I realize this is outside the realm of lightweight backpacking, but it seems like the crew here has vast experience and might be able to provide some insight.
I'm trying to select a two burner stove for car camping. This stove could easily be used 100 days a year, so I want the best solution. Like backpacking stoves, there are basically three options: white gas, alcohol and propane.
White Gas I've used white gas stoves for years when backpacking. An MSR Dragonfly for ages, and now an MSR Simmerlite. White gas is available all over the United States. It is cheap and easy to transport. The basic double burner Coleman white gas stove is a decent choice. But the burners are somewhat anemic (6000 & 7000 BTU). And the fact that the left burner is not independent of the right burner is annoying. The Coleman Gladiator has more powerful burners and independent generators. I think it would be my top choice, except it appears to be vaporware. I can't find it for sale anywhere.
Alcohol I've made a few pepsi can stoves and really like them for shorter trips in decent weather. Stove alcohol is available at any hardware store. Marine grade double burner alcohol stoves like the Orgio 3000 are pricey, but look pretty sweet. Drawback is that alcohol doesn't have the same BTUs per liter as gasoline. The stoves have lower powered burners. Since they aren't pressurized, my guess is that they might perform poorly in sub-freezing temperatures. Much like a pepsi can stove.
Propane I've never owned a canister stove, but I've backpacked with friends who did. I've used a propane double burner stove car camping for years. Advantages are very high output (you can get propane stoves where each burner is 20,000 or 30,000 BTUs) and easy simmering. Probably the simplest stove to cook with. Drawback is that 1lb propane tanks are a very expensive and wasteful way to fuel a stove. 20lb refillable tanks are much more reasonable in cost, but very unsafe to store in a vehicle. Carrying a 20lb tank means either an external mounting rack and a bunch of plumbing, or an internal vented propane locker with shutoff solenoid and even more plumbing.
Phew! That's my research so far. Thanks for reading it all. My questions are: 1) What have I overlooked in my research (either about the stoves I've mentioned or another type I haven't researched)? 2) What would you do if you were buying a car camping stove today?
I think the propane stove are much easier to use and maintain compared to white gas stoves. They are annoying to pump and they always seemed to clog for me. Compared to a propane stove, you just screw on a cylinder and your cooking with gas! The propane cylinders seem more ubiquitous these days too.
As far as I can tell, the only reason to get a white gas stove is if you regularly cook in sub 15 °F weather, but who car camps at those conditions?
The fat cylinders are cheaper than the skinny, ones used for torches, and go on sale pretty regularly at hardware stores and outdoors shops. The 20 lb cylinders are even cheaper, but as you mentioned can be a pain to lug around. If cost is a big issue, you can probably jerry rig (at your own risk) a way to refill the smaller cylinders from the bigger ones. Shouldn't be too difficult.
After I tried out a buddies, I went out a bought a propane stove and haven't touched my white gas stove since. The mistake I made was to value quality over size and weight (since it is car camping). Well I overshot. I got this soto stove: http://www.sotooutdoors.com/products/item/OD-2AL.html
The thing is a tank. It will probably last for ever, which isn't a good thing for how heavy and awkward it is to pack. If I was going to do it all over, I would buy something more compact and lighter.
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Hay, I was out a few weeks ago with it in the upper teens, nice time. The lantern did not want to start in the morning though and my fingers were getting cold pumping it up again. Then I had to get my stoves going, fun with all my old stoves. Better than sitting in front of the puter Saturday night. Duane
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
If you were a stovie, profane stoves would just be a after thought, but we see more people going that route because it is so easy. Since I collect stoves, I'm not concerned about the latest, greatest or fastest, more concerned now about cool, old stoves or flames. White gas or kerosene. I do have a number of canister stoves from MSR, Coleman, Snow Peak. Gotta have nice flames. Duane
But I'd love to come up with a reasonable way to avoid using 1lb bottles.
Ok, two options. 1) do like a chili cookoff competitor friend of mine does and rig a 30# propane tank to your stoves. (he uses a big fryer stove for everything...never apologize for too much horse power)
2)Collect stoves, like I do. I have mostly Optimus Sveas, Svea 123's, R-8's, Nova's, old Coleman backpackers, etc. Just pull out another burner when you need it. 1 gal. of camp gas goes a loooooooog way. Start shopping ebay and Craigslist.
So, do you want a small two burner or a large one that can hold a dutch oven on top? If you just want a small one for frying pan type stuff, then buy whatever propane one at Walmart, or any other outdoor store. They all just plain work. Yes, they all use the little green canisters....but you can buy an attachment to refill them. I bought a cheap one at Walmart a few years back...cheaper than the Coleman one. I have use the heck out of it...even in -20F weather. I put it in my sled and my dog pulled it. Now, if you want a serious car camping stove, then look at the campchef stuff. My scout troop has this one. two burner and it is a beast. The troop also has a griddle that fits the whole top. I almost want to put one in my house, it is so nice to use.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
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