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Canister Stove or Liquid Fuel Stove?

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Canister Stove or Liquid Fuel Stove?

Old 04-21-10, 11:13 AM
  #26  
a1rabbit
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cyccommute;

You're right about everything you've mentioned. The only thing is we have to take into consideration that when you use liquid you're not forced to take an entire container.

When I say bulky, I also refer to weight. Stove and canister weighs in at more than a pop can stove (I don't have a good scale handy to go into details) and a small bottle of heet, or whatever you store your fuel in. Many people carry their fuel in a very small squeeze bottle, much like these when they hike. I'm not talking about gasoline, etc. Don't use that in a pop can stove! With a canister stove you really can't cut back on weight except to find the lightest canister, and when you replace the canister you have to pack it back out. When you use an alcohol stove you just take enough to last you for your trip, plus a bit more for emergency.

Also, I've seen half bottles of heet (equivalent) in hiker bins, I've never seen a canister. People tend to buy a bottle of fuel, sometimes a gallon (can) and only take what they have room for. They then leave the rest in the hiker bin for the next person. I've only seen two hiker bins, but I used to always went to the same places back when I hiked regularly so that's probably why. For those who don't know what a hiker bin is it's basically a box, or a bag of left over "hiker stuff" that a store or post office might keep behind their counter or in plain view. Hikers who have come by leave items that are too good to throw away but that they may have replaced with something better in the box for anyone who needs it. I've seen old hats, pegs, fuel, sunglasses, patches, tapes, rope, bungees, sacks, inner tubes that probably need a quick fix, and bits and bobs of all kinds.

I'd not say that's a great reason to use a liquid fuel stove, it's just something I thought about.

The other thing we have to consider is how much we're cooking and how luxurious we want it to be.

There is no doubt that a canister stove will burn hotter, thus faster. But when it comes time to cook I don't care if it takes me an extra couple of minutes to do it. I tend to cook things that I just need to add water too, be it a pack of noodles or something I've dehydrated at home. The ability to simmer is also nice with a canister stove! Canisters and pressurized liquid fuel stoves are better for high wind as I think was mentioned. I also tend to cook mostly with water, I'm very minimalist when it comes to cooking away from home. I guess it's one of the things I skimp on to take more weight somewhere else, or not at all.

Ultimately it comes down to what suits the individual, all stoves have their merits and I will use whatever one fits my needs best at the time. I defiantly am not a snob who will turn down a canister or propane stove if it's there for me to use when I want to use it.

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Old 04-21-10, 11:16 AM
  #27  
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I've used canister ( msr pocket rocket ), liquid gas ( msr whisperlite), and alchohol (trangia) stoves. My preference for bike touring is the trangia. It's so simple. Whether rational or not, I feel more comfortable having a bottle of alcohol on me over a can of some kind of gas. I like that I don't have to worry about finding fuel no matter where I am in the world. I don't have to carry excessive amounts of fuel for fear that I won't find it again. For shorter trips the MSR canister pocket rocket is nice, but I rarely take short trips. It cooks faster than the trangia, but that doesn't really matter to me.
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Old 04-21-10, 11:41 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
My biggest beef with canisters is having to carry multiples, and trying to tell if the damned thing is full, half full, one third full or just enough to piss me off when it craps out right before my dinner is cooked. With liquid fuel you can tell just how much you have.
You can get an idea of how much fuel is in a canister by floating it upright in a pot of water. Make sure there isn't any air trapped under the bottom. For 220 g canisters, full canisters will sink to the "top" of the canister (where it starts to curve over from the flat sides) and empty canisters will sink to about 1/3 of the way between the "full" mark and the bottom of the canister (see terrible drawing below). Fuel left is proportional to how far it sinks between those marks. I don't use the other sizes much, so I'm not sure where the marks would be for them, but it's not hard to measure for yourself. This is obviously a rough estimate, but it's better than shaking and guessing in my opinion.


Code:
 ____/\____
/          \ ----- water up to here when full
|          |
|          | ----- water up to here when empty
|__________|

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Old 04-21-10, 11:57 AM
  #29  
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One more vote for liquid fuel (alcohol) stoves here.
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Old 04-21-10, 12:01 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by a1rabbit View Post
cyccommute;

You're right about everything you've mentioned. The only thing is we have to take into consideration that when you use liquid you're not forced to take an entire container.

