Mar 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm #3460124
One of the most significant complaints I’ve read about of the Philmont cooking method is that backpacking stoves aren’t designed to support large pots leading to the danger of knocking over a boiling pot of water. I am considering committing a lightweight backpacking heresy and take along an extra piece of gear. I designed a pot support to fit both my Wisperlite and Windpro. It is stable with an 8 qt pot and folds flat. Currently, it weighs 13.5 ounces. I have considered cutting holes in it to lighten it up, but that might defeat its secondary role as a wind screen. Thoughts, suggestions?Mar 28, 2017 at 7:58 pm #3460171Aubrey W. BogardBPL Member
We had no issues with our Windpro stoves and the Philmont pots.Mar 28, 2017 at 8:43 pm #3460180
The crews I’ve worked with have never had an issue with balance using Whisperlite-size stoves. The only stoves that were concerning were upright canister stoves which were scarily thin and tall. The Ranch uses Whisperlites for their special, individual treks and don’t use any other supports. I would say it’s unnecessary.Mar 28, 2017 at 9:07 pm #3460181Dan YBPL Member
These little collapsible aluminum sterno stoves might work well for some. $6.00 at kmart:Mar 29, 2017 at 12:45 pm #3460304
I would be cautious of using those Sterno stoves. The 2017 Philmont Guidebook to Adventure states that Biofuel stoves are not permitted due to frequent fire restrictions. While the Sterno stoves are different, I would guess Philmont may not allow them as they could be considered an “open flame” because you can’t just cut off the fuel supply immediately as needed. If you’re considering those stoves I would contact Philmont about them first.Apr 11, 2017 at 11:14 am #3462702
I have to admit, I am curious about the casual attitude people have on this issue. My parents have concerns about Philmont’s cooking practices and have put me on notice. Last summer, one of our boys was on a paddling trip in the BWCAW (not a Scout trip). His counselor was boiling water in a large pot on a small stove (as Philmont demands) and the pot tipped over onto this boy’s legs severely burning them. The burns required multiple skin grafts and nearly bankrupted his single mother. Litigation is pending.
The instructions for the commonly used Wisperlite and Windpro lists the maximum pot diameter as 9-10 inches, maximum height 5-6 inches, and maximum weight of 8-10 pounds (depending on model). MSR isn’t ambiguous about these maximums. The instructions state that users must never use a pot larger than stated. Yet Philmont demands that we do so. That is the very definition of negligence.Apr 11, 2017 at 11:57 am #3462708matthew kModerator
Whoa. That’s interesting. I never realized Philmont was requiring scouts to exceed the designed capacity of the stoves.Apr 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm #3462757
The instructions state that users must never use a pot larger than stated.
In this case MSR is right. When you have a very large diameter pot, it can reflect a lot of heat back down onto the fuel tank. This can lead to an explosion. I know of one case where two people were engulfed in the flames. Very extensive skin grafts. One early death too.
CheersApr 11, 2017 at 4:56 pm #3462762
This is interesting and no one discussed this at Philmont when I worked there. It would likely be a “it works and nothing has gone bad yet so why change it” concept. It could also be that the heat reflection from a large pot could likely be avoided by using the provided wind screens and by not placing the canister immediately next to the stove burner. The Owner’s Manual specific to the Whisperlite only states limits to the diameter of a pot and nothing to the height or weight. The National Outdoor Leadership School also frequently breaks this recommendation in using their Fry-Bake pans which have a diameter of 10.5 inches. This doesn’t necessarily justify the use of oversized pots or inadequately sized stoves but it does show that other outdoor education groups are in similar situations.
Do you know exactly what stove it was that tipped over at BWCAW? I would be interested to see if it was much smaller than a Whisperlite or if there were any other circumstances that may have preempted that tipping, e.g., tall/skinny pot dimensions, unstable ground, placement of the pot on the burner (exactly in the middle vs to a side). It’s truly awful that that boy was severely burned but there may be some specific reasons as to why it happened and ways to mitigate those risks.May 2, 2017 at 6:59 pm #3465958
For those looking for more specific information: I did a quick Google search of stove instructions and found the following:
- Old WhisperLite instructions (Ver. 1.1 ): Maximum 9″ diameter, and 8 lb weight
- WhisperLite Shakerjet: Maximum 9″ diameter
- WhisperLite International: Maximum 10″ diameter
- WhisperLite Universal: Maximum 10″ diameter, 6″ height, and 10 lb weight
- WindPro: Maximum 9″ diameter, 5″ height, and 8 lb weight
- WindPro II: Maximum 10″ diameter, 5″ height, and 8 lb weight
My 8 qt pot is from an old Scout pot set (like the ones Philmont uses) and is 10″ in diameter, 8″ high, and holds 16 lbs of water. The 6 qt is still too tall and heavy when full per the manufacturer’s specifications.
