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Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II on 07/12/2006 03:11:25 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II Calculating Fuel Usage, Carry Weight Analysis, and Cost/Efficiency Considerations

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
well done on 07/12/2006 04:58:05 MDT Print View

Will ...great article....useful data...It may be what we knew, but now there is a one page summary with specific comparative data... well written...thx for the effort.

Pan

John S.
(jshann) - F
Esbit cost on 07/12/2006 09:16:56 MDT Print View

My cost of esbit, $4.50/12 tab box at Sportsman's warehouse, is 75 cents/ounce.

And I need to add also that you did a great job with the article.

Edited by jshann on 07/12/2006 19:39:12 MDT.

Robert Kay
(ksaccounts) - F
Camparative Fuel Efficiency on 07/12/2006 09:47:47 MDT Print View

Will -- Thanks for the wonderful study. It confirms my own "field" tests that one may need different types of stoves for different treks, especially in the winter. One helpful hint. If all you do is boil water (no real cooking), then before you use a canister for the first time, draw a series of small "check boxes" on the outside using a perm. marker pen. Make enough little squares to correspond to the number of water boils you can get out of each canister. After each boil, scratch or mark an X in one of the boxes. That way you know how much fuel is left. Typically backpackers will always go out with a fresh canister or take an extra because we don't really know how much fuel is left in a used one. You can also make a weight comparison at home between a used one and a new one. The canisters loose efficiency as they get low on fuel, so one must also take that into consideration.

About the fuel tab stove. I have a friend who is a high altitude climber. He uses Esbit tabs exclusively in extreme conditions: Above 18,000 feet and cold, blowing snow. Your research supports his claim that they are the most efficient in terms of pack weight and convenience. He carries a small plastic jar with jelled fire starter in it. Just prior to lighting the tab, he puts a small dot of fire starter on the tab and it lights right off. I have used them on 5-6 day treks and find they work great for my meal system, which involves only boiling water. I sometimes use an alcohol stove and will take a few tabs with me in case I spill or loose some or all of my alcohol fuel. The tabs make a great lightweight backup to the alchol. Most home made alcohol stoves will burn an Esbit tab --- just turn them upside down and light it up!

Bob Kay, Kent, WA

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Camparative Fuel Efficiency - bla bla bla on 07/12/2006 09:57:05 MDT Print View

Why was the Coleman Xtreme Stove left off your test?

The Coleman Xtreme stove can be bought most of the time someplace on sale for about $50. Sportsman's Warehouse sells the 300 gram PowerMax canister for $2.99 - all the time.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Stove Efficiencies on 07/12/2006 10:32:12 MDT Print View

Wow, cool article, Will. This subject has been dealt with before but you've done a nice job with presenting it in a way that can be practically applied in a number of situations.

I will keep your charts handy. I'm a "four-pint-er" (4 pints boiled/day) hiker, and my typical cook systems these days include Esbit, top-mount canister, Powermax, and wood.

Other factors influence my decisions to take one system over another, in addition to fuel efficiency. Powermax is reserved for winter, so that's easy. Wood is for long trips where fuel weight of Esbit and canister is more than the weight of my wood stove.

I waffle between Esbit and canister for short and mid-length 3-season treks. I usually pick Esbit for shorter trips and canister for longer trips. Based on your data, I may have to rethink that.

I like canister stoves when the weather is foul, so I can cook in my tarp. Although, I've used Esbit and my wood stove under the tarp with no ill effects (yet). The smoke keeps the bugs away ;)

Anyway - great stuff, Will. Thanks for taking the time.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Caldera Cone? on 07/12/2006 15:44:30 MDT Print View

Will et. al: does BPL have plans to test the Trail Designs Caldera Cone? According to their marketing hype, this could possibly even outdo esbit in terms of weight and wind performance.

http://traildesigns.com/products01.html#caldera

Thanks!
Brian

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Knowing contents of canister on 07/12/2006 16:07:06 MDT Print View

> One helpful hint. If all you do is boil water (no real cooking), then before you use a canister for the first time, draw a series of small "check boxes" on the outside using a perm. marker pen. Make enough little squares to correspond to the number of water boils you can get out of each canister. After each boil, scratch or mark an X in one of the boxes. That way you know how much fuel is left.

I just weigh the canister after each trip on a gram scale and write the weight on the base. I know the weight of the empty canister and how much fuel I use per day, so I KNOW how many days are left in the canister. Works very well.

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
Brunton fuel canister gauge strips on 07/12/2006 19:39:50 MDT Print View

Also, Brunton makes a fuel canister gauge strip which is an adhesive fuel level indicator strip.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II on 07/12/2006 20:02:00 MDT Print View

Will,
Great job. Thorough, comprehensive and applicable to almost any situation. Glad you did all that work.

Steve Robinson
(Jeannie) - F
Table 5 Question on 07/12/2006 22:00:54 MDT Print View

Will, Great article and effort, nice to see the stove options quantified over time and useage so that the most efficient stove system can be packed for the season and trip length. It's the kind of thing I wonder about, but don't give it this kind of analysis.