When I say bulky, I also refer to weight. Stove and canister weighs in at more than a pop can stove (I don't have a good scale handy to go into details) and a small bottle of heet, or whatever you store your fuel in. Many people carry their fuel in a very small squeeze bottle, much like these when they hike. I'm not talking about gasoline, etc. Don't use that in a pop can stove! With a canister stove you really can't cut back on weight except to find the lightest canister, and when you replace the canister you have to pack it back out. When you use an alcohol stove you just take enough to last you for your trip, plus a bit more for emergency.
The amount of weight you have to carry would be dependent on how long the trip is, how often you can resupply, and how much you plan on using the stove. You still have to carry the same volume of fuel if you use the alchohol. Probably more since the energy density of the fuel is lower. You have to use more to do the same work. Isopropyl alcohol, which has the highest energy density of the alcohols mentioned, has only 69% of the energy density of butane. If you are going to carry a gallon of butane (it's a silly amount of butane to carry but the math is easier), you'd have to carry 1.4 gallons of isopropanol. The butane would weigh 6 lb but the isopropanol would weigh 11.3 lbs...if it were pure isopropanol. You'd have to carry more if it contained water.

Mass burning stoves aren't nearly as efficient as pressure stoves either. The air:fuel mixture in a mass burn isn't optimized so you can have lots of unburned fuel and the heat is undirected, i.e. lost to drafts. So you end up needing more of the fuel to do the same amount of work. That means carrying even more fuel. More fuel equals more weight.

Yes, you have to carry a stove head and the canister. But stove heads for butane stoves weigh hardly anything (3oz), seldom breakdown, many have their own igniter and can be accurately regulated. Canisters are nearly impossible to spill, the fuel disappates quickly if it does, and you can change the canister if it runs out while using it. You certainly can't do that with an alcohol stove. Pouring a flammable liquid into a burning flammable liquid is a disaster waiting to happen

Lots of people use pop can stoves but they just aren't my cup of tea. When you do an analysis of the heat capacity of the fuel, density of the fuel, efficient use of the heat generated, weight of the mechanism for burning, etc., the only place pop can stove win out are in weight of the mechanism. And even that is minimal. It's not enough to make me want switch nor to make me want to recommend one.
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Old 04-21-10, 12:15 PM
  #31  
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I personally have never run into any problems regarding weather, cannister availability. (I mean there are walmarts EVERYWHERE) or any other maintenence issuse with my Jetboil. I can't vouch for the rest, but I have never seen anyone have a problem with one no matter the brand. I think it's all about what fits you best. All I know is that when I tested My jetboil out against the alcohol stoves and liquidgas stoves my water boiled in less than 40 seconds in the jetboil where it took 1 minute 15 for the alcohol and more for the Liquid Gas. That alone was enough for me to say I can eat in less time. winner in my book.
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Old 04-21-10, 12:23 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by X-LinkedRider View Post
I personally have never run into any problems regarding weather, cannister availability. (I mean there are walmarts EVERYWHERE) or any other maintenence issuse with my Jetboil. I can't vouch for the rest, but I have never seen anyone have a problem with one no matter the brand. I think it's all about what fits you best. All I know is that when I tested My jetboil out against the alcohol stoves and liquidgas stoves my water boiled in less than 40 seconds in the jetboil where it took 1 minute 15 for the alcohol and more for the Liquid Gas. That alone was enough for me to say I can eat in less time. winner in my book.
Yep.. and most don't carry cannister type fuel once you leave the coasts. Northern Tier... good luck after you've left Idaho until you get to the East. Verified by me searching for the damn things for about 2K miles. Go alcohol or white/international type for heading across country.
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Old 04-21-10, 02:22 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
Yep.. and most don't carry cannister type fuel once you leave the coasts. Northern Tier... good luck after you've left Idaho until you get to the East. Verified by me searching for the damn things for about 2K miles. Go alcohol or white/international type for heading across country.
I know I can buy them in Omaha. So next time pass through Nebraska on your cross country tour.

and the brand I buy have level indictors on them.
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Old 04-21-10, 02:26 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
I know I can buy them in Omaha. So next time pass through Nebraska on your cross country tour.
Maybe i should have My experience was on the Northern Tier.. I have heard of similar issues on other routes as well. After my experience I would never tour with a cannister stove unless it was either short or I knew I could purchase them with ease.

I'll tour with an MSR multi fuel stove from now on. I can always find something to burn in it.

My second choice would be an alcohol based stove for extended trips...

