cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby gb » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:43 pm

Derek wrote:
CO Native wrote:Fuels like Snow Peak Giga Power.....

I used this last week with my stove for melting snow, temps were around 0 degrees and it worked quite well. Melted probably 6-7 liters total on the trip.

This was probably the coldest I've used it, but its worked fine for me every other time melting snow too. Am I to gather that this is rarity and usually they dont work well or something?

--D


Nope. I've used my snowpeak on many an occasion without issues. Not even sure why I still have my whisperlite.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby Scott P » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:00 pm

I do maintain the whisper lite. It wasnt pressurizing and I was using white gas.

Usually you need to replace the o-rings at a minimum or the pump entirely when that happens. The O-rings do fail after a while, but are meant to be easily replaced.


What year Whisperlite is it by chance? My Whisperlight doesn't work that great in the really cold weather, but it's a older model. The oil and leather o-rings freeze up, but I hear that the new models are much better. I think mine is from 1996. I haven't used it for several years now, but keep it since it's a really good one to take overseas (I also have an XKG).

We also have the powermax fuel in a local ]bike shop so ill have to stock up on that.


It works awesome in cold weather, but make sure you have the right stove for it (only a few stoves take it). If you leave the cannister out all night in winter, it will still fire right up in the morning (performs flawless at least down to -23F). I bought a 10 year supply when I heard it was going to be phased out. :(
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby winmag4582001 » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:28 pm

Dex wrote:
winmag4582001 wrote:My Jetboil works great in the summer. BUT, sucks at altitude in the cold. Warm the fuel inside your jacket and definately carry a reliable fire source because the striker just doesnt light the fuel well at altitude and not at all in the cold.
Here's a video at about 12,500' by Bancroft.
http://www.youtube.com/user/winmag4582001#p/a/u/2/eLxXyu-2Z4w


Piezo ignition doesn't work above a certain altitude.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezo_ignition


I did not know that. Now I feel like an ass for getting so mad at my jetboil. I even wasted money on a new striker. :oops:
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby Bean » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:07 pm

live4pc wrote:A MSR whisperlite sucks if using anything smaller than 33oz fuel bottle in my experience.

Yeah, they're just kind of annoying in general. Big, bulky, heavy, blah. But they keep going regardless of the cold or altitude. My Dragonfly has been sitting in the back of a closet for a year because I haven't had a situation where I need to use it. I'd rather haul in a burrito for dinner, filter water, and have mountain dew and snickers for breakfast than bring a big bulky stove. Hopefully I'll get a multi-night trip in this year where the Dragonfly could be put to good use.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby forbins_mtn » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:09 pm

so why is this Soto Micro Regulator an award winner and considered so great? It has a piezo ignitor.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby CO Native » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:32 pm

The only thing the Soto does different is automatically open the valve wider when the pressure inside the canister drops, which is normal during use of a canister as vaporization lowers the temperature of the fuel. It does not actually make the stove more capable of handling the cold. Once the fuel gets too cold to vaporize you're still stuck.

The reason the jetboil helios can handle colder temperatures better is that it inverts the canister. This allows liquid fuel to enter the fuel line, get pre-heated at the burner, and then vaporize away from the canister.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby forbins_mtn » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:54 am

thanks CO Native - can always count on you to bring the answer. How about altitude? I really don't see me needing a high altitude, extreme low temp stove....but still: whats the best option?
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby Johnson » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:14 am

Dex wrote:I'd suggest you compare the price of the Soto with the other canister stove you might buy. The Soto at $70 possibly $56 with a 20% REI discount is in the range of other stoves.

The soto gets very good reviews on REI

http://www.rei.com/product/785338/soto-od-1r-micro-regulator-stove?preferredSku=7853380017?cm_mmc&mr:trackingCode=ED40B1FE-FB85-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA


I tried the Soto and was real excited to use it but last December on our Uncompahgre trip I saw first hand how it compared to the standard Jetboil..... the Jetboil killed my Soto. I ended up returning it and got the Jetboil Sol.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby Scott P » Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:55 am

How about altitude?


Assuming temperature wasn't a factor, cannister stoves work better at high altitude. This is because there is a greater pressure difference between the canister and the outside air (I assume that everyone's seen what happens to a bag of potato chips or Doritoes on top of a 14er). It's not the altitude that gets canister stoves; it's the temperature (which of course is usually lower at high altitudes).
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby CO Native » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:35 am

Here is some helpful information about canister fuels--

Butane boiling point: 31 degrees F
Isobutane boiling point: 11 degrees F
Propane boiling point : -43 degrees F

In other words pick your fuel well. A canister of pure Butane will be useless below 30 degrees.
Snow Peak Giga Power fuel only claims to work well down to 17 degrees.

The reason Propane is not a common fuel used in backpacking canisters is the pressure it creates significantly higher (nearly 5 times that of butane). This requires much thicker metal walls of the canister making the system heavy. (Think green Coleman propane canisters at Walmart.)

The best solution to using canisters well in cold temperatures is to purchase a canister that has a mix of fuels that includes propane, and combine that with a stove that inverts the fuel canister and preheats the liquid fuel before vaporization. If you buy a good mix but use an upright setup in temperatures below 11 degrees then your stove will work fine but only until the propane component of the mix has been used up. You will only be burning propane as the other fuels in the canister will remain in their liquid state. Propane is usually only a small percentage of the mix. By inverting the stove the fuel line will fill with the liquid rather than drawing the gas off the top. This allows the propane to push the rest of the fuels down the line. The fuel line then passes through or near the flame of the burner pre-heating the fuel so that when it's time to be vaporized for burning it has been warmed to the point that all the fuels vaporize quickly and burn. With this setup and fuel you should be able to reliably use your canister stove to -43.

The only canister stoves I know that do this properly are the Jetboil helios, Primus EtaPackLite, MSR WindPro, and the SnowPeak L1 Crabstove. Though with both the Primus and the MSR I believe you have to buy a separate stand to hold the fuel inverted. Of these choices, I personally think the Helios is the best.

Even with these setups running perfect you'll still have some startup work to do. (Usually people use cansiters because they are so fast and easy.) Because you don't have a flame to start off starting the stove goes much better if you've kept the fuel warm. You still need to watch for some initial flare up as well as the isobutane and butane may come out liquid initially and then quickly vaporize as the propane burns.

I still usually tell people not to waste their time on canister stoves for winter camping though. White gas is so much more reliable in all conditions that it's all I use in winter. In my mind the best all around stove is the MSR XKG Ex multi fuel. Take care of that stove and you'll be passing it on to your grand kids. The other thing I like about white gas is that I can take as much fuel as I want. With canisters it's extremely hard to determine how full they are and if it's not enough you have to go buy a completely full one for your trip.

Hope this is helpful.

***
Edit - I should add that the temperatures listed above are for these fuels at sea level. As Scott noted their boiling point drops as you gain altitude.
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby CO Native » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:44 am

I found a good chart about fuel mixes. I see why people have been having success with the Powermax fuel. It's 40 percent propane. So at least for 40 percent of the fuel in that one most any canister stove will work down to -43F.

canisterdetails.jpg
canisterdetails.jpg (133.59 KiB) Viewed 4733 times
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Re: cannister stoves in winter/high altitude

Postby Bean » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:48 am

Keep in mind that as you burn fuel, the temperature of the canister gets colder. Keeping the canister in/on the snow can actually keep the canister (a little) warmer than "insulating" it.
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