Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Very very long ago my bother-in-law and I had cheap little stoves that used a butane cartridge for fuel. Not the typical butane/propane canisters you see nowadays, but the pure butane cans like the ones they fill butane lighters with. It was extremely light and had the canister remote (a little like MSR Windpro, but simpler). It was cheap to purchase fuel, and you could warm the fuel with you hands (or even the stove!) since the canister was on a long flexible rubber tube. The name "Spider" comes to mind, but I am uncertain of the name. Question, Is there any light weight backpacking stove on the market NOW that uses those cheap butane canisters? I would love to find one, if for the sake of nostalgia if nothing else.
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Ok, so I'm replying to my self. Maybe I'm the only one interested. I spent an hour or so looking online, again, and here is what I found. Nothing much. However there were a couple of stoves that were butane fired and interesting. The Optimus Mouse Trap and the Gerry Mini stove and the Hank Roberts. the most interesting is the hank Roberts Mini Mark III. It has a remote butane canister and folds up into a little flat cup. One problem is that you can no longer easily purchase the canisters for these butane stoves. According to Chip Rawlins (The Complete Walker IV p.333) they may be available if you want to expend some time and effort. The thing I did run across when looking at some of these old stoves is this: you can purchase an adapter so you can use these old stoves with the readily available modern canisters. The problem with that is that those canisters are heavy, typically 13 or 14 ounces loaded.
I was just beginning to research this myself so thanks for posting! It would be nice to enjoy the lower cost and extra heat capacity of pure butane when the temperature allows. You can refill a used mixed-gas canister with butane but you'll still be carrying a 3-4 ounce canister that would probably weigh less than an ounce if it were designed for pure butane. Building such a Franken-Canister might make a fun, challenging welding project for someone who knows how to weld. I'll bet no one sells them because some joker would try to fill one with mixed gas.
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
There are adapters (Chinese) available to use the big butane cartridges with canister stoves and it should be possible to transfer butane from the cartridges to empty canisters. You aren't supposed to refill the empty canisters, so it doesn't get talked about much. Pure butane has the disadvantage of not being very useful in cold weather.
As you pursue your search, you might want to find out how many minutes of cooking time those "cheap butane canisters" produce with your stove. My guess is that the butane/propane (or isopropane) canisters might let you cook longer at the same temperature setting. So, if it takes 3 butane canisters to give you the same cooking time, and they're $3 dollars each, it would actually be cheaper to use an isopro canister that costs $6.
One reason that those stoves are no longer available is that technology came up with something better and made them - and the butane canisters they use - obsolete for backpacking purposes.
You can get good canister stoves, like the Pocketrocket or Snow Peak Gigapower stoves, for about $50, and they last, for backpacking purposes, "forever" - or at least long enough that your stove cost is about $2 a year.
Butane has more energy per gram than propane, so it should boil more water IF the ambient temperature supports burning it. Because the pressure is lower, it should be possible to use a lighter canister, giving even more heat per carry weight gram. That's the (at least theoretical) attraction. The market favors support for colder ambient temperature but there is a valid niche use case for pure butane.
That may be true - but again, the amount you buy per cylinder could affect the “cheaper than butane/propane cylinder” issue.
How many “cheap” cylinders does it take to replace one “expensive” cylinder? If three “cheap” cylinders (with, say, 1 ounce of fuel in each cylinders) give you the same cooking power as 1 four-ounce “mixed” cylinder, and the butane cylinders cost $3 each, but the “mixed” cylinder costs $7 - then the “cheap” cylinders really aren’t the better buy.
Generally, fuel with a higher energy content costs more than the same volume of fuel with a lower content (for example, an ounce of alcohol costs less than an ounce of white gas), but the cost for a given amount of energy content could be pretty even (it takes more volume of lower content fuel.)
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Glen, actually Propane produces more heat per ounce than Butane. http://www.exothink.com/Pages/btu.html The can the propane/butane/iso comes in weighs 5 or 6 ounces, and that is non-consumable weight. You can now buy a titanium remote canister stove for a fraction the price and weight of a pocket rocket. The problem with a "sit on top" stove (I have used them many times) is that 1) they are not very stable, and 2) it is my experience that the canister gets cold in snow and slows down considerably in spite of the Propane mix. With a remote fuel set up you can warm the canister with your hands and snap it back into life, or use it inverted so there is never any problem with cold. Nevertheless, when I am not trying to cut ounces (like on an easier or shorter trip) I take my WindPro (6.9 ounces; heavy) and a full canister (13 ounces) and it is a workhorse, windproof (with screen) and fast and works independent of the weather. It can easily cook for two or three people because it is so fast and efficient.
Of course, as usual, it often comes down to personal preferences, experience and what you are after. Too many random variables perhaps.
which are still readily available and cheap. The first canister holds 6 oz of fuel and the second holds 8 oz of fuel so they have plenty of BTUs to cook. If anything they have way too much fuel for a weekend trip. I was hoping to find empty weights for the canisters but I haven't found anything yet. I feel like if Hikin Jim didn't then someone on bpl would have done this.
I thought I read somewhere once that these butane canisters are lighter per the amount of fuel they hold. That makes sense because, as noted above, they don't need to withstand as high of pressures. They don't use them for backpacking because they don't work as low of temperatures as the mixed tanks.
My old Hank Roberts stove used canisters that are much lighter than the contemporary canisters. They were filled with straight butane though. When going through my gear recently I found the stove with two canisters, one apparently full and one partially used. I am tempted to use it for a one or two night adventure, but after so many years I wonder if the canisters and the seal is still good. I wonder if there is a modern version of something like this that uses a lower weight canister.
I just compared the tops of a 1.48-ounce skinny butane canister used for refilling lighters and several Lindal-valve stove canisters and they all seem seem to use 33 mm-diameter (outside diameter) crimped-on valves. My plan is to empty a few nearly-empty cans and try to gently de-crimp and transfer a Lindal valve onto the butane can. I figure that if I dig a hole in the ground to hold up the skinny can it would stay still long enough for a test. If it works (or the failure is entertaining enough) I'll post something in the MYOG section.
The 1.5-ounce butane can weighs about 1/2 ounce empty and is a good size for a quick and light overnight bivouac.
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
thanks for your comments and links BZH. Thanks for everyone's comments.
The old remote canister propane stove I remember using on Mt. Rainier in 1976 was much like the VtgTaymor-Spider-Backpack-Camping-Butane-Stove I found on Ebay today. I have 3 or 4 stoves at this time so I will not purchase another one. However I am fascinated by the Kovea Spider (KB-1109) because is about the simplest little remote (B188) canister stove I have seen(6 ounces). (BTW… EN417 with a Lindal B188 valve is what the standard popular modern butane/propane mix canisters are).
And speaking of simple stoves, perhaps not exactly on topic, but a close friend purchased a very cheap "made in China" (I suspect) MSR Pocket Rocket knockoff and took it on a trip last summer. We were well above tree line and in the wind and the little sucker did a splendid job with a DIY pile of rocks for a windscreen.
Stoves are a fascinating subject to me. I never tire of reading about the various designs and possibilities. In "The Complete Walker IV" Colin F. and Chip R. devote a whole 66 pages (p.292-358)to the subject. They cover most every objective and subjective aspect of the subject.