Apr 29, 2008 at 8:44 pm #1228678
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Companion forum thread to:Apr 30, 2008 at 6:42 am #1430870
I appreciate your vigorous examination of the stove.
This article like the others in your stove series is consistent and thoughtful.
World class!Apr 30, 2008 at 11:27 am #1430909
Interesting problem for a product from a company with "Safety" in their name. Or does "MSR" stand for something different than Mountain Safety Research these days?Apr 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm #1430943
I have one of these stoves and love it.
Replaces a 30 year old [and still functioning] Coleman Peak 1,
large fuel tank / no legs.
I have used in in the house to make tea.
Used this winter [ temp to 20F ] and worked fine.
My gasoline stove used 30g fuel to boil 1L
the Reactor used 10g for 1L boil.
Old system 2857g, new system 1305g.
Down-side: impossible to fry anything on MRS.May 2, 2008 at 11:05 am #1431270
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Sterling job Roger!
Yesterday I visited Feathered Friends here in Seattle to see if the Snow Peak Lite Max was on the shelves yet; it was not. In fact, the only line they carry is MSR, so naturally the two sales persons who greeted me immediately and proudly produced the Reactor as the best thing to ever hit the trails. I agreed with them that it was a fine piece of work and would probably be great for large groups, but for me I was more interested in weight (the Lite Max is 1.9 oz) than fast boil time. I went on to describe the evaluation you had conducted on the Reactor and the subsequent design changes by the manufaturer. Their contenence fell and looked at the Reactor with less reverence, but were genuinely interested in finding out more about BPL and this article. They also said they would have some questions for the MSR rep next week.
Thanks for your good work alerting folks to the CO danger as it is underrated by most. Winter before last about 30 people died from CO poisoning in Seattle, so it is a very real danger.May 2, 2008 at 3:03 pm #1431309
> Thanks for your good work alerting folks to the CO danger as it is underrated by most. Winter before last about 30 people died from CO poisoning in Seattle, so it is a very real danger.
Would you have a reference for this I can consult?
firstname.lastname@example.orgMay 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm #1431310
We had a big windstorm two winters back, and power was knocked out for up to 10 days in some places.
The people who died from CO2 poisoning were running generators or burning charcoal in their houses or apartments. Check out the Seattle Post intelligencer archive for more info.
CheersMay 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm #1431311
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I live in Seattle, and every winter it seems you read about these deaths. Last winter (2006-2007) was especially bad from my memory. Here is one example:
Typically, these deaths are caused in the winter when there are power shortages. Some people will attempt to heat their homes with a charcoal or gas grill. Sometimes, like in the article above, someone will run an internal combustion gas generator and place it in their garage, which is often attached to the house. The family goes to sleep and doesn't wake up.
Great articles by the way.
DanMay 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm #1431319
Hi Joshua and Daniel
Um, yes, charcoal grills inside the house …
And cars in the basement.
Sigh. Very sad.
CheersMay 3, 2008 at 11:24 am #1431426
@augustLocale: Pacific Northwest
A long time ago I had the old MSR tripod stove and had a constant proplem with dirt getting on the pump post it was like a dirt magnet !so I got a refund and swore never to use a pump stove again or any type of fossil fuel stove.!
I have tryed many stoves and thankful when the new ul alchol stoves very Bio! came out and have been in love with them ever since.As to MSR I think all they care about is their stock holders and bottom line and with every new wiz bang contraption they get further away from what really is important with being outdoors,Ease and simplisity are not one of their strong points.I also have used many types of fancy water filters and they are all junk !And one more grip I have is about REI who are closly related to MSR thier catologs used to facinate me but since The CEO of Sears Took over they just one more Gugi store very sad !I am so thankful for BPL and the new ul revolution.May 6, 2008 at 8:43 am #1431837
Thanks for the great reporting on this stove. Just wanted to add my own experience with the stove:
The first time I used it in the field was on a 10-day snowshoe trip in Yellowstone over Christmas last year. Average daily high was 15ºF and the coldest morning was -13ºF. We planned to use the stove only for boiling water and melting snow; we wanted to avoid having to clean food out of the pot in sub-freezing temps. The Reactor performed flawlessly and we often found the water boiling before we were even ready to use it.
