Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)

Stove technology continues to advance this year, with trends of additional remote canister stoves with preheat tubes that are suitable for cold-weather operation, new alcohol and canister "cooking systems" that combine stove, windscreen, and pots into highly efficient and compact packages, plus a further move towards lighter stoves in general.

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by Mike Martin and Will Rietveld | 2008-08-11 00:30:00-06

The World's Lightest Commercially Available Canister Stove

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 1
The fifty-five-gram Snow Peak GigaPower LiteMax Stove

New from Snow Peak is their GigaPower LiteMax Stove, which is claimed to be the lightest commercially available canister stove in the world with a weight of 1.9 ounces (55 grams). (One should note that savvy BackpackingLight.com readers have been driving product liability lawyers into a frenzy by fabricating their own and/or modifying commercial designs to make lighter stoves for some time.)

The LiteMax is an evolution of the older and heavier GigaPower Micro Max stove that weighs 3.3 ounces (94 grams) in the titanium version and boasts an integrated piezo igniter. Snow Peak has been working for more than a year with Kovea, the LiteMax manufacturer, to reduce the weight. Last summer we reported on the version we dubbed the Micro Giga that eliminated the igniter and substituted some lighter materials to bring the weight down to 2.15 ounces (60 grams). Snow Peak never brought that particular version to market, but instead concentrated on further refining the design to reduce the weight.

The LiteMax eliminates virtually all brass and stainless steel parts from prior versions, and makes extensive use of titanium for the burner and pot support and uses aluminum for the valve and mixing tube. The use of aluminum in the lower portions of the stove presented some engineering challenges, as its high thermal conductivity heated the valve seat excessively.

The solution was to incorporate an insulating gasket at the bottom of the burner to keep the aluminum parts cooler. Holes have even been drilled in the pot supports to further reduce weight. This last iteration of refinements has yielded a stove weighing only 1.9 ounces (55 grams) (which I have personally verified on our official scale), yet that still able to produce a claimed maximum output power of 11,200 BTU per hour. MSRP US$55.00. Available since spring 2008.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 2
The LiteMax folded for storage. Note the insulating gasket between the burner and mixing tube.

Brunton Joins the Remote Canister Stove Club

We've long been supporters of remote canister stoves for cold weather operation. In order for a canister stove to perform well in sub-freezing conditions, two features are needed:

1) The ability to deliver liquid fuel from the canister to reduce canister cooling and preferential vaporization of propane in the fuel mix - both achieved by turning the canister upside-down on a stove with a remotely-located fuel canister connected to the stove through a flexible hose.

2) A preheat tube near the burner that will vaporize the fuel with heat from the burner prior to mixing with air. The new Vesta Stove from Brunton offers both of these features and joins similar stoves from its competitors with an attractive, compact, sturdy, and fairly lightweight offering. We have not tested the Vesta for inverted canister operation, but its inclusion of the two features above suggests that it may be suited for that application.

Disclaimer: Inverting the canister on any stove should only be attempted by knowledgeable users on stoves with features enabling such use, and, even then, at their own risk. Improperly inverting a canister can lead to intense fire and/or explosion.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 3
The Brunton Vesta Stove

Features:

  • Also available in a white gas version called the Bantam
  • Claimed Weight: 8.5 oz (241 g)
  • 11,500 BTU per hour
  • MSRP: US$59.99
  • Available February 2009

Primus Expands the Eta Line of Integrated Stoves

While liquid-feed fuel capability is a minimum requirement for a winter stove - if enough snow is to be melted - fuel use can be dramatically reduced through the use of stove systems with efficient windscreens and pots with integrated heat exchangers. For short trips with one or two persons, the added weight of these components usually will not offset the weight of the fuel saved. But for longer trips...in colder weather...in a large group, the fuel savings will eventually pay for the added system weight.

We used the Primus EtaPower EF Stove last February for ten days in sub-freezing conditions on an igloo expedition in Yellowstone National Park. With its heat exchanger pot and windscreen, the stove was impressive for efficiently melting snow for our large group. So little heat energy (and therefore fuel) was wasted while melting snow that it was even difficult warm your hands over the stove! Yet, all of us on the trip thought that it was overbuilt for lightweight backpacking - the heavy-gauge materials and frypan lid added unnecessary weight to the system. Primus addressed the need for a lighter system in January with the introduction of their EtaExpress Stove. But unfortunately, the EtaExpress lacked the capability of a liquid fuel feed and so was not really suitable for sub-freezing use.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 4
The EtaPackLite ready for action. (Not shown is the serving bowl that serves double duty to protect the non-stick coating of the pot from the windscreen when stowed, and the plastic cover that protects the heat exchanger fins on the pot during transport.)

