The World's Lightest Commercially Available Canister Stove
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.
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.
The Brunton Vesta Stove
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.