A side note on the iso-butane canisters in cold weather: our technique was to place the stove in a small depression in packed snow and add water around the base of the canister. We would occasionally add warm water to the bowl and this kept the canister working perfectly.
I just finished a month of guiding 5 backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon for groups of 7-11 people. We brought the Reactor along just to see how it would work in this situation and with our meal plans. The main meals were prepared in big aluminum pots on MSR WhisperLite stoves. The Reactor was used only for heating/boiling water for coffee/tea/hot chocolate/oatmeal. The other guide and I were skeptical at first that the Reactor would be worth its pack weight, but it soon became a star. It took less than 60 seconds to heat water for our clients and their seemingly constant demand for hot beverages. We'll be using it on all our trips in the Grand Canyon this fall.
Looking forward to the future improvements to the stove!
TomMay 6, 2008 at 11:02 am #1431862
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
"Interesting problem for a product from a company with "Safety" in their name. Or does "MSR" stand for something different than Mountain Safety Research these days?"
Oh my god, you mean stoves produce Carbon Monoxide?! Oh what ever will we do?
Oh, wait a minute, if I try and apply some common sense . . .Hmmm, you know this whole issue of Carbon Monoxide could be circumvented if I didn't seal myself inside my highly flammable ultralight tent and then fired up my stove.May 6, 2008 at 5:57 pm #1431945
> A side note on the iso-butane canisters in cold weather: our technique was to place the stove in a small depression in packed snow and add water around the base of the canister. We would occasionally add warm water to the bowl and this kept the canister working perfectly.
Yes, this technique works very well, and does not seem to be as widely known as it should. Beware of using HOT water though – nothing you can't put your hand in.
In fact, this technique works quite well with any upright canister stove. If you use a conventional upright the radiation from the flames inside a windshield can, with care, keep the canister warm too. Don't forget the touch test though.
The only problem is first thing in the morning when it is -10 C and you haven't kept any water in your sleeping bag overnight – and what you have is all frozen. Then you have a problem!Jun 26, 2008 at 5:37 am #1440229
My question, after the slew of well written articles describing CO problems, will people really care? I guess what I'm asking is do people see CO production levels as a significant factor in determining which stove they want to buy/use?
For instance, if a stove was incredibly light weight but also produced more CO, would that be an acceptable trade-off? Most, if not all, stoves produce some measurable amount of CO as a product of combustion, so is it really that big of a deal if one stove spews out more than another?Apr 19, 2009 at 10:24 am #1495366
This is my first message here and because I am from Pyrenées : apologize for my english…
About your problem and because I had to deal often in cold weather with "bleuet" in the past (camping gaz stove with butan canister only): you could make a small hole in mud or snow and use a small piece of plastic bag around the bottom of your canister so the water could not escape.
In the morning : if you have no water left….perharps a small pee?Apr 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm #1495413
Hi Didier and welcome
My wife and I love the Pyrenées – we have done the full length of both the GR10 and the GR11.
Yes, the plastic bag would work. Your method of warming up the canister in the morning – :-) I guess it would work fine!
CheersMay 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm #1608396
Quoting the article:
"I am left uncertain what market really suits this stove. It is a nice technology, but is of what value to walkers?"
The market for this stove is people who have to melt snow for water. For backcountry skiing, and especially climbing, it works very well. There isn't anything else I know of that even comes close to the Reactor's performance for snow melting.May 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm #1608441
Re: Melting Snow-
I think the big issue though is even with a good pressure regulator, isobutane doesn't vaporize below about 12F at sea level. Propane does, but at cold temps it will mostly get used up first leaving you with a 2/3 full canister that won't work in the cold. The canister cools as it goes, so even 30F air temp is likely to result in a sub-15F stove.
The question that I want answered is how the performance changes at 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet elevation. At an atmospheric pressure 70% of sea level it seems the Isobutane boiling point would drop to about 0F.May 10, 2010 at 6:45 pm #1608501
The Reactor melts snow like a bomb – until the canister freezes. IF you can reliably keep the canister above freezing point then yes, it is fine. But doing that safely requires a bit of skill and knowledge. You may have that, but I cannot assume that.
Now, Jim's question about operation at 3,000 m or when the pressure has dropped to 70% of atmospheric. Good one.
