Forum Index > Gear Talk > Backpacking stove liquid vs. gas
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Downhill
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PostSat Apr 10, 2021 2:26 pm 
Navy salad wrote:
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.

Yes, I find that to be a helpful indication.  I now mark the canisters at home with a sharpie for those that don't come pre-marked.  With ispro fuel, the usage rates vary so much with temp and wind protection, that estimating by the floating method is still kinda guesswork - you know how much gas you have but not how long it will last - but still worthwhile.  Since I am usually just boiling a 1 L pot of water, I usually just count "boils" as my method and any partial canisters that I bring home I write the # of boils on blue tape and stick to the side before dropping it in the storage box.

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uww
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PostThu Apr 15, 2021 2:55 am 
ACrowe wrote:
Also are are the canisters recyclable?

Depends where you live. Very few places take them, check with your local program.

These are not recyclable in Seattle.
http://www.seattle.gov/utilities/your-services/collection-and-disposal/where-does-it-go#/item/camping-gas-cans

You can take them to MSR Repair shop or the Mountaineers to be recycled properly.

https://www.mountaineers.org/blog/announcing-fuel-canister-recycling-at-the-seattle-program-center
https://www.msrgear.com/blog/msr-fuel-canister-recycling-program/

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Randito
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PostThu Apr 15, 2021 7:15 am 
If you have a kitchen scale, weighing the canisters provides precise info on the amount of fuel remaining.

Then there is this gizmo

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RNNWR6C/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glt_fabc_9JFQSGGQ3XAS2JKPS4J0

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ACrowe
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PostThu Apr 15, 2021 8:33 am 
uww wrote:
Depends where you live. Very few places take them, check with your local program.

Too bad. I have to assume that by human nature most people wonít go through the trouble of finding a place to recycle them, and or store the canisters until they do.

Also someone mentioned they need to be punctured first. Isnít that a bit dangerous, even if you vent the unused gas first?

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JonnyQuest
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PostThu Apr 15, 2021 8:48 am 
ACrowe wrote:
Also someone mentioned they need to be punctured first. Isnít that a bit dangerous, even if you vent the unused gas first?

I've punched more than my fair share, and only had a couple explode.  No worse than priming my XGK - "poof, no eyebrows".  Actually, it's quite safe.  I've used a nail, an old ice axe, etc.  There's even a tool from Jet Boil for puncturing canisters.  But yes, good idea to bleed / burn the remaining fuel first.

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ACrowe
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PostMon May 17, 2021 10:29 am 
I just wanted to follow up to say I ended up purchasing a MSR 1.5 liter Reactor stove. I just finished using it on a daily basis during a two week eastern Oregon road trip. So far I've been very impressed with its performance, 4 1/2 minutes or less to boil 1.5 liters of water. I started out with a full 8.oz canister of fuel and still there is still some left after 15 days, I used it only in the morning for coffee.

I had one day of temps in the mid 20s and some windy days, otherwise it was warm spring weather. I must say that that one cold morning noticeably reduced its performance. So I'm still not convinced this stove would do well in winter temperatures, but I will definitely do some winter testing. I was also wrong about the convenience factor, the reactor is much easier and quicker to set up and use compared to my XGK.

In the end this was a pretty easy testing period of a brand new piece of gear. I always say a true gear review comes after a full season or two of continual usage. Nearly every piece of gear I have has performed well out of the box for the first season. The exception is my Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 which I purchased in July 2020, but don't get me started on that fiasco!

Thanks to everyone for all their generous advice!

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cryptobrian
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PostMon May 17, 2021 12:06 pm 
The water gauge method I find too coarse to really be of use. I always weigh my canisters after a trip and by now of a pretty good sense of how much fuel I need for a trip and so grab a partial that is close to what I need. Any that are left with just a tiny amount go into a bin that I will use for things like a winter day hike to make a cup of hot chocolate on the trail (i.e. low risk, won't be the end of the world if the canister runs out before the water boils).

