Prairie Native wrote:I recently got a jet boil because in my last few trips my whisper lite has just been a peice. Its ruined a few trips where we have set up a high camp and wanted to melt snow for food/drinking water. I've recently heard that cannisters are terrible with cold and altitude. So am I just s.o.l.?
Out of curiosity, what was wrong with your Whisperlite?
I've used the MSR stove line for the last 20 years, with either the XGK, Whisperlite, or Dragonfly. I've generally found these stoves to be reliable, albeit more of a pain to setup and prime when compared with a canister stove. for melting snow in Colorado winter conditions, the MSR lineup is really pretty hard to beat. I've used them below -20F in the past, and they'll beat a canister stove hands-down in those conditions. For me, the one problem I've run across was that some of the plastic pumps weren't designed very well. Two of these have broken on me in the course of a few hundred nights with these stoves, and one of the breaks put the stove totally out of commission (the other break allowed me to keep using the pump until it cold be replaced). I should also mention that someone else was setting up the stove both times that they broke. MSR has a replacement pump part, and it appears to have been beefed up. No problems since I got the replacement.
Anyway, I know some people have used the Jetboil in winter. I haven't used that stove at all, so I can't speak to its ability to work in those conditions. I will say that my one backcountry canister stove experience was less than spectacular. I have a Snowpeak Giga stove that I bought probably ten years ago. That thing is all but worthless once the temps start to get near/below freezing. I've tried running the stove on MSR iso/pro fuel for colder weather, and it would simply flame out on this blend. As such, I haven't been very happy with canister stove performance in winter, though my experience has been isolated to a couple of stoves, and it does sound like the designs have been evolving to improve cold-weather performance. Regardless, the liquid fueled stoves (ie: MSR Whisperlite) are still going to perform better in the conditions that you'd encounter in a Colorado winter.
Prairie Native wrote:I do maintain the whisper lite. It wasnt pressurizing and I was using white gas. It also takes up 4 times the space in my pack that the cannister does. Such a pain to lug around the stove, gas bottle and cookware just to boil a few cups of water for food and water. As long as I can get enough for a dehydrated meal and some drinking water im good. So even a brand new gas cannister every time I go wont fire up in cold above treeline?
Did you try troubleshooting this problem to see what was causing the stove to not pressurize? This problem can occur if the part of the pump plunger that forms the seal has dried out (called the "pump cup" --- it should be described in your instruction manaul). On my older stoves I believe this part was composed of leather, which could dry out over time. The newer stove appears to be made with some sort of synthetic material (either that, or it is a newer and smoother leather).
Anyway, while it doesn't really provide a great winter snow melting solution, I can recommend that you try an alcohol stove for perfect warm weather reliability, and ease of use. After growing tired of the weight/bulk of my MSR stoves in the summer months, and due to my general disdain for the canister stove, I've switched to a Trangia Westwind for summer use. After using this stove for about 6 seasons, I really have come to love it. It isn't the fanciest stove, and it doesn't boil the fastest. But, it has nothing to break, it always lights for me, and it gets the job done at a very light weight. Stove manufacturers always seem to compete based on boil times. For winter snow melting ability, I'd consider that an important trait. For summer hiking/climbing, not so much. I typically light the Trangia, set up camp, and my water is boiling by the time I have the tent up. I don't think it is really suitable for trips where snow melting is going to be an obvious requirement, but I will say that I was able to boil water with this stove in below zero temperatures on top of Cameron Pass one winter -- so, winter emergency use is not out of the question with it.
If you are interested in trying that option, it is only a $25 gamble, and gives you another piece of gear to play with: http://www.amazon.com/Trangia-Westwind-Stove-with-Burner/dp/B0055EBPSC
Finally! All this talk about using cannister stoves in the winter reminds me of trying to put the proverbial square peg in a round hole.
If all you can afford is one stove, sure, it's overkill. But if winter is your thing it's hard to beat an XGK. Just my opinion.
That is true! Actually, the XGK was my first backpacking stove
And, it was complete overkill for my first five years or so using it. Eventually I put it through its paces in much colder and harsher conditions, and it never did fail me. Sadly, it left me in my stolen vehicle in 2003 or so, right after I moved to CO