Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I don't have any experience with it, but I'd be interested in hearing from someone who does.
Lori, since these stoves are meant to be used outdoors I see little (no) danger of carbon monoxide poisoning unless you bring them into a closed room.
I use a "Super Cat" stove, which is by far lighter and even less costly than the one shown, and it works great for my needs. As far as I know there isn't any stove that's lighter for trips under a week long, so if that's what you're looking for you might want to check into making one.
The MSR Reactor actually went through a recall because of a test Backpacking Light did that revealed very dangerous levels of CO2 it was giving off... they fixed the problem in newer stoves. People frequently ignore "do not use in a tent" warnings. The original Pocket Rocket gave off enough CO2 to cause a headache.
I'm pretty sure outdoor use disperses what little is there... but, I'm still pretty happy the Giga is rated one of the lowest CO2 makers on the list.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
hikerduane , I agree, my worries about that stove are that it might break while in operation with no assistance at all from the operator or any error.
I don't know what the stove this copies cost, but if it were a lot I might buy a cheap knock off just to see how it's made and operates. My experience with this stuff has been that most of it is far inferior to the original. Most of my experience is with tools and machinery, and this really falls right into that line of products.
Lori, the thing that bothers me most about using the SuperCat stove are the fumes when I'm burning "HEET" in it. Everclear is pretty expensive stuff so there's not many options. I just try to avoid the fumes the best I can, but I fully agree with you that this is an important consideration.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Bill, how much does Heet go for? Since I started collecting stoves over three years ago, I've been using denatured alcohol to prime with and in my TrailDesigns 12-10 stove, using that KleenStrip Green Label line. A quart is over $7 if I recall. I like the 12-10 stove for its efficiency in the Caldera Cone setup, but during these high fire danger warnings, I used my old MSR MF stove and was really tinkled how fast it boiled two cups of water, under three minutes. The water was not as cold as I'm used too in the southern Sierra however. Duane
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I'n not sure, it's been awhile since I've bought any. I generally buy the quart cans of denatured alcohol too. It's the same thing as the yellow bottles of HEET. I suppose it's close to the same price here.
That stuff does give off noxious fumes when you burn it and it's kind of hard to avoid them when you're right over top of what you're cooking. I don't think Everclear does, but they tax the bejeebers out that here. It was over $20 a quart the last time I looked (a long time ago). Might be closer to $30 now.
Here's the fact sheet on the KleenStrip Green denatured alcohol. It'd be nice if the Gov would switch to a less dangerous poisonous additive, or better yet, just quit adding it.
Pocket rocket is by far my favorite of all the heavy stoves. If you really want to go lightweight, look into an alcohol setup. Much lighter. If you do choose a heavy stove the PR is the best for your buck. spend th e extra cash.
Loc: California, U.S.
I've used my white box stove a lot this summer vs. my pocket rocket. I really enjoyed the fact that I could go and buy fuel at the hardware store for much cheaper prices. Also, I keep my stove alcohol in a plastic water bottle which when empty is much lighter than the empty metal fuel canisters.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Some Korean stoves (such as some of the Kovea stoves) are reportedly of quite high quality and lighter than US-made stoves. Check the reviews on Hikin' Jim's blog. I would not buy a non-standard brand unless it has good reviews in more than one place. However, I'd like to get a Kovea Spider!
I personally will not buy gear from amazon because returns are both difficult and expensive. I'd rather pay a little more and get it from a reputable local dealer where it's easy to return. I recently wanted to return a shipment of dog food to amazon (received just before Hysson went out of remission, special diet because of his allergies) and discovered that my freight charges for the return would be almost as much as the cost of the dog food. I donated it to the local animal shelter instead.
I have both isobutane (canister) and alcohol stoves, but it seems that I always grab the isobutane stove on my way out the door. It's a lot more convenient! For a longer trip, the isobutane stove stove+fuel combination is actually lighter (that's because you burn more alcohol to boil a pot of water than you do canister fuel. According to this article, that's at about 7 days out. For shorter trips, of course, the alcohol stove+fuel combination is lighter. You can, of course, test fuel usage on your own, a good idea so you know how much you need for the way you cook/boil water.
If there are fire restrictions, as are currently in effect in many parts of California and the Pacific Northwest, the alcohol stove may be illegal. The authorities often want you to have a stove with a shutoff valve. Some places, stoves may be banned altogether, and you'll have to stick with food requiring no cooking! Individual jurisdictions vary, so you'll have to check before heading for your specific destination.
Edited by OregonMouse (07/31/1312:15 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I have used the pocket rocket in summer and winter (though never owned one), extensively used the whisperlite, and currently have been using a "pepsi can" alcohol stove for the past few years. It works perfectly to scramble some eggs or heat water, and it is so much more light and packable than all competition. The next stove I buy will be the pocket rocket, for its potential to use in a hanging system, light weight, and simplicity.
The most efficient stove I've ever used was the Featherfire, which isn't pressurized but allows you to control the flame with a knob, snuff the flame and recover leftover fuel. But it lacks the simplicity of the basic pop can stove.
