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  1. #1

    Default Keeping Track of Cannister Stove Fuel

    Have made the decision to switch from alcohol to a cannister stove for a future hike. Time to change things up a bit. A review of older WB posts discusses weighing the cannister before & after, the float test, and a less talked about shake method. Is the shake method practical?

    I am interested in finding out how hikers keep track of how many boils they believe remain while they are on the trail. Your advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recalc View Post
    Have made the decision to switch from alcohol to a cannister stove for a future hike. Time to change things up a bit. A review of older WB posts discusses weighing the cannister before & after, the float test, and a less talked about shake method. Is the shake method practical?

    I am interested in finding out how hikers keep track of how many boils they believe remain while they are on the trail. Your advice would be appreciated.
    From a few years back... link from BPL describing how to use a trekking pole as a scale. Anything short of a scale I don't really trust.

    Another approach is to do some boil tests and before/after weights with an accurate scale and see how much fuel is used, then divide that by total grams in the canister. A very efficient set-up uses about 5g to boil 2 cups.

    The lightest, most efficient setup I've used yet is this one by Flat Cat Gear using the Ocelot plate with a FMS 300T stove, Sterno Inferno pot and a light lid. Total weight is about 14oz for stove, pot *and* fuel (110g canister) combined. More on this BPL thread.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  3. #3

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    My love affair with canister stoves was short lived because of the "remaining fuel" issue.I always figured about 10 grams per boil and weighed the tank before leaving home and did the math on how many boils I should be able to do etc.In the end,alcohol won out because I never wonder how much is left.Nobody ever complained about noise coming from my alcohol set up either........

  4. #4

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    I won't know for sure until I am on my thru-hike next year, but I have watched several videos on the topic and using the most common stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket or Soto Windmaster (which I have), two cups of water boil in about 2 1/2 minutes, around 12 boils per small canister, depending on ambient temperature, wind and altitude of course, so I figure if towns are 3 to 4 days apart, buying a new canister at each resupply or every other resupply depending on my usage, should be adequate, but again, I won't know until I get there.

  5. #5
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    I've got no problem weighing my canisters on a scale at home. Using the 100 g canisters, there is 100 g of fuel and 100 g of canister (more or less).
    I did a few boil tests at home, tracking the change in canister weight, to get a rough idea about how much fuel I burned to boil how much water.
    Then, depending on the trip length, season, menu, etc, I can estimate how much fuel I need to take with me with whatever buffer I want at the time.

    Finally, I regularly combine the contents of my partially used fuel canisters at home so I don't have to carry a nearly empty canister to use all the fuel in it. I use an adapter like discussed here. BUT, I don't quite follow Philp Werner's instructions, as I find the top canister rapidly empties its contents into the bottom canister if you just pore a bit of hot water into the concave bottom of the top canister after you have them connected.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  6. #6

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    You can also combine the gas saver adapter with another adapter for the cheap N-butane cartridges that are used in small tabletop stoves, which are commonly found at Asian supermarkets. (The price at the link is a rip-off... they're much cheaper at the Asian grocery stores!)

    N-butane has a considerably higher vapor (boiling) point compared to isobutane, and especially propane, so some common winter tricks for warming the canister will be needed with ambient temps as warm as 50įF.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  7. #7
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    I used to save the partial fuel canisters for use with my small single mantle lantern - either for emergency lighting during power outages or my picnic table light when car camping. But I have been using the g-works adapter mentioned above and it is great. I always have a full canister when it goes in the pack and it is much more economical buying the large cans of gas. I put the receiving can(s) in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to help accommodate filling, but I will have to try using hot water in the other can as well. I donít know how scientific this is, but I shake the can that I am filling from to make sure the gas mixture is actually mixed. The only thing that I donít like about canister stoves is the roar, but that makes it easy to tell that it is on.

  8. #8

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    but I shake the can that I am filling from to make sure the gas mixture is actually mixed


    No need... by the time canisters exhaust about 50% of their fuel content there is very little propane remaining anyway. At 20% it is virtually zero.

    All this marketing hype about secret, proprietary fuel blends is a bunch of BS.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joeseph View Post
    ... two cups of water boil in about 2 1/2 minutes, around 12 boils per small canister, depending on ambient temperature, wind and altitude of course, so I figure if towns are 3 to 4 days apart, buying a new canister at each resupply or every other resupply depending on my usage, should be adequate, but again, I won't know until I get there.
    This poster seemed to be getting apx 6L of boiled water per canister. For comparison the Jetboil, a small canister was 10L (plus) of water per small canister (really about 12, but the in the head the math works better using 10 as the weight of the fuel in the canister is 100g, and it gives a reasonable safety factor). It was pretty darn consistent too in various conditions. On my thru I wold go weeks before thinking about getting another, and hiker boxes along the way usually resupplied me before I needed to worry. It was quite nice going through many small towns not needed to concern myself with needing to find fuel (alcky stove users would be always looking/asking where they sell it by the oz). The shake test worked for me, if you let a stove run low on fuel you know from feel how that is - it's pretty easy to tell, and if you still can go a a few days and still have some left you feel confident in it, you know it's limits and how the feel changes towards the end.

