A case for a heavy, cheap winter stove.
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Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
A case for a heavy, cheap winter stove. on 03/02/2009 11:08:24 MST Print View

If moderators want to move this post to Chaff I'm okay with that.

A recent case of gear-itis combined with cleaning out the garage while dreaming of winter backpacking reminded me of a great stove system.

I used to do a lot of winter trips in the Sierra. With nights being long and my companion and I being lazy, we preferred to cook in the tent- cozy in our sleeping bags. This meant hanging out the front of the A-frame tent and getting cold- especially if it was windy or snowing. Tiring of cramped quarters we got together the materials and sewed a pair of 7' square double wall pyramid tents with a "cook hole" in the floor near the center.

That way we could sit up in a cozy warm tent while we melted snow and cooked meals. (Carbon Monoxide you say... well at least we lived). The big concern was lighting our white gas (petrol) stoves- things like the new MSR XGK or old-school Primus and Svea. Even with a 5+ foot roof peak I certainly wouldn't light one in the tent. The tunnel doorway wasn't great for bringing a lit stove in either.

The solution was the Primus "Grasshopper" propane stove. It uses the 14 ounce skinny propane canisters for propane torches. The stove has two long thin legs and uses the canister as a third support to make a pretty stable tripod, once you make some snowshoes for the legs. (google "Primus Grasshopper" for pictures) The valve is opened and closed by turning the canister attachment so the whole bottle turns.

Unfortunately this stove isn't available anymore. The closest cheap modern stove is the one-burner Coleman stoves that screw on top of the squat steel 1 pound propane bottles.

The newer stoves are probably about a pound. The 1 pound (~450gram) capacity propane bottles weigh right about a pound empty. Combined, the stove and a full propane bottle is ~3 pounds. Cost is $15-$30 for the stove and about $2.50 for the propane bottle.

So here we have a 3 pound system. The advantage is that the 100% propane will burn just fine well below zero degrees F. It's also cheap. 450 grams of fuel is plenty for snow melting and cooking for two people on a long weekend.

If anyone is thinking of dipping their toes into winter trips, but doesn't know whether they will really like it or which $150 stove system to buy, this is a great way to get started. It may not be as light or efficient as an inverted canister system, but it gets the job done and works great in cold weather.

But not light.

Robert Bryant
(KG4FAM) - F

Locale: Upstate
Re: A case for a heavy, cheap winter stove. on 03/02/2009 11:32:10 MST Print View

I found a Grasshopper a few years back at a yard sale for 2 bucks still in the original box. I don't carry it backpacking, but it is a awesome simple stove.