Stoves

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Freeheeler
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Stoves

Postby Freeheeler » Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:55 pm

As someone who's been using a Whisperlite for years now I was wondering if anyone out there could tell me their experiences with the JetBoil stoves, pros/cons, performance at altitude/cold weather? I think there's something very appealing about not spilling fuel, not priming the stove, and having fewer opportunities for pots/mugs to slip off the stove, but not having any experience (and not knowing anyone else with a JetBoil) I don't know if the system has any serious downsides.
Any help would be much appreciated.
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Scott P
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Postby Scott P » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:08 pm

performance at altitude/cold weather?


For summer use, those stoves are just fine. However, they aren't made for either cold weather (or high altitude mountain ranges where it will be cold-i.e. Andes, AK, or Himalaya-but in CO in summer will do fine), so if this is what you are planning on using the stove for, a different stove would be better.

Here is a review written by Henrick whom took the stove on the Mount Massive trip I led:

Used this stove on Mount Massive, Colorado at 11600 ft in about -5F = -20C.

While it boiled water very fast at home during test, the above condition must be close to the working limit. It was difficult to ignite the stove (kept pressing the igniter about a minute till it caught fire), and it burned at very low flame taking several minutes to melt snow and other several minutes to boil.

My previous stove was liquid fuel (MSR dragonfly - got stolen), so I don't know if problems in cold wether is generic to gas-stoves. I used MSR gas canister as I could not find jetboil canister in the stores. this is another minus, since only with the small jetboil canister can it all fit inside the cup for compact packing.

Thus, for winter mountaineering stove I give it 3 stars. For lower altitude and summer stove it would probably perform very well, and for such use achieve 5 stars.


Actually everyone whom used the stove in cold weather has confirmed the exact same thing:

http://www.summitpostgear.com/gear/1052/jetboil.html

The above was just below 0F. At -10, a JetBoil won't work at all (at least from my experience). At anything below +20F, performance is reduced by quite a bit.

There is a simple way to test this or any other stove out though. Simply leave it in the freezer overnight and try it the next day and see if it fires up or not the next day. Morning when it is colder is better, but take it outside after pulling it from the freezer.

Jet Boil is a good summer backpacking stove. It isn't meant for cold weather, winter climbing, nor expedition type glacier trips. JetBoil even says this in their specifications.

If you want a canister stove that will work year round, try the one below, i.e., anything that uses "Powermax fuel":

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews ... %20Caffin/

Here is a review:

Until last winter, I had always taken a liquid fuel stove with me when I went winter camping. I have had plenty of experience dealing with the poor performance of canister stoves in cold conditions of the other seasons. I am fully aware that there are ways to make those canister stoves function in freezing temperatures but I have been usually encumbered enough that I have not been interested in having to jump through hoops to coax a stove to work. Five years ago Coleman introduced the Peak 1 Exponent series of canister stoves and the outdoor community was spellbound over the outstanding winter performance of them. How Coleman’s unique stove and canister design worked was at first a big secret and mystery.

My favorite winter stove now is the Coleman Xtreme. Like most canister stoves, it is dead simple to use. With 14,000 BTU’s at your disposal and great simmer control; this stove can be used for melting snow quickly or actually cooking real food! The Coleman Xtreme is built to be very durable and is therefore not as light (336g) as some of the stand-alone burner models, which other companies have to offer. The Xtreme stove is reasonably priced at ~ $55 Can. The Coleman Powermax fuel canisters are proprietary with this stove and that means it’s not only harder to find the fuel, but it is usually more expensive than your industry standard Lindal valve canister. On the plus side, there is very little dead space left over when a Powermax canister is empty.


It is now my favorite cold weather stove as well.
Last edited by Scott P on Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:23 pm

As Scott said, the Jetboil isn't really designed for winter use. One of my climbing partners tried to use it at Black Lake near Longs and had some issues with the heat output(in winter conditions).

I will disagree with the above statement that they do not work well at altitude. Technically as you go up in altitude the difference between the pressure within the canister and the external pressure increases(more internal, ratio wise). Thus this doesn't cause a fuel flow problem like one gets when the temp drops and the gas inside condenses. The igniters/piezos do have problems at higher elevations, but that's not the stove. Meaning you may have to use a lighter when you get up high, but the stove will cook just fine.

If you want to just boil water or cook simple on pot meals like soup or small amounts of pasta then the Jetboil is fine. For multi pot/pan cooking or for cold weather(especially snow melting) stick with the whisperlite.

