Jul 12, 2006 at 2:11 am #1219000
@catjasinsJul 12, 2006 at 3:58 am #1359249
@peter_panLocale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Will …great article….useful data…It may be what we knew, but now there is a one page summary with specific comparative data… well written…thx for the effort.
PanJul 12, 2006 at 8:16 am #1359260
My cost of esbit, $4.50/12 tab box at Sportsman’s warehouse, is 75 cents/ounce.
And I need to add also that you did a great job with the article.Jul 12, 2006 at 8:47 am #1359261
Will — Thanks for the wonderful study. It confirms my own “field” tests that one may need different types of stoves for different treks, especially in the winter. One helpful hint. If all you do is boil water (no real cooking), then before you use a canister for the first time, draw a series of small “check boxes” on the outside using a perm. marker pen. Make enough little squares to correspond to the number of water boils you can get out of each canister. After each boil, scratch or mark an X in one of the boxes. That way you know how much fuel is left. Typically backpackers will always go out with a fresh canister or take an extra because we don’t really know how much fuel is left in a used one. You can also make a weight comparison at home between a used one and a new one. The canisters loose efficiency as they get low on fuel, so one must also take that into consideration.
About the fuel tab stove. I have a friend who is a high altitude climber. He uses Esbit tabs exclusively in extreme conditions: Above 18,000 feet and cold, blowing snow. Your research supports his claim that they are the most efficient in terms of pack weight and convenience. He carries a small plastic jar with jelled fire starter in it. Just prior to lighting the tab, he puts a small dot of fire starter on the tab and it lights right off. I have used them on 5-6 day treks and find they work great for my meal system, which involves only boiling water. I sometimes use an alcohol stove and will take a few tabs with me in case I spill or loose some or all of my alcohol fuel. The tabs make a great lightweight backup to the alchol. Most home made alcohol stoves will burn an Esbit tab — just turn them upside down and light it up!
Bob Kay, Kent, WAJul 12, 2006 at 8:57 am #1359262
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
Why was the Coleman Xtreme Stove left off your test?
The Coleman Xtreme stove can be bought most of the time someplace on sale for about $50. Sportsman’s Warehouse sells the 300 gram PowerMax canister for $2.99 – all the time.Jul 12, 2006 at 9:32 am #1359263
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Wow, cool article, Will. This subject has been dealt with before but you’ve done a nice job with presenting it in a way that can be practically applied in a number of situations.
I will keep your charts handy. I’m a “four-pint-er” (4 pints boiled/day) hiker, and my typical cook systems these days include Esbit, top-mount canister, Powermax, and wood.
Other factors influence my decisions to take one system over another, in addition to fuel efficiency. Powermax is reserved for winter, so that’s easy. Wood is for long trips where fuel weight of Esbit and canister is more than the weight of my wood stove.
I waffle between Esbit and canister for short and mid-length 3-season treks. I usually pick Esbit for shorter trips and canister for longer trips. Based on your data, I may have to rethink that.
I like canister stoves when the weather is foul, so I can cook in my tarp. Although, I’ve used Esbit and my wood stove under the tarp with no ill effects (yet). The smoke keeps the bugs away ;)
Anyway – great stuff, Will. Thanks for taking the time.Jul 12, 2006 at 2:44 pm #1359271
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
Will et. al: does BPL have plans to test the Trail Designs Caldera Cone? According to their marketing hype, this could possibly even outdo esbit in terms of weight and wind performance.
BrianJul 12, 2006 at 3:07 pm #1359273
> One helpful hint. If all you do is boil water (no real cooking), then before you use a canister for the first time, draw a series of small “check boxes” on the outside using a perm. marker pen. Make enough little squares to correspond to the number of water boils you can get out of each canister. After each boil, scratch or mark an X in one of the boxes. That way you know how much fuel is left.
