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Justin Tadych
(oshburg) - M

Locale: Midwest
Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 01/30/2011 13:34:29 MST Print View

First post here, but have been a long time reader. Great community and wealth of knowledge!!

So I am going to be doing some winter camping/snowshoeing in upper Michigan for 4 nights (porcupine mountains). Normally I would bring my MSR whisperlite, but after the last trip it really wasn't working well. I have been to the porkies several times in the winter and temps have been from -30f (w/windchill) to a a comfortable 20-30 degrees fahrenheit...

So little short on cash, and since I have a pocket rocket I was wondering if that would do the trick in lieu of buying a new one...? Doesn't sound like you can invert the cannister on the pocket rocket (or am i mistaken?)...

Since I am pulling a pulk(home made), my other option would be an old Coleman One Burner stove.. heavy yes, but over short trip duration and with pulk doesn't seem to be a big deal. However, I have never used that in the winter either (just old car camping trips).

Thoughts?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 01/30/2011 13:43:34 MST Print View

When was the last time the Whisperlite was maintained? You could just rebuild it for $25. No inversion on the PR.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 01/30/2011 13:56:28 MST Print View

I used to use MSR whisperlite. Too heavy. Clogs up occasionaly so you have to take it apart to clean it.

I've been using MSR Pocket Rocket for several trips.

Make sure and use a canister that has iso-butane. if it has some propane that's fine. Butane is no good when you get down near 32F, but I've noticed canisters have iso-butane now instead of butane so this likely isn't an issue.

Pocket Rocket with iso-butane canister is good down to 20F. It gets a little slow.

Somebody suggested putting it in container of water. Then air temp could be 0F or less. You might have to warm up the canister in your pocket first to run it long enough to melt some water that you could then put the canister in. You could use a cut off milk bottle for a container - 1/2 ounce maybe.

When you run the stove, it vaporizes fuel inside the canister, which cools off the canister even less than air temperature which complicates things.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: re on 01/30/2011 17:25:53 MST Print View

Justin,
Welcome to BPL. There are some fantastic articles here on stoves, but you can only access them with a membership--well worth it.

While I used a Pocket Rocket and liked it, testing shows that it is not the best stove for a few reasons, regardless of temperature. You can do things to make it usable in winter, as mentioned above, so ultimately, yes you can use it in cold temps. I've been using an alcohol stove the last year, so I'm not up-and-up on the latest and greatest canister stoves.

Edited by T.L. on 01/30/2011 17:27:33 MST.

Justin Tadych
(oshburg) - M

Locale: Midwest
re: Pocket Rocket for Winter on 01/31/2011 18:27:43 MST Print View

Bunch of great feedback already. Sounds like joining is well worth it...

I have cleaned out the whisperlite as it has clogged in the past... Just can't get it to function as of now.

I have read most of the forum posts regarding canister stoves vs. alcohol stoves. Long term I would like to just have one stove for all situations...not sure if this is possible but would be ideal.

I know the coleman one burner stove is heavy (as are the fuel canisters), but my trip is in just over 2 weeks and I am not sure if I will be purchasing a new stove before then. Plus I am bringing a pulk... so how would that function in the cold? From what I have read on here, sounds like propane is pretty solid down into the low temps.

Iver Ericson
(XCskiNYC) - F
Backpacking Pocket Rocket Test on 02/11/2011 19:05:39 MST Print View

I believe Backpacking did tests and the Pocket Rocket rated relatively well in sub-freezing temperatures for a cannister stove.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 02/11/2011 19:19:27 MST Print View

Justin, do a search- there are a number of threads discussing this very issue. Even better buy a membership, there are some fantastic articles that should answer all you questions and then some.

I know cost is an issue, but at 30 below there are not many options and your Pocket Rocket is not one of them. You can go below freezing with it (with a few adjustments to the way you do things) but if you want to go below 0*F you will need a different stove.

Full disclosure- I have a stove for sale on Gear Swap that will get you to the -30*. It is a Coleman Xtreme, yes it is a canister (remote canister). You can't find them any more because they are not made any more, but you can get the canisters easily. They are a sought after stove for those who do a lot of cold winter camping. I am selling it because I have more then one.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 02/11/2011 19:31:45 MST Print View

Tad, I don't believe that the orignal poster was asking for a stove for -30 F. I think he stated that it had been -30 F with windchill. Windchill affects exposed skin, not stoves. I believe he asked about +20 to +30 F.

Full disclosure - I'm not trying to sell anything.

--B.G.--

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 02/11/2011 22:52:56 MST Print View

Justin:

For canister stoves like the Pocket Rocket, there are tricks, like putting the canister of a Pocket Rocket type stove in a pan of warm water, that will keep your stove working below freezing. However, if you've not used those tricks before, I'm not sure a four day trip is the time to try them. I'd want to practice them some place where I'm not stuck if the tricks don't work.

