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  1. #1
    Registered User 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
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    Default Rethinking some stuff

    Okay, after doing some research ( though not an intensive amount ) I thought I had decided on a caldera cone system that would use alcohol. - afraid I'm not it a DIY situation - But after reading one of the post today that talked about the difficulties of using an alcohol stoves I'm not so sure. There was talking about priming and and stoves going out and it taking a long time to bring water to a boil that left me feeling very uncertain. So, question is being a total newbie to backpacking and cooking on something that is not a coleman dual fuel would i be better out going with sometime like a jetboil or could a greenhorn like make it with an alcohol stove Also, should I get a stove that matches the pot size or the other way around? And how big a pot is "big" enough for a solo hiker?
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

  2. #2

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    Depends if you're cooking in your pot or just boiling water. I'd suggest alcohol and a .5 - .75 L pot for just alcohol and boiling water. If you're going to cook meals inside your pot then go 1L+. If your going to cook inside your pot then go with a canister stove system. For just boiling water, a Starlyte and caldera cone combo should solve all your problems.

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    Yes anyone can use an alcohol stove and although I have not used one, the caldera cone seems to be a very good system.

    You should pick your pot first. Only you can do that, because only you know your needs.

    For example if you are only going to boil water, then you don't need a non stick coating on the pot.

    Do you want to have a hot drink with your meal? Since alcohol stoves don't come with on off switches it makes sense to get a pot large enough to heat water for drinking as well as food.

    Do you drink more than one cup at a time?

    The average freezer bag meal for me needs two cups of water (500 ml), add another cup and you are up to (750 ml). So for me an 800 ml pot is about right. You may need more or less.

    Having said all that, I like my jet boil.



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    White gas stoves remain an option. If you are in colder weather, cooking (as opposed to boiling a small pot of water), or traveling with a partner, they are a very good option.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    For the price, you could try an alcohol option of your choice and see what you think before spending a bunch on a canister choice. A lot an be done at home, and could be done before taking on a long trip.

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    IMHO of course

  7. #7
    Registered User 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
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    Bfayer, thank you for answering the question about the pot vs the stove. To me it was becoming like the chicken or the egg first question. The way you put it makes perfect sense. Also, thanks for the thoughts on choosing how big a pot to get. Gonna get busy dehydrating here soon. While I have read about using body heat to warm up your food, I'm thinking that when it is really cold a steaming hot pot of something will be pretty nice with a hot drink, so looks like I'll be going a little larger.

    all that being said, I've got a year to tinker and figure out what's going to work. I like the idea of not having to pack around an empty canister and the versatility of the caldera - if ol' clumsy here spills all the alcohol I can use system as a wood burner and/or carry a couple of esbit blocks as back up. So guess I'll go ahead and order the alcohol stove and start tinkering :-)

    anyone else have some input, feel free!
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

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    Registered User 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    White gas stoves remain an option. If you are in colder weather, cooking (as opposed to boiling a small pot of water), or traveling with a partner, they are a very good option.
    So, would you use white gas in place of the alcohol in the system?
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

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    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker View Post
    So, would you use white gas in place of the alcohol in the system?
    I think he meant use a white gas stove. You don't want to use white gas in an alcohol stove.
    Lonehiker

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    I think he meant use a white gas stove. You don't want to use white gas in an alcohol stove.
    Yes, this. Do not ever put white gas in an alcohol stove. It burns so hot it will melt the stove. It also burns so fast it will create a flaming fire ball of death and your new trail name will become "one without eye brows"

    It works fine however in a stove made for it. They are on the heavy side, but can't be beat for winter trips.

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    I was in exactly your situation 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker . During several tests of stoves I was planning to bring a Cadara cone with the included 10-12 burner (alky stove) - mated to the MSR kettle. On the second to last training backpack, in the snow, I set off with the Cadara cone as the only source of cooking for me and Splash.