This is a plot of the pressure of various gases and canisters down to -35 C. Note especially the horizontal black dashed line. That is 1 atm or 14 psi. Below that is the 10 psi line – this is about 0.7 atm.
The BP for n-butane drops to about -10 C and for iso-butane to about -22 C. Hum – getting interesting.
The static pressure for something as low-performance as a Coleman canister drops to about -33 C (the curve is under the ones for MSR and Snow Peak). To be sure, if you are evaporating gas off the canister it will be cooling, but if you can keep the canister above -10 C the butane will still be boiling away.
So … yes, at high altitude things actually get easier!
If you want to melt snow with a Reactor at high altitude, sit the canister in a bowl of cold but not frozen water. It will work. (Actually, that works at sea level too.)
CheersMay 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm #1608507
Roger, in your chart legend, you list the various fuels and their percentage makeup. I know that Butane and Propane are used, but what is the third gas?
This shows the reason why butane stoves have been used for decades on Mount Everest. Even though it gets terribly cold up there, the atmospheric pressure gets to about one-third of sea level, so butane stoves still work.
–B.G.–May 11, 2010 at 3:27 am #1608618
The percentages shown are n-butane/iso-butane/propane.
Technically, the stoves used on Everest are probably not 'butane stoves' but butane/propane stoves. I am not being a nit-picking pedant here: the old puncture canisters ('Bleuet') were straight butane. Dangerous things imho (I had one leak in my pack once) and very prone to freezing up in cold but above-freezing weather.
But yeah – at 1/3 atm things get going very well! But what you (can) buy in Kathmandu – anyone's guess!
CheersMay 11, 2010 at 4:02 am #1608620
@derekoakLocale: North of England
We were just using pierceable butane canisters at 3000 metres in the Atlas mountains to melt snow at cold but not severe temperatures, with our jetboil ( pieceable was all we could get). I was surprised how little trouble we had. your graph reveals why.May 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm #1608843
I once saw a guy who was trekking up toward Everest base camp, and he saw a butane canister for sale in one of the dozens of trail-side shops on the way. He figured he could use one of those, so he bought it and trekked onward. A couple of days later, he decided to use that canister. He picked it up and felt it, and it still felt heavy, so it must be new. It would not vaporize. He fought with it and then gave up. He got one of the Sherpas to smack it with a sharp wood axe blade, and it was sliced open like a ripe melon. Guess what? There was no butane inside. Somebody had filled an old canister with some kind of lead weight and then sold it as new.
I think the very earliest Everest climbers used paraffin burners. Then they went to pure butane. Then they went to butane-blend. I have no idea what the state of the art is now. I would guess that liquid fuel stoves are more plentiful where the butane canister cost is a problem. A Chinese outfitter might go one way, and a European expedition might go another way.
–B.G.–May 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm #1609817
I have used this stove to melt snow in temperatures as low as -20 degrees f.
It is ridiculously simple to solve the cold temperature bugaboo.
First off, put the fuel canister inside your jacket to warm it up. Attach the warmed cannister to the stove, and melt about 1/2 cup of snow. Pour this 1/2 cup of warm water into a bowl, and set the stove cannister in this bowl of warm water. The water keeps the cannister warm and the stove performs like a champ. If the water starts to cool off, just pour the cool water into your drinking bottle, and replace it with a little bit of warm water you are melting.
I've even done this with the stove in hanging mode. When hanging, I don't set the stove in the bowl of water, but simply use the warm water to warm the cannister as needed.
One of the larger Orikaso bowls works well for this, as will the Sea to Summit collapsible bowl.
This trick works for the Jetboil too, and the plastic cover for the Jetboil's heat exchanger is just the right size for warming up a small cannister. The Jetboil will sometimes flare up if you suddenly apply warm water to a cold cannister (I melted my neoprene cozy this way) but the Reactor doesn't seem to flare up, likely because of the pressure regulator feature.May 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm #1609821
Some buddies of mine worked out a good method for warming the canister when in hanging mode. They built a tiny candleholder out of wire that would clip onto the bottom of the canister, and the tiny birthday candle flame would hit the broad curved surface of the canister.
They made a point of using this only early in the morning when the canister was the coldest, and they used only tiny candles that were easy to light, yet would put a limited amount of heat onto the canister.
Obviously if you used a big candle, you might want to buy extra life insurance.
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