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Alcohol Stove for Philmont?
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Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 05/22/2007 20:59:37 MDT Print View

Has anyone who has gone to Philmont used one or more alcohol stoves in lieu of the more traditional white gas or canister stoves for group use?

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 05/23/2007 00:16:14 MDT Print View

Its been 5 years since my Philmont trip, so things may have changed; but I can think of a couple of problems here.

1. In a group cooking style like is used at Philmont, you'd have to split the portions over multiple alcohol stoves. This would require additional (but smaller) cook pots and considerably more fuel overall. Over the course of the entire trek, I'm pretty sure the weight of the extra alcohol (which is less efficient than white gas) + the extra pots would end up being far greater than the traditional approach of one or two white gas stoves + fuel.

2. The Philmont Ranger-taught way of cleaning your cooking gear (pots, bowls, and utensils) is very fuel intensive using lots of boiling water. With bears always being an issue there; I doubt you're going to convince them to let you use a "lick it clean" approach to cleaning.

Good luck -- you'll have a ball.

"I wanna go back to Philmont"

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 05/23/2007 05:57:27 MDT Print View

Gerry, we're headed to Philmont in 2008. David's comment makes sense. Alcohol doesn't sound like the fuel of choice for group cooking. My personal experience with alcohol is that it's efficient for small pot cooking but lacks the energy to boil larger quantities of water.

I'm also wondering about experience with cannister stoves? Gas stoves like the MSR WindPro are much more attractive to me than a white gas option. Our troop's previous treks have all used white gas. At the risk of hijacking your thread, does anyone have Philmont experience with either gas cannister stoves or alcohol?

Zack Freije
(oldskool) - F

Locale: Ohio
How much water do you need to boil at a time? on 05/24/2007 09:53:09 MDT Print View

I'm just curious how much water you typically boil at a time.

Jetboil has two options, one for cooking and one for boiling water. They claim you can boil 12L of water on one 100g canister. But you can really only boil 1/2L at a time though it takes an amazing 2 minutes to do so. The whole setup weighs 15 oz and is the size of a 1L cylinder.

If you are ONLY boiling water to pour into a boil-in-a-bag meal, you could easily do this or an alcohol stove I'm thinking. Your cooking setup won't smell like food because you won't cook in it. Since both the Jetboil and the alcohol stove/Heineken can setups pack up inside themselves, you could even fit this into a bear bag if necessary. If you were paranoid, you could place the cookinig setup inside an Aloksak, inside the bear bag.

Am I missing something here?

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: How much water do you need to boil at a time? on 05/24/2007 14:51:13 MDT Print View

Unless its recently changed, the Philmont cooking style is for group-size portions (6-12 hungry Scouts) of easy-to-prepare meals very high in calories and sodium. However, the meals do NOT emphasis boil-in-bag approaches to cooking.

When I went, I required special meals for medical reasons. I therefore brought my own single-serving meals. This was before my ultra-light days; so I simply used the same stove as the crew and simply ate my meal a little later.

If I was to go back now (I'd REALLY love to); I'd pack mostly boil-in-bag meals and bring my own personal stove (probably either a very lightweight cannister or Esbit). Why not alcohol? Alcohol is very inefficient as a fuel but the lightweight stove makes up for it on shorter trips. For GROUP cooking on trips of this length, cannister or white gas (very efficient fuel) makes sense.

If you want to get very scientific, you can use this Backpacking Stove Calculator ( to see which system works best for your specific needs.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 05/24/2007 15:10:03 MDT Print View

David, no the basic style hasn't changed for Philmont meals. Meals are planned for the group. Some breakfasts and all the dinners are cooked meals. I'm attaching a list below that I found on the Philmont website. I didn't include lunches since they all appear to be no-cook meals.

So, the Philmont prescribed technique is cooking in 1 or 2 large pots and boiling water for clean-up afterwards.

Finally, it helps to remember the primary market for Philmont is 14-17 year Boy Scouts. The menu is focused on their caloric requirement and tastes. It doesn't represent what I'd pick for myself on a 10 day trip but it will certainly prevent starvation for that length of time.

Units can select special meals for specific dietary needs. Our troop had one Scout and dad last year that requested Kosher meals. Their food was largely MREs. You can also choose to bring your own food.
2007 Philmont Typical Meals

Edited by flyfast on 05/24/2007 15:24:46 MDT.

