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Outdoor Stove Buyer's Guide

Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 1

After a long day of trekking, climbing, bike touring or back country skiing, doesn’t a nice hot meal sound amazing? Sounds like you need a stove! There are a lot of different types of stoves on the market all tailored to different situations. This buyers guide will explain the key features and important factors to hopefully guide you to picking a stove that best suits your future adventures.
The first step to navigating the world of backpacking stoves is deciding if you want a canister stove or a liquid fuel stove. This decision should be influenced by what kind of adventures you plan to take the stove on. Consider weather conditions, altitudes, number of meals and personal fuel habits. Using these factors, we can figure out which stove will work best.



Types of Backpacking Stoves


Canister Stove


By far the most common outdoor stove seen on the trails, canister stoves run on pre-made, single use canisters which contain varying mixes of butane, isobutane and propane. They are quick to light, simple to use, compact and lightweight.


Integrated Cook System stoves


An offshoot of the standard canister stove, integrated cook systems just refers to types of stoves where the specially designed pot locks into the top of the burner. They are perhaps more limited in their application because you can only use the designated pots, however if you are looking for a one and done kind of stove for hot drinks and simple meals, then this is a great stove to consider. They are also often more stable and more heat efficient by design.


Liquid Gas Stoves


Liquid fuel stoves work by converting liquid fuel in a bottle to a vapour or gas for burning. The fuel bottle is multi-use and can be refilled between or during trips so less wastage. They are heavier and larger than canister stoves and a little more cumbersome to light. However, for the seasoned adventurer they offer advantages such as they work consistently over a wider range of temperatures and altitudes, and they are more field maintainable and fixable on the trail should something go wrong.



Comparison or Pros and Cons of Canister and Liquid Gas Stoves


Canister Stoves


Pros

  • Canister stoves are compact and lighter than Liquid stoves.
  • Little to no maintenance is required. 
  • Canister stoves are typically cheaper. 
  • Super easy and quick to ignite. 
  • Excellent flame control. 
  • Canisters can maintain fuel at full potency for years.


Cons

  • You must carry any empty gas canisters for the rest of the trip.
  • Yes, the canister stove is cheaper, but the gas canisters are more expensive than liquid fuel.
  • Gas canisters are not always available worldwide. However, they are usually found in common outdoor adventure destinations. 
  • Harder to light in cold temperatures and high altitudes. Isobutane mix can help as do stoves that include a regulator designed for cold and high conditions. 
  • When canister is near empty, they do not perform as well.
  • May have to carry extra canisters just in case the fuel runs out during trip.


Ideal for...

  • People wanting to go ultralight.
  • When you’re going on short 2–3-day backpacking trips. When you only need one to maximum two gas canisters over the weekend and you just want something light, simple, and easy to use.

 

If that sounds ideal, consider…

Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 2

Integrated Cook System stoves


Pros

  • More heat efficient then standard canister stoves.
  • Better wind resistance.
  • More stable.
  • Compact and well packaged for storing in backpacks.


Cons

  • Limited use options – basically great for boiling water only or heating up pre-made meals.
  • Can be slightly heavier than some of the lightest standard canister stoves.

 

Ideal for...

  • People needing a more heat efficient but lightweight stove
  • Alpine climbers, back country skiiers
  • People who just want to boil water for coffee and freeze dried meals


If that sounds ideal, consider…

Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 3

Liquid Fuel Stoves


Pros

  • More eco-friendly due to reusable fuel bottles.
  • Liquid fuel is readily available around the world.
  • Liquid fuel is really cheap and more efficient compared to gas canisters.
  • Can be used in any weather conditions and altitudes.
  • Most models can use multiple different kinds of liquid fuel. 
  • You can pack the exact amount of fuel needed for a trip.
  • Stove is more field maintainable should something go wrong.


Cons

  • Requires a little more maintenance compared to canister stoves (depending on condition of the fuel you use; maintenance could be needed once every couple of years or a couple times a year).
  • Liquid stoves are heavier and bulkier than canister stoves. (But depending on the length of you trip, the fuel for liquid stoves will end up being lighter than all the gas canisters you would have to carry for a canister stove. Weight is all relative on the trip length)
  • The stove will require priming every time you light it.


Ideal for...

  • Liquid stoves are best when heading out on a longer adventure. It’s great of you are planning more complex meals that include frying or simmering and/or are using the stove often. 
  • A liquid stove is especially great for cold weather and high altitudes. 

 

If that sounds ideal, consider…

 Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 4


Once you have picked out which stove works best for you, the next decision is choosing which fuel or gas works best for the conditions.

