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How Much fuel do you use?
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Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 15:10:30 MDT Print View

I am trying to decide which is the best stove/cookware combination to meet my needs. I have several stoves including a Caldera Cone, Msr Superfly etc. So I know the pros/cons of most of them I think. What it comes down to is, in practical terms, how much fuel will I use in a typical weekend solo trip? My preference is to use my stove to make tea and to boil water for some freezer bag style cooking. If I use iso/butane should I take a 8oz cylinder or a 4oz? How much alcohol would I need for a Caldera cone or a packafeather stove? Your input would be greatly appreciated


Edited by bazzer on 04/19/2008 15:11:35 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 15:37:57 MDT Print View

4oz is more than enough butane. Alcohol use depends on how efficient your stove setup is, ambient temps, wind, how many brews you'll make if you're stuck in the tent due to bad weather etc. Just take more than you'll need a few times and see how much you have left over.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 15:48:58 MDT Print View

This is what you want:

There's a part II on the site too. Great info!

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Re: How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 16:05:30 MDT Print View

Using the PackaFeather (and windscreen) for much the same purpose that you mentioned, under normal conditions I figure on about 2oz per meal and drink. That's heating 16oz of water for the food and then heating 12oz for the drink.

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
Comparison! on 04/19/2008 16:24:45 MDT Print View

The BPL test is very interesting, but does not mention the Caldera Cone. I am wondering at want point, for example, do I have to carry a extra cylinder of iso/butane, or more alchol compared to the 22oz msr bottle of fuel. For comparative purposes I am looking at a long weekend, say three nights and three days hiking. I guess at some point I might check each of my stoves to see how much fuel I use a day given the complete systems that I have. I am also interested in checking on my Outback oven. Hardly ultralight I know, but what a treat!


Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 18:41:01 MDT Print View

The small Snow Peak fuel canister (7oz fuel + canister weight) runs full out for approx 40 minutes in most pocket stove. My experience is that I can runs at less than max power for maximum efficiency, I can boil 12 24oz pots (freezer meal for 1 + tea) in most conditions.

I don't have a caldera cone, but my impression is that it's reasonably efficient. With my Ion stove I use between .4-.75oz to boil a pot depending on conditions. From the reports I have seen, I would guess the caldera cone would be between .4-1oz depending on conditions.


Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: How Much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 19:47:53 MDT Print View

We regularly use about 15 grams per person per day to cook one moderately elaborate meal in mild temperatures with windscreen and the stove well protected. This seems to be true for our MSR Pocket Rocket, Coleman Powermax Xtreme, and other pressurized gas stoves.

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
How much fuel do you use? on 04/19/2008 22:09:06 MDT Print View

There is a very interesting chart on the MSR site, no direct url i'm afraid, but you can get to it from any of the stove pages by clicking on the "Stove comparison Chart" Overall it shows that there really isn't a big difference between the fuel used over a few days, true, some take longer than others, but is 7 mins to boil over 3 mins such a big deal? Not for me.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
How much fuel... on 04/19/2008 22:25:52 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/25/2015 21:02:49 MDT.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Caldera Cone Fuel Efficiency on 04/20/2008 07:02:31 MDT Print View

Here's some good fuel usage and boil time data from stove comparison tests by Allison Miller:

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
Field testing my stoves on 04/20/2008 16:58:25 MDT Print View

I have just been out to Whiskeytown NP and tested a number of my stoves. I have not yet tabulated the results, but I will say this, the MSR Reactor is the fastest boiling by far, almost to fast! I have measured the practical fuel consumption, i.e. how much is used up taking the stove out and setting it up and then dismantling it again. My two alcohol stoves clearly show me that a lot of fuel can be wasted. Alcohol stoves have to be extinguished and any leftover fuel returned to the storage container, not always a easy or safe task. With both the Caldera Cone supplied stove and the PackaFeather stove emptying unused fuel was not easy. I started with 40Grams in each, one used 30g and the other 35, but I did not get much of the unused fuel back in the bottle. So practically both used 40g to bring 450g of water(2Cups) to a good boil was used.
The Jetboil used 4g's with it's own mug whereas the Reactor used 8g. I will have to check the results. The Reactor has to be stored with the gas cylinder removed, whereas the Jetboil can be stored within it's mug with a small cylinder attached.
Each of my MSR stoves, a DragonFly and a XGR both used the same amount of fuel (white gas of course)

In timing stoves it seems to me that you should include the time taken for the stove to get up to temp, rather than timing beginning when the stove is nice and hot. The pre-heat can be quite long with some stoves, that's what makes iso/butane so fast. Alcohol stoves take quite a while to pre-heat, as do the MSR white gas stoves.

Oh, the Reactor boiled in 1:35 while the PackaFeather took 11:00. Quite a difference. But of course the alcohol stoves are completely quiet, no so with the rest.