    Well in the snow, and with snow under the cone, it consumed much more fuel then expected, that was OK but we were cutting it close. We also tried to get a campfire going, and that was not going OK, so I also did use a small amount of fuel to help that (it failed). I came to realize that unless I wanted to brings lots of extra fuel I would need to be very careful about how I used this type of stove.

    On the last training hike Splash and I went back and this time I figured going back to the jetboil, she also just got her Qi-wiz firefly wood stove. What a difference. First it was colder and more snow. The Jetboil had no issue making all the hot water we wanted, there was no conserving. I even brought the burner into the outhouse in the AM to warm my hands which worked quite well.

    The burner also helped get the camp fire going, plus using her wood stove to keep a hot enough fire going protected from the winds and also from the cold.

    When winter was over and warmer temps came around I switched to a $12 esbit stove and bounced the Jetboil to ME. For a pot I used a 450 ml Snowpeak cup with Al foil as a lid. It was in reality short of 2 cups but most times was close enough, but sometimes I had to heat up a little extra after using the initial water. Splash during this time also had her wood stove + alcky backup and also a 3 cup Ti pot of some sort. and we usually hiked together, and would often share cooking, hot water and pots.
    Last edited by Starchild; 03-01-2014 at 09:18.

  12. #12
    Registered User 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=bfayer;1855405]Yes, this. Do not ever put white gas in an alcohol stove. It burns so hot it will melt the stove. It also burns so fast it will create a flaming fire ball of death and your new trail name will become "one without eye brows"

    Looking to let the trail name me but not with that one!! Thanks for the great info :-)
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    I was in exactly your situation 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker . During several tests of stoves I was planning to bring a Cadara cone with the included 10-12 burner (alky stove) - mated to the MSR kettle. On the second to last training backpack, in the snow, I set off with the Cadara cone as the only source of cooking for me and Splash.

    Well in the snow, and with snow under the cone, it consumed much more fuel then expected, that was OK but we were cutting it close. We also tried to get a campfire going, and that was not going OK, so I also did use a small amount of fuel to help that (it failed). I came to realize that unless I wanted to brings lots of extra fuel I would need to be very careful about how I used this type of stove.

    On the last training hike Splash and I went back and this time I figured going back to the jetboil, she also just got her Qi-wiz firefly wood stove. What a difference. First it was colder and more snow. The Jetboil had no issue making all the hot water we wanted, there was no conserving. I even brought the burner into the outhouse in the AM to warm my hands which worked quite well.

    The burner also helped get the camp fire going, plus using her wood stove to keep a hot enough fire going protected from the winds and also from the cold.

    When winter was over and warmer temps came around I switched to a $12 esbit stove and bounced the Jetboil to ME. For a pot I used a 450 ml Snowpeak cup with Al foil as a lid. It was in reality short of 2 cups but most times was close enough, but sometimes I had to heat up a little extra after using the initial water. Splash during this time also had her wood stove + alcky backup and also a 3 cup Ti pot of some sort. and we usually hiked together, and would often share cooking, hot water and pots.
    Starchild, I actually was just looking at Qi-wiz's stoves and really like the firefly's design and it's versatility so I'll be giving it some consideration as well (never thought about baking cornbread on the trail. Yum!). If I go with the alky and conditions aren't favorable I'll be covered with the esbit or wood. If all else fails maybe someone will take pity on a starving old lady and offer up their MSR for a short bit. Or, I'll eat cold food. Either way it's going to be a grand adventure !!!
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

  14. #14
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfayer View Post
    Yes anyone can use an alcohol stove and although I have not used one, the caldera cone seems to be a very good system.

    You should pick your pot first. Only you can do that, because only you know your needs.

    For example if you are only going to boil water, then you don't need a non stick coating on the pot.

    Do you want to have a hot drink with your meal? Since alcohol stoves don't come with on off switches it makes sense to get a pot large enough to heat water for drinking as well as food.

    Do you drink more than one cup at a time?

    The average freezer bag meal for me needs two cups of water (500 ml), add another cup and you are up to (750 ml). So for me an 800 ml pot is about right. You may need more or less.