One question though, is the data in Table 5 for 34 oz. alchohol container correct for 2 pints/day and up?

Thanks again for the work and Number crunching!

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
primus canister weights? on 07/13/2006 01:30:26 MDT Print View

Primus lists their empty canister weights as:

fuel weight (oz) : 4.0, 8.0, 16
canister weight : 3.5, 6.0, 7.2

6.0 oz is nearly 1.5 oz heavier than other brands. Can anyone confirm whether Primus's listed weights for the 8 and 16 oz canisters are correct? Also, does anyone other than Primus make a 16 oz canister?

Edited by chris_jackson on 07/13/2006 01:33:35 MDT.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
canister power on 07/16/2006 21:57:16 MDT Print View

Will,

I experience a significantly higher flame on my brunton Crux and brighter output on my Snow Peak lantern when I use Brunton canisters. MSR are close but not the same, and Primus are consistently lousy.

I'd love to see a canister comparo: which ones flow faster and which ones contain the most heat energy?

Sincerely,
Brian

Eric Martel
(e_martel) - F
Excellent article on 03/10/2009 12:44:33 MDT Print View

One issue thought is the actual cooking pot. For most of the cooking system the pot would be the same but for the Integrated canister system you have to use a specific pot.

For example I have a trek 700 ti pot with lid is 4.4 oz but if I weigh the jetboil pot with lid 9.35 oz.

It would also be nice to graph out how different stoves perform depending on trek duration.

Edited by e_martel on 03/10/2009 12:45:55 MDT.

Eric Martel
(e_martel) - F
Stove weight on 03/10/2009 14:23:20 MDT Print View

Why is the stove weight different based on the Fuel Size. If I look at White Gas for example. It does not include the fuel weight I don't think.

Eric Martel
(e_martel) - F
Here is the chart I was talking about on 03/10/2009 15:25:12 MDT Print View

the weight includes the stove weight+ Pot weight+fuel Weight+ fuel container weight

Edited by e_martel on 03/10/2009 20:45:56 MDT.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
Elegant esbit cook system on 03/10/2009 15:26:24 MDT Print View

Just want to state (in case there is still anyone unfamiliar with it) that the Ultralight Outfitters Beercan stove, available here, addresses one of the three main disadvantages of Esbit stoves listed in this article.

The sooting of the Foster's can is a non-issue with this system because the can is wrapped in the windscreen for packing and for using as a double-walled coffee cup.

ULO beercan esbit stove

My can is almost completely black, and I drink coffee out of it regularly. No soot scrubbing required. Windscreen stays clean.

It's also easy and safe to extinguish partially burned fuel tabs and leave it right in the burner for the next use.

Still smells terrible though. Can't have everything I guess.

Edited by Thangfish on 03/10/2009 15:27:50 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Here is the chart I was talking about on 03/10/2009 15:46:53 MDT Print View

Hi Eric

Very hard to see all 5 lines: I can see only four.
Could you maybe redo the chart with brighter colours for the lines, and maybe more height too?

And I would be interested to know what assumptions and calculations you made in getting this graph too. Without that one is left in the dark.

Cheers

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
stove and fuel weight calculator on 03/10/2009 17:27:20 MDT Print View

Here's an interesting stove and fuel weight calculator. It isn't set up for the caldera cone specifically, but it has cannister, esbit, and cat can alcohol. The nice thing about it is that you can easily customise it for your own situation... plug in the number of days you are out, and how much water you boil a day etc. The other good thing is that you can edit the assumptions (eg. dry stove weight), so it shouldn't be too difficult to customise it so that the cat stove column gives you the value for your caldera cone.

I've only played with it briefly, but would be interested in any comments. I changed the "overage" (wastage/spare fuel needed) to 20% for the cannister stove as I thought 50% was kinda silly. For 2 people each needing 3 pints of water boiled per day for 4 days, the weight of the cat stove and the cannister stove both came out at about 50 ounces. A caldera cone would no doubt do better, but I haven't figured it out.

Are there any glaring problems with this calculator? (eg. false assumptions or figures that should be changed?)

Edited by ashleyb on 03/10/2009 17:27:53 MDT.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Start weight vs. Average weight Re: stove and fuel weight calculator on 03/10/2009 17:35:40 MDT Print View

Ashley,

I don't think "average" cooking system weight is useful. (or ounce*days for that matter)

I would rather carry 2 extra pounds on the last day than 1 on the first day. At the end of the trip the food and fuel are gone, I'm acclimated to the trail and in great shape. To me the only meaningful weight is at the start.

Roger Caffin's personal historic data on fuel use per day is interesting. I tend to agree with his conclusions regarding the trip efficiency of white gas/kerosene stoves vs. canisters.

Edited by jimqpublic on 03/10/2009 17:40:28 MDT.