M Lightweight Integrated Canister Fuel Cooking Systems State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Overview and Performance Evaluation
by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
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Canister fuel stoves are the darlings of lightweight backpackers. Their main attributes are speed, adjustability, and convenience. Lightweight conventional top-mount and remote canister stoves were just as plentiful ten years ago as they are today. With a lightweight cook pot, a typical two-person cooking system weighs around 9 ounces (255 g). However, the conundrum with conventional top-mount canister stoves then, as it is today, is that they are inefficient in the wind and not amenable to use with a windscreen. Any amount of wind simply blows the heat away, drastically reducing their efficiency.
The Jetboil Personal Cooking System was introduced back in 2004, and Backpacking Light pronounced it to be "one of the most innovative products to hit the market" in our Jetboil PCS Review.
The key components of an integrated canister fuel stove that make it more fuel-efficient and wind-resistant compared to a conventional top-mount canister stove are:
- A lower BTU/hr burner, which is more fuel efficient.
- A heat exchanger attached to the bottom of the cook pot to maximize heat transfer.
- The heat exchanger surrounds the burner to protect it from the wind.
- The cook pot is insulated with a cozy and has a tight fitting lid.
Thus, the beauty of the integrated canister fuel stove lies in its convenience, compactness, fuel efficiency, and wind resistance. It is an integrated cooking system, optimized for efficiency.
But the original Jetboil PCS has drawbacks too:
- The unit, excluding the fuel canister, weighs nearly a pound (454 g).
- The pot capacity is small (a 1 L pot with instructions to not fill it more than half full).
- It’s slow (a claimed boil time of 90 min/1-pint of water, but it actually took twice that long).
Today Jetboil has a whole family of integrated canister fuel stoves, and competitive products have reached the market from Primus and MSR. Jetboil is introducing four new stoves this spring and Primus is introducing one.
The current lightest top-mount stove is the Monatauk Gnat at 1.6 ounces (48 g), and an ultralight Titanium cook pot with volume equivalent to the Jetboil Sol Ti weighs about 3.1 ounces (88 g), for a total of 4.7 ounces (133 g). Adding a windscreen brings the weight up to around 5.5 ounces (156 g). The integrated system is still a bit heavier, but its convenience, fuel efficiency, and wind resistance may make it well worth the extra weight.
The key questions this state of the market report will attempt to answer are:
- What is the comparative performance of the lighter (backpackable) integrated canister stoves in terms of boil time, fuel efficiency, wind-resistance, and cold-resistance?
- How does their performance compare with a very lightweight top-mount stove and Titanium cook pot?
- How do these integrated stoves perform for different cooking styles, i.e., the boil-and-set method versus multi-step meal preparation?
To address these questions, this state of the market report is divided into three parts:
Lightweight Integrated Canister Fuel Cooking Systems State of the Market Report 2011: Part 1 – Overview and Stove Performance Evaluation (this part) Provides an overview of the integrated canister fuel stove in relation to the conventional top-mount canister stove. Reports the results of our comparative performance tests (boil time, heating rate, fuel consumption, and gas mileage from a single canister of fuel) for four test conditions (calm, wind, protected from wind, and cold).
Lightweight Integrated Canister Fuel Cooking Systems State of the Market Report 2011: Part 2 – Trends, Stove Ratings, and Selections - Highlights new developments in integrated canister fuel stoves. Presents our ideas for achieving weight efficiency and fully utilizing the advantages of integrated stoves for backpacking. Provides comparative specifications for lightweight (backpackable) integrated canister stoves, rates them according to appropriate criteria, and identifies the standouts for different situations and needs.
Lightweight Integrated Canister Fuel Cooking Systems State of the Market Report 2011: Part 3 – Wrap Up and Reviews of All Stoves Included Presents our overall conclusions from the project and provides a review of each of the stoves evaluated.
- Introduction - Stove Performance Evaluation
- Selection Criteria
- Stoves Included
- Testing Method and Conditions
- Boil Time and Heating Rate
- Fuel Consumption
- Gas Mileage
- Preview of Parts 2 and 3
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