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Which stove to bring ?
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marcelo mora
Which stove to bring ? on 07/23/2013 18:44:50 MDT Print View

My girlfriend and I are going on a backpacking trip to Olympic national park for a trip that will be about 16 + days. We are able to resupply every 7 days for the first part then one part will be able to resupply in 2 days. I want to go as light as possible and we will only be boiling water only for dinner and maybe a few lunches from time to time. The stove options I have in mind are an esbit stove or a canister stove. Please give me some input.

Edited by Ondeck on 07/23/2013 18:46:30 MDT.

James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Which stove to bring ? on 07/23/2013 19:26:15 MDT Print View

If you have a decent windscreen the esbit would work out to be lighter for the week lengths between resupplies. Especially if you have some efficient like a caldera cone.

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Which stove to bring ? on 07/25/2013 01:41:56 MDT Print View

I love my Ti JetBoil. The small pot is great for 1-3 people.
I have the large 1.8 L pot and easily cooked for 6-7 people.
Just simple, fast, and compact.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Which stove to bring ? on 07/25/2013 06:14:31 MDT Print View

Tired and just want to eat? Canister. I'm still happy with my Snow Peak Giga, Light enough. So easy and clean..

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Esbit on 07/25/2013 06:57:00 MDT Print View

My Lite Trail system and enough fuel for a week (dinners only) is less than 8 oz. Thats including the spoon and lighter.

marcelo mora
thanks on 07/25/2013 20:14:38 MDT Print View

thanks for the feedback so far :)

Zach Waller
stove on 07/26/2013 12:16:50 MDT Print View

A MSR pocket rocket or something similar with a medium sized fuel canister will last you the entire trip (if only boiling water). The stove is a few ounces and you can opt to carry a smaller canister and resupply for lighter weight. Ive carried other UL alcohol stoves, emberlit's etc... but at the end of the day when your tired and hungry its nice to have a bomb proof little stove you can just flick a spark into and not have to worry about it failing. Atleast that has been my experience.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Re: Which stove to bring ? on 07/26/2013 14:30:15 MDT Print View

Hey Ondeck. I can give you one of my recently designed esbit burners that weighs 8 grams and I'll include a lid for it also. You can test it before you leave and see if it meets your needs. I've recently tested it with the 4 gram esbit tablets and it will boil 2 cups of water with 2.250 tablets. I'll even include a 6" tall ez-fold windscreen.

Here's a photo of the stove with integrated pot support:

 photo esbit8gram_zps330ce6bf.jpg

Here is a recent video of just the burner portion being used with my Caldera Cone

8 gram Esbit Burner

This is the esbit burning stove:

9 gram esbit stove on youtube

Edited by zelph on 07/26/2013 14:48:59 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
tough call on 07/27/2013 02:28:22 MDT Print View

Frankly, broken up like that it's hard to say. One 7-day stretch, then a 2-day stretch.

A while ago someone here crunched the numbers and showed that FOR THE AMOUNT HE BOILED FOR A TYPICAL MEAL that the alcohol stove was lighter than a canister stove until the hike got longer than five days, after which the canister stove's better fuel economy let it overtake the alky stove. This is because the weight of fuel required to boil a given volume of water is higher for alcohol than for isopropane, and eventually that heavier fuel will counteract the alcohol stove's lighter weight. Presumably an esbit stove might be similar.

So, for a 7-day stretch it might be hard to say, espcially since I think the guy I mentioned above was solo hiking. For a two-day stretch it's probably no contest: use the esbit. Mixing it up like that probably makes it a toss-up. So use whatever you already have.

But how much do you boil for a single 2-person meal? How many meals are you boiling a day? All three? Or just breakfast and dinner?

Edited by acrosome on 07/27/2013 02:29:32 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
ESBIT + Trail Designs Sidewinder on 07/27/2013 13:23:37 MDT Print View


The very lightest stove I have found that is VERY fuel efficient is the Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti stove. It can use ESBIT, Alcohol and (with the Inferno inert option) wood.

Mine uses fully 1/3 less ESBIT than my previous best ESBIT stove. For even better ESBIT performance go to Brian Green's blog for his remake of the Gram Cracker tablet holder. It holds in the liquid from the burning tablet for a much longer burn time, giving still greater efficiency. As James D. posted above, ESBIT with the Caldera Cone system, is the lightest way to cook in my experience as well.

I use a 3 cup pot but for two people I would get a 1 liter pot. Caldera Cone pots are specific to the stove so be sure to order the pot With the stove. Try to get a fairly wide pot B/C they are more efficient than tall, narrow pots. I would try for a non-stick pot in aluminum.

Titanium is horrible for heat conductivity and what you get is a hot spot in the center of the Ti pot. Ti cookware is, to me, more of an elitist "badge of spending" than anything. YMMV. I used my Ti skillet once and gave up. Wanna buy it?

Take Cool Whip or bowls or Glad 'fridge bowls and a plastic cup each. My cup has measuring marks on the inside. Be SURE to take an aluminum pot gripper. Generally if you each have a small lock blade knife long handled spoons are the only utensils you will need. Take a small ScotchBrite scratch pad and a little bottle of Trail Suds for cleanup.

Have a great trip.
P.S. Keep your ESBIT fuel in an aluminized coffee bag to keep the slightly fishy smell of the fuel contained. This type of bag is also good for storing some foods to keep their aroma from attracting animals. I keep my microwaved turkey bacon in a coffee bag. It's SO good with freeze-dried omelette.