I just weigh the canister after each trip on a gram scale and write the weight on the base. I know the weight of the empty canister and how much fuel I use per day, so I KNOW how many days are left in the canister. Works very well.Jul 12, 2006 at 6:39 pm #1359282
Also, Brunton makes a fuel canister gauge strip which is an adhesive fuel level indicator strip.Jul 12, 2006 at 7:02 pm #1359283
@vickrhinesLocale: Central Texas
Great job. Thorough, comprehensive and applicable to almost any situation. Glad you did all that work.Jul 12, 2006 at 9:00 pm #1359287
Will, Great article and effort, nice to see the stove options quantified over time and useage so that the most efficient stove system can be packed for the season and trip length. It’s the kind of thing I wonder about, but don’t give it this kind of analysis.
One question though, is the data in Table 5 for 34 oz. alchohol container correct for 2 pints/day and up?
Thanks again for the work and Number crunching!Jul 13, 2006 at 12:30 am #1359291
Primus lists their empty canister weights as:
fuel weight (oz) : 4.0, 8.0, 16
canister weight : 3.5, 6.0, 7.2
6.0 oz is nearly 1.5 oz heavier than other brands. Can anyone confirm whether Primus’s listed weights for the 8 and 16 oz canisters are correct? Also, does anyone other than Primus make a 16 oz canister?Jul 16, 2006 at 8:57 pm #1359392
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
I experience a significantly higher flame on my brunton Crux and brighter output on my Snow Peak lantern when I use Brunton canisters. MSR are close but not the same, and Primus are consistently lousy.
I’d love to see a canister comparo: which ones flow faster and which ones contain the most heat energy?
BrianMar 10, 2009 at 11:44 am #1484349
One issue thought is the actual cooking pot. For most of the cooking system the pot would be the same but for the Integrated canister system you have to use a specific pot.
For example I have a trek 700 ti pot with lid is 4.4 oz but if I weigh the jetboil pot with lid 9.35 oz.
It would also be nice to graph out how different stoves perform depending on trek duration.Mar 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm #1484377
Why is the stove weight different based on the Fuel Size. If I look at White Gas for example. It does not include the fuel weight I don't think.Mar 10, 2009 at 2:25 pm #1484387
the weight includes the stove weight+ Pot weight+fuel Weight+ fuel container weightMar 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm #1484389
@thangfishLocale: S. Central NC, USA
Just want to state (in case there is still anyone unfamiliar with it) that the Ultralight Outfitters Beercan stove, available here, addresses one of the three main disadvantages of Esbit stoves listed in this article.
The sooting of the Foster's can is a non-issue with this system because the can is wrapped in the windscreen for packing and for using as a double-walled coffee cup.
My can is almost completely black, and I drink coffee out of it regularly. No soot scrubbing required. Windscreen stays clean.
It's also easy and safe to extinguish partially burned fuel tabs and leave it right in the burner for the next use.
Still smells terrible though. Can't have everything I guess.Mar 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm #1484403
Very hard to see all 5 lines: I can see only four.
Could you maybe redo the chart with brighter colours for the lines, and maybe more height too?
And I would be interested to know what assumptions and calculations you made in getting this graph too. Without that one is left in the dark.
CheersMar 10, 2009 at 4:27 pm #1484438
Here's an interesting stove and fuel weight calculator. It isn't set up for the caldera cone specifically, but it has cannister, esbit, and cat can alcohol. The nice thing about it is that you can easily customise it for your own situation… plug in the number of days you are out, and how much water you boil a day etc. The other good thing is that you can edit the assumptions (eg. dry stove weight), so it shouldn't be too difficult to customise it so that the cat stove column gives you the value for your caldera cone.
I've only played with it briefly, but would be interested in any comments. I changed the "overage" (wastage/spare fuel needed) to 20% for the cannister stove as I thought 50% was kinda silly. For 2 people each needing 3 pints of water boiled per day for 4 days, the weight of the cat stove and the cannister stove both came out at about 50 ounces. A caldera cone would no doubt do better, but I haven't figured it out.
Are there any glaring problems with this calculator? (eg. false assumptions or figures that should be changed?)Mar 10, 2009 at 4:35 pm #1484440
I don't think "average" cooking system weight is useful. (or ounce*days for that matter)
I would rather carry 2 extra pounds on the last day than 1 on the first day. At the end of the trip the food and fuel are gone, I'm acclimated to the trail and in great shape. To me the only meaningful weight is at the start.
