Thread: Stove stories
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Old 10-17-22, 11:36 AM
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[Update: what I've learned]

1. Fuel supply is not a major problem.
  • I've scanned CGOAB journals mentioning stoves, therefore fuel. Not rigorous nor exhaustive, but meaningful pattern. 30% refer to Jetboil by name, 30% gas, 30% alcohol (often Trangia) and 10% multi-fuel (often WhisperLite). Most journals refer to tours in more developed countries, yet one fairly recent account of a month-long tour of Ethiopia mentions a gas canister. References to multi-fuel tend to be old. (I just came across an interesting bikepacking route in Kenya. Guess what (the store is located here)
  • It looks like in most countries, even less developed, canisters of some sort can be found in larger cities, often in stores catering to foreign tourists (as in the case that started me on this, in Northern India). Also perhaps worth noting that tourers in LDCs are more likely to spend the night indoors and eat prepared food rather than camp and cook from (often hard to find) groceries.
  • MSR's page on fuel availability (written in 2014) suggests that liquid fuel, including alcohol can be found in more places than gas. In an emergency, alcohol stoves may be any kind of small can, with rocks or tent stakes in lieu of a pot stand.
  • Esbit is becoming more and more problematic to source in North America.
  • Alcohol's main, and perhaps decisive, advantage is that ethanol, in the form of hand sanitizer, can be carried in planes - up to 2 liters (quarts) in checked luggage and 300ml as carry-on. 1 liter carried on the bike is likely to be enough for a month-long solo trip.

2. I've spent (way too much) time and money purchasing and testing various systems. To wit, the table below showing estimated weight and packed size of various cooking systems. Among the things perhaps worth nothing:
  • Alcohol systems are never a dominant solution. Esbit is just as efficient as methanol (AKA Heet), but an Esbit stove + stand is a mere 11g vs close to 100g for an alcohol system. Packed size of alcohol is also an issue since the bottle needed to carry the fuel is of fixed size.
  • If Esbit is unavailable, gas becomes superior to alcohol for trips longer than a weekend.
  • If Esbit is available, gas becomes superior for trips longer than 3 weeks.
  • Heat exchange pots do improve efficiency, but the difference in packed size and weight is such that a smaller pot wins the day for trips of less than 3 months.
  • I plan to switch from my current SnowPeak+Esbit system to the diminutive Toaks 550 ml or the bottom part of the Widesea HX. The Toaks wins on weight and packed size, albeit is perhaps pushing minimalism too far.
  • Rova Flex Aerogel is a fantastic insulating material. Better than neoprene/silicone/vacuum.
  • Thermometer stickers work well. It is unfortunate that the cheaper ones are meant to monitor aquarium/terrarium temperatures.

(1) options in gray do not include a mug (i.e. pot only)
(2) Bundle acronyms list the type of fuel (E[sbit], A[lcohol], G[as]) and the pot (T[oaks], S[nowPeak], W[idesea], O[licamp])
(3) Trip length and liters per day can be modified to calculate a system's weight and packed size. Typical amount of water heated would be 1L/d/person. I use .6 in this example to reflect the fact that quite frequently I eat at a restaurant.
(4) Fuel consumption is based on a 60C degree rise (typically room temperature up to 80C/180F). Hot water is usually enough. I typically travel during summer such that a starting temperature of 20C makes sense. Simple to adjust by increasing the amount of water heated
(5) The score is weighted 50-50 on packed size and weight. The dominant option on one metric scores 1 on that metric, and the worst scores zero.
(6) It has been a captivating exercise. Eye opener WRT the impact of pot size and efficiency of a gas system vs alcohol.

Last edited by gauvins; 10-17-22 at 10:14 PM.
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