Eric
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Postby Scott P » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:29 pm

I will disagree with the above statement that they do not work well at altitude. Technically as you go up in altitude the difference between the pressure within the canister and the external pressure increases(more internal).


Yes, you are 100% correct, but I just cut and pasted this from an older post I made on another forum and was going on the assumption that high altitude = cold (not specific to 14ers).

Anyway, when I said "high altitude", I was refering to something like the Himalayas, Alaska, or the Andes rather than CO. :oops: By mountaineering definition, high altitude starts at 18,000 to 19,000 feet, and goes up from there, but by cooking definition it stats much lower. I'll edit my post. Still if anyone really is interested in high altitude use (where it will be cold), I would highly recommend a different stove.
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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:01 pm

Not to be argumentative, but I've read many trip reports from extreme alpine situations(18K+) where canisters stoves have been used. Here is an excerpt taken from the "Alaskan Mountaineering and Hiking" website

"Altitude can also affect the fuel canister, the higher you ascend the more pressure difference there is between the fuel inside and the outside air pressure. Think of a bag of chips bought at sea level and taken to altitude, you would think the bag would burst. This extra pressure increases the gas flow for more heat and negates some of the cold problems."

Thus, there is a balance for which canisters will work, when you are high enough in altitude, and the ambient temperature isn't too low. Of course in extreme cold situations the canister will have issues.

Another interesting point is that the higher the % of propane in a canister stove, the better it will function at colder temps. This is because propane vaporizes around -44F, while Butane vaporizes around 11F. I remember reading that jetboil has the highest propane content of the canister fuels.
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Postby Scott P » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:14 pm

Not to be argumentative, but I've read many trip reports from extreme alpine situations(18K+) where canisters stoves have been used. Here is an excerpt taken from the "Alaskan Mountaineering and Hiking" website


You are right, but are they speaking of the Jetboil specifically. :?: Many canister stoves have excellent performance in cold weather. The Jetboil is not one of them, though it is a very neat set up for summer in CO or other similar places.
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Postby Freeheeler » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:20 pm

That's pretty much my main concern; the altitude. Since I would be using it exlusively during the summer, significantly cold temps won't be a problem. As long as it functions well enough to boil water at, say 13,000, that's all that matters.
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Postby Scott P » Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:24 pm

That's pretty much my main concern; the altitude. Since I would be using it exlusively during the summer, significantly cold temps won't be a problem. As long as it functions well enough to boil water at, say 13,000, that's all that matters.


In that case, then a Jetboil will work just fine.
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Postby Bean » Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:42 pm

I tried out my new jetboil this past weekend at the Torreys (Stevens Gulch) trailhead. Started off great, boiling water for dinner quickly (it had been warm and deep in my pack for the hike in) but cooled off and slowed quite a bit as I moved on to melting snow. I kept the canister in my sleeping bag to make sure it would work better in the morning - it wasn't too bad boiling up water for oatmeal. I'm confident it'll be perfect for summer trips, but for winter and any high-altitude trips I may take, I'll need to go with something else.
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Postby Vick » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:03 pm

I had never thought about problems with stoves. I was wondering about using sterno fuel. Would something like that work at the elevation of most of the 14ers? We will be camping during the first 3 weeks in May and had not considered that at all. We were either going to use sterno or propane.
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Postby Kojones » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:05 pm

I have been researching the MSR Reactor extensively. I've always wanted the JetBoil, but my money is going to the Reactor. It seems to provide better overall "service" and is made for the cold and wind. I will be getting it once it hits the shelves at REI (last I heard, it was being released late this month and on REI shelves early May).

It weighs a bit more, but if you are like me, and time is valuable in the backcountry, the Reactor is the way to go. Much faster to boil, and even boils in constant wind (when the JetBoil didn't in same test conditions). It is also built for the cold, incorporating a revolutionary regulator that keeps constant heat/fuel pressure at cold temperatures and even when the fuel is getting low.

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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:54 pm

Kojones wrote:It is also built for the cold, incorporating a revolutionary regulator that keeps constant heat/fuel pressure at cold temperatures and even when the fuel is getting low.

Kojones


Any idea how this "regulator" works to keep the fuel canister warm? From what I've read and seen the canister is still open to the enviro, thus should be susceptible to gas condensation and pressure loss. Granted I've seen very limited info about the stove, so would be interested in your take on how it limits the effects of the cold.

Eric

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