Shorter trips... Love my MSR Simmerlite. aka windpro.
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Old 04-21-10, 03:05 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
I know I can buy them in Omaha. So next time pass through Nebraska on your cross country tour.

and the brand I buy have level indictors on them.
That's where I got mine in 2003. Rode over I-480 to downtown Omaha which was one hell of an experience. Had to ride back past so many wonderful smelling barbeque places without going to one* that it was torture.


*Me, riding and fatty foods don't make for a pleasant combination. Bummer. I can still smell those places... Oh! Wait, their running the pyrolysis plant again. Never mind
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Old 04-21-10, 04:48 PM
  #36  
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I personally like my liquid fuel, white gas stove, MSR Whisperlite. Here's why. I like the multiple fuel capabilities. White gas burns well and fairly clean. Lighting it is fun. It takes a couple minutes to set-up but when the flame starts you feel like a man. You can tell how much fuel is in the bottle. And I like that I don't have to waste a canister every time I need to refill.
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Old 04-22-10, 01:19 AM
  #37  
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I use the trangia, and I like it, except for last tour when it got below freezing and I had to hold a match under the burner to heat up fuel before it would light. Don't know if that was the smartest thing to do....

People complain about the cost of alcohol in the US, and I agree, it was expensive at the hardware stores, I think around $6 for a quart. Here in France it is pretty cheap, about 1.50 euros for a liter, and can be found in any grocery store, even very small ones.
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Old 04-22-10, 05:18 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Stannian View Post
And I like that I don't have to waste a canister every time I need to refill.
I have read this complaint from quite a few folks in different threads. Maybe I am dense, but I don't get it. You buy your liquid fuel in a container that has to be thrown away so it isn't like liquid fuels avoid the wasted container problem entirely. I guess the exception would be gasoline from the pump.

Additionally the canisters allow you the ability to buy the amount that you need while liquid fuel is likely to come in gallon containers especially if you burn white gas. I know that I don't want to carry a gallon of white gas when I need to restock on the road. We did see white gas in quart containers a few places on the TA, but I think they are still the exception. Alcohol avoids the large container size problem if you buy Yellow Heet in the small bottles, but again you throw a container away each time.

I'm not trying to sell one over the other in the liquid fuel vs canister gas debate. I might use liquid or isobutane depending on the trip. They both have their advantages.
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Old 04-22-10, 06:53 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I have read this complaint from quite a few folks in different threads. Maybe I am dense, but I don't get it. You buy your liquid fuel in a container that has to be thrown away so it isn't like liquid fuels avoid the wasted container problem entirely. I guess the exception would be gasoline from the pump.

Additionally the canisters allow you the ability to buy the amount that you need while liquid fuel is likely to come in gallon containers especially if you burn white gas. I know that I don't want to carry a gallon of white gas when I need to restock on the road. We did see white gas in quart containers a few places on the TA, but I think they are still the exception. Alcohol avoids the large container size problem if you buy Yellow Heet in the small bottles, but again you throw a container away each time.

I'm not trying to sell one over the other in the liquid fuel vs canister gas debate. I might use liquid or isobutane depending on the trip. They both have their advantages.
Well put. I can't imagine trying to run gasoline from into an MSR fuel bottle without making a royal mess or spilling more than you can get in the bottle or creating a hazard bad enough for the EPA to get involved! The few times I've tried to transfer Coleman fuel from the gallon can to the MSR bottle I end up with more on the floor than in the bottle.

I suppose you could use mineral spirits, which are readily available in very small sizes, and it has a similar composition to white gas but I've never tested it so I can't say.
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Old 04-22-10, 07:08 AM
  #40  
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The canister trash issue really comes from the backpacking community and it isn't the fact that white gas involves less trash but rather where you run out of fuel and people leaving canisters in the wilderness because they are too lazy to pack it out. Some habits are hard to break and if canisters have a moral issue attached to them in one sport, it tends to carry over to others where it may not have as large an impact.
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Old 04-22-10, 07:18 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I can't imagine trying to run gasoline from into an MSR fuel bottle without making a royal mess or spilling more than you can get in the bottle or creating a hazard bad enough for the EPA to get involved!
I know folks who claim that they manage to do it without spilling, but yeah it seems to me as if some spillage would be very likely. I haven't tried it though. I have enough trouble topping off a 5 gallon can for my boat without spilling

Originally Posted by Bikearound View Post
The canister trash issue really comes from the backpacking community and it isn't the fact that white gas involves less trash but rather where you run out of fuel and people leaving canisters in the wilderness because they are too lazy to pack it out. Some habits are hard to break and if canisters have a moral issue attached to them in one sport, it tends to carry over to others where it may not have as large an impact.
That is probably true. Hard to imagine someone leaving an empty in the wilderness, but I guess some folks are pretty thoughtless in that regard. I expect that kind of behavior from drunken yahoos who leave their beer cans behind, but have a harder time imagining backpackers or bike tourists doing that.

