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Thread: Lightweight liquid fuel stove options?

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    Member mossyhorn's Avatar
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    Default Lightweight liquid fuel stove options?

    Well with this whole deal with air charters not allowing compressed fuel canisters on flights, we're now having to re-evaluate our stove choice for our sheep hunt this fall. Wrights only allows the green coleman canisters, no lightweight fuel canisters like snow peak, msr, jet boil, etc.

    We were really light on weight with this option, a 2 oz stove with only the weight of the canisters. That's light! Now, looking at other options, everything seems heavy in comparison. Can anyone give me some tips or ideas on what the next lightest options are? Wood burning stoves are not an option where we'll be headed, I know that's been mentioned before.

    I've never used white gas before, how long can I expect fuel to last in comparison to compressed iso-butane?

    Thanks

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    Lots of sheep hunters use the MSR Whisperlite. It is not as light as some but it boils water quickly,uses very little fuel, and is dependable.

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    Mossyhorn, I recommend checking out the new members blog about backpacking stoves: adventures in stoving. Lots of good info for everyone.

    Here is a post about the two multi-fuel stoves he reviewed. Towards the bottom he discusses the weights with liquid fuel vs gas fuel.

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    Anybody know what the BTU per ounce is for liquid fuel versus gas fuel? Knowing BTU per volume would be nice too. I suspect more BTUs from liquid fuel, but it's probably heavier. Also, the gas canisters add little weight compared to a bottle for liquid, but you will likely need several of those canisters for longer trips. I'm just wondering how the overall weight and volume stack up against each other.

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    I plan on buying a Whisperlite Universal on the 15th along with a 20oz and a 30oz bottle. I am going to test how long the bottle lasts. I really wish the air taxi's would give us a pass on the weight of a half gallon of white gas. This fuel issue really messes with the 50 pound pack restriction for sheep hunters.
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    Half gallon of white gas/Coleman fuel weighs 3 lbs. and would last for a long time.

    Primus makes fine stoves too...or maybe the old Seva gas stoves.
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    Just found and bought this one at Sierra Trading Post:

    3391C-99 Brunton Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove $86.97 1
    It is supposed to run on any fuel including canister gas on one jet. Reviews also show it running on diesel and kerocene with a beautiful blue flame. One fellow said he used it at 11K feet in South America with #2 Diesel. He used alcohol to prime and then ran the diesel for cooking. I should work fine with unleaded outboard mix....I'll find out in a week or so when it gets here.
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    One of the lightest liquid fueled stoves out there is the MSR Simmerlite. The Simmerlite is white gas only though, so you have to have Coleman fuel or the equivalent. AV gas, unleaded, etc. would not be a good idea. MSR discontinued the Simmerlite at the end of 2011 (about 3 months ago), but there are a lot of them out there still in shops. One thing to note about the Simmerlite is that, despite it's name, it really does not simmer.

    The Primus Express (not the Primus Express Spider which is canister gas) is another good lightweight option. I haven't used one myself, but it has a good reputation.

    MSR just introduced the MSR Whisperlite Universal which will burn either liquid fuel or canister gas. If you're not flying for a particular trip, you can just stick with canister gas. When you fly in, it'll burn AV gas, unleaded, kero, jet fuel, and white gas. White gas and kero will always be the cleanest burning fuels. AV gas, unleaded, jet fuel, etc. can be used, but you will have more fouling and clogging. Diesel #2 can also work, but that's a really dirty business. I'd use diesel only as a last resort. The problem with the Universal is that it's a tad pricey at $140.

    There's a less expensive version of the Universal, the Whisperlite Internationale, newly redesigned for 2012. It's basically the same as the Universal except that it won't burn canister gas. The nicest improvement in the 2012 version is that the simmering is improved. You still have to use low pressure and have a lot of air space in your fuel bottle, but if you use those tricks, you can simmer.

    You could also bring a classic white-gas Whisperlite. The regular Whisperlite's design remains unchanged.

    There's also the new Omni-lite Ti from Primus. Primus is making some really good stuff these days, but I haven't seen that stove for myself so I can't comment on it other than that if it's anything like its parent, the Primus Omnifuel, then it's going to be an excellent stove.

