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  1. #1
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    Default Regular alcohol Stove at high altitudes?

    I have a $8 soda can stove made to boil water that uses HEET as a fuel source.

    It works GREAT when I'm hiking on the AT (4,000 feet on average, I would say), as long as my HEET is kept warm (when it's cold, it won't light).

    But will it work at 14,000 feet?!?!?!

    Does anyone have any recommendations or contributions??? Thanks!
    …speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee… –JOB 12:8

  2. #2
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I've used an alcohol stove as high as 13k feet. Including in October FWIW.

    Altitude has not been a factor for me.

    Can't speak for above what you'd find in the lower 48, but I think you'll find all practical purposes the alchie stoves work just fine on what you'll encounter on the JMT. Many thru-hikers on the PCT/JMT take alchie stoves and have no issues (myself included)
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    Registered User brian039's Avatar
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    It should light but it does take a little longer to reach a boil so you need more fuel than you think you would.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Ender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I've used an alcohol stove as high as 13k feet. Including in October FWIW.

    Altitude has not been a factor for me.

    Can't speak for above what you'd find in the lower 48, but I think you'll find all practical purposes the alchie stoves work just fine on what you'll encounter on the JMT. Many thru-hikers on the PCT/JMT take alchie stoves and have no issues (myself included)
    Ditto this. I never had any issues with alcohol stoves at high altitude.
    Don't take anything I say seriously... I certainly don't.

  5. #5

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    Wouldn't alcohol fuel work for the same reason that white gas works at higher altitudes? I use Everclear when torching Baked Alaska. It's the only booze that will stay on fire on top of a frozen cake. Even Bacardi 151 fizzles at 30 degrees.

  6. #6
    Registered User schnikel's Avatar
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    I used a DIY alcohol stove on the JMT last year and it worked awesome! Cooked up dinner at 11750 ft with no problem.
    Schnikel

  7. #7

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    It'll work fine. I used a homemade alco stove on my 2011 JMT thru-hike. Like others have said, it may take a bit longer to blossom, but don't worry. Have a good hike!

  8. #8
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I've used an alcohol stove as high as 13k feet. Including in October FWIW.

    Altitude has not been a factor for me.

    Can't speak for above what you'd find in the lower 48, but I think you'll find all practical purposes the alchie stoves work just fine on what you'll encounter on the JMT. Many thru-hikers on the PCT/JMT take alchie stoves and have no issues (myself included)
    I agree with you, but isn't the gas in the canisters mixed for just this reason? The alcohol stoves take a longer time to heat water already. They are the choice in the Iditarod - but not for high altitude, I am just saying there are better choices. Hey its been a long time since I was in Colorado.

    At high altitudes, harsh conditions and lower atmospheric pressure increase cooking times and make food preparation difficult. Having the right gas stove can make the difference between a successful summit push and misery. Canister stoves with insulated sleeves, such as Jetboil stoves, function well at high altitudes. These stoves require no priming and focus heat on the cooking surface to decrease cooking times. However, these stoves don't burn as hot as White gas stoves.




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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl:1329120
    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    I've used an alcohol stove as high as 13k feet. Including in October FWIW.

    Altitude has not been a factor for me.

    Can't speak for above what you'd find in the lower 48, but I think you'll find all practical purposes the alchie stoves work just fine on what you'll encounter on the JMT. Many thru-hikers on the PCT/JMT take alchie stoves and have no issues (myself included)
    I agree with you, but isn't the gas in the canisters mixed for just this reason? The alcohol stoves take a longer time to heat water already. They are the choice in the Iditarod - but not for high altitude, I am just saying there are better choices. Hey its been a long time since I was in Colorado.

    At high altitudes, harsh conditions and lower atmospheric pressure increase cooking times and make food preparation difficult. Having the right gas stove can make the difference between a successful summit push and misery. Canister stoves with insulated sleeves, such as Jetboil stoves, function well at high altitudes. These stoves require no priming and focus heat on the cooking surface to decrease cooking times. However, these stoves don't burn as hot as White gas stoves.




    At high altitude white gas is going to work the best. The fuel isnt really affected by the cold and the manual pump regulates the pressure. Good old Whisperlite or a SVEA stove.

  10. #10
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    High altitude is relative. For high altitude mountaineering I would not want to take an alchie stove. Other than winter camping, I have not used a white gas stove in Colorado.

    14k is not exactly high altitude mountaineering, though! 14k is high compared to Mt. Washington. 14k is low considering whats 8000m means in feet.
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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Well thanks Mags for clearing that up... you had me a little confused - but if this works for you all the better.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  12. #12
    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    I thought all you high altitude campers knew that for every 1K of elevation,water boils 3degrees cooler.For example at 10K ft. water would begin to boil at 178degrees.It's not the elevation it's the barometric pressure which is usually lower the higher you go.This would be one reason for longer cook times,a tight lid helps reduce this a little.Isn't there some kind of special type pressure cooker that they use on the 14Kft+ zones to save fuel&decrease cook times.IMO freeze dried meals do rehydrate better the hotter the water....Just sayin'

  13. #13
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    You guys are making this needlessly complicated.

    To put it succinctly: Does an alchie stove work at 13k or so feet? The answer is yes. And it works quite well.

    Otherwise many CDT and PCT hikers are doing something wrong.

    ..and when I camped at the Boulder Field a a few years back, my meal was actually done faster than the white gas folks (KISS principle I supposed more than anything)

    In any case, for anything you'll encounter int the lower 48, don't think it truly matters what stove you use for three season backpacking.
    Last edited by Mags; 08-27-2012 at 00:37.
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  14. #14
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    Like Mags and others, I've had no problems with my simple alcohol stove at altitudes up to ~13,000 feet. As near as I can tell it lights and burns about the same as at lower elevations. I used this stove exclusively on both the Colorado Trail and the JMT.

    Cleaner, I think your altitude adjustment for boiling point is off a bit. Check Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_altitude_cooking or this site: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/bo...de-d_1344.html - at 10,000' the boiling point is about 193 degrees F. The lower boiling temperature is indeed why cooking times are longer at altitude. That said, I've had no problems re-constituting dehydrated meals such as Mountain House Pro Paks by adding boiling water, and waiting 10 minutes - even at higher elevations.

  15. #15
    Registered User The Cleaner's Avatar
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    I never was very good at math.....

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    A lot of people use alcohol stoves on the JMT. I was going to use one until I picked up a JetBoil, which was worth it for our 3 person group. A lady we hiked with used a cat can alcohol stove, it worked fine.

    You will not likely be cooking anything at 14,000' on the JMT anyway. While you could, the highest we cooked anything was at Guitar Lake at right around 11,500 feet on the last morning.

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