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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durwood View Post
    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.
    I use alcohol, canister and Esbit, depending on the season. For shorter hikes in warmer weather I gravitate to Esbit. The complete stove kit weighs 4.4oz and with daily fuel needs at 1 oz (2x 14g tabs) it is hands-down my lightest setup. It's pretty cool to be able to do a 4-night trip with total cook kit plus fuel weight of a bit over 8 oz.

    I would quickly agree, however, that Esbit is not practical for a thru, and many people cannot stand the smell of the fuel or the crud on the pot.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  2. #22
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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.
    HYOH and all.
    I usually select the canister that has the proper amount of fuel for the trip. I have a selection to chose from and can make one to my liking if needed. It would not be uncommon for me to head out with 20g or even less if the trip called for that much fuel. I figure why carry the extra weight, that 20g is already 2 l of boiled water, that's already more than double of what I may need for an overnight.

  3. #23

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    Based on experience we (2 people) get 5 days of meals from a large canister. But we only boil water (coffee and 2 single pot meals), and we use a pot cozy for the food to stay hot while cooking. We always use an old (1970's) MSR foil cowling around the stove--can't find a source for new heavy metal foil that's worth a darn. But we think that a metal cowling adds a lot of efficiency to the cooking system.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Durwood View Post
    . . . 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.
    ...had to learn to go simple.
    I use alcohol. It has its place. BUT, I wouldn't call it simple compared to either canisters or Esbit.

    The not simple side of alcohol:
    1) Handling/poring liquid fuel whenever you use the stove
    2) Measuring fuel that is being pored
    3) Extreme wind sensitivity requiring not-so-simple windscreens and protected cooking areas
    4) Fire danger with an open invisible flame and spillable liquid fuel
    5) Low energy density, so you have to carry twice as much fuel or resupply fuel twice as often
    6) The inability to turn a knob and shut off the stove

    It's hard to beat the simplicity of a canister where you screw on the burner, push the button, adjust the flame size to your desires, put the pot on, and cook.

    I find myself using alcohol or Esbit on short trips where the weight savings is "significant" and it's fun to play with more conceptually minimalist gear.

    I find myself using canisters on longer trips where the added fuel volume of alcohol diminishes or eliminates the weight savings, where I want minimal "fiddle factor" and less hassles with my cooking, when I'm in high fire danger situations where "open flames" are illegal if not dangerous, or when backpacking with other family members that want nothing to do with managing the added complexities fiddling with alcohol stoves. Using alcohol requires some practice, and my wife, for one, wants nothing to do with adding complications to her evening cooking on the trail. The plug-and-play ease of canisters is huge for her as well as my son when he thru-hiked the PCT.

    Finally, I gotta say, there are lots of ways to "see" how much fuel you are carrying beyond just using your eyes to see the fuel. Aside from shaking, "feeling the heft" or counting the number of meals cooked, MSR puts float lines on their canisters (which are easily put on other canisters by hand with a Sharpie marker) that provide a scale to measure the fuel remaining by floating the canisters in water. And, it seems confusing until you try it and then realize how incredibly simple and reasonably accurate it is.

    I say use 'em all. They're all fun in their own way. Most of them are surprisingly effective. Now go out and play!
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    I use alcohol. It has its place. BUT, I wouldn't call it simple compared to either canisters or Esbit.
    The not simple side of alcohol:
    1) Handling/poring liquid fuel whenever you use the stove
    2) Measuring fuel that is being pored
    3) Extreme wind sensitivity requiring not-so-simple windscreens and protected cooking areas
    4) Fire danger with an open invisible flame and spillable liquid fuel
    5) Low energy density, so you have to carry twice as much fuel or resupply fuel twice as often
    6) The inability to turn a knob and shut off the stove
    I agree. I am a big fan of alcohol systems, but in order for them to be effective, you do need to invest the time to develop a system the works for you. Unfortunately they are often advertised as being simple and this produces a lot of disgruntled ex-alcohol stove users. I spent years evolving a system to address specifically a lot of the issues identified above. 1) Yes I have to pour fuel into my stove, but I don't have to screw my stove onto my fuel (I see both as equally trivial). 2) I don't have to measure fuel. I chose a stove that can be easily extinguished for this reason. I pour in more than I need and when done, the excess fuel is recovered. This also maximizes efficiency of fuel use. I'm using about 15 g of fuel per meal. 3) My pot stand is also my wind screen. Stores in the pot. Nothing to assemble. An aluminum disk is a base to protect the surface. Your basic canister stove and pot system has no wind protection. 4) True I will not use alcohol in areas with fire bans, but I chose a wide pot stand to prevent tipping/spills. I always put the alcohol bottle away before igniting and I keep a water bottle on hand. Water soluble fuel is easy to extinguish. 5) My system maximizes efficiency (see #2 above) so I don't think my fuel needs are twice as much, but is more. 6) Mine is easy to extinguish, but without on on/off knob.

