Being sort of prompted by Bobskoot's post about his camping gear, I decided to compare the performance of some of my camp stoves by heating 1 litre of water from 60°F to 200°F. The first one to be tested was the tiny MSR MicroRocket at only 2.6oz was by far the smallest one. It heated the water in 5' 40". Not too bad at all. I had just recently picked up this tiny stove for short trips. The negatives are stability with a heavy pot and, I'm told, low temperature performance.
The second stove to be tested was the MSR WhisperLite International. I had picked up this stove about three years ago before my road trip to California as a replacement for my old MSR XGK. This is without the included aluminum wind screen. Using standard pump gas (regular unleaded w/o ethanol), it heated the 1 litre of water in 4' 50". About what I expected. Being able to burn car gas is the biggest attraction of the multi-fuel stoves.
The next stove to be tested is a multi-fuel Coleman single burner stove that I found in the middle of College Road about five years ago. I think it may have slid off of someones car after they filled it up with pump gas as it had a full tank. It heated the water in 6' 25" but would have performed better with a larger diameter pot due to the larger diameter burner.
The next stove to be tested was my 35+ year old MSR XGK multi-fuel stove. I remember this being a very hot stove and has been used on numerous trips. Using the same unleaded pump gas as the second MSR stove, it heated the litre of water in 4' 05" but it covered the bottom of the pot with soot in the process. One of the convenient features is the flint striker next to the solid fuel line. The solid fuel line means that it won't fold as compactly but the fuel tank adds to the stability of the unit.
The final stove in my comparison is a one-burner, table top model that we picked up at an asian food store in Los Angeles. We used it on a road trip after getting frustrated with the instability of the Coleman one-burner model tested above.It uses a butane/propane mixture probably very similar to the MSR IsoPro cartridge though the fuel is sold in a different form factor and is available in quantity at Costco/Sam's Club type of stores. I've seen these single burner portable stoves used commercially at restaurants outside of the kitchen. It heated the litre of water in a very quick 4' 30".
All of the tests were done with a 1.5 litre MSR pot. And the water temperature measured with a remote probe cooking thermometer. The results are consistent with my experience using the different stoves. Even though the 35+ year old MSR stove puts out the most heat, I'll probably retire it due to the soot on the bottom of the pan. It is the only true multi-fuel stove as it came with a different jet for burning kerosene (aka #1 diesel or Jet "A"). I've only used diesel once as it also covered the bottom of the pan with soot. But back in 1980, diesel was only 11¢/gal in Mexico and I was not even charged for filling my one litre fuel bottle. I have used this stove for numerous other tasks besides cooking such as starting campfires and wood stoves and preheating chimneys.
You just can't beat the cartridge stoves for convenience but the non-refillable cartridge is a real negative for me. If I run out of liquid fuel, I can just pop off the fuel line on the bike and fill up the fuel bottle. Also, gas in the fuel bottle could be added to your gas tank if you run out and get you a few more miles down the road. This was not meant to be an exhaustive test but I just happen to have these lying around today. Untested is the two burner Coleman camp stove.
Can you tell that today was a slow day? I think that I have too many stoves…