Upright Canister Stove Reviews, StoveBench Tests, and Gear Guide
May 13, 2019 at 4:08 am #3592764Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Upright Canister Stove Reviews, StoveBench Tests, and Gear Guide
This article features upright canister stove reviews that include extensive test data in inclement conditions and market analysis.May 13, 2019 at 4:46 am #3592769
This passage surprised me, “All fuel canisters list fuel weight (when full) and container weight”.
So I ran downstairs and looked at my inventory of canisters.
Among Coleman canisters, 0 of 2 styles listed container weight.
0 of 1 Primus canister style listed container weight.
Among my MSR canisters, 1 of 2 styles listed container weight.
So amongst my sampling, only 20% of canister styles list container weight (only recent MSR canisters and that seems a bit shy of “all”). That and a distrust of other people’s measurements is why I weigh all canisters when I first get them and write their full weight on them and when I first drain them completely, I write their empty weight on them.May 13, 2019 at 4:59 am #3592772
I already own a couple of the FMS300T so it is good to see that it is up there. However given the dangers of CO poisoning I am surprised you did no Carbon Monoxide testing on these stoves.May 13, 2019 at 5:04 am #3592773
Under Cold Weather Performance there is no mention how a Moulder Strip allows upright canister stove operation down to at least -25F (the lowest I’ve tested it). -25F/-32C is far below the bottom of most people’s fun meter (while I may be prepared for more after an unexpected -35F one time, I scrub trips at -15F/-26C).
And also under Cold Weather Performance there is this passage “Some canister stoves come with a built-in pressure regulator that can somewhat offset the effects of low internal canister pressure by ensuring that the pressure inside the stove’s fuel regulator always remains higher than the internal canister pressure as the canister fuel is consumed.”
That is not how a pressure regulator works. That is not how any value works. After any valve, the pressure will be LESS than it is in the source tank itself. Maybe a small amount less, but always LESS.
BRS-3000T and a Moulder Strip if it is below 10F. And an off-brand HX pot if I want to save fuel, time, or have a large group. Worried about the reliability? (I’m not) – then bring a second one. Two of them are still lighter, cheaper and more compact than the alternatives.May 13, 2019 at 5:46 am #3592779Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
David – good catch on the fuel container weight issue. We missed that in editing. I recall when we first wrote that section that “we need to fact check that”!
Also +1 on the pressure regulation section. That section actually got rewritten but somehow didn’t make it into the final edit today. I put it in. Again, thanks for catching it.
Edward – no CO in this article. This is a touchy subject, so I scrubbed the CO data from this gear guide (I do have it). I do plan to include it in another article, where I’ll be monitoring the accumulation of CO in an (unoccupied!) tent, as an instructive exercise to illustrate to hikers how serious the issue is or isn’t (answer: depends on the stove, of course).
I struggled with whether or not it was fair to grade stoves on CO emissions in the context of overall performance when no stove manufacturer would ever say it’s ok to use their stove in a tent or without a lot of ventilation…May 13, 2019 at 6:53 am #3592784
I get that Ryan but being primarily a winter walker and ski-tourer who normally cooks in the vestibule [ it always seems to be bad weather when I go out] CO is important to me. Looking forward to the CO test results thenMay 13, 2019 at 12:37 pm #3592799
Edward, you can eliminate the lower brass not on the FMS-300t and simply use a drop of superglue on the lower threads. You can also cut the upper nut in half with a hack saw. After cleaning it up, it will work fine to keep the pot holders on.May 13, 2019 at 2:22 pm #3592811Jon Fong / Flat Cat GearBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
I actually teach a product development class and give advice on how to compare competition. Using your numbers, you can create a Price / Performance Chart for a visual representation of you findings.
The black dashed line represents the linear regression of all the data points. The unusual thing about your data is that the traditional linear regression starts at the lower left and goes towards the upper right hand side. Normally you look for products that are above the line, the further away, the better the value. Your linear regression is pretty darn flat, I believe that this is due to the BRS & eTekCity as well as the Kovea products. Given your data, the Fire Maple FMS-116t looks like a good value as well. My 2 cents.
BTW, what happened to the SovebBench Metric F?
May 13, 2019 at 9:30 pm #3592859David WieseBPL Member
- This reply was modified 2 years, 7 months ago by Matthew / BPL.
Why does the Amicus have its weight listed as a disadvantage, but the PR Deluxe (which weighs more) does not?