I did come across another field method though, using a hiking pole as a scale.  Here is a blog post I wrote that explains it ... jump about half-way down to the section labeled "The Bismar Scale":

https://wilderromp.com/blog/estimating-uses-in-a-canister-stove/

It works surprisingly well but so far I have only really found it useful as a campfire party trick.

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-- Brian
www.wilderromp.com
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rossb
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PostTue May 25, 2021 4:06 pm 
You should be OK with a canister stove to around 11 Fahrenheit, as long as you have isobutane, at least according to this. Around (and below) that temperature, you can still use a canister stove, but you have to take special steps (which are covered quite well in that article).

The trickiest part of using a canister stove is determining how much fuel to bring. With gas or alcohol, if you want to bring 6 ounces of fuel, you bring 6 ounces. With a canister stove, you have to find a canister with 6 ounces, which will never happen (which means that you end up bringing, say 8.5). This is why the weight savings often don't quite work out. You end up bringing an extra canister, which adds weight, along with extra fuel. It is probably still a bit lighter in most instances to use a canister stove, but it isn't obviously lighter. If you want to save weight, in most cases you are probably better off with alcohol. Of course if you are using a lot of fuel, then you reach a point where gas (liquid or canister) is better. At that point you also run into other issues that determine how much fuel you'll use. Avoiding wind is a big one, as well as not cranking the thing up as high as it goes (pot dimensions are also an issue, but kinda complicated).

The main advantage to a canister stove is convenience. It is trivial to turn on a canister stove.

If you are trying to save weight, I would look at more than just the weight of the stove. You also want to get a stove that burns efficiently, as well as a good windscreen to go with it. You have to be somewhat careful with windscreens, since you don't want to heat up the canister too much. Ocelot makes some nice windscreens. I ended up with a Soto stove because it is more wind resistant, but after some research, still got the Ocelot windscreen to go with it (there so freakin' light, might as well).

I've used alcohol (and like it) but with a group I've found it easier to just have the canister. It requires less patience. You might consider an alcohol stove if you do short solo trips.

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Randito
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PostTue May 25, 2021 4:26 pm 
rossb wrote:
You might consider an alcohol stove if you do short solo trips.

FWIW:  I found an alcohol stove to be pleasant for long solo bike tours.    It is completely silent.  With the simmer ring that comes with the Trangia Spirit Burner I found I could fry bacon and make pancakes on lesisurely days.   One of the reasons I choose it that denatured alcohol can be purchased in any paint or hardware store -- even in the smallest towns.   This feature alone was worthwile as it removed any concern about "where am I going to find a gas canister?"

For backpacking -- refueling on the way isn't something you do -- so alcohol is less useful for backpacking.

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HikerJohn
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PostSat May 29, 2021 12:52 pm 
As a person who never throws anything away (sigh...), I have a pretty good collection of stoves of various types, but have settled down to three for my regular uses:
- For my emergency stove in my backpack or single nighters, I have an MSR Pocketrocket with the smallest gas canister I could get.  Very light, very compact.  But not something I would want to use for a group of folks
- For longer trips, winter trips, and group cooking, I use my MSR Dragonfly liquid fuel stove (replaced my 40 year old SVEA 123 (which still works and I still have) -- works like a champ (have had it for over 20 years), puts out huge heat for cooking a lot or heating a lot of water, and especially, works great in mid-winter where temps are very low.  Noisy as hell, but I'm okay with that-- keeps the critter away and it's not like I'm running it all night.
- For ambiance on shorter and longer trips, I have a Sierra Zip stove  http://www.zzstove.com/sierra.html. It's not so great to cook on with pots (gets hot enough, but leaves pots dirty) but for cooking pieces of meat, making trail smores,  or just a way to warm hands on a cold winter camp, it's great.  I did modify it to use D cells for longer energy and added a rheostat so I can control the fan a bit better.