Roger Caffin's personal historic data on fuel use per day is interesting. I tend to agree with his conclusions regarding the trip efficiency of white gas/kerosene stoves vs. canisters.Mar 10, 2009 at 5:12 pm #1484461
Jim, the calculator gives you the starting weight, if that's all you are interested in (and I agree, it's the only weight that matters to me).Mar 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm #1484510
My Apologies there was an error in the calculation for the Integrated canister.
This is a more detailed repost of my previous Chart with all my assumptions (I think).
The Days on the x Axis are the Cooking Days for a solo hiker on 3 pints of water per day as defined in Will's article.
I felt that the weight of the pot was overlooked for the Integrated Canister system. As you know when using a integrated canister system like Jetboil you can't choose any pot. My Jetboil Pot with lid is 9.35 Oz while my trek 700 ti cup with lid is 4.4.
I also wanted to make sure what the impact would be on longer trips since one would have to carry extra canister vs extra fuel etc.
The Weight is the Weight of the Stove + weight of the Pot + + fuel weight + Fuel container
Stove weight assumptions:
Type Name Weight Oz
White Gas Whisperlite 14
Top Mount Can Giga 3.85
Integrated can Jet Boil 6
Alcohol Cat Stove 0.3
Fuel Tab Esbit 3.25
Cooking Pot Assumption:
For all except Jetboil: Trek 700 ti Cook pot w/ Lid: 4.4 oz
For Integrated Canister: Jetboil w/ lid : 9.35 Oz
For Fuel Consumption I assumed the Low land scenario.
Fuel Container assumptions:
depending on the kind of fuel I calculated either the volume or weight needed and determine the correct fuel container size.
White gas fuel Containers is assumed to be MSR. The Bottle size is adjusted base on Gas Volume required for hike
For Canister I assumed Primus. Again depending on the gas weight requirements I would choose the right canister. I extended the cooking to see if the curve would show any kind of inflection when the canister size changed but as you can see it didn't make a big difference.
For alcohol Stove I assumed denatured alcohol and the fuel container was Platypus.
17 oz 0.7
34 Oz 0.8
For the Fuel tablet I assumed .25 oz. I could go and weigh a zip lock bag.
Let me know if you want me to refine my model further or if you have additional questions.Mar 10, 2009 at 7:40 pm #1484524
It seems that the lines ought to be converging more. I think it's more reasonable for most real world hikes to presume a bit of breeze- maybe not 12 mph the whole time but maybe 1/2.
Also for white gas consider Roger Caffin's comment from Bushwalking.org.au where he talks about fuel use:
"However, there is more to it than just the efficiency of the fuel. When you use a petrol or kero stove you have to prime it. This takes time and fuel. Sometimes you also have to let it warm up – this too takes fuel. There is also a very strong temptation to just leave it running even while you are not actually using it, and this uses yet more fuel. Many walkers have commented on this."
I have definitely found this to be true. Roger's personal numbers for white gas consumption are about double his butane consumption.
Now another take is that with white gas or isobutane you are much more likely to wait for a full boil vs. with alcohol it sounds like people determine an amount of fuel that gets the water almost boiling and use that.Mar 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm #1484539
Not sure about the way the calculations are being done for the canister cases.
It seems to me that if you take a full canister (and that is a big IF), then the weight should not increase each day up to the point where the canister is used up. ??
Of course, if you run several canisters in parallel at home, you may well be able to select one with the right amount of gas left in it, and indeed I often do this.
You show a glitch in the canister weight at 8 days. I wonder what assumptions are in force here? I ask because I find a 230 g canister will last TWO of us for 7 days. The graph looks as though you are budgeting twice as much gas per man-day as I use.
CheersMar 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm #1484548
Thank you for your comments and you have a keen intuition when looking at the charts.
Your are absolutely right the amount of fuel consumed to boil a pint of water depends on many many variables. The key variables would be the initial water temperature and the environment factors such as wind and external temperature but as you mentioned different system require more fuel that is not used during the heating process e.g Alcohol stove would require some priming or not stopped right away.
What would be a good factor to use for the non-heating fuel requirement.
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