Dec 19, 2019 at 4:11 am #3623396
Greetings. I’ve been out of backpacking for a few years, but I’m planning a trip to Colorado in September for two weeks of backcountry elk archery hunting. I live in Tennessee and have spent time between 5,000-6,000’ but never at the 10,000’ we plan on.
I have been doing some research, but I’m finding myself with more questions than answers.
I have three primary gear questions:
1. I’m looking at stoves and I’ve never used a white gas stove. Since I will undoubtedly use this equipment on other western high country hunting/backpacking trips (maybe later in the season as well – ie, colder temps) should I absolutely get a white gas stove? Given the elevation and temps, is a canister ISO stove even a consideration?
2. Since I will be cooking, boiling water and making coffee, what is the best “system” or cookset that will allow me to make coffee and keep my cookset to minimum pieces/weight?
3. For a September, Colorado, 10,000’ visit, what temperature rating for a sleeping bag should I be considering? I have an older 20F North Face and a fairly new 0F EMS. The North Face bag freezes me at 32F, so it won’t be making the trip.
Thanks in advance! It feels great to be able to consider hiking again after spending a year with debilitating back issues.
JeremyDec 19, 2019 at 4:46 am #3623406Jason FSpectator
The beginning of September is a lot different than the end. What dates do you expect to be here?
And have you already selected your campsite? Elevations vary.
And where in Colorado? Northern Colorado can be cooler than Southern.Dec 19, 2019 at 7:18 am #3623454Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Remote-feed canister stoves that can operate with the canister inverted should easily handle your cold weather and altitude requirements. Compared to a white gas stove, those are much safer and easier to operate. The classic example is the MSR WindPro II.
Some other remote canister stoves can support inverted operation.
A few tricks can enhance the cold-weather performance of traditional upright canister stoves, like placing the canister in a bowl of water, or attaching a “Moulder Strip.” Search BPL for instructions on how to make and use a Moulder Strip.
Remote canister stoves also support windscreens safely, a huge advantage compared to most upright canister stoves.
— RexDec 19, 2019 at 12:36 pm #3623461
We are puttting in our preference points for a unit in the NW corner of the state. If we don’t get drawn, we could end up anywhere in the state at this point in an open unit.
We most likely will be there in mid-to-late September.Dec 19, 2019 at 12:38 pm #3623462
Rex, perfect, thanks!Dec 19, 2019 at 2:26 pm #3623469Jason FSpectator
With the caveat that I am a cold sleeper, I would use my old 0F bag for the trip you describe.Dec 19, 2019 at 3:29 pm #3623479Ben CBPL Member
I would not take the white gas stove for personal use. There are simpler, lighter, more efficient options unless you are burning a whole lot of fuel. A canister is much simpler. Alcohol or esbit are lighter options too.
Don’t take a bag you know is too cold for you. Take the warmer one.Dec 19, 2019 at 4:17 pm #3623485Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I used a white gas stove for years. The fuel stinks. When you prime the stove – put a puddle of gas on burner, light it, let it heat up the metal pieces – it’s easy to get a fireball and singe your eyebrows although you can avoid this if you don’t make a user error. And it’s heavy.
Remote inverted canister stoves – they work at colder temperatures but since they feed liquid from the bottom of the canister, this can include contaminants that foul the valve and cause it to quit working. Upright canister stoves feed gas from the top and any contaminants are left in the canister.
Regular upright stoves (Pocket Rocket, Soto, BRS-3000,… work fine down to 20 or 25 F with good fuel like MSR Isopro. Below that, the tried and true method is to have a small bowl of water to put the canister in. Just a few ounces of water. When you boil your first pot of water, put another couple ounces of hot water into the bowl. Also put a few ounces of hot water into your water bottle if it starts freezing.
Esbit or alcohol stoves will work but too much of a hassle in my opinion. A lot of people love them. Lighter weight.
Evernew 900 ml titanium pot is a favorite for light weight.Dec 19, 2019 at 4:40 pm #3623489GarrettSpectator
- Isopro canister with a Moulder Strip should be sufficient down to 0F or lower.
2. Melting snow Evernew 1.3L UL or Evernew UL 900ml pot for non-snowDec 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm #3623490
Great info guys. Thanks.
What about coffee? I’ve been a life long coffee hater until recently, what do you guys do about making your own in the backcountry?Dec 19, 2019 at 5:23 pm #3623494Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
1.) I concur with either a remote canister stove or a upright canister with a moulder strip. I’ve had no problems using alcohol down in the single digits, but would probably go with a canister stove just for ease of use at those temps.
2.) I’m not a coffee drinker, but most people just use VIA or some sort of freeze dried coffee. I don’t think it’s the worlds best coffee but it’s easy and seems to work for most people. If you are talking about what cookware to use, I’d probably get one pot, probably a 1.3L pot and boil all of your water at once in that pot. I would then pour water into a coffee cup (I’d look at a durable “disposable” cup and just keep it in your cookpot to keep it from getting crushed) and then either cook your food in the pot or pour it into boil in bag (freezer bag) meals. Another option would be to pour the water into your boil in bag meals and then put your coffee in the cookpot and just drink out of it (get something to keep from burning your lips on the thin walled titanium).