In both the WhisperLite and WindPro stoves the fuel tank is separated from the burner so reflected heat from a large pot bottom isn’t the primary danger, rather it is the assembly’s inherent instability. It seems to me that the stability of a cooking system is dependent upon 1) the weight and shape of the load (pot), 2) the geometry of the pot support arms, 3) the geometry of the feet, and 4) how firm and level the ground is underneath it. Unless you place the large pots used at Philmont precisely on the center of the stove and the stove itself is standing on a firm level surface, the whole thing is in danger of tipping over–as was the case in the accident described above.
In other posts, I read that crews were attempting to alleviate this danger by balancing the pot on rocks, stakes, or in the fire ring which is probably a good idea but time consuming and problematic as well. This aluminum box is simply an attempt to take the guess work out of creating a stable cooking system using Philmont’s cooking method.
I emailed MSR to get their input. I expected a “lawyerly” response with multiple reasons why I shouldn’t use it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they didn’t see any problems with it and that it would also serve as a good windscreen.
We tested the pot stand during a shakedown trip last weekend and found that it worked quite well. It was rock solid and the boys didn’t have to be quite so diligent in placing the pot in the exact center of the burner. I was concerned that it would warp when hot but that didn’t appear to be an issue. It didn’t seem to affect boiling time either. The only thing we found is that the box muffles the sound of the burner with the pot on it so we found ourselves frequently checking to see if the stove was still lit.
Regarding your questions about the accident: The boy is no longer in Scouting because of this experience, so I don’t have access to him to get any further details. However, he did describe it fairly well when I first talked to him about it. He described a stove “just like [mine]” (he has only seen my WhisperLite) with a pot “just like the Troop’s” (6 or 8 qt). He was standing next to the counselor (undoubtedly after being told to stay away from the kitchen multiple times) who was boiling water for a pasta supper when the pot suddenly tipped over and spilled all over his legs causing full-thickness burns. An important point is that the pot was under the control of a counselor who presumably had cooked this way many times previously without incident. I don’t think that there were specific circumstances that were unique to this situation that led to the spill. If any pot moves too far away from the center of the burner it can tip over. With a large pot, it is difficult to assess whether or not the pot is centered. In addition, large pots are less forgiving of lateral movement compared to a smaller pot (in my experience). The large pot/small stove system is just inherently unstable.May 3, 2017 at 5:44 am #3465990Dan YBPL Member
Scoutmasters can get a little lax at times ;-)May 7, 2017 at 12:52 am #3466554
My 8 qt pot is from an old Scout pot set (like the ones Philmont uses) and is 10″ in diameter, 8″ high, and holds 16 lbs of water.
16 lb of water on a small stove???
I don’t care what the Philmont rules are – that is stark staring mad and an invitation to disaster.
‘Following the rules’ is NOT an acceptible substitute for using one’s brains.
CheersMay 8, 2017 at 6:55 am #3466768ed dzierzakBPL Member
Even though it is an 8 qt pot, we never had them more then half full, so, 8 pounds not 16.May 8, 2017 at 4:01 pm #3466897
Still far too much on a small stove.
I suggest the whole big-group-cooking idea is wrong. I suggest that teaching scouts to be able to cook in groups of 2 or 3 would be safer and better – and they would be useful life skills as well.
CheersMay 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm #3467319Edgar MBPL Member
Roger, I agree with you 100%. This is what we do and and teach when backpacking with the scouts. However, Philmont has its rules/methods and they insist on the group pot. They do not take kindly when you suggest that you are going to do it differently. Ask me how I know… ; )May 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm #3467351
Smile, nod your head, take the big pot, and once out of sight do it your way.
It helps of course if your kids know what they are doing with stoves. It is less likely that staff will interfere if the kids look experienced when in the field.
CheersJun 29, 2017 at 7:09 pm #3476348Carl ZimmermanBPL Member
Our last two Philmont Treks (2013 & 2015), our Venture Crew used two MSR Reactor canister stoves w/ 2.5L pots. We used reusable casserole dishes to put the food into (very light). We made coozies for the casserole dishes. We boiled our water quickly. Poured the water into the dishes, stirred the food, & placed them in the coozie. After 15 min, they were ready to eat. We left the ‘official’ PSR monster pot safely stored in a locked pickup truck back at base camp. Our food was ready so quickly that it ruined the Ranger’s timing of his ‘This is how we do it at Philmont’ speech. We carried an extra casserole dish in case one of them was cracked (which didn’t happen).Jun 30, 2017 at 10:34 am #3476441Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ Edgar “Roger, I agree with you 100%. This is what we do and and teach when backpacking with the scouts. However, Philmont has its rules/methods and they insist on the group pot. ”
Philmont insists on a group cooking method but they do not force you to take the biggest pot. We used two 4 quart Open Country aluminum pots and they were never more than 1/2 full on top of two MSR Simmerlite stoves respectively. If I were to go today I would take a Windpro or Kovea Spider.