And why use the heavier 4-pot stand version of the Windmaster instead of the triflex?May 13, 2019 at 11:37 pm #3592876
Edward, you can eliminate the lower brass not on the FMS-300t and simply use a drop of superglue on the lower threads. You can also cut the upper nut in half with a hack saw. After cleaning it up, it will work fine to keep the pot holders on.
James I have no idea what you are talking about thereMay 14, 2019 at 12:42 am #3592885
Edward, there are two rather heavy brass nuts on the FMS-300t. The lower one can be removed. Simply use superglue (or “Locktight”) on the threads. The upper nut can be (carefully) cut in half using a plain old hacksaw. It is relatively soft. (The nut holds the pot holder in place, on the stove.) Saves about a quarter to a half an ounce.May 14, 2019 at 12:48 am #3592886
Ryan, I’d advocate for testing and disclosure of CO results.
May 14, 2019 at 2:54 am #3592907
- It’s hard to do on one’s own and therefore adds a lot of value for readers / subscribers.
- CO emissions are one indicator of inefficiency. Complete combustion to H2O and CO2 releases more energy than stopping at CO (CO has energy content and in some processes is viewed as a fuel itself).
- Even if you’re not in a tent / snow cave, everything else being equal, we’d all pick a stove with lower CO emissions, right?
- Even if you don’t *plan* on cooking in a tent / cabin / car / snow cave, circumstances and weather changes and you do what you have to. Lower CO emissions is always better.
- On the basis of no empirical data but on decades of working professionally and recreationally with combustion devices and their emissions, I strongly suspect CO emissions correlate closely to unburned hydrocarbon emissions – another measure of inefficiency.
- If publication and dissemination of CO emissions causes any manufacturer to redesign their stoves for more complete combustion, you’ll be reducing mortality and morbidity far beyond BPL’s readership.
James I would be very worried that changing the distance between the jet and the burner head would alter the burning characteristics and lead to great CO production. It is only 20mm high would cutting those nuts in half change the gas path length? Also I thought they had a job to do in acting as a heat sink to warm the combustion mix. Mine certainly seems to burn better when it warms up.
No way I would use SuperGlue on anything that gets this hot, when it reaches its critical temperature it degrades and releases cyanide gasMay 14, 2019 at 3:37 am #3592914Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
What a great pleasure to read such a concise report on stoves!
Like many on BPL, I use different stoves for different situations. But there is one old one I wish could be thrown into the mix: Coleman F1 ultralight, ultra-powerful at a reported 16,000 BTU. Yet there is decent simmer control. The down side being if you run anywhere near full throttle it will suck through the gas and emit a lot of CO2 – IMHO as I don’t have a sensor to measure it.
FWIW, I use an Amicus regularly but still haul out the old F1 for grins.
Bill in RoswellMay 14, 2019 at 11:15 am #3592937
Yeah, I had an old F1 that really went thru gas quickly. It took about 3oz of so to so a breakfast for a family of 4. WOW (Coffee, bacon, eggs, toasted/rolled wraps w/oil.) I gave it away and went back to the SVEA that only took 2oz of WG for the same meal. It was a very inefficient stove, but worked well enough.May 14, 2019 at 11:19 am #3592938Paul in TexasBPL Member
@hiking8388Locale: North Texas
Jon Fong – Just for fun, your post made me curious to dig a little deeper into the price vs performance data. As consumers, we all expect performance to increase with price. But your graph made me wonder if these various manufactures were delivering on that expectation. So I made a similar Performance vs Price graph, but only included those manufactures that had more than one product in this comparison. I found the results interesting …
MSR seems to understand the concept.
SOTO sort of gets it (except for the fact that the cheapest Fire-Maple stove outperforms their most expensive stove … kind of a bummer if you’re SOTO).
Looks like the other three manufactures need to attend your class :-)May 14, 2019 at 12:08 pm #3592940
Edward, skip it, then. The mod doesn’t change anything. It just lightens the stove. I guess my stove doesn’t get that hot at the bottom of the stem (air inlets are above it and Ti doesn’t conduct heat well.) I usually scrape off a bit of weight on all my stoves.May 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm #3592956Gary DunckelBPL Member
Well, this article was certainly worth waiting for, guys. I think it covers most all aspects of the use of canister stoves. Aside from a few typos, I think it was a well thought out and thorough presentation of all things relating to canister stovedom. Well, except for the CO analysis, which we will look forward to reading in the future.