The new Primus EtaPackLite combines the highly efficient pot with integrated heat exchanger from the larger EtaPower stove with a lighter liquid-feed burner, lid, and windscreen to bring the weight down to claimed 21 ounces (595 grams) (22.6 ounces / 641 grams measured on our official scale). The complete system consists of the stove base with burner and piezo igniter, adjustable wind screen, graduated serving bowl, and a 1.2 liter non-stick pot with polycarbonate lid that doubles as a colander. Had this been available last February, this would have been the snowmelting stove system of choice for our trip - though we might have left the serving bowl behind to shave another two ounces or so. MSRP US$115. Available spring 2009.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 5
the EtaPackLite base, burner, and windscreen. Note the preheat tube and piezo igniter.

Jetboil Answers Back with the Helios

Aiming to extend the cold weather performance of their integrated stove systems, Jetboil has added the Helios to their line. The Helios is a remote canister version of their earlier PCS and GCS stoves. Featuring a tripod-like stand for an upside-down canister, the Helios is one of the few stoves on the market actually designed and marketed for inverted canister operation, rather than simply operated that way by expert users. The windscreen is also unique, as it is made of a transparent plastic material that allows a good view of the stove while it is in operation. The windscreen snaps to the stove base to hold it in place. Like the Primus EtaPower stove we used in Yellowstone, the Helios is clearly too heavy for lightweight backpacking - except possibly for extended Winter trips with a large group. Still, we're enthusiastic about the growth of the inverted-canister category of stoves.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 6
Jetboil Helios

Features:

  • 2L Pot with Integrated Heat Exchanger and Neoprene Cozy
  • 10,000 BTU/hr Claimed Heat Power Output
  • Claimed Weight: 28 oz (793 g)
  • Measured Weight: 29 oz (824 g)
  • MSRP: US$149.95
  • Available Since March 2008

Trail Designs/AntiGravityGear Caldera Keg Cooking System

Integrated cooking systems are not limited to canister stoves. We hooked up with George Andrews of AntiGravityGear (AGG) and got our hot little hands on the new 6.3-ounce (179-gram) Caldera Keg Cooking System. The basic cooking system mates a twenty-four-ounce Foster's beer can cook pot with a specific Caldera Cone, and includes a lid, caddy (mug and bowl), 12-10 alcohol burner, fuel bottle, and cozy for the bowl and costs US$59.00. The expanded kit adds an AGG cozy that encloses the caddy and a silnylon stuff sack for the entire system and costs about US$20.00 more.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 7
The components of the basic Trail Designs Caldera Keg Cooking system are detailed in this photo. The basic system fits inside the Caldera Caddy shown, weighs 6.3 ounces (179 grams), and costs US$59.

This is the most complete alcohol cooking system we have ever seen, and the integration of the components is absolutely amazing. The Trail Designs (TD) Caldera Keg system and the AGG accessory pot cozy and stuff sack are two products that can be purchased separately or together. The TD Caldera Keg system, which slides inside a lightweight threaded 3.75 x 7.5-inch (9.5 x 19-cm) plastic tube, is a complete 6.3-ounce (179-gram) cooking system by itself. The addition of AntiGravityGear's 1.5-ounce (43 gram) pot cozy and stuff sack are very useful embellishments.

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) - 8
The Trail Designs Caldera Keg (left) fits inside a durable plastic tube with a threaded lid to provide a durable packable package. The complementary AntiGravityGear cozy and stuff sack (right) are specifically designed for the Caldera Keg and adds 1.5 ounces (43 grams) and about US$20.

The introduction of the Caldera Cone by Trail Designs has provided us with an efficient, reliable, and predictable alcohol cooking system akin to a canister stove system. Now, with the introduction of the Caldera Keg, we have the lightest complete cooking system to be found anywhere. We can't wait to get out and use it.

