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Thread: Stove question

  1. #1
    Registered User TreeTop's Avatar
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    Default Stove question

    Ok, i'm sure this has been discussed many times.... We are presently using cannisters for fuel and we are looking at switching over to an alcohol stove for our thru hike. Here is my question how does the fact that there are two of us (my wife and I) impact the effectiveness of the alcohol stove? After we double the use of fuel and time does it make more sense to go with an option other than alcohol?
    TreeTop
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    Yellow Jacket
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    Check out the articles section on thru-hiker. There are 2-3 that cover alcohol vs. canisters (MSR's pocket rocket).

    IMO, you can't go wrong with either one. Though with canisters (since they can't be refilled and it is difficult to know how much is left) you may end up carrying two until one runs out.

    I have read you can tell how much fuel is left by placing the canister in water upside down. The water line should mark the fuel level.
    Yellow Jacket -- Words of Wisdom (tm) go here.

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    Yellow Jacket
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    Another thing to consider is if you go with two alcohol stoves you can make fancier meals. So you'll get more variety without extra weight.
    Yellow Jacket -- Words of Wisdom (tm) go here.

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    of Hatman and Happy Feet GAME '01 Happy Feet's Avatar
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    Default alcohol stove for two

    My husband and I used an alcohol stove on our thru-hike with no problems at all. Our meals were very simple - boil water, pour in the dehydrated food (mostly all homemade), bring back to a boil and let sit covered 5 or 10 minutes. We used a 2 quart pot and it took us a little longer than our fellow (solo) hikers, but I used the time while cooking to do the evening filtering chore. I love my pop can stove soooooooo much that I even use it when we car camp! My advice would be to get a 2 quart pot and go for it!

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TreeTop
    Here is my question how does the fact that there are two of us (my wife and I) impact the effectiveness of the alcohol stove? After we double the use of fuel and time does it make more sense to go with an option other than alcohol?
    What I have found when hiking with my boys is it is easier if we each have a separate pot and a separate stove. this way you can sart cooking at the same time and eat from your own containers. And, lets face it, sometimes you will both want something different from the other. A couple of .75L pots, a couple of 16oz soda bottles, and a couple of can stoves are very light, just as light as having one set of everything a little bigger for two. Another thing to consider is that as pot size and the amount of water in the pot goes up, there is not a linear increase in the amount of fuel required, so that if you need 0.5 ounces alcohol to boil a pint of water, you will probably need more than 1.0 ounces of alcohol to boil a quart of water.
    SGT Rock
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  6. #6
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    I think people worry too much about the time it takes to boil water with an alcohol stove. Does it really matter that you can boil water in 4 minutes and someone else can do it in 3 and a half? Most hikers I know learn the routine they must go through to be ready to do the whole thing over the next day. While you are at camp you can multi-task and do other things while the water is boiling. The fact there are two of you is great, only one of you has to cook and the cook can still multi-task while cooking. I think you should do what makes you comfortable but I don't see two people as making the alcohol stove inefficient.

    ps. I would carry two alcohol stoves and two pots. Doubling your alcohol stoves would weight maybe 2 ounces, something no professional stove maker could boast for 1 stove. The two pots would allow you to cook two things at once, like coco and oatmeal for breakfast or split your dinner up into two portions so you could eat out of separate dishes.

    pps with an alcohol stove you also benefit from carrying a lighter fuel canister.

    pps you could get away with two stoves a fuel canister (no fuel) and two cooking pots for about 20 ounces, easy.

    super ps. getting a proper sized pot stand and windscreen can give you unbelievable results. for fun, try getting your stove and windscreen to work in bad weather. if you can get water to boil in (...humm) lets say 15 mins on a terrible windy day then you got the right stove, pot, & windscreen.

    Happy hiking!
    * Warning: I bite AND I do not play well with others! -hellkat-

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    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default Canister Stove for two is my vote...

    My wife and I hike together. We started with a whisper light, but wanted something lighter. We switched to a canister stove, and loved it, but I thought that I would try an alcohol stove and see if we would like that. We used the Brasslite duo stove, but we are pretty much sure that a canister stove is the way to go.