    Those are some fairly lightweight options. There are some slightly heavier options like the MSR XGK and the Primus Omnifuel that are also very good, reliable liquid fueled stoves. MSR's current version of the XGK is the XGK-EX. I haven't used the Brunton Vapor All Fuel, but I know of some people who really like it.

    HJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossyhorn View Post
    I've never used white gas before, how long can I expect fuel to last in comparison to compressed iso-butane?
    It kind of depends on your style of cooking. For me a 100g canister of gas is going to last about 5 days for one person with how I cook -- about 20g/day in other words. With white gas, it typically takes a little more, maybe 30g/day (about 43ml or 1.5 fl oz). Double that amount if you're going to be melting snow.

    Examples:
    MSR 10 fl oz bottle @ 1.5 fl oz/day = 6.5 days
    MSR 20 fl oz bottle @ 1.5 fl oz/day = 13 days
    MSR 30 fl oz bottle @ 1.5 fl oz/day = 20 days

    In my experience, the 20 ounce sized bottle is good enough for almost all trips unless you're going to be doing snow melting or traveling with a group. Be aware that those bottles will physically be capable of holding more, but you do NOT want to fill them to capacity. You want to leave some air space in there otherwise really high levels of pressure can build up. There's a "fill line" on the bottle. Don't fill beyond the line.

    Now, those are my numbers. Your numbers are going to be different depending on how you cook and how often. I'd be conservative at first until you find out what your numbers are. My numbers should give you at least some idea of what you might need. Again, a 20 fl oz (sometimes listed as 22 fl oz which is the total capacity not counting the air space) has always been enough for any trip I've done unless I'm melting a lot of snow.

    Hope that helps,

    HJ

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    The simmerlite is a good unit, but don't expect it to simmer. Rather, expect it to fart and puff at low settings. It will stay lit if set correctly and you hold your mouth right, and will work for a rather hot simmer. Very light and efficient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vek View Post
    The simmerlite is a good unit, but don't expect it to simmer.
    That's certainly been my experience.

    If you really want good simmering on a liquid fueled stove, the MSR Dragonfly is excellent. The Primus Omnifuel is also excellent. The Optimus Nova has had some quality control problems and has been the subject of a recall, so I won't recommend that one.

    HJ

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    Lowrider- Let us know how the Brunton all fuel does after a few uses. It had some very bad reviews when I was looking for my first liquid fuel stove last summer. I went with the Soto and have used unleaded gas the few times I've used it. So far so good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mod elan View Post
    Lowrider- Let us know how the Brunton all fuel does after a few uses. It had some very bad reviews when I was looking for my first liquid fuel stove last summer. I went with the Soto and have used unleaded gas the few times I've used it. So far so good.
    Will do...just got an email saying it has shipped so I should have it this week....then I'll play with it.
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    Got it yesterday and played with it this morning. This is a shot burning unleaded 87 octane autofuel.



    the second is burning chain saw mix with Stihl synthetic oil in the mixture.



    The auto fuel smoked a fair amount when I was priming the stove but after the first minute or so it went away once the stove got hot. Same basic thing happened with the chainsaw mixture but it did not seem to have the same heat output as the gasoline. I tried #2 diesel and it would not feed thru the nozzle, even after repeated cleanings with the little wire cleaning tool it just barely ozzed out and was very hard to light as well. The stove was hot at the time so I would have thought that at least the diesel would have thinned out some but it did not. I was going to try priming with gasoline and then try to run the diesel thru the nozzle but figured if you had gasoline you would burn that instead of the diesel....diesel was a bust for me and certainly would not have worked in colder temps. I tried it at 43 degrees.

    I ran some Coleman fuel thru it to clean out the diesel and found the Coleman fuel worked best and seemed to burn cleaner as well. The soot from the chain saw mix was burned away by the Coleman fuel and flame spreader turned cherry red with the Coleman fuel where the gasoline barely started to turn it colors when running it on high.