Farewell to an Old Friend

Finally, fans of Coleman Powermax stoves such as the Xponent Xtreme that has long been a staff favorite for winter use, will be sad to learn that Coleman has discontinued production of their Powermax product line. According to Jim Reid, Senior Manager at Coleman, they intend to support current Powermax stove owners with their unfortunately heavy fuel adapter that allows stoves such as the Xtreme to operate with conventional Lindal valve canisters. They also say that they will continue to produce Powermax fuel cartridges for as long as "there is a market for it." Coleman Xtreme stoves are still available in their distribution channels, but once stock is gone, it's gone. Advice to the wise: if you want a Powermax stove, buy one quickly, and if you own a Powermax stove, stock up on fuel.


Citation

"Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)," by Mike Martin and Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/orsm08_hot_stoves.html, 2008-08-11 00:30:00-06.

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Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) on 08/11/2008 19:34:44 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008)

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Hot Stoves (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2008) on 08/11/2008 20:09:29 MDT Print View

Mike and Will. Much respect for giving the MYOG'ers credit for their ultralight modified canister stoves. All in all a concise article of the new and the hot. Thanks.

James Augustine
(chirodr) - F

Locale: Southern California
Lite Max stove issues... on 08/11/2008 20:22:07 MDT Print View

Originally, I tried out the Lite Max on an MSR canister (partially used) and it did not work on first attempt. On the trail, using a 110 snow peak canister, the stove worked for about a minute, then sputtered out. It did this several times and I had to "crank" the stove down onto the canister to get it to work. I'm returning it, possibly exchanging it depending upon an email from Snow Peak, presenting them with the whole issue.

Any thoughts or similar experiences??

chris Mcfarland
(pecos)

Locale: baba yaga's porch
lite max stove on 08/11/2008 23:44:40 MDT Print View

i found the lite max to be reliable and easy to use. i have used it for about 17 trail days and numerous home trials. it does seem to need a little more torque to engage the lyndal valve, i was a little worried about it at first, but it loosened up a bit and doesn't show any signs of damage. i have had good luck with the snow peak and msr canisters (110g and 220g.)
best of luck :)

Randy Brissey
(rbrissey) - M

Locale: Redondo Beach, CA
Liquid Feed Stoves on 08/12/2008 01:15:39 MDT Print View

With all of the drive to lighten the weight of stoves has any of the manufacturers looked into making canisters specifically for bottom fuel draw. Weight-wise I always think of the weight of the empty vs that of the fuel itself so that how much mass am I carrying once the fuel runs out.

Why not a spherical canister made of aluminum designed only for inverted fuel stoves?

Randy

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Liquid Feed Stoves on 08/12/2008 06:41:17 MDT Print View

Hi Randy,

Exactly! And that's precisely what the Coleman Powermax stoves had- special canisters made of aluminum and specifically designed for that purpose. That's why we're so sad to see them go.

Doug

David Schill
(dschill)

Locale: Northeast
Liquid Feed Stoves on 08/12/2008 11:58:54 MDT Print View

Doug,

PowerMax is gone, Wow. I personally do not use them, but I have many friends that do.

I like the idea of Brunton Vesta Stove, but has anyone inverted it yet? How does it compare to the modified canister stove stand by Brunton featured in previous BPL articles?

Dave

Edited by dschill on 08/12/2008 13:09:03 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Liquid Feed Stoves on 08/12/2008 13:41:26 MDT Print View

Yup, it's a darn shame about the Max lineup, although no surprise. Reminds me of another Max--Betamax--which was a superior system that lacked industry-wide adoption as a standard so eventually faded into obscurity. Although I don't know whether Coleman ever tried licensing its use to other companies or not.

So, what kind of magic heatproof plastic are they using for that Jetboil windscreen?

David Schill
(dschill)

Locale: Northeast
liquid feed stoves on 08/13/2008 07:28:39 MDT Print View

At 29oz. does it matter? When is JetBoil going to lighten the weight. I love the concept, but it is too heavy. My old white gas stove is lighter, with less breakable parts. It is messy and for the past few years I have been trying to modify my canister stoves for better winter use, but I would rather use the lighter white gas stove then go with this new JetBoil system...