A Whisperlite will work in way down low temps. What exactly is wrong with yours? Clogged jet? You could take the jet out and soak it over night in carb cleaner, scrub it with a tooth brush, and then reassemble. Pay close attention to how the fuel line threads through the legs. It always messes with my mind if I'm not careful.

The one burner Coleman you have, is that one with a big green 16.4oz propane tank? That'll work in the temperatures you're describing and it won't even bat an eye. It's a much better option than a PR, but it ain't light. On a pulk it should be OK.

HJ

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 02/11/2011 23:44:22 MST Print View

Bob, I don't know what the OP was thinking exactly buy by your figures you would have to have a windspeed of 300 (yes, 3 hundred) miles per hour, to get 20*F down to a -20* windchill. This is according to NOAA Wind Chart (2001 and newer charts).
That is why I explained things the way I did. To get his number, -30* with windchill, he would have had to be at around 0* (and a 40 mph wind).
Thus the stove would have to be operating at 0* but the skin would "feel" like it was at -30*. A Pocket Rocket would not function very well if at all under those conditions.
I still stand by my post.

Half Disclosure- Bob, I do think you were trying to sell something, maybe not something tangible but it was something. (I do appreciate your posts, always informative).

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/11/2011 23:47:18 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter?? on 02/11/2011 23:46:26 MST Print View

"A Whisperlite will work in way down low temps. What exactly is wrong with yours? Clogged jet?"

Let me repeat an anecdote. My XGK stove wouldn't work right. REI couldn't repair mine, so they gave me an exchange XGK. I got it home and discovered that it had the same symptoms, so I pulled out the fuel line core wire. Then I rodded and flushed the clog, which was a melted glob of red plastic (which may have originated on the Coleman fuel can cap). Once the clog was gone, I reassembled it and it worked perfectly.

The morals to the story:
1. Filter your fuel before it goes into the fuel storage bottle.
2. Don't believe everything that some REI hardware technician tells you.
3. Keep some vise-grips in your home tool bag.

--B.G.--

Brad B
(HillbillyfromAL) - F
Get the repair kit on 02/13/2011 21:43:15 MST Print View

Go through the pump and the stove clean it all with acetone. Then replace all the o-rings and be sure to lube them with some Vaseline. Do the same with the pump cup. The braided line inside of the fuel line can be completely removed and should be if it's still giving you problems after a basic cleaning. Good luck

Justin Tadych
(oshburg) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re.Re. Pocket Rocket for Winter on 02/14/2011 15:38:55 MST Print View

Wow, take off for a couple days and even more feedback! Sounds like a membership is completely worth it. So I am glad i signed up!

To clarify, the temps I mentioned in my original post were a range of temps from my experiences in the porcupine mountains. The -30(w/windchill) was actuall -11 degrees but still plenty cold. I am actually going this weekend and the forecast is calling for 20*f, so sub zero temps should not be an issue and the pocket rocket should work just fine if I warm the fuel up first.

As far as the Whisperlite, I am not sure what's wrong with mine. I have never taken one apart before and I bought it used two years ago, but it sounds fairly straightforward with the repair kit. However, I do plan on moving away away from liquid fuel stoves eventually.

Yes, the Coleman """Ultra Lite""" One-Burner Stove is the one with the heavy 16.4 ounce propane tanks. It was my first stove many years ago... I wouldn't even have considered it except that I am brining a pulk and that seemed to be the cheapest option and it sounds like it would work... with exception of weight.

So it doesn't sound like there is an inversion option for the pocket rocket or a way to make it a remote canister stove? Is this correct?

I will read through the articles now that I am a forum member. Eventually I would like a lightweight canister stove that functions good if I ever do get caught in sub zero temps while I am out... Or, that new Boilerworks looks pretty good.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re.Re. Pocket Rocket for Winter on 02/14/2011 16:16:34 MST Print View

Justin, yes you can make the PR a remote canister stove. There are a few old threads out there showing how others have done it.
This one comes to mind, but there are others so don't stop here
Old remote canister thread
Read through the whole thing, both article and all pages of the thread- tons of information.

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/14/2011 16:19:49 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re.Re. Pocket Rocket for Winter on 02/14/2011 16:42:08 MST Print View

Wow, take off for a couple days and even more feedback! Sounds like a membership is completely worth it. So I am glad i signed up!

To clarify, the temps I mentioned in my original post were a range of temps from my experiences in the porcupine mountains. The -30(w/windchill) was actuall -11 degrees but still plenty cold. I am actually going this weekend and the forecast is calling for 20*f, so sub zero temps should not be an issue and the pocket rocket should work just fine if I warm the fuel up first.

As far as the Whisperlite, I am not sure what's wrong with mine. I have never taken one apart before and I bought it used two years ago, but it sounds fairly straightforward with the repair kit. However, I do plan on moving away away from liquid fuel stoves eventually.

