just don't over-pressurize the tank & it takes some getting used to adjusting it. It's not instantaneous like a canister stove. Turn it down wait for a bit & keep fine tuning. A little tricky at first but it doesn't take long to get the hang of.

03-28-2013, 16:38
You worry too much.

I'm a software engineer and have basically been a single dad my whole life...worry is my middle name :)

And @RF_ace: 20 days on the larger one? breakfast and dinner?

03-28-2013, 16:39
You can simmer with a Whisperlite, just don't over-pressurize the tank & it takes some getting used to adjusting it. It's not instantaneous like a canister stove. Turn it down wait for a bit & keep fine tuning. A little tricky at first but it doesn't take long to get the hang of.

I never realized you could do that, so do you need to continue to re-pressurize the tank throughout the cook time since it is not at full pressure or are you saying that you somehow utilize the fuel shut-off valve to kinda "throttle" it?

03-28-2013, 16:45
The jetboil sol uses 5.3 grams of fuel per 2min max flame burn time, which is enough time to boil 2 cups of water. I use the MSR cans, 3.9 oz of fuel over the 3.5 of jetboil fuel

Lone Wolf
03-28-2013, 16:48
Pocket Rocket.....

03-28-2013, 16:53
My Jetboil Sol Aluminum weighs 11.25 ounces with the pot, burner, lid, and measuring cup (and excluding the pot and bottom supports). The nice thing about the stove is that it boils water VERY quickly and is very fuel efficient. Packs into a nice all in one system and has no learning curve at all. It also works surprisingly well even in cold temperatures as I found out last weekend. I estimate that a small size canister will last well over a week based on boiling water for breakfast and dinner. What it is not so good at is simmering so if you are cooking fancier meals that require lots of control, Jetboil probably isn't the right stove. The only way I've gotten the Jetboil to "simmer" is to turn down the flame and then hold the pot a couple of inches above the burner which obviously sucks.

03-29-2013, 09:34
I own a WisperLite, Pocket Rocket, Snow Peak LiteMax, and Jetboil Sol Aluminum.

IMHO, the Pocket Rocket is the worst. It's very unstable and doesn't pack down very well. If you think you like the Pocket Rocket, try the Snow Peak LiteMax instead. It packs down to nothing and is lighter than the Pocket Rocket.

But when it comes to over-all weight/efficiency/stability (the cup attaches to the burner), the Jetboil is AUSOME. For the weight of just the WisperLite you get an entire cook system. However, the burner is basically either full on or full off. The Jetboil is designed for one thing, and it does that one thing really well: boil water. IMHO it is the best combination of weight and fuel savings out there. (NOTE: I believe that I've read the MSR Reactor stoves are more efficient than the Jetboil, but MSR is heavier, especially if you compare it to the Jetboil Sol Titanium).

Now I've loved my WisperLite for years, especially the flexibility it offers since you can burn gasoline in it. Its only problem is weight when compared to the other items. Now the other benefit of the WisperLite is that it's going to work in colder temperatures. Those IsoButan stoves (Jet Boil, MSR Reactor, Pocket Rocket, LiteMax) are going to all have issues once temperatures start getting below freezing.

The one other thing to consider is the SimmerLite. It's like the WisperLite, but uses IsoButate canisters. It allows you to use wind screens with the stove and allows you to turn the cannister upside down for better cold weather use. But its down side is that its weight is closer to the WisperLite than the LiteMax/Pocket Rocket.

The Cleaner
03-29-2013, 09:55
Canister stoves are great.Leaving empty canisters at shelters is not so great.I packed out 2 yesterday and I bet when I go back in a few weeks probably more will be there....

03-29-2013, 09:56
I heard they are marking the new MSR cannisters so that you can see how full they are by floating in water, and sizing them differently so they fit in a small pot to do so. Havent seen them in person though.

Nothing wrong with a cannister, except hard to know exactly how much fuel you have, have to keep it inside your coat in freezing conditions if you want supper, inside your sleeping bag if you want breakfast, requires a heavy pot so you wont melt it (no beer can pots), heavy, and bulky, and harder to find fuel, need much larger windscreen, and ridiculously loud and noisy.

Aside from that, they are great

03-29-2013, 12:18
So are ALL the canister stoves generally as loud as the pocket rocket? Because I was seriously amazed at how much noise it made.

I had heard people talking about how some stoves make noise and wake people up, but I never realized just how loud they actually are!

03-29-2013, 12:49
Most (all?) canisters stoves have roughly the same volume.

Think you are starting to realize all stoves, and all backpacking gear for that matter, are a matter of compromise. Quiet, light, efficient, versatile, simmers, heats water quickly, easy to tell when fuel is out, works well in cold...long list of things that one stove just may not handle. :)

re: SImmerlite

That's a WG stove. Perhaps you meant the MSR Windpro? It is a remote canister stove that simmers

03-29-2013, 20:01
Day 12/137 mi on the AT with no zeros on my second canister and only because I had one dropped to me and didn't want to carry two. They last quite a bit longer then expected and I have seen them very available including in shelters.