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Old 04-22-10, 07:47 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Well put. I can't imagine trying to run gasoline from into an MSR fuel bottle without making a royal mess or spilling more than you can get in the bottle or creating a hazard bad enough for the EPA to get involved! The few times I've tried to transfer Coleman fuel from the gallon can to the MSR bottle I end up with more on the floor than in the bottle.
The handle on the Coleman fuel can is for carrying, not pouring. Grab the can by the body on the side where the spout is, and pour such that the spout is higher the rest of the can. This way air can move in slowly without sloshing the fuel, and the fuel will trickle out of the can. No need for a funnel, just put the MSR bottle right below the spout.

I agree about gas at the pump. Guess some people have good trigger fingers.
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Old 04-22-10, 08:43 AM
  #43  
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My Primus butane stove is ridiculously small and light. It probably weighs less than my Swiss army knife (maybe?) So even if the cannister is a little heavy, the net weight is fine. Hence, I don't consider weight a determining factor in the butane vs. gasoline debate. (I have no opinion on alcohol. I've never used an alcohol stove except in a boat.)

On the gasoline side, I prefer one that burns unleaded as well as white gas (Coleman fuel). Coleman fuel probably burns cleaner than unleaded, but it's usually sold by the gallon. What am I going to do with the leftover on a bike tour? Wasteful. Coleman now sells their fuel in smaller bottles (quart?) and I buy that when it's available, but you can't count on finding it.

But you can always count on finding a gas station. That's the determining factor for me. And using the quick-squeeze method, I never spill more than a teaspoon of gas when I fill up at a gas station - usually less. I'm always ready with a paper towel, and I wash my hands so they don't smell like gasoline. No big deal.

By the way, while we're on this subject, I recently tried out a Whisperlite Internationale on my spring tour. I had previously used a Coleman 442 for about 15 years (with no maintenance and not a single malfunction or problem.) I was less than thrilled. I didn't like having to prime it, light it and wait. I forgot to jiggle it one time before using it and the jet was clogged. And what's with that big windscreen you have to set up each time? It was a pain. With the 442 you pump it and light it. After 30 seconds you turn the little handle down. That's it. Sure it's a bit heavy, but it has its own fuel reservoir. Hmmmm. I may have to go back to the old standby. Maybe buy a new one.

Comments?
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Old 04-22-10, 08:57 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
I use the trangia, and I like it, except for last tour when it got below freezing and I had to hold a match under the burner to heat up fuel before it would light. Don't know if that was the smartest thing to do....

People complain about the cost of alcohol in the US, and I agree, it was expensive at the hardware stores, I think around $6 for a quart. Here in France it is pretty cheap, about 1.50 euros for a liter, and can be found in any grocery store, even very small ones.
Trangia sells a winter accessory that does just about that:http://www.trangia.se/english/2925.o...cessories.html . Years ago one of the climbing magazines offered instructions on how to warm up a canister stove so you could use it in extreme cold. You tape one end of a copper strip to the canister, with the other end in the flame from the burner. For extra performance, you can wrap the canister in a scrap of foam sleeping pad. Needless to say, I am not going to try this any time soon! It's pretty easy to keep a gas canister warm by putting it in your sleeping bag overnight, that will help a lot in cold weather.

Regarding fuel spillage: I've had a couple of gas station owners/employees refuse or be very reluctant to let me fill a fuel bottle from their pump. I've filled 1- and 5-gallon fuel cans at a gas pump as well as MSR bottles, and the MSR bottles are a lot harder to fill without spilling. Gas pumps are meant to fill a 10-20 gallon (or bigger) gas tank on a car or truck, and the stuff just comes out too fast for a 1 quart or smaller bottle. Keeping a small fuel bottle flat on the ground is a lot harder than keeping a 1- or 5-gallon plastic can flat on the ground.