    I liked the ability to skip resupply of fuel for weeks, I found that a positive, one less thing to do on town days, which I really enjoyed and wanted as little chores to do as I could to have more time to relax and hang out. So a lot depends on the person. If they want to have a more relaxing time in town and have confidence in their ability to judge the canister or the uncertainty of how much fuel is left would cause them to buy more then they need (these are the people who leave canisters in hiking boxes with more then 50% fuel remaining.), and worry about it along the trail.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    My love affair with canister stoves was short lived because of the "remaining fuel" issue.I always figured about 10 grams per boil and weighed the tank before leaving home and did the math on how many boils I should be able to do etc.In the end,alcohol won out because I never wonder how much is left.Nobody ever complained about noise coming from my alcohol set up either........
    ^^^^This ^^^^

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    No need... by the time canisters exhaust about 50% of their fuel content there is very little propane remaining anyway. At 20% it is virtually zero.
    Cool! Sounds like I need to make a visit to my local asian market and try out the straight butane.

  12. #12

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    I used to cook about the same two hot meals a day with my pocket rocket with heat shield. I just marked the number of meals I had cooked on the can at the end of the trip. Over 5 weeks of a series of 4 to 5 day section hikes. I usually was within one meal of predicting that I was out. On the rare occasion that I ran out, my boy scout training comes back to life and I start a small wood fire and heat water the old fashioned way I usually managed my partial cannisters so I would run them down at the end of section so worst case was going hungry the night before I ended the section.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recalc View Post
    and a less talked about shake method. Is the shake method practical?
    NO! the shake method is not practical

  14. #14
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    My Jetboil consistently will boil 10L on a small canister. I boil about 1-1.25 liters a day (depending on my coffee consumption . I have gone eight days with a a small canister many times. After a while, you get a good feel of how much is left by the weight of a canister in your hand and listening as you shake it. Very nonscientific but I’ve never run out.

  15. #15

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    On a slight unrelated note, as another recent convert to the canister stove, make sure you have the lowest insertion and detachment loss when attaching and detaching the stove from the canister. On my stove (windmaster), I was originally losing over 1.5g of fuel just from attaching and detaching the stove. By learning where the valve kicked in (at which point you turn twist it on/off quickly), I have it down to under 0.10g now.

  16. #16

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    My rule has been to begin trips only with a full canister, and mark the partial canisters to use only when car camping.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrickjd9 View Post
    My rule has been to begin trips only with a full canister, and mark the partial canisters to use only when car camping.
    I know people refill them all the time but I am afraid to do it.So I just weigh and mark them if and when I ever use one again.Now that I switched over to the Starlyte XL3 and Caldera F Keg my cannisters are just collecting dust.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by smkymtns View Post
    . . . I put the receiving can(s) in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to help accommodate filling, but I will have to try using hot water in the other can as well. . .
    I was playing around with freezing and warm water and whatnot a few years ago. I found filling with just a cold receiving canister took too much time. When I did both a cold receiving canister and hot water in the concave bottom of the upside-down top canister, I kept over filling the bottom canister (more than 110g or so of fuel in a 100g canister and there may not be enough "air space" to allow for safe expansion of the liquid gas when it gets warm?). So anyway, now I just turn on my tea kettle when I'm about ready to start transferring fuel, hook up the canisters, and poor a couple tablespoon of boiling water into the top canister's bottom. Works easily and fast.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  19. #19
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    If the number of boils concern you, make sure to get a Jetboil so that you can get the most out of your canister. Once you've done some test burns (preferably in real camping world conditions) and you can get a ballpark estimate of how many boils you can get, try to plan so that you've got the next full canister in your hand when the canister is likely 75% to 90% spent.

    For me, most of my backpacking is long weekend trips, so I'm able to weight the cans at home and know if I have enough fuel left for a given trip.
    When I did a JMT thru, I used a Jetboil MicroMo. But for my weekend hikes, I just use my much lighter Snowpeak LiteMax as the lower efficiency isn't a big deal over a couple of days.

  20. #20
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    I'm going to ninja sneak in here and say go alcohol (visible source) or no-stove. Canisters are heavy and present another element of worry that isn't necessary. Love my MSR but when going LD I look for every bit of simplicity I can get. For short trips I don't worry and carry a big can.

    Over stressing on parts of my kit has been a major impediment for me...had to learn to go simple.

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