Stove build does determine efficiency, and heat output. I usually use the White Box.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The pressurized "Pop Can" stoves are pretty neat, and they are fun to build too. The main difference I found was that the "Penny Stove" (a popular pressurized stove design) can be hard to light, especially when it's cold. You have to "Prime" them by pouring a little fuel on top of the stove, even letting some drip down the sides is good. This warms the fuel inside enough to vaporize it and get it started burning. But there've been instances when I had to do that several times to get the stove to light off. In those cases I used more fuel than I would have with a "Super Cat" stove. I have no doubt that practice would have improved my ability to both build and light the stove, but after several cracks at it I was pointed to the Super Cat design.
The Super Cat stove pretty much lights first time, every time. It takes just a few seconds to cool after running out of fuel, so refueling and relighting are both easier for me, if I have to do that. Personally, it's the simplicity of the design that really sold me on it. There's nothing to break or fail or lose. Even if you stepped on it you could probably bend back into shape enough to use it. For me, that almost failsafe simplicity far exceeds any benefits from improvements in efficiency in pressurized stoves. But this choice has a lot to do with when, where, and how I backpack.
It's good to consider how you'll use your stove and choose designs that meet those needs, and then play with them, test them, and evaluate your work. The pressurized designs can be very finicky to build and big differences in performance can be realized with changes in minor details.
The Super Cat stove would not be my choice if I were doing any real cooking. It's really best suited for boiling 2 cups of water. That works great for coffee, oatmeal, and dehydrated (Mountain House) type meals, which is pretty much what sustains me on my trips, and many of my trips are solo so I don't have to think about anyone else's needs.
I have to warn you though, I've known people who've become what might be called "a little obsessive" with backpacking stoves. They are incredibly intriguing little devices that will suck you in with their combustible magic and almost force you to tinker with them.
I'm pretty sure there's a "Alcohol Stovers Anonymous" if it does become an issue for you.
So the ones that are not an open top are most likely preasurized and are more fuel efficient?
It depends on how ones defines efficiency. Some define it based on time to boil, pressurized stoves are generally faster. Some define efficiency as amount of fuel needed to achieve a boil, non-pressurized generally use less fuel to achieve a boil. I personally define efficiency as the the amount of heat available in the fuel converted to increase in water temp. Based on *my definition* the most efficient stove I have seen or used is the Zelp designed fancee feest, it is a wick stove. It converts almost 80% of available energy to the water temp. The Penny Stove, as a comparison doesn't break 50%. As Bill said, ones stove choice is dependent upon ones use of it and not some arbitrary metric. On my way to the alky stove anonymous meeting now.
Some folks find it difficult to do a good enough job of making a pressurized stove. The Fancy Feast stove is, in contrast, dead easy, anyone can get this right. It costs virtually nothing and is also pretty fast to make.
So if you think an alcohol stove might be for you, give this a try. Then if you end up doing a LOT of backpacking and think you might want something just a *little* better (and I think that's about all you can do with alcohol as your fuel, just a little better), then I'd consider stepping up to one of the caldera cone variants. Maybe there's something yet better out there by now, and certainly the afficionados will argue about which stove is best given different criteria. But for someone who just wants to backpack, Fancy Feast is IMO just great, with the caveat that you need some sort of cook pot with a large enough base diameter to cover the cat food can well. I think that for most people, that's also not a problem, but some small capacity mugs might be sub-optimal.
Brian, please forgive me if am wrong, but I have been under the impression that this stove was originally designed by Jim Wood, who I've assumed coined the name " Super Cat Stove " because he based the design on a Fancy Feast can stove that had no holes at all on the side (the "Cat Stove") and is even easier to make (open the can, feed a cat, wash the can, use it as a stove).
His site is a great resource and goes into quite a bit of detail on his tests for different sizes and types of cans, the size, number, and spacing of holes, the types of fuel he tested, and safety issues. He was obviously obsessed, but he certainly achieved a remarkable result. If you measure it in terms of weight that hasn't been carried, or dollars that haven't been spent on stoves, it is truly amazing. I tend to view it as simplicity vs complexity and in that regard it's often even more amazing.
Agree that it's a Super cat Stove la Wood. I prefer a version which I find easier and more reliable to use. Just 2 or 4 holes, then wrap wick around the outside and tuck through the holes into the well in the centre. No need to wait for the stove to bloom, lights reliably in low temperature. I first saw it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N35xk01Aun8
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Jim Wood's original stove is the Cat Stove. The Super Cat is a winter version. He has them on his website (assuming it's still up, I haven't looked in a while). Jason Klass has some stoves on his site too, I think.
There must be hundreds of videos on YouTube of stove tests, stove making and all that, so you can spend hours (assuming you avoid the millions of dancing cats, cute puppies and bad music videos) comparing the different designs.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
So if a guy decided to go with a pop can stove of some sort what's the big difference in designs?
I've only used mine and another just like it, so I have limited experience. However, I have used it in below freezing temps and hot temps, in rain and dry weather, over several years. My stove is much like the one seen here: Section Hiker
It is not quite as fast as a pocket rocket (no hard data, sorry), but it provides a wider flame, which I like for doing some simple frying when necessary. It is surprisingly strong - I often put a full two liters of water in a large pot directly on the stove to cook. After four or five years of use, it has one small dent (from improper packing) that does not affect use. I don't use a windscreen with it, and it stays lit even in 20mph or so winds - though a windscreen would increase efficiency.
I think I will, however, be making one of those fancy feast stoves to compare it with, especially because it looks so easy.