More later


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Field testing my stoves on 04/20/2008 17:21:52 MDT Print View

I always time my stoves from the moment the match hits the fuel until I reach a boil.

I'm not sure what the original question was really asking. If the question is "what's the lightest stove set-up that will boil X-cups of water for a three day trip", that is quite a different question to "which is the most fuel efficient stove"?.

Temperature and wind conditions aside (these are big factors affecting the answer), it is hard to imagine how something like the Reactor could be the lightest option, even though 'fuel efficient'. The base weight of the stove drags it's weight efficiency down to the bottom of the list for a short trip, unless you encounter horrific winds without any shelter. Same for butane. You would really have to save a lot of fuel for the weight of the stove and empty canister to be competitive with a basic alcohol set-up over three days (again depending on how much boiled, what the weather is doing, etc...).

I have been getting almost complete fuel recovery (minus 1 gram) using either the featherfire or the trail designs 12-10 with snuffer cap and 'suck-back' nozzle. This makes the 12-10 plus caldera very weight efficient for sorter trips. For longer trips I would be tempted to go with a BushBuddy and back-up Esbits for maximum weight plus fuel economy.

If you're are merely worried about reducing carbon emmissions, then the Reactor or Jetboil are a better bet for any length trip (though the carbon cost of making those disposable canisters is unclear...).

Then there is the question of convenience and speed. A basic butane stove is extremely convenient to setup and boil water quickly in a range of conditions. The heat exchanger of the Reactor or Jetboil increases the speed, not sure about the convenience. Also along the lines of 'convenience' is how to pack a Caldera Cone to keep it safe between uses.

There's a lot that can go into deciding on a cook system. The best bet is to see if you can borrow some different setups and test them for yourself, in real situations cooking the volumes you want to cook.

Barry Foster
(bazzer) - F

Locale: Redding
best ULBackpacking stove on 04/20/2008 17:56:54 MDT Print View

Thanks for your reply and greetings from a Brit living in Northern California.
I real question is of course," Which is the lightest setup for a weekends backpacking?" So I have set out myself to check fuel consumption and overweight as well as convenience. So the one stove I haven't mentioned in my arsenal is the SVEA 123, I suppose there is a reason it's been around for so long!
I like all of them, but how do you get any unused alcohol back? I have only tried tipping it back in, not very good at all. I really like the Caldera Cone, I am going to get one for my MSR Kettle, a nice size it seems to me for both one or two persons for pot noodles etc.

I am a self confessed gear geek, but I am trying to get my pack down to 20lbs or less and be safe. I am ex British military, packs, or Bergers, where horribly big. But whilst being light is important, so is safety.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: best ULBackpacking stove on 04/20/2008 20:25:30 MDT Print View


I use this little fuel retrieval gizmo. Works a treat. I'm sure you could DIY one if you put your head to it.

Safety...that's important. It may not alawys come down to your gear though. I've had butane canisters go ballistic on me and spray the gas out in less than 30 seconds, leaving me with an empty frozen canister. I've spilled my alcohol stove fuel. I've had difficulty lighting an Esbit tab in windy weather, and getting a fire (eg BushBuddy) going in really wet, windy weather is not much fun. I've watched friends who couldn't get their MSR XGK (white gas) going due to mechanical problems. I've caught forest litter on fire with leaked white gas. I've blown up a cylinder full of white gas with the old style coleman stove were the burner sat on top of the pressurised canister. Very very scary. There's lots that can go wrong with any cooking system. So far I am really liking the Caldera cone, with almost any stove. I've tried it with a an MSR WindPro, 12-10, FeatherFire, Vargo, Esbit stand and even a Bushbuddy. It's basically an all around great windscreen/pot stand as long as you're careful with it. After all, you should be using either a windscreen or sheltered cooking site with just about all the stove systems available.

The 'lightest' option is to use a caldera cone with the 3g titanium Esbit stand, but this is not necessarily the most convenient (soot on pots, difficult to light, smelly expensive fuel). The easiest option is any of the canister systems, but they come with a weight penalty for shorter trips. These are also not as stable as a Caldera, or something like the MSR WindPro.

Kenneth Lotts
(aa7jc) - MLife

Locale: SE AZ
caldera = 1/2 oz and it works well. on 04/21/2008 16:53:57 MDT Print View

I have been getting great results with 1/2 oz of HEET (gas line antifreeze) in my Caldera alcohol stove for heating 16 oz of water. If the water is real cold it may take 3/4 oz to see a boil (16 oz of water) but often times, I dont care if I get a boil. Most of my meals do fine with hot (steaming) water. Especially with the cozy system available with the Caldea stove.

Four oz of fuel would be plenty for a weekend.. That would equate to eight sessions. likewise an eight ounce bottle of fuel would more than do well for a five day outing.

I love the caldera since it really performs well in the wind. I use it with an MSR kettle. I have the Caldera "Kitchen".