3.) If you know you are cold in the 20* bag at 32*, don’t take that. Have you tested the 0* bag to see how low you can push it? It may be that you are just a cold sleeper and you need a warmer bag. I’d go with a high quality high fill power 0* bag and make sure you have a warm pad, like the Thermarest X-Therm. An insufficient pad will make you cold no matter what bag you’re using.
For the pot – I have no experience with this pot, but something similar to this:Dec 19, 2019 at 5:55 pm #3623496Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Instant coffee – pour in boiled water
if you use Mulder strip, use a short stove like a BRS-3000
Mulder strip with a tall stove, like a Soto Windmaster doesn’t work very good, the strip is longer so it takes longer for the heat to get down to the canister
Mulder strip is easier in that you just attach it, then use stove, as opposed to a water bowl that you have to put water in a couple times. Or maybe the difference is unimportant depending on user preference.
I don’t like the BRS-3000 because of all the reported failures, although the one I have works fine. Maybe if you test it first to verify it’s a good one then reliability is fine.
There are a multitude of threads about all this : )Dec 19, 2019 at 6:12 pm #3623498Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I have a BRS3000 too and though I normally use a Caldera Cone, I have used it some and it’s worked fine, but I use a 500ml pot. I wouldn’t use it with a larger heavy pot of water like 1.3L. Snow Peak Gigapower???Dec 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm #3623527David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Dec 20, 2019 at 2:51 am #3623590Steven ThompsonBPL Member
- White-gas stove? No, I wouldn’t. You don’t have one now. There’s a significant learning curve and more safety issues than any other stove type. Butane-mix canisters are widely available at Walmart, Sportsman’s Warehouse, (and in my area at) grocery and hardware stores. Get a $15 BRS-3000T and play with it beforehand. Read up on Moulder Strips and play with that (on cold days). I’ve used a BRS-3000T with off-the-shelf butane mix and a Moulder Strip down to -21F which is at the bottom end of anyone’s fun meter.
- Coffee? Try Via. Light, compact, easy. If that’s not fancy enough for you, use the coffee in tea bags for brewed coffee. Minimum system weight? A BRS-3000T and a 550-ml Toaks cup/pot. A second Bic lighter is one of few redundancies that I pack. It sucks to have fuel and stove but cold food and coffee grounds because you dropped the lighter at the last campsite.
- Because you can never be sure of the weather, I’d bring the 0F bag. Focus more on your sleeping pad. If yours is 48″, get a 72″ pad for those altitudes. If yours is an R-2.5 pad look at R-4.5 or R-5 pads. The cheapest solution to all of this is to bring a 72″ 1/2″ or 3/4″ CCF (closed cell foam) pad ($12 at Walmart) to use under your existing inflatable pad. It will add significant warmth, protect the inflatable pad and be “belt&suspenders” protecting you from a very cold night should the inflatable leak.
Sounds like you sleep cold, take the warmer bag. You can always sleep with it unzipped or as a quilt if it happens to be warm.
As to the stove it mostly depends on how much you want to diddle with things. Alcohol (or esbit) it easiest, but as it get colder you might need two burns to boil a liter. If you choose this route get a caldera cone (and my preference would be alky over esbit). Cannisters at temps near zero can be a challenge, but if you sleep with the cannister it will work fine on any cold morning. (cannisters though are my least favorite). White gas, the only downside is weight. I have a 30 year old MSR whisperlite that I’ve rebuilt a couple times that is still bombproof. Though heavy, white gas stoves burn pretty much anywhere anytime. Still, if just September in the high country…Sierra or Rockies…I’d go alcohol.Dec 28, 2019 at 3:13 pm #3624575Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
September is very unpredictable in Colorado, especially later in the month. It can be pleasant and sunny, or it can produce a Perfect Storm and drop two feet of snow. Or worse, 33F and sleet. Check the forecast just before the trip, or plan for the worst.
White gas?!? Good Lord, no. This is the 21st century! Use a canister stove as recommended above.
Coffee? I dunno. I’m more of a tea drinker, and tea is easy in the backcountry- it comes in tea bags. As you now know a lot of people talk about the Starbucks VIA packets. If you are more snooty than that about your coffee then you’ll have to decide if some sort of Gucci camping coffee maker is worth the weight for you. Coffee people tend to be fanatical, so I’m certain that someone here can recommend one to you.Dec 28, 2019 at 4:40 pm #3624585jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“Coffee people tend to be fanatical”
A bit of an over-generalization, innit? Anyway, mate, the brilliant tea drinking Brits are behaving a touch odd these days over Brexit. Of course I’m just havin a laugh.
Via works just fine, in my fanatical opinion.
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