David Hohl
(dahohl) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern PA
Go with the white gas stove(s) on 05/30/2007 06:20:39 MDT Print View

Baldy Mountain 12,441'

Although you'll get 2-person meal bags, I echo the previous comments about group size considerations. I have and use all types of the stoves mentioned, but for Philmont I'd only use my white gas stove (WhisperLite). The only fuel I recall seeing at the back country pick ups was white gas. To carry the whole trek's worth of canisters or alcohol would undoubtedly weigh more.

We did use the no-pot method in ’05 at Philmont (boil water, dump dried meal in bag, measure boiling water into bag, seal bag, kneed contents, let stand, eat) No clean up, and the cooking bag is it’s own yum-yum bag. We DID lick clean. We the extra water that we heated for the meal for a quick clean up (of course we sterilized our bowls in the boiling water just before eating).

ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
Re: Go with the white gas stove(s) on 06/29/2007 05:49:21 MDT Print View

On previous Phil-treks, we've gone with Coleman Xpert/Xtreme canister stoves. They're easy to setup and operate. This is important to use because our treks are with Scouts from a number of Troops. The canisters are available at base camp (as of 2006) and at some backcountry trading posts. We've used about 6 canisters per trek.

treks '02, '04, '06 and '08

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont on 06/29/2007 07:47:31 MDT Print View

The more I read about the rules at Philmont, the less I'm looking forward to going there next summer. Maybe I can talk the troop into going to a wilderness area somewhere.

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Philmont on 06/29/2007 19:54:33 MDT Print View

Just go in with the right mindset and you'll have a ball. You gotta remember though that a Philmont trip is all about the Scouts (typically 14-17 year old range). The emphasis is about learning, maturing, teamwork, leadership, and lots of fun. Most Scouts who go also develop a deep appreciation of the wilderness.

The adult's role is strictly as "advisor," not as "leader." Our companion crew on my trip didn't figure this out and the two adults kept trying to run everything. Very ship-shape but no one (scouts or adults) had much fun on that crew. Our crew made it a habit for the advisors to make suggestions to the boy-crew-leader who was then responsible for getting everything going. Our 16-year-old leader did a great job and everyone had a ball.

As I read this, I really, really hope I'm not being too preachy. But its important to always remember that this is not your typical backpacking trip. Different goals, different methods.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Philmont on 06/29/2007 20:10:07 MDT Print View

Ditto what David said ... but not just for Philmont. One of my favorite quips is "Nowhere in the objectives of scouting will you find 'Adults proving how well they can camp'".

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 06/29/2007 21:11:12 MDT Print View

we used 2.5 lbs of canister gas for 10 of us. We took 3 titanium pocket rockets, 2 to heat water, one as a spare. We used turkey bag cooking method (boil the water in the pot, put the hot water in the turkey bag, dump in the dehydrate, squish, shake and let it sit). Followed by consumption then human sumping of the bag, viola', your finished with KP and off to another activity.

Worked very well, we'll do it again in 08. We did the math, and in the long run, it was the lightest weight for our trek.

See you there in 08,

Edited by eaglemb on 06/29/2007 21:14:37 MDT.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Re: Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 07/05/2007 14:57:48 MDT Print View

Alcohol stoves really shine when cooking for 1 or 2, but are thought by many to make less sense for larger groups. But if you really want the best answer . . .

You should do a test of fuel consumption using alcohol versus white gas (or any other fuel option you are considering) for a typical crew meal and cleanup using the cooking method and cleanup method you will use at Philmont. Then estimate fuel needs for the trek, add 10-20%, add in the weight of the stove(s), and you should have an easy decision between methods.

Having made a number of Philmont treks with 11-12 person crews, I think you will find that white gas is your best option, especially if you you use one light stove (like an MSR SimmerLite). Even if you take a heavier stove like a Whisperlight or a second backup stove you may still beat out alcohol over the course of a ten-day trek.

The way to test alcohol BTW is to use a larger hotter stove like Mini Bull Designs'"Sketti" or use 3 small stoves under your big pot.

BTW, one of the best ways of reducing fuel use and hence fuel weight is to pre-soak your dehydrated dinner food in cold water while making camp, etc. This can easily reduce fuel consumption to heat and complete the rehydration of your food by a third, but you should test it out with your crew before you count on it on the trail. Another great idea is to use a pot cozy so that no simmering is required after the water or water-food mixture is brought to a boil.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: Re: Alcohol Stove for Philmont? on 07/05/2007 19:42:28 MDT Print View

You might find this information on how 4 ounces of alcohol was used to boil 1 gallon of water. The stove goes by the name of "Ring Of Fire" It can be found on Ebay, search for Ring of Fire alcohol stove.

This a post located on

Ring of Fire