Going back to the original thread, I think the metal pot support box might actually increase the risk of heat damage to the stove.Jul 1, 2017 at 8:57 am #3476548Tony RoncoBPL Member
After several deep Google searches I could not find the old MSR Whisperlite Instructions Version 1.1. Unfortunately, the newer instructions don’t list a maximum pot height or maximum weight capacity for the stove (they only list a maximum pot diamenter)
Could you please provide a link to the older instructions, or post a pic here of the relevant section from that instruction?
Thanks in advance,
-TonyJan 29, 2019 at 8:57 pm #3575712SFOldManClanSpectator
@sfoldmanclanLocale: Washington DC
Not a fan of this method, one of the worst burns I have ever seen was a guy that got scalded by boiling water…. very nasty wound that left horrible scarring and a very nasty infection. If I were the General Counsel for BSA, I would revisit this policy ASAP to protect the scouts and their pocket book.Jan 29, 2019 at 11:55 pm #3575739
Some years ago a Canadian river club trip used two white gas MSR stoves with Philmont-size pots. One evening the arrangement of the stoves and pots was such that cross-radiation from stove #1 to fuel tank #2 and v/v was so high that the fuel tanks exploded. There were really severe burns to two people over a large portion of their bodies. They survived, albeit with massive scarring (I have photos), but one of the victims died not long afterwards. I am not sure but I think the 2nd victim has since died as well.
I do not care what the Philmont rules are: large pots on small stoves are a proven dangerous health hazard. I suggest it is about time a change was forced on Philmont – possibly by lawyers as well as Scouting groups. Pig-headedly saying ‘this is the Philmont way’ is not an excuse for endangering lives. If the person in charge of this large-pot rule cannot be persuaded to change, then the person himself (probably an elderly white male) should be changed.
CheersJan 30, 2019 at 4:15 am #3575791
Canadian river, “the arrangement of the stoves and pots was such that cross-radiation from stove #1 to fuel tank #2 and v/v was so high that the fuel tanks exploded”
Stoves too close together and no windscreens, you can hardly blame the stoves for stupid operators. “You can’t fix stupid”
That video “Lighting two stove…” of Scouts having a white gas stove lighting completion was reckless, just because someone volunteered to be a leader doesn’t mean they are a good role model, qualified or smart. “Stupid is forever”
Philmont has two cook pots sizes. They offers the classic Patrol Cook Set 8-quart aluminum pots with fly pan lid but you can request the 6-quart stainless steel pot set with lids, it is shown in Philmont’s How to Wash Dishes video, your choice. We have and carry the SS sets at Philmint.
Never seen anybody fill either pot. We only boil a measured amount of water per the meal packet directions; 1-1/2 cups, 2 cups, etc. times the number of packets, seldom as much as 3 quarts or 6 pounds of water but plenty to submerse and sanitize dishes in. Saves time and fuel.
We use MSR Dragonfly stoves with bigger pot support bases and adjustable flame control. We use their windscreens every time per the instructions, saves time and fuel. No radiant heat from the stove or reflected heat from the pot bottom on the remote fuel bottles. Before, we used WhisperLite stoves for years without any incidents.Jan 30, 2019 at 4:27 am #3575792
I like your large pot support design. It appears to provide plenty of support for the largest of pots and enough air supply through the front opening for MSR white gas stoves and you can rotate the fuel bottle away from radiant stove heat.
I just don’t want to carry anything I don’t feel I need and so far our Dragonfly stoves have proved very adequate to support our partially fill cook pots.
But keep thinking and designing, its guys like you that create innovations.Jan 31, 2019 at 3:16 am #3575960Kevin SweereBPL Member
I just use two stoves and one windscreen — twice the support, half the time.
Works for MSR WhisperLite, MSR DragonFly, MSR XGK, Kovea Spider, etc. Almost any two, exactly the same, remote-fuel stoves.
By keeping only one pot boiling, all attention is focused on it. Since it boils faster, less chance of cooks growing bored and leaving the scene.
Safety — all cooking / washing / food prep occurs inside a designated oval (think survey tape, trekking poles, and logs) to keep wandering, tired boys away from danger and precious food inside.
Lastly, we cozy cook (several Kroger bags around the pot & two circular foam pads) so minimal stirring while the pot is on the burners, minimum time pots are cooking, etc. I prefer one pot, but teach our crew 1 & 2 pot methods.Jan 31, 2019 at 4:41 am #3575983
I’m fascinated by your two stoves under one pot technique.
During your crew training before going to Philmont crew members should learn to give the kitchen, a small area around the cook, his stoves and bear bag spread on the ground for his prep area, a wide berth while food is being prepared,. The kitchen is always adjacent to the camp’s fire ring. The cook should demand any one encroaching on his kitchen to “Get out of my kitchen”.
The cook should place a bear bag on the ground adjacent to him for a clean work area to spread out his sanitized eating utensils, meal packets and condiments and to catch any dropped or spilled food so it can be saved and recovered. So there is no food on the ground to attract bears and the bear bag with any food residue will be hung that night.
As soon as the food is well mixed into the boiling water we remove the cook pot from the stove and place it on the ground for safe keeping covered with its lids to cook (rehydrate).
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.