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ACrowe
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 4:18 pm 
I'm looking at possibly replacing my trusty MSR XGK stove for summer trips. I've used this model for 35 years with no issues whatsoever, but after 15 years my current one is getting beat up. I've never used other models of liquid fuel stoves so I don't know how dependable they are. I love everything about my XGK except for how loud it is. Not too long ago liquid fuel stoves were the most efficient and dependable all weather stoves around, but now hardly anyone seems to use them.

For some reason everyone has flocked to gas canister stoves and I'm not sure why. Rei doesn't even sell liquid fuel stoves anymore. I used a Jetboil stove several years ago and found it to work well in warm summer weather. But it was absolutely useless in cold temps, plus it was prone to tip over and the cheap plastic parts melted easily. I ended up throwing it away. Maybe since then gas stoves are better made, but I still wouldn't trust one in cold weather. They really are only a few ounces lighter so that's not an issue for me. Also are are the canisters recyclable?

So what's the deal, are current canister models exceptionally well built and dependable and I'm missing out on using a great stove, or is it just another latest greatest follow the leader thing?

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Randito
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 5:40 pm 
Gas canister stoves are just a lot more convenient.  From a retailers point 8f view all the old geezers already have white gas stoves and they are still working fine, better to sell the next generation something that will be obsolete or broken in 5 years than something good for a lifetime.

The XGK  is a great stove when you are going on a long trip that involves a lot of snow melting, packing in fuel by the gallon and not a lot of conversation during cooking time.

But for winter camping trips under a week, even this old fart is now using a MSR reactor for melting snow and boiling water.

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ACrowe
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 6:26 pm 
Thanks for the tips. I heard some good things about the Reactor, maybe I'll give it a try. I'm not sure though about your points on convenience, and packing in fuel. Both types seem just as easy to use, and a pint of white gas goes a long way for me, at least in my experience.

You're probably right on the money with retailers and manufacturers selling gear that's made to be replaced in a year or two. When I started backpacking in the late 70's there was an awful lot of heavy poorly designed crappy gear out there. Quality really seemed to improve around the late 90's, and maybe until around ten years ago. A lot of that stuff was built well and to last, but I guess there's no money in that for a business. Over the years gear started turning into more of a fashion statement, with an obsession on overpriced ultra lightweight hi-tech designs and materials.

I guess all this rightly makes me an old fart, but that's ok I earned the title!

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Ski
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 6:36 pm 
ACrowe wrote:
Rei doesn't even sell liquid fuel stoves anymore

According to the young man who just answered the phone at their Tacoma store, they do.
Their website shows both the MSR Whisperlite and Dragonfly being "no longer available", but that may be only a matter of their being out of stock, or a condition of supply problems. (You may recall that for several months last year, fuel canisters were not to be had anywhere for love or money.)

Another model they started carrying is the "Soto Muka" (https://www.rei.com/product/815135/soto-muka-liquid-fuel-stove) about which I know nothing.

I carried a Coleman Peak1 for years, and then switched to an MSR Dragonfly, which performs flawlessly and has the capacity for a low simmer, which is a requirement for me.

I probably have at least 4 or 5 Coleman Peak1 models, and (as I recall) two-and-a-half Dragonflys, and they're all good stoves (except for those that have been cannibalized for parts.)

I also have a little MSR "Pocket Rocket", which is about as "no-brainer" and easy as one could hope for.

I'd suggest making a trip down to MSR's repair shop down on So. Dakota street (just off First Avenue South) in the south end of Seattle and seeing what kind of deal you can get on a Whisperlite or Dragonfly - way less spendy buying from them (and the repaired units I've purchased there were like new.)

As to recycling: Yes, the empty fuel canisters are recyclable, but only if you've punctured the can to bleed any fuel out. (BigSteve used an ice axe. I manage fine with a 16-oz claw hammer and a big nail.)

... and welcome to the site! wink.gif

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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InFlight
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 7:32 pm 
Canisters arent really great for snow melting, but for three season usage theyre  hard to beat from a weight and convenience standpoint.

750 Ti pot and lid        4.2. Ounces
MSR pocket-rocket       2.6 Ounces
Empty Canister.           3.4 Ounces
ISO propane Fuel         3.9 Ounces

14.1  ounce cook system total with a full canister.

The smallest MSR liquid fuel bottle (11 ounces) is 4.3 ounces dry.  The typical Whisper Lite is 9.5 ounces.  Unless you are going weeks without resupply,  the canister option will be way lighter.

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BigBrunyon
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PostWed Apr 07, 2021 11:33 pm 
A good thing about white gas is you can splash some on the fire to fluff it up

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Ski
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 5:45 am 
MSR Dragonfly weight

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ACrowe
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 7:20 am 
Thanks for all the info everyone, much appreciated! I'll probably go with a canister system for warmer weather and get a new XGK for colder weather trips.

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Ski
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 12:04 pm 
BigBrunyon wrote:
A good thing about white gas is you can splash some on the fire to fluff it up

It's also a great solvent for dissolving pitch on your fancy-schmantzy hiking pants.

