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Old 01-03-2019, 12:04 PM   #1
Terasec
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Help on canister stoves?

looking to add canister stove to my outings,
most likely iso/pro stove,

is name brand like msr pocket rocket worth it?
cons to lower priced coleman?
I do like to simmer so that's a factor,
my current cooking usually involves cold lunches and stick fire meals,
the speed and convenience of canister stoves has my interest.
have seen coleman dual camp fuel/gasoline canister stoves,
any experience with those?
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Old 01-03-2019, 01:31 PM   #2
DSettahr
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I have a Pocket Rocket (actually 2 or 3 at this point, even though I'm not sure how I managed to accumulate multiples) and I love it. It's small and light, and super efficient for solo cooking. It boils water really fast and simmers really well. It's also fairly cheap as stoves go (even if it is more expensive than the Coleman alternative you're looking at). You can go with more complex canister stoves for even more increased efficiency, but IMO, the Pocket Rocket is the gold standard of cheap, simple, and lightweight canister stoves.

One thing to be aware of with canister stoves, though, is that they do lose efficiency in cold weather. Stoves with an upright canister tend to get sketchy around 40 degrees F, and crap out entirely around 30 degrees F. Stoves with an inverted canister design are meant for colder temperatures, and these stoves extend the usable temperature range somewhat- they start to get sketchy around 10 degrees F and crap out entirely around 0 degrees F.

There's a few other tricks that you can use to extend the range somewhat- keeping the canister on your body (even sleeping with it) so that it stays warm, using a fuel blend intended for cooler temperatures, etc., but even still a canister stove is going to be sketchy (or even dangerous) for use in Adirondack Winters. My Pocket Rocket is strictly a late Spring through mid-Autumn stove, and when the temperatures are colder I switch over to a white gas stove (MSR Whisperlite or MSR DragonFly, depending on my specific needs for a trip).

I would also recommend at least considering an alcohol stove as an alternative- they aren't "definitely better" than canister stoves, but some people do prefer them. They are even lighter and tend to be even cheaper than the pocket rocket. The fuel is also more widely available than isopro canisters (you can get alcohol at most hardware stores). An alcohol stove that has the ability to prime also does not run into cold weather issues as readily as canister stoves do (although I've yet to try an alcohol stove in full winter weather conditions so I don't know how well they perform in extreme cold). Drawbacks to alcohol stoves in comparison to canister stoves, though, include longer cook times and a bit greater level of attention that is necessary to "finesse" the stove (especially for simmering).
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Old 01-03-2019, 01:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for that
yes temp limits will be a factor to think through,
below 40 range is a big chunk of the year.
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Old 01-03-2019, 02:12 PM   #4
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I'll echo DS's recommendations.
I have used an alcohol stove for years, and also a Kelly Kettle frequently. And even a variety of Coleman liquid/multi fuel stoves as the then standard stove for Boy Scouts.

I have found alcohol to be very convenient and easy to use and my favorite for a long time. Even more convenient however is a canister stove (3 seasons only). During the Yukon 1000 mile canoe race, a single large one pound canister provided enough boiling water to rehydrate two meals per day for seven hungry voyageur canoe paddlers for the entire 6 day duration of the race.

From time to time Amazon has offered me a "can't pass this up" compact stove for about $3. They came shipped directly from China and come in a very compact travel box. I picked up two of them and they still work well. But I do have a couple of other more advanced models that provide a better adjustable flame and are more efficient.
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Old 01-03-2019, 02:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post

One thing to be aware of with canister stoves, though, is that they do lose efficiency in cold weather. Stoves with an upright canister tend to get sketchy around 40 degrees F, and crap out entirely around 30 degrees F. Stoves with an inverted canister design are meant for colder temperatures, and these stoves extend the usable temperature range somewhat- they start to get sketchy around 10 degrees F and crap out entirely around 0 degrees F.


by the sounds of it, inverted canister stove would suit 99% of my outings

I may lean in that direction, for now
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Old 01-03-2019, 02:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terasec View Post
Thanks for that
yes temp limits will be a factor to think through,
below 40 range is a big chunk of the year.
I will say that despite it's limited usefulness in colder temperatures, I have still found the Pocket Rocket to be well worth the $45 cost for the amount of use I've gotten out of it during the warmer months of the year. And for what it's worth, I haven't used any of the alternatives you mentioned- but MSR's gear tends to be high quality in it's design and manufacture. I've also had good experiences with the return and repair policies of Cascade Designs (MSR's parent company). In contrast, Coleman is... Coleman. Probably not badly designed but also likely not really equivalent in overall quality.