Chaco Taco
03-29-2013, 20:05
Pocket rocket is the best can stove. Easy to use, packs nicely
For alchy stoves- The fancy feast by Zelph or any of his other stoves are super easy stoves and super light

Rock Lobster
03-29-2013, 20:11
I heard they are marking the new MSR cannisters so that you can see how full they are by floating in water, and sizing them differently so they fit in a small pot to do so. Havent seen them in person though.

That's F-ing brilliant! Can't wait.

On the stove question, I've used the Whisperlite and Jetboil Zip (10oz total) to hike half the AT each. I bought the Whisperlite first because of the flexibility and because I was hiking in fall/winter. It does the job, but it's heavy, messy, and more complicated (It will definitely require some level of maintenance and cleaning on a thru-hike). For a summer trip I took the Jetboil, and am a total convert. It's lighter, easier, and faster. The tradeoff with the Pocket Rocket is that it's a lot lighter but less user-friendly and a little slower. Depends what you're looking for, but having carried the Whisperlite I would recommend against it unless hiking in winter.

And regardless of the directions on the package, you do NOT need to simmer any of the rice sides, pasta sides, mac and cheese, or any other common hiker food. Add food and water, bring to a boil, and shut 'er down. I'm more of a trail chef than most, so I prep stuff that's a little more complex, and I've cooked literally hundreds of meals this way.

03-29-2013, 20:26
I'm really happy with my Snowpeak Giga Power.

03-29-2013, 21:18
I just had some ramen compliments of my Soto OD-1R stove. It boils water faster than my electric range. LOL

03-29-2013, 21:21
I was doing alcohol stoves for a few years. I just recently went back to a canister stove. The speed of the canister stove pushes it ahead on my favorite list.

Prop Blast
03-29-2013, 21:42
My Primus ETA Express has been perfect for me even in very cold weather. I boil 2 cups of water in about 1.5 minutes. It's relatively light with titanium pot and lid. Fuel is readily available.

03-29-2013, 22:26
My jet boil is way quieter than my dragonfly, plus you don't have the stench of whatever fuel you are using stinking up your pack

03-29-2013, 22:38
I'm really happy with my Snowpeak Giga Power.

Same here. I used an alcohol stove I made, basically a cat food stove inside a home made caldera cone. The damn thing always got really hot, and would leave a black circle on the ground from burning up any pine straw, leaves, etc inside the cone "shield". I couldn't use it without burning myself in some fashion, and too much heat went up the sides of my cup instead of the bottom.
Went back to my snow peak. The adjustable flame and lack of me burning stuff is worth it, as is not leaking fuel on stuff. Plus, with a slight mod my .7L mug becomes a little oven for browning rolls, which can make the woods so much nicer....

03-29-2013, 22:55
We have a BioLite stove. No fuel. Just twigs. It has a fan that self charges when the fire gets hot enough. Weighs about 2 and a half pounds but the fact that we don't carry fuel makes up for it. So far, it has been a good stove. We have used it in the wind and rain at our home, just trying it on and it does a great job.

Sarcasm the elf
03-29-2013, 22:58
Canister stoves are great.Leaving empty canisters at shelters is not so great.I packed out 2 yesterday and I bet when I go back in a few weeks probably more will be there....

That really is unfortunate, it says more about the character of the hikers that are littering then it does about cannoster stoves. I always just run the canister with the stove until it's totally empty, poke a couple holes in it with my knife and toss the empty canister into a recycling bin in town.

03-30-2013, 15:01
I have a gnat, and like it pretty much for a cannister stove, 1.7 oz. But I dont ever take it.
I dont find alcohol to be trouble at all, I prefer it,especially because it is quiet.

A cannister stove in the woods on a still morning or evening, sounds like a space shuttle blastoff. Just doesnt go with the experience to me.

Speed, isnt a concern. If you are in a hurry, why are you walking?

04-01-2013, 00:10
Ok, cansiter stove it shall be. Thanks again for all the suggestions and help.
I hope to repay them someday! And only 10 more days to go - hope it gets a TAD warmer by them!

04-01-2013, 01:17

I use a Trangia (alc), a Primus ETA (canister), a Honey Stove (wood burner), and a MSR Whisperlite International - I love them all, but take the right one for the right trip. I assume you are Thru-Hiking based on your inital post; canister stove will be fine. If you are bringing kids I find my canister stove to be "easier" with kids on the trip.

Try getting a feel for how a full one weighs in your hand. If you are section hiking you would then be able to weigh your used canister at home to understand how much fuel is left. Or just start to get a feel for it on the trail.

Bottom line - you are gonna have a blast and I'm stuck in an office....