I don’t mean to be picky, but I think that the rating of the BRS-3000T was a bit brutal. In calm conditions I have been able to achieve a decent simmer, and I’ve not had any quality issues after boiling over 100 times with my Jetboil Sol pot and my pot riser disk. Perhaps it’s a quality control issue, wherein some of those stoves are made differently? I suspect that it could relate to user technique (like burning with a high valve setting).
The other point I’d like to make is that the user’s technique could easily skew the results. For example, I love the performance of my FMS-116T, especially for its superb simmering ability (and its weight). The rap on this stove seemed to be its inability to support larger pots on uneven ground. I will grant you that, but I use smaller pots, and I can always find a pretty flat place to set my stove/canister. So in this case, the “downsides” of this stove don’t pertain to my uses.
All in all, this was a fine article!May 14, 2019 at 4:22 pm #3592974Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
The BRS scored pretty high, so you can’t really ignore the performance for its cost and weight.
But there is clearly something going on with manufacturing in its current version.
I have a BRS that’s about 5 years old that’s still going strong.
But the metal in today’s production runs just isn’t holding up. It’s not unique to BRS, the same parts are failing on some other stoves that we purchased from China as well. Same parts supplier, perhaps.
For one of the failures, I had a pot of nearly boiled water fall over when a pot support melted. That’s a safety problem, especially when this stove is being used by kids (this is a popular stove among youth groups like scouts because of its price).
Fix this issue, and the stove gets a different rating.May 14, 2019 at 4:48 pm #3592977Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
anecdotally, a number of people have reported problems with BRS 3000. Especially initial failures. Also like Ryan said – maybe don’t operate at max power.
The fact that it’s so short means you save weight, it works great with Mulder strip, but the valve gets hotter. Theoretically, I haven’t measured it.
Only on BPL would someone cut a nut in half to save weight – I like the idea of it
My Coleman F1 started leaking gas. If I left it screwed to canister overnight and it got cold, in the morning all the fuel was gone. Even when I really torqued it down in the evening. Also, it leaked during use and created flames, which I quickly blew out, then screwed it on harder. Maybe this was just that one unit or maybe I precipitated the problems by not screwing it on tight enough, then flames melted something which damaged it…May 14, 2019 at 4:55 pm #3592978Chris RBPL Member
An interesting study.
I’m an alcohol stove user mostly so I don’t really have a horse in this race though I do have one of the very early Snow Peak Giga Power 2 Ti stoves with no igniter along with one of the GSI stoves that I had to buy due to a ban on alky stoves during a trip to Banff last summer. I always use a MYOG windshield with these stoves so maybe I would factor wind resistance lower than your scoring system.
How robust is your scoring system to changes in the loading of each of the properties?
When you did the stability test in what orientation were the pot supports to the direction the stove was being tipped? This could potentially be more important with the stoves with three supports and not four.
Just a note on Jon’s and Paul’s graphs. I’m not sure that trying to put a linear regression line though that data is a great idea. I’m only a reluctant user of stats so maybe I have some of this wrong.First of the sample size at either end of the range is way lower than at the centre, I think you could do some fancy manipulation of the numbers to fix that that but not as stands. More importantly I think that as the performance scores feature price as part of the score plotting the two things against each other creates problems. Maybe try taking out the price component from the score?
Paul’s graph is interesting but I wish folk would suppress the urge to plot lines between data points without any evidence to support that line.
I don’t know how the MSRP is decided by a manufacturer. Maybe MSR are just better at evaluating what is the optimum pricing to sell at compared to an overseas company?May 14, 2019 at 4:56 pm #3592980Patrick PodenskiBPL Member
Thanks for your excellent stove review article!
May 14, 2019 at 7:24 pm #3592997J-LBPL Member
- This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Matthew / BPL.
I purchased my BRS 3000T stove shortly after Roger published his article on it. It worked fine for intermittent use over several months (I loved the diminutive weight and size), but eventually the pot supports began warping and it became too unstable to use. Definitely not user error for me…I primarily ran the stove at med-low flame, and never above medium. Only ever boiled 2 cups of water. Something was wrong with the quality of the supports, wouldn’t waste my money on another one.May 14, 2019 at 7:33 pm #3592998Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Great Job by the THREE of you concerning the StoveBench Investigation!May 14, 2019 at 10:58 pm #3593023Paul in TexasBPL Member
@hiking8388Locale: North Texas
Chris R – As indicated … my post was “Just for fun”. Of course, your mileage may vary :-)
Jerry Adams – You may be interested in my post https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/7791/ … which I now realize is from 12 years ago … which is making me feel older than I felt five minutes ago :-(
BPL Team – Thanks (indeed) for the excellent article!
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