    There is no doubt that Coleman fuel is the way to go with this stove, however I did prove to myself that in a pinch I can run gasoline and probably chainsaw and boat gas mixture if that is all that is available which does make me feel like it might be worth having the multifuel option even though they are pretty pricey.

    I did not try the butane tank since it was the one thing that I was sure would work at least above 0 degrees.

    The stove is bigger than my Primus liquid fuel and an old Brunton stove I have used for years which adds weight but it also has a larger diameter legs and pot holder which gives it a lot more stability than the smaller stoves. If I were backpacking I guess the few extra ounces would not make a differance to me. On a 4 wheeler, canoe or other vehicle the multifuel would be my choice for sure. I like the bigger size and it seemed to simmer a lot better with Coleman fuel than gasoline.

    Overall, I guess I'm pretty happy with my new Brunton multifuel...it's bigger and more stable, burns gasoline (and with oil mixed) if necessary and it may put out more heat with Coleman fuel than my Primus liquid fuel and certainly more than my older Brunton or SVEA 123 even though I did not do any boil times...I can feel the differance the larger burner makes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    There is no doubt that Coleman fuel is the way to go with this stove, however I did prove to myself that in a pinch I can run gasoline and probably chainsaw and boat gas mixture if that is all that is available which does make me feel like it might be worth having the multifuel option even though they are pretty pricey.
    That's pretty much been my experience and the experience of others I've talked to that have tried different fuels. Coleman (or the equivalent from another company) is the best and cleanest. Unleaded, AV gas, etc. will work but will not burn as cleanly, and your stove will probably clog more often.

    Thanks for doing some tests.

    HJ

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    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    To clarify Coleman fuel, you mean white gas?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mod elan View Post
    To clarify Coleman fuel, you mean white gas?
    Generally, when people talk about "white gas," they mean Coleman fuel or the equivalent such as Crown Camp Fuel, MSR SuperFuel, or Sunnyside Stove and Lantern Fuel. Optimus and Primus make such a product, but I've never seen it for sale in the US. Supposedly you can use Naphtha from the hardware store although I haven't tried it. In areas where Amish are found, you can buy bulk white gas. Probably not a lot of that in Alaska.

    HJ

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    Ultralight backpackers are using alcohol stoves. Buck Nelson carried one on his Pacific Coast Trail trip.
    The key - he only needs to boil 2 quarts of water a day. Guess it depends on how much stove one needs.
    Good luck.

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    From wikipedia:
    Coleman fuel is a petroleum naphtha product marketed by The Coleman Company. Historically called white gas (not White spirit), it is a liquid petroleum fuel (100% light hydrotreated distillate) sold in one gallon cans.[1] It is used primarily for fueling lanterns and camp stoves. Originally, it was simply casing-head gas or drip gas which has similar properties. Drip gas was sold commercially at gas stations and hardware stores in North America until the early 1950's. The White gas sold today is a similar product but is produced at refineries with the benzene removed.[2]
    Coleman fuel is a mixture of cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane, and pentane.[3]
    Though Coleman fuel has an octane rating of 50 to 55 and a flammability similar to gasoline, it has none of the additives found in modern gasoline and cannot be used as a substitute for gasoline, kerosene or diesel fuel in modern engines.[4] Its high heat of combustion and lack of octane boosting additives like tetra-ethyl lead will destroy engine valves, and its low octane rating would produce knocking

    In my youth many moons ago we used to get Amoco Supreme which was "White gas" and used that in Coleman lanterns and stoves and it was not as clean as Coleman fuel an required cleaning more often.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Ultralight backpackers are using alcohol stoves. Buck Nelson carried one on his Pacific Coast Trail trip.
    The key - he only needs to boil 2 quarts of water a day. Guess it depends on how much stove one needs.
    Good luck.
    Alcohol stoves absolutely could be used in place of canister gas stoves. Alcohol stoves are slower and alcohol can have some problems vaporizing in cold weather, but alcohol stoves are typically very reliable. Most alcohol stoves have no moving parts.

    I don't think alcohol stoves are good for larger quantities of water or for melting snow, but some people do both of those things with them.

    HJ

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