  6. #26

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    Ive gone back and forth for years! Just like @Recalc said, I get very annoyed about the waste of the little cylinders sitting around. "Measure them and calculate boils" then you get into a situation where you have to take 2 canisters for a simple overnight trip (assuming a boil for dinner and boil for breakfast. I dunno, canister stoves are very sweet. I have a very good one, very efficient, fast, and fairly quiet, and light; Soto Windmaster.

    I find myself taking my Zelph Fancee Feest stove most of the time. I love how quiet it is. I am a very early riser so I can keep my noise down in the morning, until I pack up my tyvec ground sheet.. lol. I have a 8oz squirt bottle for fuel that has 1oz measured lines on the side so I can see how much I am using. 1oz will usually get 16oz water boiling or very close. I also use a wind screen and bottom piece to protect the ground and reflect heat. I very much appreciate the slow boil time. You don't really need to watch it like a hawk. if it burns out, it burns out. I typically get up, start my stove, mostly for coffee while waiting I start packing up and can get mostly done. Then by that time I relax and enjoy breakfast and coffee.

    It is true alcohol isn't the most beginner friendly. Its very finicky until you get it figured out. Ive also recently read what seemed like a very scientific paper comparing alcohol to canister. Basically it stated with two boils a day alcohol is actually heavier on trips over 5 days (I think it was). Except, alcohol will get lighter towards the end where as you'll always have the weight of the canister itself.

    In my opinion the perfect stove would be a titanium whisper light type of stove... but it would probably be heavy, the fuel, fuel bottle, the pump thing and hose, or maybe that old Svea. It would be safe, easy to know how much is left and easily refill, not sure about sounds but my Dragonfly is pretty loud! I haven't used a Whiperlight.

    Anyhow, I am rambling...

  7. #27
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    MSR has a method to check by floating in water - not completely accurate and you may need to keep your canister clean - but I have used this without much fuss. But I generally purchase a new canister when I get down past 60% and pack out the used - more weight but I do like hot meals in winter.

    It would be a step forward if all manufacturers marked the canisters to show approx contents

    https://www.msrgear.com/blog/stoves-...uel-canisters/

    https://youtu.be/b-LIavISXqo

  8. #28
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    I’ve typically used low canisters for day hikes when I want to make coffee. If I run out, I run out. No big deal.

  9. #29

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    You can get a lot more boils out of a canister if you use a pot cozy, an insulated fabric jacket for your boil pot. And then design meals and drinks so it only requires boiling, no simmering. We get about 5 days out of the larger canister this way.

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    Folks, all you have to do is weigh the canister on a decent kitchen scale. The gross and net weights are displayed on the canister so you can easily calculate how much fuel is left either in weight or as % of the starting amount. This is not rocket science.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by smkymtns View Post
    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 dont 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 dont like about canister stoves is the roar, but that makes it easy to tell that it is on.
    When you fill a can the donor can is inverted and you are filling with liquid, not gas. This does not significantly change the mixed gas ratio. The only real change is that 'air space' above the liquid in the can, so some gas has to come out to fill that. A dedicated donor can will hold pretty true to its original mixture and is usually more economical to get the very large size. It is also for this reason to buy a high quality mix for a donor canister.

    The receiver canister if used in the field upright (not inverted) however will burn more a greater percentage of the volatile gas, changing the percent of the mix, so just remember that the gas in the receiver can may be depleted of some of the mix when you start adding. Depending on your situation (i.e. low temperature performance) you may want to use or transfer that gas to a 'summer' canister before refilling.

  12. #32
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    Just to add to the above, shaking the can will most likely make no difference, but if it does it may be counter to what you desire. Much like shaking a can of soda, you might be encouraging more of the good stuff to become gas in the 'air space' instead of staying liquid which could be transferred. However this will be small anyway. I suspect that you would like to do the opposite for max benefit, keeping it as still as possible, though again it's going to be a very small difference if any.

  13. #33
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    Thanks for the additional info, Starchild. All of my info is anecdotal (obviously) but this has worked quite well for me Im use in varying temps. I do use large dedicated donor cans of quality gas. Since I am using temperature to create a lower pressure in the receiving canister, would there be any benefit filling horizontally and avoiding adding liquid fuel?

