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Thread: Small stove for cold weather... Help!

  1. #1
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    Default Small stove for cold weather... Help!

    Hey guys I need some help on which cold weather stove to get. Any advise or experience you have will be helpful.

    I live up in Barrow on the North Slope. I like to snow machine inland and hunt caribou and trap fox. When I go out I always take a few survival basics. The one thing I am having trouble with is my small stove. I bought a Coleman dual fuel single burner stove that runs on white gas, I can't get the thing to work when its -10 or colder. I also have a really lightweight stove that runs on butane, it wont work in the severe cold either. This stove is used to heat food but more importantly to heat the small cabins I stay at while out trapping.

    WHAT ARE PEOPLE USING IN THE SEVERE COLD??? HAVE YOU HEARD OF ANYTHING THAT WORKS?? Thank you.

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    I have an MSR, I think it is a firefly. You pump it up, release the valve to get gas into the pan. Shut off the valve, light the gas, turn the valve back on. Works every time. It is wind sensitive. I have not had a problem with mine and I have used it lots. JMO. Good luck. J.

  3. #3
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Thumbs up JetBoil

    I know that there are tons of people who posted JetBoils on the other thread that you were originally at.
    Honestly, I am a pretty avid JetBoil supporter. I sent one to my husband on the Slope a couple years back for his Valentine's Day present and it was the best thing he said that he had ever received for Valentine's Day.
    There is also this other kind of JetBoil/MSR stove that has been out and it's more durable.
    I know that you could find them at Mountain Sports off of College Rd in Fairbanks. Mountain Sports: 474.4600. The guy who owns the place is incredibly nice. I can't remember what the name of the stove is (because it's Canadian or European), but I know that some people that I play music with use it on their volcanic observatory research and they live by these stoves. Just tell him (the only guys who works at Mountain Sports) it's on the top shelf of all of his stoves and he will know what you are talking about.
    You could use the same canisters that you use for JetBoil and MSR.
    Let me know how it pans out for you.

    I tried to do more research and I found what I was looking for.
    Optimus.

    I should be upgrading to these.
    Lurker.

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    Don't canister stoves (JetBoil, etc.) quit when it's cold? That's what I was always told.

  5. #5
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default yes and no...

    I have heard the same about cannister stoves not performing well in cold. I have used MSR isobutane cannisters in 20 degree weather with 25 mph winds up in the Noatak with no problems. That would be worth single digit or teens perhaps. I have not used it in temps lower than that yet. I have read that if you put the fuel cannister in an inch or so of luke warm water that performance is much better at really low temps. People use their frying pans for this I am told. If I remember correctly, it reduces condensationCan't vouch for it though. Another suggestion was to keep the cannister near your body for a while before using it and keeping it at the feet of your bags overnight. While it does sound inconveniencing, it may improve cannister performance.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Thanks for the info COtoAK, I would sure be curious to know if that stove would work in the bitter cold though... my canister stove (crux) does not work very well when it gets below -10 or -20.

    My coleman dual fuel single burner wont work either, I know this coleman can run on white gas or unleaded fuel, I have not tried it with unleaded fuel at low temps, anybody know if it would work at a lower temp with unleaded? Is there any disadvantage to running unleaded over white gas?

  7. #7
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default yep...

    White gas is cleaner and more pure. It burns cleaner than auto fuel. It will keep the stove cleaner and reduce the likelyhood of clogging the jet. Not sure about which is more combusitble. That may be more of a factor for your usage. I have heard of MSR's superfuel white gas. It is supposedely the best you can buy. But it is more expensive.


    http://www.rei.com/product/721999?vcat=REI_SEARCH
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default info..

    Found this online...



    Backpacking stoves for cold weather


    Although a remote-cabled canister stove that can use the canister upside down, like the MSR Windpro, can make a canister stove work even in subfreezing temperatures, most reviews recommend a liquid-fuel or white gas stove for camping in really cold weather or for melting snow. Multi-fuel stoves that can burn kerosene, unleaded gas, diesel fuel, etc. are also recommended for overseas travel, although this depends on your destination. In some parts of the world, it's just as easy to find gas canisters.

    Like canister stoves, liquid-fuel stoves come in two basic types – models with the burner mounted on top of the fuel tank or those with the burner connected to a fuel bottle via a cable. Top-mounted burners aren't considered as safe, because fuel could spill down and ignite the tank, though some users still love the hundred-year-old design of the sturdy brass Optimus Svea 123 stove (*est. $80), praised for its superb reliability. The main drawback is its 19-ounce weight, which is heavy for backpacking.