 

Canister Stove Comparison

Standard Canister Stoves

Brand

Model

Fuel

Weight

Output

BTU/h *

Boil Time

Burn Time

Pressure

Regulator**

MSR

Pocket Rocket 2

Gas: isobutane/propane

73g

Not Provided

3.5 mins/L

60 mins

(227g IsoPro canister)

No

MSR

Pocket Rocket Deluxe

Gas: isobutane/propane

83g

Not Provided

3.3 mins/L

60 mins

(227g IsoPro canister)

Yes

Optimus

Crux

Gas: butane, isobutane, propane

83g

12,000

3 mins/L

90 mins

(230g canister)

No

Optimus

Crux Lite

Gas: butane, isobutane, propane

72g

12,000

3 mins/L

90 mins

(230g canister)

No

Primus

Mimer

Gas: butane, isobutane, propane

195g

10,000

3.8 mins/L

70 mins

(230g canister)

No

Primus

Express Spider II

Gas: butane, isobutane, propane

200g

7,150

3.5-5 mins/L

119 mins

(230g canister)

No

360 Degrees

Furno Stove

Gas: butane, isobutane, propane

124g

11,900

3.3 mins/L

60 mins

(230g canister)

No

 

Integrated Canister Stove Comparison

Brand

Model

Fuel

Weight

Output

BTU/h *

Boil Time 

 Burn Time

 Pressure Regulated

Jetboil

Flash 1L

Gas: isobutane/propane

400g

4,500

5 mins/L

138 mins

(230g canister)

No

Jetboil

Zip 0.8L

Gas: isobutane/propane

340g

4,500

5 mins/L

138 mins

(230g canister)

No

Jetboil

Minimo 1L

Gas: isobutane/propane

415g

6,000

4.5 mins/L

124 mins

(230g canister)

Yes

 


Terminology


*BTU Output – British Thermal Unit is the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.


**Pressure Regulator – A small component found in the stove’s valve that maintain fuel pressure and ensures optimal performance at very low pressure. Stove output is largely dependent on fuel pressure, which drops in cooler temperatures.


Fuel : Gas


MSR IsoPro Fuel 20% Propane 80% Isobutane

Optimus Gas 25% Propane 25% Isobutane 50% Butane

Jetpower Fuel Propane/Isobutane Mix (% not disclosed)


Propane – Low boiling point, high vapour pressure and best performance in cold weather compared to butane. Pure propane requires a heavier canister to contain the higher pressure, hence lighter weight camping canisters use a mix of propane/isobutane/butane.

Isobutane – Second best option after Propane in terms of performance. Expensive to source and process then butane, and often found in higher quality gas canisters with propane.

Butane – High boiling point and lower vapour pressure equates to a less efficient fuel compared to the above. Commonly mixed with Propane and Isobutane to boost performance. Best used in warmer temperatures, on shorter trips.

 Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 7

Liquid Stove Comparison Chart

Brand

Model

Fuel

Packed Weight

Boil Time

Burn Time

MSR

The WhisperLite International

Burns white gas(shellite), kerosene and unleaded

328g

3.5 minutes (white gas, 1 liter of water)

110 minutes (white gas, per 600 ml)

MSR

The DragonFly

Burns white gas (shellite), kerosene, unleaded auto fuel, diesel, and jet fuel

510g

3.5 minutes (white gas, 1 liter of water)

126 minutes (white gas, per 600 ml)

 

Liquid Fuel Comparison Chart

Types of Liquid Gas

Pros

Cons

Verdict

White Gas (Naphtha, Shellite)

-Burns clean

-Easy to light

-Easy to find

- Once the fuel is exposed to air, it will degrade overtime (best to buy in small bottles)

Suggested

Kerosene

-Cheap

- Easy to find anywhere in the world

-Generates the most energy so cooks much quicker then any other fuel

-Dirty, stinky, and more difficult to light

-Quality of fuel can vary around the world

Suggested

Diesel

 

-Cheap

- Better for the environment due to less refining need

-Dirty, stinky, and more difficult to light

-Can cause the stove to flare up

-Not all liquid stoves can use diesel (check manual to be sure)

Not Suggested

Automotive Gasoline (petrol)

-Works in emergency situations

-Available almost everywhere

-Produces more smoke and fumes then other fuels

- Petrol has additives that can damage stove pump seals and fuel line

-The added ethanol in petrol can cause pitting corrosion in aluminum fuel bottles

-Do not leave the petrol in fuel bottle for long term storage

Last resort

Denatured Alcohol (methylated spirit)

-Cheap

-Easy to find

-Burns fairly clean

 

-Methylated spirits do not work safely with pressurized- type liquid fuel stoves. Always check the manual before using new or unknown fuel (like the MSR WhisperLite and Dragon Fly)

Depends on what kind of stove you are using. But not recommended for pressurized liquid fuel stoves

Alternative liquid fuels

- Some might work in a last resort situation

- jet fuel will perform similar to petrol (with the same downside too)

-Most manufactures do not suggest using alternative fuels

-Some alternative fuels might not work at all and just clog up the stove

-some grades of biodiesel or pure plant oils can work but it is not suggested

Not suggested

 

We hope this buyer's guide has helped you step into the outdoors with confidence knowing you have the right stove for the job. If you ever need any more help please don't hesitate to contact us at: 

Phone: 02 9264 5888

Email: web@mountainequipment.com

 

 

By: hazel Sherrit

 Mountain Equipment outdoor camp stove buyers guide 5


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