  14. #34
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    And after re-reading your first post, for the best cold weather performance it sounds like I should refill empty cans from a good source as opposed to topping off partially filled canisters of now unknown mixtures.

  15. #35

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    Mountain Tactical did a little testing and determined how many boils (.5 liter) were available in MSR canisters. I think that is a good approach to understand how full a canister is and have used that technique on my last two multi-week LASH's. I just put a sharpie mark on the canister every time I used it.

    It gave me confidence that I still had fuel available and if I needed a new canister for the next leg of the hike. I typically only have a hot dinner, maybe heat up some water for coffee a couple of times a week. I used one 4 oz canister for 19 boils over two weeks before I replaced it. Not sure if there was still 3 boils left in it or not as I left it in the hiker box.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by smkymtns View Post
    ...would there be any benefit filling horizontally and avoiding adding liquid fuel?

    No you want to fill with liquid.

    For your 2nd question, but best cold weather performance from a refill, start with an almost empty canister (don't allow it to go actually to zero pressure as you may let air in, though they can be no liquid left, just gas pressure), then refill it from a high quality dedicated donor canister. Do a full refill.

    If you don't have an almost totally empty canister, just transfer the canister's fuel to a summer canister till it's down to gas only.


    Most of the time simply refilling it from a high quality donor would be enough however, unless temperatures are that low.

    The mistake to be avoided is using a partly spent canister as a donor. I have heard hikers combining their spend canisters into one, making a full one, that is sure to be a summer blend and even so expect longer boil times.

  17. #37

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    Having done a rather extensive amount of testing over the years with canisters, I've come to the conclusion that the whole notion of special mixes for summer, winter and all-season is a bunch of marketing hype.

    The typical "winter" blend is 30% propane and 70% isobutane, while "summer" is usually 15-20% propane with the remainder isobutane and sometimes even a little N-butane thrown in to make it appear special. (Summer blends are actually kinda hard to find.) All-season is usually 25/75. I once read somewhere that JetBoil was claiming some sort of "proprietary" blend, which is a real hoot. Fact is, propane is more volatile and always burns off first, so one minute into your first burn all these carefully formulated mixes become moot. The "winter" mixes with more propane will burn a bit longer before stove performance degrades, but at about half full they perform no better than any other "special" blend.

    So when your special winter blend leaves your stove performance sagging at 20F this is why... nearly all the propane is gone. Now, there's still isobutane remaining, which you'd think would work since it has a vapor temp (boiling point) of 11F, but this doesn't take into account evaporative cooling which drastically drops canister temperature as liquid becomes gas, a state change that causes rapid cooling.

    What is needed is some sort of external heat to warm the canister. Many people use a little water bath, setting the canister base in a few ounces of water (which doesn't have to be warm BTW) and my favorite which is something I came up with a few years ago, a copper strip that shunts heat from the stove burner to the canister.

    Using these methods you'll find that the propane/isobutane mix is utterly irrelevant. I routinely use canisters cheaply refilled with N-butane (boiling point 31F) in very cold weather—which I've read is impossible!—and they burn fine right up to the very last molecule of gas in the canister.

    And NO, the copper strip method doesn't overheat the canister. This has been tested out the wazoo and used safely in the field by quite a few people over the years.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  18. #38
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    For winter camping (if not backpacking) I've considered getting a propane adapter (for the 1 lb green cylinders) that lets you use those with a bp stove. I think REI sold one made by Kovea at one point. But I'd read some seriously cautionary stuff about it on a stove website (including that directions where wholly in Korean or something) and I never quite felt comfortable giving it a try. It would pretty much obviate all the special tricks needed to get a regular canister to work well, but at a significant cost in weight and bulk. Though if the real competition is a white gas stove of some sort, I'm not sure how far behind it would be.

    There are single burners that fit on propane canisters but they're bulky. The Kovea adapter is pretty small and tidy, and would let you use something like a Pocket Rocket on it.

    Alcohol is fine for winter too, and very light if you're not out too long, but has a nearly-year-round fiddle factor comparable to canister stoves in winter.

  19. #39

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    I have small canisters of 70 percent propane and 30 percent isobutane for my winter use. Last year had no problems at -23F in tests performed up in Alaska.

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by zelph View Post
    I have small canisters of 70 percent propane and 30 percent isobutane for my winter use. Last year had no problems at -23F in tests performed up in Alaska.
    No response......means no really cold weather hikers/campers out there.

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