    The lightest liquid-fuel stove is the 8.5-ounce MSR Simmerlite (*est. $90) , which burns both white gas and unleaded gasoline and fits inside most one-liter pots. With a full 11-ounce fuel bottle, stove and fuel together weigh 22.3 ounces, but for shorter trips you needn't carry a full bottle. (Eleven ounces of fuel is enough to boil over 14 liters of water.) Backpacker Magazine's 2005 gear guide calls the Simmerlite a best buy, not only praising its ability to simmer, but saying it's the quietest white-gas stove they tested. (Liquid-fuel stoves, in general, are very noisy compared to canister stoves, and most don't simmer as well either.)

    If you need a choice of more fuels, the 15.6-ounce MSR Dragonfly (*est. $120) is the stove reviews recommend most. In addition to white gas and unleaded gasoline, the Dragonfly burns kerosene, diesel and jet fuel, as well as Stoddard solvent (mineral spirits) and naptha. The Dragonfly uses two control knobs, an off/off control at the fuel pump, and another to regulate the flame precisely. Users reviewing it at OutdoorReview.com and Epinions.com say it does simmer well. The Dragonfly has a good reputation for being easy to repair in the field, for which a service kit (*est. $30) is recommended. The main drawback is that the Dragonfly weighs 15.6 ounces.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Packer,

    I've used my MSR XGK model several times in temps below -20. Like somebody mentioned earlier I open the fuel valve on the pressurized tank to flood a little fuel into the burner and turn the valve back off. Light the puddle of fuel and let it burn, which heats the burner. As the flame starts to burn out slowly open the fuel valve and my stove catches right on and burns like a torch. I have a Coleman dual fuel stove but haven't used it for a few years. I can't remember flooding the burner on the dual fuel stove. I only used it in winter to preheat my generator and I always liked it, but I don't remember the details. I mounted a small inverter to a 30,000 BTU Reddi Heater and preheat with it using a battery. Much faster!

  10. #10
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Lots of great responses here.

    I could see how the Optimus would be too heavy according to the article you mentioned, DanattheRock.
    I would rather pack out more on weight for a reliable and sturdy stove than to use one that freezes by 10 below. It's your food and energy, you know?
    My choices?
    Optimus and JetBoil are the only ones that I would use.
    I have never been hot on MSR and I haven't used Crux before.
    Lurker.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Found this online...



    Backpacking stoves for cold weather


    Although a remote-cabled canister stove that can use the canister upside down, like the MSR Windpro, can make a canister stove work even in subfreezing temperatures, most reviews recommend a liquid-fuel or white gas stove for camping in really cold weather or for melting snow. Multi-fuel stoves that can burn kerosene, unleaded gas, diesel fuel, etc. are also recommended for overseas travel, although this depends on your destination. In some parts of the world, it's just as easy to find gas canisters.

    Like canister stoves, liquid-fuel stoves come in two basic types models with the burner mounted on top of the fuel tank or those with the burner connected to a fuel bottle via a cable. Top-mounted burners aren't considered as safe, because fuel could spill down and ignite the tank, though some users still love the hundred-year-old design of the sturdy brass Optimus Svea 123 stove (*est. $80), praised for its superb reliability. The main drawback is its 19-ounce weight, which is heavy for backpacking.

    The lightest liquid-fuel stove is the 8.5-ounce MSR Simmerlite (*est. $90) , which burns both white gas and unleaded gasoline and fits inside most one-liter pots. With a full 11-ounce fuel bottle, stove and fuel together weigh 22.3 ounces, but for shorter trips you needn't carry a full bottle. (Eleven ounces of fuel is enough to boil over 14 liters of water.) Backpacker Magazine's 2005 gear guide calls the Simmerlite a best buy, not only praising its ability to simmer, but saying it's the quietest white-gas stove they tested. (Liquid-fuel stoves, in general, are very noisy compared to canister stoves, and most don't simmer as well either.)

    If you need a choice of more fuels, the 15.6-ounce MSR Dragonfly (*est. $120) is the stove reviews recommend most. In addition to white gas and unleaded gasoline, the Dragonfly burns kerosene, diesel and jet fuel, as well as Stoddard solvent (mineral spirits) and naptha. The Dragonfly uses two control knobs, an off/off control at the fuel pump, and another to regulate the flame precisely. Users reviewing it at OutdoorReview.com and Epinions.com say it does simmer well. The Dragonfly has a good reputation for being easy to repair in the field, for which a service kit (*est. $30) is recommended. The main drawback is that the Dragonfly weighs 15.6 ounces.
    Good find danattherock

  12. #12

    Default canister stove

    I used my titanium gigapower stove by snowpeak when it was 10 or 20 below. It is a canister type stove. I knew they didn't flow well at those temps so my solution was to light a small candle, place the lit candle about an inch or so directly under the canister to heat it up (few minutes) and then I shook the canister up real well. The stove worked great at those temps when "preheating" the fuel canister. Obviously you need to use your head and not get the canister to hot but it sure worked well for me.

