Saturday, May 31, 2014

Camp Stove Comparison

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…

11 comments:

SonjaM said...

Are you sure you have enough stoves? I admit although having camped a lot when I was younger I never owned a stove. Hot water for coffee or tea was often a welcome treat on campgrounds (there was no such thing as camping in the wild in Southern Europe), or we had a fire going.

David Masse said...

Richard, if you bring three or four stoves, and an extra pan or two, you could attempt some really nice meals. Pan seared New York sirloin with green pepper sauce, with steamed asparagus with hollandaise, for instance.

Or lobster with corn on the cob, and cherries jubilee.

Or duck leg confit with boiled parsleyed new potatoes and Harvard beets.

Oh gosh, I could go on and on. With apologies to Brandy, Brad and Sonja.

But fear not, Bob and I will be pleased to judge the results and offer gentle yet fair, balanced and generally kindly critiques.

redlegsrides said...

ya know RichardM, since you're into collection camp stoves, they now make one where the heat produced somehow produces enough electricity to power/recharge devices that charge via USB....

RichardM said...

A lot of backpacking, climbing, x-country skiing and bicycle tours before any motorcycle trips. All ranging from day trips to multiple weeks. And too many car camping trips to count. Just don't get me started on tents...

RichardM said...

I used to hike with a club that had as part of its name "Wilderness Gourmet Society". Those trips not only included multiple stoves, pots and woks but wine glasses and appetizers.

RichardM said...

I've heard about that one. I think it's called the BioLite and burns wood. That is a little bit too extreme as solar seems to be a much better option for charging you stuff and burning wood, even if contained in a stove, may still be banned in some areas of the back country. Interesting concept though...

Unknown said...

Richard:

Last year I expanded my stove collection but I have never done a comparison test.

I have: 2 MSR Whisperlites, a few asian single burner cartrige, two versions of alcohol stoves including the triad titanium, single burner propane, a few chinese copies of the tiny Micro you bought, and a dual burner Coleman propane. I wanted to buy the coleman 442 but they don't sell them in Canada and I have been looking at Craigslist for a propane BBQ grill. I can't stop myself and lately I have been looking at tents. We only have mec.ca here. Lucky there are no REI's or Cabellas around (or Bass)

I was going to use my small micro cannister until it runs out, and then switch to the multifuel MSR and use pump gas. I also have the diesel jet but it is supposed to be very messy

OH, and let's not get started on LED flashlights and head band lights

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Time for a more thorough review with scores for weight and maybe subjective factors like convenience and "green-ness". Then move onto LED lights, headlamps, etc. With Amazon affiliate links for your favorite products. Soon you'll have a business and never be able to retire.

The Coleman 442 is the same as the Peak 1, right? I remember back when there was a lot of competition between Coleman, Primus, Svea and MSR. IMHO, MSR blows the others away unless you don't care for the noise. I've had a Primus turn into a blowtorch and a Svea that took forever to heat a pot of water during a Winter trip. Those were sold. The Peak 1 just seemed heavy and unstable with a large pot compared to the MSR XGK.

Trobairitz said...

wow, you have a few stoves.

I am still attracted to the ease of use of the Jetboil and the fact I don't have to use liquid fuel, just a container. Maybe that is a girlie thing though.

RichardM said...

Different tools for different applications. I opted for liquid fuel for low temperature performance, i.e. needing to melt snow for water. As long as the canisters are kept warm they work great. I've seen some people bring chemical hand warmers to heat up the canister before lighting.

I'm not going to touch the "girlie" comment with a 10-foot pole. ;-)

Joseph said...

wow! there many camping stove. Excellent suggestion of stoves for travel. This is great post.I like this post. Many many thanks for this post.Really this post is so helpful for us.