Stove Question - Winter/Summer
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Jim Morrison
(Pliny) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Opinions on 03/07/2011 16:21:38 MST Print View

I guess there are nearly as many opinions as people who have responded. Here is one more. I started out decades ago with a Bluet Butane stove. When I moved to Alaska I found it didn't work at all in the winter and I switched to the old Optimist 8R which is a classic. I later was given an MSR International Whisper Lite and I used it climbing at various altitudes and temperatures and it is truly a workhorse that never fails and if it does it is made to be easy to repair in the field. However, at nearly a pound I wanted something lighter. I now use a Primus Micron Canister(actually a similar earlier model)stove and I have found it isn't 100% reliable in very cold conditions (well below freezing). It doesn't produce as hot of a flame, and it takes longer to melt snow which can be an issue. Nevertheless, I love it. It is relatively safe to cook inside the tent in a storm. It is clean. If (big if) I can keep the canister above freezing it does work okay, but I keep an extra canister warm in my pocket to change out as needed. So, my opinion is that it depends on what floats your boat.
Workhorse high heat output: MSR Whisperlite or other gasoline fired stove.
Convenience at mid weight: Primus Micron or similar canister stove.
Light Weight but slower cooking time and less convenience: DIY Alcohol Stove.
And, if you enjoy waiting for your dinner, and waiting and waiting: Esbit stove.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Re: White Gasoline vs. Canister Gas -- Cost on 03/07/2011 16:24:38 MST Print View

Gasoline costs $3.84 per gallon

The good old days.

Paid $4.45 today. I get 18 mpg

Well, all I know is that on Saturday I paid $3.84 in Redlands, CA for 87 octane unleaded gasoline. :)

HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 03/07/2011 16:55:36 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: White Gasoline vs. Canister Gas -- Cost on 03/07/2011 16:37:24 MST Print View

>> Now, how much liquid is actually in a canister of liquefied gas I don't know, but for the sake of argument and ease of computation, let's say that there's a full eight fluid ounces.

Jim, you can't base an argument on assumptions like that.
First, the heat of combustion (LHV) by weight of gas and gasoline/white gas are very similar, and a US gallon of gasoline weighs 6lb, so 6lb of gas will produce (almost) the same amount of heat as a gallon of gasoline.
Now compare the cost of 12 x 8oz canisters with how many gallons

Stuart,

I think what you're saying is that weight is the more valid comparison as opposed to volume and that the valid comparison is twelve 8oz gas canisters to 1 US gallon of white gasoline (not sixteen). I was using volumes since I know the volume of a canister of gas is roughly double it's weight. Sometime I'll have to weigh some Coleman fuel and see what the weight comes in as. If indeed twelve eight ounce canisters to one gallon of white gasoline is the valid comparison, then the cost savings would be somewhat reduced.

Not a big deal since it was an exercise borne of curiosity not of necessity. I think most people choose based on the type of trip, their cooking style, and their personal preferences not on the cost of their cooking fuel.

how many gallons does a SUV need to get you to the trailhead???
So, stop driving an SUV already. ;)

HJ

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: White Gasoline vs. Canister Gas -- Cost on 03/07/2011 16:49:32 MST Print View

In order to beat the auto gasoline cost, I do two things. First, I try to load the auto with as many backpackers as possible, and we share expenses. That reduces my auto gasoline cost to a fraction.

Secondly, by a bunch of backpackers traveling together, we can get the economies of scale from a white gas stove. That means that we have minimized priming losses and some other factors from a central commissary. That ends up beating the stove fuel cost significantly.

If I do a solo trip, then the whole equation changes, and I am back to alcohol or butane blend. Possibly Esbit, but there is a different set of tricks there.

--B.G.--

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: White Gasoline vs. Canister Gas -- Cost on 03/07/2011 20:23:56 MST Print View

One last comment on gas vs. gasoline cost and then I'll stop the thread hijack and get back to what the OP was interested in: a stove that would work all year.