    For two people the weight savings of the alcohol stove pretty much goes out the window. You have to carry twice the fuel, so the efficiency of the canister stove really wins. It's true, you will occasionally have to carry two canisters, but it's not much. We find the larger canister lasts us about 10 days on trail boiling 1 qt water each night. That's about 14 days of actual hiking, since we go in to town to each as much as is possible. We used it on the long trail for 16 days, and just barely switched over to the new canister, but then again, we were going in to town A LOT because we wanted our vacation to be a vacation

    The speed and ease of use of the canister stove, with the fact that the weight is almost the same as an alcohol stove has won us over. But it's a very personal thing.

    Carrying multiple alcohol stoves as a couple is interesting, but you are starting to dent the weight savings that a couple has. Pots aren't that light. Anyway...

    You'll have to experiment and see what you like to do while you are out there.

    Gravity Man

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    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    It's really your choice. Alcohol has lower BTU than other fuels, so it does take longer to boil water. But, it does boil water.

    Your choice depends on your tolerance for longer cooking times, and what type of cooking you are doing, (as well as the weather/temperature.).

    For what it's worth, I recently biked coast to coast with my daughter. We used the Pepsi stove most of the time. Our cooking was simple, mostly liptons. So, it is possible for 2 people to use an alcohol stove for long durations.

  9. #9
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I went to canister stoves for my 6-10 day section hikes in 2000 when I retired my trusty white gas Optimus 8R. They are very simple, quick if that's important, able to simmer if that's important, and work well for me on my section hikes.

    However, if I was to thru-hike I would immediately convert to alcohol in order to simplify resupply and save a few more ounces.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  10. #10

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    We had no problems cooking for two w/ alcohol - I did my thru w/ my mom, Double Nickels. Like Happy Feet, our meals only required boied water. We cozy cooked and ate out of zip-locks also, which meant we didn't even need a simmer and no clean-up. No problems, easy, always had plenty of fuel.
    aka Endorphin, AT GA->ME '04

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    Registered User Magic City's Avatar
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    Default Alcohol - Canister - Wood

    I've done a lot of winter and early spring camping, weekend hiking treks, and the like, but I'm going to do the AT Thru-hike (unless something goes awry) early next year. I'm thinking of starting out in Springer sometime in February or very early March.

    I live in Millinocket, Maine - at the north end of the AT, and grew up in the UP of Michigan, so I can handle cold, but I'm looking for some recommendations on stoves.

    Although I've never used one, it seems to me that the Sierra Stove, except for some slight weight handicaps, might be the better choice for an early start.

    I can carry some pieces of kindling, but will finding fuel be a problem?

    What are the pros and cons in a Sierra? Or what else might you suggest?

  12. #12
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Default Zip stoves

    You don't see many zip (Sierra Stoves) along the AT. Must be a good reason. Maybe the problem of finding dry twigs on a wet night? Or because of the soot that it puts on your pot? Or is it mearly a weight issue?

    Look through gear lists that are posted here and elsewhere. Probably will not find a zip stove.

  13. #13
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peaks
    You don't see many zip (Sierra Stoves) along the AT. Must be a good reason. Maybe the problem of finding dry twigs on a wet night? Or because of the soot that it puts on your pot? Or is it mearly a weight issue? Look through gear lists that are posted here and elsewhere. Probably will not find a zip stove.
    I've followed the Zip Stove debate for at least two decades. May be longer. It's so long ago I forget. I walked with a Zip Stove in 1993. I used one for at least a decade before that.

    The primary objection, I've heard in all these years is that a Zip produces a sooty pot. That is simply something terribly obnoxious to most Americans. It's contrary to our entire culture. Of course, after two months on the trail, it means nothing. Those of us who stick it out that long have learned that dirt is part of nature -- part of the attraction of the trail.

    But everyone on the trail tends to love the stuff they brought -- since all of it is okay. There's virtually nothing that won't work for hiking the trail -- once one has the commitment to do so.

    So there are very few Zip Stove proponents on this or other lists. Most hikers either didn't carry a Zip over the imagined horrors of carrying a dirty pot. Or they carried something that worked -- easy since everything works, more or less.

    But I've carried: Sveas, Coleman's, Whisperlites, numerous container stoves, alcohol .... virtually everything that is available. The Sierra Zip stove is by far the best for a long distance hike, mostly because the fuel is free, easily available, and because it allows flexibility. I can cook any meal that suits my fancy on a Zip -- long cooking, short cooking, just boiling suspect water for tomorrow's breakfast or tomorrow's hike. Nothing works better day after day than a Zip. With a Zip I can take a leisurely day off -- just sitting and sipping tea. No problem. Fuel is always available. Yeah. Rain or shine. It makes no difference, despite the speculation of those who have never tried a Zip.

