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Boy, you are going to get a different aswer from each responder. Back when we bought one for my son, I did quite a bit of research. We ended up getting the MSR Windpro. Overall, its features seemed to edge out the competition in my mind. Here is a little blurb I found on the internet.


"If wind is your worry, but you prefer canisters over liquid fuel, then this is the stove for you. The WindPro worked better in wind tests than all the competitors, and it is the only remote canister stove sold complete with a windscreen and heat reflector. Lightest remote canister stove on the market Minimum weight is less than 7 oz.! Compact - Small enough to fit in a one-liter pot. Supports large cook pots and can be used with bake ovens. Weight: 6.8oz/193g Burn time: 90 minutes for 8 oz canister. Boil time: 4.25 minutes for 1 liter of water."

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like the economist says..."well on one hand..."


what type of fuel do you want to use? How serious is the need for a backpacker stove...is it going to be used once a year? Is it going to be heavily used? Is cost or weight a factor...? do you want to us it in sub freezing weather...going overseas with it...on and on and on...


you could choose a simple "canister" stove that used propane, butane or a mixture. These stoves are usually fairly small to tiny... but you have to contend with the fuel canisters and their disposal (LNT). Some fuels don't do well in really cold temps, some stoves don't stay lit in hard wind, some stoves boil water in 20 minutes some in 4 minutes, some can be repaired in the field some can not...cooking for one or two or four or five?


With some more info - we can offer better suggestions...Personally, I don't think the average treker could go wrong with any of four or five stoves by Optimus and/or MSR. Price range $60.00-$150.00. I am a white gas/multifuel advocate - so keeping it simple I might go with the MSR whisperlight international...I have one and it is a nice stove. I also have an MSR dragonfire that I love...but it sounds like a jet taking off.

I then have a thirty plus year old Optimus expedition stove that burns everything from jet fuel to unleaded gas and kero...but a similar stove today would cost $150-$200.00.

I also have a single burner propane stove that is just fine for a scout on a five mile hike, but he has to lug a cylinder to camp and back...and it has stablity "issues" to deal with.


let us know what you think you need!

anarchist(This message has been edited by anarchist)

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Thanks guys for responding. I guess my question was too open ended. That's simply because of my lack of knowledge. The only experience I have with a backpack stove is the one my oldest son won as an award from his Troop for selling popcorn. The type that screws on to a small propane bottle. He always said it was cumbersome to carry the propane bottle and he could never tell when the bottle was close to empty.


Oldest son was part of a troop that did a lot of backpacking, but he left after a couple of year to join a different troop. That is the Troop his younger brother and I are now a part of. This Troop has never really done any backpacking. One trip a year is it. And, that has never been attended by many Scouts. Two years ago, youngest son went on the trip using oldest son's stove. He didn't like it much either.


So, that's why I'm now asking about stove. We are a young troop - 8 years old and I am it's 5th Scoutmaster and only in the job for a year.


Troop hs been seriously into car camping with a huge trailer and enough equipment for 3 patrols, yet we only have 10 Scouts (at one time the Troop had about 16 at most).


So, the Scouts have said they want to do more backpacking. Thus, my question. We don't need a huge supply of stoves, but I do think it's important to find out about them, different merits of each, and be able to present that to the Scouts so they could make a decision on what would work best for them.


I would say for such an inexperienced bunch, that we will not be going backpacking in freezing temperatures or high-altitudes, or for more than an overnight, not yet anyway. We need to start out slow and build up to the 50 milers I hear so many other troops take.


We have a local backpacking outfitter that has recommended teaching the Scouts to build an alcohol stove. They say it doesn't burn as hot as others, but it is light, compact, and the Scouts would have fun building their own. Have you any experience with alcohol stoves?


A note about fuel: please explain what people mean when they tell me that Scouts can't use white fuel. I can't seem to find anything in the GTSS that says anything other than Scouts must be supervised when lighting stoves. And, what exactly is white fuel? (I know, I must sound very stupid)


Any advice anyone can give would be greatly appreciated.



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As an addition, I did go to Scoutmaster Outdoor Leader Skills last year and attended a class on lightweight stoves. But, it was all show and tell with no real demonstration as to their abilities.


So, I've found so much wonderful info on this forum, I figured I'd ask to find out more about all the different stoves.

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Though many like cartridge stoves, I just haven't liked them. Coleman fuel burns MUCH hotter and is really not to hard to work with.


You really can't go too wrong with any of the MSR stoves, though many have complained that the Whisperlite doesn't simmer too well. I haven't had that problem with my older Whisperlite, mabye because I tend not to fill the fuel bottle completely full.


Lots of people use the Coleman Feather 400 and 442 stoves and the Coleman Apex II stove (which comes with a seperate fuel tank).


If I were buying right now I'd probably go for the Apex II for about $60 (with the fuel bottle).

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To gwd-scouter: white fuel (or white gas) is a common liquid stove fuel. I too, could not find any strict rules against it, but did find a recommendation against using it. Sorry that I cannot cite the source, it was somewhere in Scout literature though.


