Monday, 13 October 2014

Portable Stoves and Accessories

One stove does not meet all needs. The type of stove you choose may vary depending on the journey and the group. Always be aware of your group’s individual cooking and tea/coffee making needs and tailor fuel quantities accordingly. Become familiar with your stove’s fuel usage before you expedition.
We have been using these stoves for over 15 years for different purposes. All are available from our  online shop or click on the individual links for more info or to purchase.

Soto Micro Regulator

Recommended pot set:
MSR Alpine 2 pot set
Gas (Isopropane - Butane cans)Small & light; easy to ignite; cheap; ability to control temperature; water comes to the boil quicklyFuel availability; unknown fill levels; no wind break; no maintenance kit – disposable; piezo ignite untested in marine conditions, easy to ignite in high winds; Fuel inefficient in cold weather; very noisy; cannot support large pots
MSR PocketRocket

Recommended pot set:
MSR Alpine 2 pot set
Gas (Isopropane - Butane cans)Small & very light; ability to control temperature: water comes to the boil quicklyFuel availability; unknown fill levels; no wind break; no maintenance kit – disposable; Fuel inefficient in cold weather; very noisy; cannot support large pots
MSR Whisperlite International

Recommended pot sets:
MSR Alpine 2 pot set

white gas (shellite), kerosene, and unleaded auto fuelSmall & light; versatile range of fuels; preventative maintenance kit; suitable for a wide range of pots; water comes to the boil quicklySkill needed to ignite; difficult to simmer. ULP fuel is quite dirty compared to shellite - o-rings wear out faster
Trangia Storm Cooker 27-1 Ultra-Lite 

Trangia Storm Cooker 25-1 Ultra-Lite
Methylated spirits; (Isopropane - Butane cans) separate gas burner availableBurner & pot system integrated; good for simmering; maintenance free; safe stove for supervised children to use Fuel inefficient in cold weather; Series 27 saucepans capacity 1 litre maximum - in practice they hold less if used for boiling; slow to bring water to the boil; risk of fuel contaminating the pots/meal if incorrectly stored.
Fuel Types & Ease of use
The big benefit of the Whisperlite is the versatility of its fuel capability – in areas where shellite (white spirit), methylated spirits or gas canisters are unavailable it can run on ULP auto fuel – you should be able to get some sort of fuel for this stove wherever you go. The fuel types used for this stove are also the most efficient – so where weight and volume are an issue, this gives the most days cooking for the fuels carried. It is possible to buy different sized MSR fuel bottles to suit the length of your typical trip.
The Trangia’s cooking system included 2 pots (comes in two different sized sets) and a frying pan/lid so it forms an integrated system. The methylated spirit burner is also probably the safest of the fuel types. Burning methylated spirits can result in rather sooty pots, but this can be reduced by adding a small amount of water to the fuel in the burner. With no moving parts, the Trangia is well suited to use in sandy environments. It is important to take care  transporting fuel in the Trangia burner (avoid doing this!) - if there is a leak into the pots which subsequently contaminates your food your meal will be inedible. We suggest you pour the fuel back into the bottle when finished and store the burner in a snaplock bag or small screw top cannister..
Gas stoves such as the Soto and MSR PocketRocket (and also the Trangia can use a gas system – sold as a separate item) are easy to light and some like the Soto have their own igniter. Gas is a very reliable fuel in cooler temperatures – more so than methylated spirits, so water can be boiled quite quickly – however they might not be so good for simmering food at low temperatures.  Fuel availability may be an issue – some remote areas do not stock cans of butane gas and they cannot be flown in. Another drawback of gas canisters is that it is difficult to tell how much fuel is left – you tend to have a lot of partly empty canisters left over. This can in part be overcome by knowing your stove and selecting a gas cannister in a size suitable for your trip.
Always carry more fuel than you think you might need and develop a good feel for how much you would use on a typical day.
Which to choose:
Gas (butane) stoves are good for small groups (up to 3 people) and are useful for interstate and international travel where weight is critical. It is important not to overweight these smaller stoves - do not use big pots on them - the Alpine 2 pot set is a good choice to complement these stoves. Be sure you can purchase gas canisters at your destination.They also tend to be quite noisy in their operation (how’s the serenity!).
The Whisperlite International is an excellent choice due to its capability of running multi-fuels. Be aware of fuel availability and local names for different fuels as well as regulations governing carriage of fuel bottles on airlines – make sure it is well aired – bottles have been confiscated! The high degree of fuel efficiency of the Whisperlite makes it our choice for longer expeditions and for group cooking for up to 10 people and they can handle a variety of pot sizes. The stove can be maintained in the field using the compact maintenance kit. This stove does not readily lend itself to variable temperature control but it is possible to simmer using an unofficial technique. Otherwise the pressure in the bottle should be maintained to maximise fuel efficiency.
The Trangia is a compact integrated system utilising methylated spirits – if travelling internationally ensure there is supply at your destination (and what the locals call this fuel) and ensure your fuel bottles conform to airline regulations. It is possible to use larger pots (or even a wok) but this does add considerable bulk. Of all these systems this is the most student-friendly, as it is fairly safe to ignite and extinguish (not pressured) and the fuel burns at a lower temperature than the other systems. Use in groups of 3-4 (Trangia 27-1) for a series of smaller meals. It is also the quietest cooking system, allowing you to enjoy the wilderness uninterrupted.

Additional Info:

  • Remove the safety off your lighter for ease of use
  • Have at least two sets of matches/lighters in screw top waterproof containers
  • Use a fuel-safe fuel bottle for all liquid fuels. MSR recommends using MSR fuel bottles with their Whisperlites. Store in cool place when not in use
  • Take the service kit with you in case field maintenance is required during your remote expedition
  • A multi-tools is a useful addition to your kit - two multi-tools can be used to lift heavy pots

    To see these stoves and pots in action check out our YouTube video

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