Edited by Danepacker on 07/27/2013 13:34:45 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Which stove on 07/27/2013 17:46:21 MDT Print View

May I pose the radical idea that it really doesn't really matter? :)

Ultimately, the stoves comes down to your personal preference more than anything.

Some (biased) guidelines IMO:

*If you are resupplying for less than ten meals, solo and three-season backpacking: Alcohol Stove[1]

*If you are a couple and/or going long time between resupplies, want something quick and convenient or need to do real cooking:
Canister Stove other than Jet Boil

*If you are solo and want a convenient all in one solution and/or very fast boil times: Jetboil or MSR Reactor

*If you are winter camping/high altitude mountaineering OR doing 3+ person meals: White Gas Stove

*Doing lots of “real cooking” in a forest environment and not hiking far: Zip Stove

*Want the absolute lightest stove and price/resupply (and don’t mind slower boil times) is not an issue: Esbit

*Prefer to go the ultra-minimalist route and want very little to no futzing: No stove.

[1] Couples can use a an alcohol stoves but obviously that negates the fuel to lightness ratio of the alcohol stove more

So..go light as your preference dictates, but don't sweat it too much. The mountains views are grand, the lakes awesome and the experiences great no matter what stove you use. Now if you bring that Dutch oven OTOH :D

Edited by PaulMags on 07/27/2013 17:49:37 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Which stove on 07/28/2013 00:54:07 MDT Print View

> *If you are winter camping/high altitude mountaineering OR doing 3+ person meals: White Gas Stove

A better solution here is a remote canister stove. No accidents.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Canister stopve for winter on 07/29/2013 23:52:31 MDT Print View

How could we guess that Roger C. would opt for a remote canister stove for winter?? ;o)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Which stove to bring ? on 07/30/2013 03:49:21 MDT Print View

For your trip:
(Assuming one liter in the morning and one liter at night)

1) Esbit is perhaps the lightest, no real stove, about 2oz of fuel per day for 40F water to boiling at 3000' feet. It is also the most difficult to use with slow cooking, residue and "fishy" smell. If you take them out of the packaging and put them in a baggie, they will degrade. IE, the cubes will crumble.

2) Canisters and alcohol break even due to the weight of the canister. I would need about 3oz of fuel per day for two liters. Canisters are 100g(3.57oz,) can weight is about 3.7oz, roughly can weight is about 50% of fuel weight. Alcohol is about 11000BTU/lb, butane is about 21000BTU/lb. Cutting the butane weight in half for the can gives us about 10500BTU/lb. Butane is more efficient at turning off, down and lighting, soo this is not quite a true picture. It is probably closer to 11,500BTU/lb. Anyway, there is very little difference between them.) All the weight savings of one or the other is the weight of the stove and windscreen.

3) WG, Kero, etc have about 20,500BTU/lb. This sounds *great* untill you need to pump, prime and turn off a stove. This will easily waste about 1000BTU/lb.

ALL fuels need packaging. For canisters, they are metal cans. Esbit is plastic/foil. Alcohol and WG,kero can be can be carried in a soda/water bottle. I use a second cap with a short length of vinal hose (stripped from 12ga wire) to fill and vacuume up excess fuel. Do NOT use them for has additives that will make the plastic brittle. They weigh about 1.5oz (including the extra cap) and hold 12, 16 or 20floz. Density of alcohol and WG is about .8 so a 12oz bottle, full, weighs about 10.5oz. WG is the most efficient fuel to carry. But, the stove weighs a lot...

Anyway, for general usability, Alcohol is always about the same as Canister fuel. (I never use Esbit, I tried it several times, but it always made a mess of my pot. I have a heat exchanger moulded into the bottom of the aluminum pot.) I use Alcohol for 1-4 days out. Anyway, for 10 days out, it weighs about 36oz, counting the fuel, container, stove and wind screen.

Canisters use about 1oz per day for 10 days, about the same as WG. So I would need three, 100g canisters plus a ~7oz stove(remote canister,) or, about 29oz, counting the wind screen. (Note: I have lost a couple canisters due to leaking. I usually carry a spare.) I do not like "topers" since you can have trouble with a wind screen if you don't always heat water on very low. Cans are bulkey, though. Volume is another parameter that is important to me.

For a week or longer (7-10 days out) I use WG and a SVEA. Yup, the stove is heavy. But, overall the stove and 10.5oz fuel bottle last about 10-12 days. If I cook, closer to 10 days. Just boiling water, closer to 12 days. I almost always go out for one or two weeks at a time, so it is a no brainer for me. 17.5oz for the stove, 10.5oz for the fuel and bottle. I can get about .3ox per liter, but cooking a stew means closer to .5oz/liter or about 1oz per day. You *need* a stove that will run on low! I mean very low. No pumped stove I know of will do this except the old Coleman PEAK burner at around 21oz. But this was heavier than the SVEA. Simmerlite, Whisperlight, etc. are all external stoves, IE, have a seperate fuel bottle.
Total weight for 2Liters per day is about 30oz, fuel, container, stove and wind screen.

Note that for about a 10-12 day trip, they all come close. Alcohol wins at the final weight, about 6oz. Canisters are next with about 19.5oz. WG is next with 20.5oz. I do not worry about final weights. My starting pack weight, with all the food, is so heavy, I reduce my starting weight (and volume) as the more important number.

From all this, you can assume that you might just get away with 2 canisters making them the lightest to start with. As I said, I have had some trouble with leaking, though.