    Having said all that, I like my jet boil.



    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk
    Ditto. Alcohol stoves work well for people who eat one, or at most two, hot meals a day, and who rarely make hot beverages for themselves. The Caldera Cone system is lovely, efficient, and works well in windy weather. It's great for making a hot drink in the morning and a hot meal at night.

    Using the alcohol stove is not actually that hard. (If you are a clumsy, or not a detail-oriented person, it might not be the stove for you.) The thing to know about alcohol is that it's not the liquid that burns--it's the vapor. I'm pretty much in a minority for preferring matches to lighters, but my system is simplicity itself. Light a wooden match. Hold it close to the surface of the liquid. The match flame will warm a small area of liquid and cause it to vaporize. The vapor will catch fire. Drop the match into the stove. (You can do all but the last part with a lighter.)

    Once you get up into cooking food and making multiple cups of tea, you have to carry so much alcohol with you, and spend so much time bringing the water to a boil, that you should probably go to a canister stove.

    If you're actually going to put food in your pot, I wouldn't use a JetBoil. They seem to me to hard to clean. And too hot.

    For me, the choice also depends on the season of the year. In the summer, I'm less interested in hot drinks and hot food. In the winter, I'll be making lots of both, the daylight hiking day is much shorter, the sitting around camp time is much longer, and I'm likely to want to boil a couple of liters of extra water for hot water bottles to go in the sleeping bag. At moderately cold temperatures JetBoil works well for that.

    Bear in mind that you don't NEED a stove at all. You can easily eat foods that don't require cooking.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker View Post
    Starchild, I actually was just looking at Qi-wiz's stoves and really like the firefly's design and it's versatility so I'll be giving it some consideration as well (never thought about baking cornbread on the trail. Yum!). If I go with the alky and conditions aren't favorable I'll be covered with the esbit or wood. If all else fails maybe someone will take pity on a starving old lady and offer up their MSR for a short bit. Or, I'll eat cold food. Either way it's going to be a grand adventure !!!
    Splash loves her firefly, it has a campfire feel to it which she enjoys and works really good and very hot and fast in the right conditions. Birch bark is also plentiful on the ground to gather as a fire accelerent.

    But a backup is needed, she used a cat-can alky stove and would carry about 2-4 oz of fuel IIRC. The firefly acted as the windscreen for this setup.

    If you ran into trouble I would not expect any issue getting help from others or at the very least eat cold dinner or cold lunch bars for the next day, it does all work out.

    That all said in winter like AT conditions (Which Splash didn't really have except for training hikes with me), canisters have their advantages.

  16. #16

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    I was a newbie to alcohol stoves, and made my own cat can stove. I had no problem using it. All of my meals were either commercially freeze dried meals or "freezer bag method" meals I prepared prior to my trips. With this stove, I don't think I get a long enough burn to cook or simmer, but I certainly can generally boil water in around 5 to 7 minutes. In the morning I used the time to break down some of my camp set-up. They really are not hard to use if you use some common sense precautions. I never keep my fuel bottle near the pot when I am about to light it. I also make sure the flame is out prior to messing with the stove to either add fuel or put it away.
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't--you're right--Henry Ford; The Journey Is The Destination

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    I use a SuperCat alcohol stove for backpacking and longer trips, and a canister stove for car camping. Both will work fine for you.

    You say you're not a DIY kind of person, but let me tell you about my last stove test - last night. I bought a can of Fancy Feast cat food ($0.54) and threw out the food. The dog would have gladly eaten it, but it makes him gassy. I washed out the can, peeled off the label and used a little Goo Gone to remove the label glue. So far, I've got about 3 minutes invested in this.

    I took about 30 seconds to use pliers around the top edge of the can to smooth down the slight inner lip. Next I took a single-hole punch and punched a line of 16 holes just below the upper rim of the can. Didn't measure or anything, it's not that critical, which is what I like about the SuperCat.