So to answer: I think there are stoves for each purpose, so I think it's okay to have multiple stoves!

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Snowdog
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PostSun May 30, 2021 9:44 am 
ACrowe wrote:
The exception is my Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 which I purchased in July 2020, but don't get me started on that fiasco!

Thread drift- but I wanna hear about this.  I have so many friends with Copper Spurs- UL1 & 2's that have been SO happy with them for years. High performance in all conditions & seasons.

Please share your story, and welcome to the site.

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ACrowe
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PostSun Jun 13, 2021 1:39 pm 
Snowdog wrote:
Thread drift- but I wanna hear about this.† I have so many friends with Copper Spurs- UL1 & 2's that have been SO happy with them for years. High performance in all conditions & seasons.

Please share your story, and welcome to the site.

I bought my first Copper Spur in 2011 and it served my well for nearly 10 years. It's probably the best tent I ever had.The only problem I had was when I put a tear in the fly by a zipper pull, my careless fault. Big Agnes fixed it for free, no questions asked.

Last summer I retired it and bought the latest version of the Cooper Spur. It was pretty pricey but a little lighter, and based on past experience thought it was worth the price. As soon as it was delivered I opened it up and had some doubts. It really was nice and light but it sure didn't look like it would hold up rough weather in the long run.

I took it on a six week trip to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness, Wind River Range, and finally Glacier Park. During this trip I was extra careful on selecting sites, setting up, and packing the tent. I figured if it looks so fragile a little extra effort might be needed. By the end of the Wind River part a small run and a few small holes developed in the mesh, and one of the loops which hold the stakes was severely frayed.

I might expect this kind of wear and tear after a year or two of use but not after only six weeks in good summer weather. Now I admit these flaws were very minor and I was hesitant to have it repaired. Bit I sent it in anyway and was surprised that they wanted to charge me. I pressed the issue that repairs on such an expensive tent with so little use should be covered free under the warranty. They reluctantly waived the cost for me.

Customer service insisted that the so called damage was my fault. They went on about their innovative high tech design and fabrics, and how extreme care must be exercised in using the tent. I went back and forth with them that they should stand by their products, and as a gesture of good will should have even gone so far as to replace the tent with a new one. In the end I was sorely disappointed that they would not budge an inch, would take absolutely no responsibility, and that there was no possible way that their design, fabrics, and workmanship could produce any flawed products.

I still think it's a great tent but only time will tell how long it lasts. Meanwhile every time I set it up I'll see the repairs and be reminded of a bad customer service experience.

It should also be noted that they sell a Crazylight Tiger Wall 3 Carbon tent for a whopping $1199.95. They even go so far as to state on their website that extra caution is needed to prevent punctures and tears. Now maybe I'm nuts, but if I buy a tent for $1199, or even $500 just to save a couple ounces that thing should be nearly indestructible.

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PostTue Jun 15, 2021 2:39 pm 
I have Copper Spur 1,2 and 4 person tent(s).   All about 6-9 years old.  They have been great but no way I will buy one of their newer tents as I have a few friends who have had nothing but problems with them.  Too bad that customer service has been not what it once was.

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Riverside Laker
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PostTue Jun 15, 2021 5:20 pm 
Ultralight and indestructible: mutually exclusive.

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ACrowe
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PostTue Jun 15, 2021 6:23 pm 
canadug wrote:
I have Copper Spur 1,2 and 4 person tent(s).   All about 6-9 years old.  They have been great but no way I will buy one of their newer tents as I have a few friends who have had nothing but problems with them.  Too bad that customer service has been not what it once was.

That's my biggest peeve with gear companies. They start out with great products that everybody loves then they come out with new improved versions that are garbage.

One of the best most durable pair of hiking pants I ever owned was from Mountain Hardware, it lasted nearly ten years. The next similar pair I bought from them was terrible. The fabric was thin and cheap and the seams started coming apart after one season of use. Never bought another item from Mountain Hardware after that.

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