    The one draw back? Fires are natural things. Despite Smoky the Bear very few accidentally start a fire. It usually takes a bit of a learning curve to start a good fire -- even in a Zip Stove. Being slow, it took me an hour or so to become proficient with my Zip. YMMV

    Weary

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    Quote Originally Posted by weary
    The primary objection, I've heard in all these years is that a Zip produces a sooty pot.
    What did you do to moderate the horror of carrying a sooty pot? I imagine that a bag dedicated to holding the messy thing would work. Is that what you did? Also, did you have a separate bag for the stove?

    I like fire and am pretty sure I'd like using a wood stove of some sort, but to date, my cooking requirements have been so limited that an alcohol stove works well.

  15. #15
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rgarling
    What did you do to moderate the horror of carrying a sooty pot? I imagine that a bag dedicated to holding the messy thing would work. Is that what you did? Also, did you have a separate bag for the stove?

    I like fire and am pretty sure I'd like using a wood stove of some sort, but to date, my cooking requirements have been so limited that an alcohol stove works well.
    I just kept my Zip stove in one of those flimsy plastic bags that stores give you whenever you buy someting more complicated than an ice cream cone. I used the thinest, the lightest and the smallest I could find. I tossed out the old one and collected a new version whenever I was in town.

    Gradually the soot congeals into a solid coating, making your pot a bit better at absorbing heat, and lessening the problem of soot rubbing off in your pack.

    Weary

  16. #16
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weary
    I just kept my Zip stove in one of those flimsy plastic bags that stores give you whenever you buy someting more complicated than an ice cream cone. I used the thinest, the lightest and the smallest I could find. I tossed out the old one and collected a new version whenever I was in town.

    Gradually the soot congeals into a solid coating, making your pot a bit better at absorbing heat, and lessening the problem of soot rubbing off in your pack.

    Weary
    Out of curiosity, the other big complaint I've heard about the Zip stove is the smoke. It might not bother you so much, but I hear other hikers find it annoying. But I never stayed at a shelter with someone who had a zip stove... Just the rumors I hear...

    Gravity man

  17. #17
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gravityman
    Out of curiosity, the other big complaint I've heard about the Zip stove is the smoke. It might not bother you so much, but I hear other hikers find it annoying. But I never stayed at a shelter with someone who had a zip stove... Just the rumors I hear...
    Gravity man
    I make an effort to stay down wind of other hikers. No one ever complained to me. But I recognize the potential for offending.

    Weary

  18. #18
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    Just got the pepsi can stove from Anti-Gravity Gear and it works great. Was able to cut weight and now I can see how much fuel is left in my plastic fuel bottle.

    http://www.antigravitygear.com/products/stove.html

  19. #19
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    Default white gas in trangia

    well i was wondering if you could burn white gas in an alcohol stove so i just tried it with a trangia. took it out in the middle of my concrete patio and made sure there were no leaves around that could catch fire. then filled the trangia a little over half way with white gas, and lit a long kitchen match. with my arm outstreched i crept to the trangia and slowly put the match to it and the gas lit and didnít explode. then it started putting up a wide flame 2 or 3 inches wide and about 18 inches high. the flame put out some petroleum smoke, dirty but not as dirty as kerosene.

    looking at that gasoline flame dance, it didnít look right. it was eager and dancing with a spirit that was alive in some way, and staring at it i swear i could start to see demons in that flame. you don't see that when the gas is bottled up in a whisperlite. it made me real uneasy and i went inside. after about 15 minutes it burned out.

    then an hour later i put denatured alcohol in it just to compare. the alcohol flame wasnít as thick and wide and only went up about 6 inches, and didnít seem alive the way the white gas was. that gas was really creepy.

  20. #20

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    I'm new to backpacking and am just starting to experiment with my Brasslite stove. So far so good. Locally, I can only find denatured alcohol at a Lowe's or other hardware store in larger quantities than I would need or want during a re-supply stop on the AT.

    So, my question is, how do you handle resupply of denatured alcohol on a thru-hike when the smallest amount you can buy is at least 4-5 times the amount you need to carry?

    Thanks!
    "That's just like...your opinion, man." - The Dude

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