    I'm testing out some recipes from BackpackingChef.com, who does a lot of home-dehydrated meals, so I considered this stove complete. What I'm looking for is a stove that will boil my water + food a little more slowly so it re-hydrates better. For a regular SuperCat, do 12 holes instead, then you punch another line of holes between and just below the top line. I already have one of those and it works like a champ.

    Ok, so my total time invested in this new stove is about 6 minutes. Time to test.

    First up was my original SuperCat. I put 1.5 cups of tap water (not hot, not cold) into my pot, and eyeballed an ounce of alcohol into the stove. To prime these stoves, I have a piece of foil a little larger than the diameter of the stove to protect the surface the stove is sitting on, but also to hold a few drops of alcohol. I lit the "primer", which pre-heats the stove and then ignites the alcohol inside. When I could see the alcohol inside bubbling, then the stove is ready to use and I put my filled pot on top. This is another beautiful thing about the SuperCat, the stove is it's own pot stand.

    Since I was inside, I didn't bother with a wind screen. I use a heavy foil lid on my pot, but took it off occasionally to check on how things were going. The SuperCat boiled the 1.5 cups of water in 4 minutes and 15 seconds. And there was fuel left over, so I could have used less to start. I just let it burn out.

    Next up was my new stove (SimmerCat? not really). After everything cooled down I put 1.5 cups of water into the pot and set up the stove just as described above. Priming took a little longer, but it was ready to go in less than a minute. Put the pot and lid on and started to time. Because there were fewer burner holes, it took longer to get there, but I had a full rolling boil in 7 minutes, plus more than 2 minutes of boil time after that (I wanted to check that on the new stove). Perfect for the recipes I'm experimenting with.

    There are a lot of stoves out there, and most of them will work just fine for you. Some are better suited to your cooking style, whether it's FBC or cooking in the pot, etc.

    The key is to practice with your setup. Experiment with different types of stoves. When I did straight FBC, I started with a KMart Grease Pot and it was wonderful. My son-in-law still uses it for ramen. I moved on to a kettle because I was just boiling water. Now that I'm playing with different ways to re-hydrate my food, I'm using a .9 liter pot with non-stick, which is plenty for just me.

    Stay aware and safe and have fun.

  18. #18
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    Yes,

    You can use an alcohol stove.

    I made mine out of a cat food can, got a hole puch, aluminum foil windscreen, and done. Through a match in there let it boil, put my wife's girl scout pot from her mess kit on and wait. Done.

    Yes, it does take a while to, boil, but you can find other chores to do while this is happening.

    Much prefer this to any other because I can put all I need in that one pot and it comes very close to 1 pound and the very most. that includes cut off spoon etc. .. cheap, easy, saves space.

    I MUCH more prefer this to cannister stoves since I can see the fuel, and the consumption of it. I do have a cannister and only use it during the winter, or when I go out with my son.

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    Canister stove systems are about as simple as they get and are attractive to beginners for that reason. They have plenty of other advantages that make them attractive to experienced hikers too. But you should know that some of the disadvantages you have heard about alcohol stoves do not apply to all systems. If you have an alcohol stove system based on a Starlyte Stove then you will not encounter some of the problems you mention.

    With that stove there is no priming or risk of failure. It is basically just an aluminum cup. You pour alcohol in and light it. It really can't fail. It works well in all conditions. Plus it has a fuel absorbing wick so fuel can't spill out of the stove. Also, unlike other alcohol stoves, it can be easily extinguished and excess fuel can just be left in the stove until you next use. This eliminates another part of the learning curve to using alcohol stoves. There is no need to guess how much fuel you need to cook you meal and run the risk of coming up short because you underestimated or wasting the excess fuel because you overestimated.

    You will still find the boil times are longer and there is not a lot of temperature control, compared to canister systems. The best system for you depends on your individual needs.

  20. #20
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    i use the 3 cup caldera cone system. ive made a lot of stove, but like the simplicity of it. i made some knock-offs of it but like the real thing plus Andrew has great customer service. PS i have used it down to zero with no problems.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

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