For filling a fuel bottle out of gallon cans, Wal-Mart (and probably a lot of other big box stores) sells funnels that include a strainer. You can also buy pour spouts that fit into your fuel bottle for topping off your stove fuel tank. I always use the filter funnel when I'm pouring fuel, I like to keep the fuel as clean as possible.
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Old 04-22-10, 08:58 PM
  #45  
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Another Trangia fan here. Here's another possibility I haven't seen mentioned yet:

http://www.woodgas.com/bookSTOVE.htm

I haven't used or seen one of these in action, but it might also be a good option.
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Old 04-23-10, 04:46 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by sesmith View Post
Another Trangia fan here. Here's another possibility I haven't seen mentioned yet:

http://www.woodgas.com/bookSTOVE.htm

I haven't used or seen one of these in action, but it might also be a good option.
Wood gas stoves have always intrigued me, but I have never tried one. On one hand I like the idea of just picking up fuel off the ground. On the other hand most of these stoves weigh as much as or more than a pocket rocket and two of the smaller fuel cartridges combined. That and the notion of sooted pots have put me off trying one so far.
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Old 05-08-10, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by stedalus View Post
The handle on the Coleman fuel can is for carrying, not pouring. Grab the can by the body on the side where the spout is, and pour such that the spout is higher the rest of the can. This way air can move in slowly without sloshing the fuel, and the fuel will trickle out of the can. No need for a funnel, just put the MSR bottle right below the spout.

I agree about gas at the pump. Guess some people have good trigger fingers.
I pour far more dangerous stuff for a living and have a very good pour technique. The Coleman can is very poorly designed for transferring given the placement of the spout. No matter how you pour it, it is difficult aim. I don't have problems with sloshing the fuel but with too much of the fuel running down the side of the can.

On the canister at Wall Mart question: I just got back from 2 weeks of touring in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. I had a chance to check several Hell Marts along the way from Colorado to Arkansas and while on tour and can report that about 80% of the Hell Marts are was in had butane canisters for stoves. Most also had quart bottles of white gas also.
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Old 05-08-10, 04:18 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post

You're either a liquid fuel kind of guy or you're a canister guy. Your preference must be coded into your DNA.
I really think it depends on what you are doing. We have both and I really prefer the canister. It is so easy to use and clean and quick to set up and... It's wonderful! If I was only out for a week or so, there is no question that I would be hauling the canister.

However, the canisters are only available in certain places. If you plan to tour anywhere they are not available, you would be setting yourself up for trouble. On our trip around the USA and Mexico we seriously considered taking the canister stove - how hard could it be to find the replacements in the USA? My husband talked me out of it, and in the end he was right. We kept our eyes out the whole year we traveled just to see how much trouble we would have had - and it would have been a LOT of trouble. In some areas, we would have had to carry three or more canisters to get us through to the next place they were available.

If you are traveling out of the USA it is even more difficult. In fact, I think it's ridiculous to take a canister to other countries unless you'll only be there for a week and one canister will last the whole time. I haven't seen a canister since... I don't even know when!

We are now carrying the MSR Internationale and it can use any fuel. We prefer the white gas, but haven't found it for a while, so are burning regular gas.
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Old 05-08-10, 06:09 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post

If you are traveling out of the USA it is even more difficult. In fact, I think it's ridiculous to take a canister to other countries unless you'll only be there for a week and one canister will last the whole time. I haven't seen a canister since... I don't even know when!

We are now carrying the MSR Internationale and it can use any fuel. We prefer the white gas, but haven't found it for a while, so are burning regular gas.
If by "traveling out of the USA" you mean flying in a commercial aircraft, forget about bringing a gas canister. Just about every airline forbids gas canisters in checked or carry-on baggage, and you can't even air mail them. They can only be sent by surface mail, and REI won't ship them to customers at all.

Canister stoves are pretty widely available in Europe, but the canister types that are readily available vary from region to region. Best option is to buy a cheap stove when you get to the country you are touring in.
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Old 05-08-10, 07:24 PM
  #50  
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why someone would want to carry a store that required searching out a type of store is wild.

every 7-11 and circle-k has Heet or its equivalent, every convenience store you stop at has the fuel you need.

searching out a walmart for stove fuel? no thanks.

I've found myself buying fuel for my stove at odd hours, in the dark, wet, and cold, in way out of the way places....

if i were going expedition like nancysv currently is, a multi-fuel stove would be a must.

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