A gallon of white gasoline costs $9.75 here where I live (tax included). A gallon of gasoline weighs 6.175 lbs or 2800g. Therefore, the cost per gram is $0.0035 (about 1/3 of a cent). Four ounces by weight (113g) costs $0.39 versus $5.49 (tax included) for gas. Gas is about fourteen times more expensive than white gasoline if bought in four ounce canisters. Eight ounces by weight (227g) costs $0.79 versus $6.59 (tax included) for gas. Gas is about eight times more expensive than white gasoline if bought in eight ounce canisters.

Fuel cost isn't everything. I hike to enjoy it. Still, it's interesting to me to have the data and if relevant, take it into account.

HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 03/07/2011 20:25:23 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Stove Question - Winter/Summer on 03/07/2011 20:45:21 MST Print View

Back to the original question. Here are two stoves that can be used year round:
1. The MSR WindPro.

2. The MSR Simmerlite.

They're nearly identical stoves except that the Simmerlite runs on white gasoline and the WindPro runs on canister gas. The Simmerlite can pretty much operate in as low a temperature as any stove, certainly far below zero Fahrenheit. The Winpro is capable, in inverted canister mode, of operating down to at least zero Fahrenheit and probably five to ten degrees below that, possibly more if you employ some tricks to keep the canister warm.

HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 03/07/2011 20:46:38 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Opinions on 03/07/2011 23:01:13 MST Print View

Hi Jim M

> Workhorse high heat output: MSR Whisperlite or other gasoline fired stove.
Check the facts.
Typical white gas stove maximum output: about 2.4 kW
Typical canister stove maximum output: about 3.0 kW

Manufacturer data, not mine.

cheers

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Opinions on 03/07/2011 23:15:37 MST Print View

It would be interesting to take those figures down to a nice Northern Minnesota winter temperature (Original Poster) of -20 F and then see how they compare.

It would be also interesting to get away from typical figures and use some specific stove models. I just looked for some, and I couldn't find them.

--B.G.--

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Opinions on 03/08/2011 03:42:07 MST Print View

Ha ha, as always, this has turned into a free for all.

Fuel Density: Basically there is no difference between Kero, WG and Gas fuels. So close they can be ignored. Only priming has to be accounted for. Alcohol has about half the heat density as Kero.

Failure rates: Pump vs Lindal Valve. These are roughly the same. Only the older SVEA and a few others in the Optimus line do away with them (mostly all obsolete.) The Alcohol stoves are the most reliable.

Technique: The much dreaded fireball can be avoided. Learn how. Gas is subject to these, also. As is Alcohol. All are dangerous fuels with kero the safest.

Cost of operation: Kero vs WG vs Gas vs Alcohol. Kero is cheapest. WG is next. Alcohol is next most expensive. Gas is most expensive. (No, I don't drive my stove to the trail.)

Cost to buy: Kero vs WG vs Gas vs Alcohol. Kero stoves are generally the most expensive, followed by WG, Gas. Alcohol stoves are about the cheapest, often home built out of scrap cans.

Weight: Kero is the heaviest stove. WG is the next. Gas is next. Alcohol is lightest.

Ease of use: Kero vs WG vs Gas vs Alcohol. Gas is the easiest to use. Alcohol is the next easiest. WG is a bit more difficult. Kero is a hard starter.

Cold weather operation: WG is the best, followed by Kero. Gas and Alcohol are not real great with the screw on Gas versions fairly poor.

These are generalizations only.


In northern US states, The majority of us use WG, minimally for winter. Unless we are testing equipment or other non-routine hiking, at -30F to 110F, these stoves work. This is not an accident.

I would suggest at least two stoves, though, probably three.
First, have an alky burner for shorter weekend jaunts...lighter and cheap for shorter hikes.
Second, a WG stove for all season use and for longer trips.