Yes, the Coleman """Ultra Lite""" One-Burner Stove is the one with the heavy 16.4 ounce propane tanks. It was my first stove many years ago... I wouldn't even have considered it except that I am brining a pulk and that seemed to be the cheapest option and it sounds like it would work... with exception of weight.

So it doesn't sound like there is an inversion option for the pocket rocket or a way to make it a remote canister stove? Is this correct?

I will read through the articles now that I am a forum member. Eventually I would like a lightweight canister stove that functions good if I ever do get caught in sub zero temps while I am out... Or, that new Boilerworks looks pretty good.
Justin,

If you're going out in to temps (not this weekend, but in the future) down to -11, you might want to hang on to that Whisperlite. Even something like the Coleman Xtreme might start having trouble down that low. For really cold temps, liquid fuel (or heavy 100% propane) is the only reliable stuff.

For this weekend, if the temps are predicted to be 20F, then you don't have much margin for error with a Pocket Rocket, particularly if you haven't tried using "tricks" before. Even if you sleep with the canister, the canister will get cold quickly as you use it. At 20F, you're kind of in a borderline area. I'm a bit conservative, but for 20F, I probably wouldn't bring a Pocket Rocket. I'd bring the Whisperlite if I could get it running, or the propane stove even though it's frickin' heavy (although it shouldn't be too bad on a pulk). Strictly your call of course.

I've repaired a ton of MSR stoves over time (I volunteer at a local Sierra Club training class and fix stoves for students). If you can post more details here or photos of the stove in operation, I might be able to walk you through it if you want to give it a shot. PM me if you like.

Whatever route you go, I hope you'll post some photos of the weekend and let us know how things went.

HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 02/14/2011 16:43:01 MST.

Justin Tadych
(oshburg) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re.Re. Pocket Rocket for Winter on 02/16/2011 16:22:24 MST Print View

Yeah for some reason I am really not a fan of the whisperlite, but for those temps I guess I will hold onto it. And Jim, I may take you up on that offer!

I guess the key word here is "predictable". Regardless, I plan on giving the Pocket Rocket a chance in these low temps as one of the other people coming is bringing liquid fuel. I will plan trying out some of the suggested tricks for keeping the fuel warm like putting in warm water. For comfort I usually like to boil water right before bed and put in my Nalgene bottle... slap a wool sock over it and throw it in my (synthetic) sleeping bag for extra warmth. Extra warmth at night and drinking/cooking water for the morning.

I am leaving 2/18, so I will make sure to post some pics when I get back.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Pocket Rocket for Winter on 02/16/2011 18:03:38 MST Print View

Hi, Justin,

Sounds like it'll be a good trip. I'll be interested to know what the temperatures wind up being and how the PR does. If you're really diligent, you can use a windshield on a PR. The windshield will block the wind so the PR will be more effective but also trap some heat that will warm the canister. You just have to keep checking the canister with your bare hand. If the canister starts feeling hot, you'd better back it off quick.

As for putting the canister in water, warm water will work better, but any liquid water will be better than nothing. You could start with some of the water in your Nalgene in a pan with the canister and some in the pot on the stove. Heat what's on the pot. Pour the cool water in the pan back into the Nalgene and then pour the warm water in the pot into the pan. That way you have something to start with. As I think about it, if the water in your Nalgene has been in your bag with you all night, it might be warm enough that you don't even need to heat part of it.

Anyway, experiment with it. As long as it's not super cold, you should be able to get by with a PR, especially if you've got another person there with a second stove. You could always get them to heat you up a pan of water, and then your group has two stoves available which could be handy depending on the size of the group.

Good luck and have fun,

HJ

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 02/16/2011 18:18:27 MST Print View

I was just out using my Pocket Rocket with a Gigapower isobutane canister

At 30F it got very slow but still completely usable

I seem to remember that it worked better than that, down to even 20F, but very slow

Maybe my memory isn't so good, or maybe there's a difference between Gigapower isobutane canisters.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Pocket Rocket for Winte on 02/16/2011 21:01:37 MST Print View

Hi, Jerry,

That sounds about right. The colder, the slower.

There is a difference between canister brands. Snow Peak is a fairly good one with (from what I've read) a 85:15 isobutane:propane ratio. A canister like Coleman would be fairly poor with (from what I've read) 80:20 n-butane:propane. The isobutane in the Snow Peak is going to make it work a lot better in colder weather.

Somewhere around 20F is sort of my cut-off point where I wouldn't want to go any lower. Of course, being a gear head, I have multiple stoves, and when the weather gets cold I'll take either a liquid feed gas stove or a liquid fuel stove and bypass the whole issue. :)

HJ

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 02/17/2011 08:22:31 MST Print View

I don't know why they bother putting in propane

If it's really cold, the propane will come out first leaving mostly isobutane/nbutane

Main thing is just to avoid the nbutane