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Caldera Fosters Can stove on 08/13/2008 14:04:34 MDT Print View

As a long time devotee of the Caldera Religion I am once again looking to add to my collection. But does anyone have the measurements for the protective container into which you place the whole kit? How many ounces for the "mug" portion and how many ounces for the "bowl"? Any idea how long it takes to boil the usual 16oz of water and how much alcohol is used to do so? I undertand that the TD added ridge in the Forster's Can is right at 16oz and that all of that is inside the cone. What a great concept!

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Caldera keg weights on 08/13/2008 15:01:20 MDT Print View

I've got a Caldera keg (I think I ordered it the first day it was available), and I was wondering what the individual weights were too. My kitchen scale is accurate (hopefully) to the 1/8 oz, but here's what I measured (ounces):

6 7/8 Total weight, with everything

1/2 Stove
1 Windscreen/support
3/4 Fuel bottle + measuring cup
1/8 Instructions
1 Pot, with lip guard
1/4 Pot lid
1/4 Pot cozy
1 3/4 Carry case bottom
7/8 Carry case top

BTW, Trail Designs flattens the bottom of the pot. Does anybody know why, other than to make it seem more potlike? Does that make it heat more efficiently? I guess it improves capacity slightly...

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Caldera keg weights on 08/13/2008 15:01:57 MDT Print View

(Sorry - double post. Was getting an error page when saving.)

Edited by efredricksen on 08/13/2008 15:03:16 MDT.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
measurements in the Caldera Pot Kit on 08/17/2008 11:22:53 MDT Print View

I guess I was not clear. I am interested in the amount of liquid that the protective container parts each hold. Since TD says that the top can be used as a cup and the bottom as a bowl, exactly how much does each hold.
But thanks for the weights on each component. That's tremendously helpful as well. Right now when I weigh in the whole of my Calera kit including 8oz of fuel and cozies that I made and the protective container I use as well as various items like matches, pot lifter, etc., I am at about 18oz for the lot.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: measurements in the Caldera Pot Kit on 08/17/2008 14:58:08 MDT Print View

IF I remember, I will measure the volumes of the Caldera Caddy's components and post tomorrow. The combined total will certainly be more than the 750ml of the Fosters can since the threads of the caddy overlap quite a bit but still nestle the can.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: measurements in the Caldera Pot Kit on 08/17/2008 18:39:25 MDT Print View

Mitchell,
My Caddy is for the Braslite 550. It is 7" tall x 3.7" dia, with the "mug" screwed down.

The "bowl" will hold about 23 oz to the bottom of the threads and 33 oz to the top of the top thread - I'm able to hold and move it without spilling.

The mug will hold 16 oz - again, carefully holding and moving without spilling.

I find the bowl depth OK, as I am able to reach the bottom with my standard lexan tablespoon.

Hope this helps.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Re: measurements in the Caldera Pot Kit on 08/18/2008 14:16:54 MDT Print View

Very cool! Thanks for the info. SO, we have a bowl which can really hold a meal and a cup that can really hold a drink. Thats what I wanted to know. Looks as if I am going to be buying the Caldera kit. Thanks again.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Just got my Beer Can Caldera in the mail on 09/10/2008 15:15:50 MDT Print View

I have already tried it out with both alky and esbit tabs. The alcohol version boils 16oz of water at room temp in about 6 minutes for about .75oz of fuel. The esbit tab approach uses their little "cracker" design titanium holder and boils 16oz of water in about 8 minutes. The cracker has one problem. The esbit tab tends to slide off the top of the cracker because of the liqification of the tab as it burns. When one uses the cracker's two side shields which are designed to extend the burn time of the tab at reduced temperture, this is not so much of a problem.

I measured the weight of the entire kit at 6.625oz (including a book of matches). And when you add the included filled 4oz fuel bottle, the total weight is 11.25oz.
A bit heavier than I thought it would be, but still a very impressive kit to which you only need to add a spoon and you are done!

The smaller top half of the case which holds the whole kit will hold 16 oz of liquid up to the thread line and 20oz to the top edge. The larger bottom half will hold more than 28oz of liquid to within an inch of the top of the container.
The Foster can itself has a extruded bulge at exactly 16oz to allow the can to rest inside the cone up to that mark.

Overall, a very cleverly designed product!

Edited by mitchellkeil on 09/10/2008 15:23:35 MDT.