Mr. ACrowe:
The amount of money you'll save driving down to MSR's repair shop will offset the price of the gas you'll burn driving down there. (There's no offset for the hellish traffic, of course.) They don't take cash - credit or debit cards only.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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iron
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 2:58 pm 
MSR reactor all the way.

for cold weather, you take a bowl (we use a cut off large cottage cheese container) and fill will an inch or two of water and sit the canister in the water bath. this helps to squeeze out the last of the fuel in the cans.

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Randito
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 6:13 pm 
The XGK is still the standard for an expedition style trip to Denali.

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Anne Elk
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PostThu Apr 08, 2021 8:36 pm 
Ski wrote:
I'd suggest making a trip down to MSR's repair shop down on So. Dakota street (just off First Avenue South) in the south end of Seattle and seeing what kind of deal you can get on a Whisperlite or Dragonfly

Check with MSR by phone or on their website before going down there. They were closed to public visits last year b/c of the pandemic.  Ski had recommended I check with them for deals on their reconditioned stoves, and because of the closure, I wound up buying a new pocket rocket. The run on canisters may be over, but you never know.

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ACrowe
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PostFri Apr 09, 2021 1:00 pm 
Ski wrote:
driving down to MSR's repair shop will offset the price of the gas you'll burn driving down there. (There's no offset for the hellish traffic, of course.)

I live up in Bellingham so driving down to their shop is out of the question for me. I used to commute to Seattle from Camano Island for several years and had my fill of the traffic hassles. Now I generally go through Seattle only when it's absolutely unavoidable, like when I'm on a trip to Oregon.

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Downhill
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PostSat Apr 10, 2021 7:01 am 
Like a good politician, I often go back and forth on this question and I feel quite strongly both ways.  Yup, I like having both fuel options available in my kit.

I have owned several MRS models (Dragonlite, Whisperfly, etc..), and before those, I owned some stoves that I have long forgotten about.  I think I still have 3 well-functioning MSR liquid gas stoves.  What I like about them is: the lowest BTU/$$ cost by far, higher fuel-burning capacity (the "snow-melting" example cited by others), no guessing how much fuel is left in a partially-used canister (do I have enough for coffee in the morning?) as evidenced by my crate full of half-used isopro canisters, fewer trips to the store for a last-minute canister buy when I'm trying my best to get out of town (buy a gallon or 2 of white gas and you're good for the season), lower center of gravity when used on the ground (less tippy) and works great in cold weather.  What I don't like about white gas:  a much heavier overall set-up, bulkier, fussier operation, dirty (soot), messy (gas spills/leaks), jet-cleaning hassles, and these stoves are unusable inside a tent (yeah, I know - no stoves of any type in a tent).

I have also had a number of tiny, super-light isopro canister stoves over the years of various brands and almost all of them were excellent and held up for many years, despite appearing to be more fragile.  I will start with what I don't like about this fuel/stove system:  more expensive fuel costs, inability to know how much gas/cooking time is remaining, wasteful canisters (production and disposal), poor cold-weather performance (hold your Bic lighter under the can), lower fuel capacity for long burns.  What I do like about this set-up:  much lighter and more compact, faster/easier to light, better heat modulation for precise cooking, instantly on max heat, cleaner (no fuel spills, soot, etc.), and the most important difference to me is that properly done, you can use this system inside a tent (but you didn't hear this from me).  A hanging isopro canister stove/pot set up is doable in a tent, something that is critical in foul or winter conditions.  Of course, all of the safety warnings regarding proper ventilation and tent ignition must be duly heeded.

I use the isopro canister set up in the winter for shorter, technical-climbing/ski trips when weight, bulk and indoor cooking are important considerations.  I also use the isopro stoves in the summer months when I am going solo and can't distribute the shared community gear among partners and opt for the most compact and light set-up.  If I am going on a longer trip, always cooking outside, especially with several partners, I think that white gas is a better way to go - more fuel-efficient, less waste and you can overcome the bulk issue by distributing the load with others.

I have noticed that in recent years I have been using my isopro kit most often year-round.  Lately I have trended to mostly non-cook or boil water type meals so the benefits of white gas for fuel capacity and lower cost is almost immaterial and I favor the compactness, weight advantage and convenience of the canister system (I hate the garbage tho).

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Navy salad
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PostSat Apr 10, 2021 11:29 am 
Downhill wrote:
inability to know how much gas/cooking time is remaining

Many canisters now have markings on the side of the container that let you gauge how much gas is left by floating it in water (like in a cookpot) and seeing where the marks fall with respect to the water.

But having said this, I've never actually used this feature in the field, since I know my fuel requirements from past experience, which is generally 0.9 to 1.3 ounces per day, depending on the kind of meals I'm eating (eg cold vs warm breakfasts).  When I was hiking a 6 day PCT section, with more austere stove use, I only needed about 0.6 ounces/day. [It would be interesting to hear how this compares to other people's experience.]

At home, I just use an postage scale that works very well to figure out remaining fuel, by weighing the canister, then subtracting the weight of an empty canister (which is about 3.6 ounces).

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