  13. #13
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    Default Cold Weather Stoves

    The 1st stove I used in AK was a Coleman all in one unit with the gas tank on the bottom. If you still want to use your coleman then buy a large tube of fire starting paste (Brand Name Fire Ribbon) and put a generous amount on top of the burner and light it. This will warm it up enough to light the stove.

    I got tired of fighting with the coleman in cold weather and bought my 1st MSR Whisperlite. The Whisperlite will always work because you are lighting the fuel directly to warm the burner. The Whisperlite has been a good stove but make sure to buy the repair kit because you will eventually need it. For everything but backpacking trips I pack two Whisperlite stoves so I always have a backup.

  14. #14
    New member mtcop71's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Primus

    I use the Brunton Optimus and that thing has burned in all temps. -20 ...ect, never a hick up. I purchased mine for about $120 5 years ago, not dure what they go with now. Careful on the MSR's at extreme temps as the plastic pumps tend to get brittle and snap easily. Bruntons is all metal....

    Coop

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Default

    Not to muddy the waters here ( I use an MSR whisperlite that works great, coldest ive used it is probably -20)...

    Most mushers use an alcohol fueled cooker to boil water at really cold temps. They just use the yellow bottle heet. I've boiled three gallons of water in a half hour at temps far below zero. It takes one bottle of heat to boil 3 gallons at normal winter temps (say 0 F). It burns blue and hot and will light at -40.

    I dont know of a commercially available one in the smaller scale that youre looking for but if there is one out there, I would bet it would work great at some really cold temps without much preheating. Just a thought.

    There are some folks out there who are putting together homemade alcohol backpacking stoves out of aluminum beer cans and they sound like they work great but I've never built one and dont know how they would work for cold temps.

    Here is a link to one of the pages that shows how to build one: http://www.csun.edu/~mjurey/stoveinstruct.html
    It would be really easy to try it out small scale... Put a small wad of fiberglass insulation (as a wick ) in a old quart varnish can, pour about 1/4 bottle of heet into it and light. I'd bet you could heat up water pretty fast with it. Make sure to punch some air inlet holes in it near the bottom so it can draw and make sure the cook pot doesnt sit tight against the top lip of the can so you dont snuff out the flames.

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    Member fishnngrinn's Avatar
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    http://home.att.net/~ofuzzy1/alcohol.htm

    Here is a link for one soda pop can design. I know there are more sophisticated ones out there that require precise drilling of holes, but did work well and are very light weight.
    NRA Lifetime Member

  17. #17
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    Here is a comparison of various can stoves, but the starting temp was 75 degrees. http://www.thru-hiker.com/articles.asp?subcat=2&cid=38
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  18. #18
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    OK-here is an interesting link for pros and cons on alcohol stoves. Under cons it states they are cold sensitive, not suitable for frozen environments,
    http://zenstoves.net/Stoves.htm
    NRA Lifetime Member

  19. #19
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    Yea, I guess I could see how the small pop can stoves may have trouble in cold temps. My point I guess was that the primitive alcohol "toilet paper in a paint can" stove burns great in really cold temps so maybe there is a smaller version that would work for heating smaller quantities of water on the trail.

    BTW, the basic musher cooker is a metal 5 gallon bucket with 4 quart varnish cans in the bottom. Punch some 1" holes about 6" up around the bucket and put your heet in the 4 cans. A 3 quart aluminum stock pot will drop right into the bucket and the handles will rest on the top lip of the bucket. It is a very fool proof setup and will take quite a beating. A little bit bulky though for a trapping rig.

  20. #20
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    Default Msr Xgk

    The MSR XGK is made for the extremecold, while I have the dragon fly & whisper lite which both work good as well. If I was in the -temps all the time I think I would get the XGK, especially if you are melting a lot of snow for water. Last year at this time we were on the rex trail temps were similar. My buddies jet boil did fine once we were inside the tent & had the tent warmed up a bit, however when we 1st pulled up & were setting up camp it wouldnt' work very well. Also it was a pain to use to put snow in & melt compared to my big mouth pot that was on top of the dragon fly. When its cold & you really need to stay somewhat hydrated you will want something easy that works, otherwise you will tend to skimp on drinking enough.

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