Or

First, an alky burner for short hikes.
Second, a larger multi fuel stove for travel, base camping.
Third, a WG stove for all season use and for longer trips.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Opinions on 03/08/2011 08:02:36 MST Print View

There are two camps.

The Roger Caffin camp likes canisters, and are willing to modify design to use in cold weather.

The Bob Gross camp likes WG, and are comfortable with the more complex workings of the apparatus.

No one is right, other than what you are most comfortable working with.

Rick Harjes
(rharjes) - F
Wow! on 03/08/2011 10:50:18 MST Print View

Wow, I never realized this would generate so many opinions!

In my case, I'm thinking the following,

I'm starting to lean towards a Simmerlite now for winter (fortunately I can wait on the purchase for now...) I need the liquid fuel since there are mornings when you wake up and it's -15F out, and I need something that will start up. I won't mind the tank not being able to pack with my cookset since I use a ski pulk anyway to haul my gear. It will still pack smaller than my existing Coleman stove.

For summer, I think I'm going to try a lightweight stove/canister. Not really decided yet on brand, but probably snowpeak, but since it will all be on my back, I need everything to pack nicely in my pack.

Thanks for the help everyone! Feel free to add more discussion!

Rick

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
MSR Simmerlite on 03/08/2011 12:51:39 MST Print View

Be careful of what you ask for around here. lol.

In terms of compactness and weight, I think you'll like the Simmerlite -- particularly after having to slog a heavy Coleman around. However, be warned the Simmerlite DOES NOT in general simmer, light though it may be. If you're looking for a snow melter and water boiler, the Simmerlite will do you. If you're looking for the kind of fine simmer that you can get on your Coleman, you'd do well to keep looking -- or invest in a simmer plate (a tin can lid will work).



HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 03/08/2011 12:52:40 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: re on 03/08/2011 16:03:59 MST Print View

"White gas stove are obsolete for me - I'm tired of singeing my eyebrows, the stove plugs up so you have to take it apart and get it to work, occasionally the fuel gets on my hands or gear and it really stinks

MSR simmerlite plus fuel bottle weighs 14 ounces

cannister stove plus empty 8 ounce canister weighs 8 ounces - so it's lighter"


A few points:

Simmerlite + 11 fl oz bottle is 11.5 ounces

An empty 8 oz isopro canister weighs 4.5 ounces, combined w/a GS-100 total weight 7.75 ounces. BUT we get consistently better performance from remote-canister stoves in mild winter conditions, so it would be more apt to compare the Simmerlite to its canister sibling, the Windpro.

The Windpro is 6.8 oz + 4.5 oz canister, total 11.3 ounces.

0.2 ounce difference between same-stove in WG & canister, not accounting in any way for fuel consumption or boil time differences.

As for safety, I have never singed my eyebrows with any stove... though I've distinctly burnt some knuckle hair with alcohol a couple times. I've also never spilled the fuel on my hands, or had a fuel container leak. I've only used 2 stoves that clogged up & required stripping down to clean; those stoves went to the wayside, & I went back to those stoves that haven't given me problems over the last 20+ years.

In warmer weather, alcohol and canister stoves rock! BUT, for a true, below 0*F winter stove, neither is preferable.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Stove Question - Winter/Summer on 03/08/2011 16:12:51 MST Print View

You know how you can identify the white gas stove owner among all of the other backpackers?

He will be the one with the hair on the back of his right hand singed off.

Those initial few drops of fuel have to go somewhere.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Opinions on 03/08/2011 17:21:02 MST Print View

Hi Bob

> It would be also interesting to get away from typical figures and use some specific stove
> models. I just looked for some, and I couldn't find them.
Listed in some of our technical stove review articles. (Sorry!)


> You know how you can identify the white gas stove owner among all of the other backpackers?
And you know how to identify a kero user? (I was one for many years.)
By the distinct smell of kero everywhere!
My wife was never enthused.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 03/08/2011 17:24:45 MST.