And for what's it worth- if you hike and camp regularly, having multiple stove options for use on various trips as the conditions demand isn't the worst idea ever. I currently tend to use my stoves for my solo trips as follows:
  • Canister stove (MSR Pocket Rocket) in the summer, as it is lightweight and both fast and convenient.
  • Alcohol stove (Trangia Spirit Burner with the primer attachment) in shoulder season conditions, as it is more reliable in colder temperatures and I'm still trying to keep my pack weight below "full winter" levels.
  • White gas stove (MSR DragonFly and/or MSR Whisperlite) in full on winter conditions when maximum reliability in cold temperatures makes it worth having the added weight. The DragonFly is my primary winter stove as it can simmer; if I'm with a group and we need to melt snow for water I'll bring the Whisperlite also so that this can be done concurrently with cooking meals.

I will also add that with the occasional group trip with group meals even in non-winter conditions, I'm more likely to bring a white gas stove (usually the DragonFly) as the heat output is better for larger shared meals cooked in one pot. With a larger group you can divvy up stove components also (have one person carry the stove, another carry the fuel, another carry the pots, etc.) so the added weight is less of an issue.

I think my next stove, if and when I buy one, will definitely be an inverted canister design, although with my current options I don't feel any overwhelming need to invest in one just yet.

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Originally Posted by Terasec View Post
by the sounds of it, inverted canister stove would suit 99% of my outings

I may lean in that direction, for now
There is a version of the MSR Whisperlite, the Whisperlite Universal, that allows you to swap out white gas for an inverted canister. If you were looking for something that allowed you the convenience of using an inverted canister but also allowed you to be able to use white gas for that occasional trip in particularly cold weather without having to have a separate stove, this could be it. It's not particularly cheap, though, and you should also be aware that in the white gas configuration it doesn't simmer very well: https://www.msrgear.com/stoves/whisperlite-universal
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:34 PM   #7
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Ditto on those remarks.

I started using a simple cylinder Gaz stove but soon replaced it with an Optimus 8r as the only canister fuel readily available (40 years ago!) was butane which is fine in summer but hopeless in the cold or at any altitude. I have not tried the modern fuels but Mrs Santa got me a Jetboil so I will be trying that out over the next year. I currently use a Primus gasoline stove, very reliable but very noisy and with little simmer capability it is knocking on for 15 plus years old and I believe the newer versions are more civilized.

My brother would only use alcohol stoves, and had a variety of Trangia stoves no moving parts and very reliable.

I too use a Kelly again no moving parts and reliable for boiling water. I have not really tried it just using the fire box for cooking. One thing I learnt the hard way over a weekend trip was to wear a glove when feeding it from the top my feeding hand became stained from the smoke and it took several days for the nicotine like stains to disappear from my fingers and nails!. I suspect it was more related to the wood I was burning than anything else.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:52 PM   #8
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I too use a Kelly again no moving parts and reliable for boiling water. I have not really tried it just using the fire box for cooking. One thing I learnt the hard way over a weekend trip was to wear a glove when feeding it from the top my feeding hand became stained from the smoke and it took several days for the nicotine like stains to disappear from my fingers and nails!. I suspect it was more related to the wood I was burning than anything else.
I have often watched all that heat being expelled from the KK chimney, though about making use of it. You can buy a kit that attaches to the top of the chimney to cook on. But i thought, how hard could that be to make? So I made one by cutting a soup can to fit and attached a small grate on top to support a small frying pan. Turns out it doesn't work very well. The KK is so efficient at boiling water that the water boils violently and spurts out before there is enough time to cook anything on top.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:40 PM   #9
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. You can buy a kit that attaches to the top. The KK is so efficient at boiling water that the water boils violently and spurts out before there is enough time to cook anything on top.
I did splash out and get the kit, have not really used it other than to cook a lump of bannock. Typically I let the water boil for at least five or more minutes to kill as much as possible, its a fine line between overfilling and underfiling and running the risk of damaging the kettle. To be honest I like using it because of its simplicity and the look of bewilderment on my camping companions faces. It also keeps me busy so its harder to get bored and nod off!
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:19 PM   #10
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I believe the CDC and other medical resources say that one full minute boil time is sufficient heat and time to kill any harmful bacteria we might have here. Any longer is wasteful of fuel (although not of much consequence if using a KK). The military folks I train with say that in this part of the world, they are taught that anything that is harmful to us is killed on the way up to boiling (above 180F minimum). So when water reaches a full boil that is enough. Longer heating time in a tactical arena just means chance of increased exposure to discovery by IR sensors or smoke.
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