The bias against it comes from the fact it is liquid and it you get it on yourself or spill it, it can accidentaly ignite. Also, leaks or spills in a backpack or amongst the food can wreck a trip. So there are alternative fuels that don't have these problems.


One advantage I see is, with this type of fuel, you can always top off your container before leaving on a trip. With gas cartriges its a guess as to how much fuel is left in them unless you've kept track of useage.


That said, personally I like the gas cartridge type stoves because of reliability.


One thing we've done in our troop, when introducing the concept of stoves for camping and backpacking is to assemble a range of stoves available -- from the homemade HOBO stove to the fanciest backpacking stove that someone may have, to the standard Coleman-type 2 burner propane stove with hoses and tank. Its a great informative excercise for the Scouts and families who might be thinking about adding to their equipment stash.


Oh,and don't leave out the ultra small, lightweight fuel tablet stove. These are about the size of a pack of cigarettes (can I say that on this forum) and the tablets are about 1 inch square by 3/4 inches thick. One tablet will bring 8-16 oz of water to boil. They are good as a backup unit, or for solo cooking. If all you eat on a backpack trip is Ramen, this stove is for you. I think they're made in Germany but they're not expensive.

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I love my MSR Whisperlite - have used it for many years with great success - but, it might not be as stable for younger scouts - its a pretty lightweight stove with a separate fuel canister.


I've heard good things about the Coleman Apex II stove - Its a dual fuel stove which is a plus (can operate on Coleman Fuel/Unleaded Gas or can operate on Kerosene with the addition of an optional generator), has a bit more stability than the Whisperlite, and also has a separate fuel canister.


Both of these stoves run around $60. For about $150 dollars, MSR has a multi-fuel stove named the XGK EX - very stable looking, uses a separate fuel canister, burns a number of different fuels (gas, coleman fuel, kerosene, diesel, alcohol). If I were in the market for a new stove, I think I would end up with one of these bad boys.


All of the above have one thing in common - they have separate fuel canisters. The canister you use to carry your fuel doubles as the fuel tank for your stove. Some of the Coleman backpacking stoves (like the Feather series) are built a little like the good old Coleman lantern. The fuel tank is right below the burner and you have to fill it from your fuel canister. I prefer not having to mess with filling up a fuel tank on a stove in the field. I'd definitely stay away from any stove that requires the Powermax Cartridge. Those are a specialized cartridge usually not available in a small town hardware store - Coleman fuel can usually be found in most small towns near camping areas.


You could make your own alchol stoves, they're nice for simmering foods (not as good for getting water to boil quickly), and easy to light in just about any weather condition. They're really good at sooting up the bottoms of pots and pans though - alcohol doesn't burn as efficiently as Coleman fuel.


If you're looking at stoves to buy, I'd suggest you stick with Coleman or MSR - most of the other brands are just as good but both Coleman and MSR have the advantage of being larger players so their stoves are in more shops, and the big plus is the stores that do sell bapckpacking stoves are more likely to carry repair parts for Coleman's and MSR's than of other brands.


As for white fuel (or white gas):


White gas is another name for (pure)gasoline. Specifically, it usually refers to gas that does not have anti-knock additives added to it. Unleaded gas sold today almost always has some additives added to it. The gas sold in the 50's and 60's would be refered to as white gas nowadays - and that gas is what was once known as leaded gasoline. If you can still find leaded gasoline, chances are its white gas.


Now to confuse the matter - Coleman Fuel is also known as white gas. Coleman fuel is petroleum naptha, a low-octane, pure, white gas. Does that mean Coleman Fuel is gasoline? Yes, technically it does - gasolines are a petroleum naptha product. Dual fuel stoves will run on Coleman Fuel or unleaded gasoline or Kerosene (which should be a tri-fuel stove but the kerosene is the 2nd fuel, the listing of fuels is usually written as Coleman Fuel/unleaded gasoline and kerosene.


I've heard mentioned before that the the BSA does not want scouts to use white gas but that just doesn't make any sense to me - the most common fuel stoves, whether backpacking or car camping, are white gas stoves. Is it possible it was set out as a rule once and rescinded because too many units had perfectly good Coleman stoves they weren't about to give up?




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There is NOTHING in the Guide to Safe Scouting that forbids or even discourages use of liquid gas stoves or lanterns. As a matter of fact, the Winter Camping Safety section, under XIII Winter Activities, even recommends their use: "Small liquid-fuel stoves are much better for cooking in winter than fires, which are difficult to build with wet wood."


The VII Fuels and Fire Prevention section give excellent requirements for safely handling both compressed- (liquid propane and similar) and liquid-gas (Coleman fuel, white gas, and similar) stoves & lanterns:


1. Under adult supervision, when & where permitted.

2. Operate according to manufacturers instructions.

3. Store fuels in approved containers in ventilated, locked box min. 20 ft away from buildings & tents.

4. Let cool before changing cylinders or refilling.

5. Refill a safe distance from flames. Use commercial stoves. Use a fiter funnel. Recap before starting.

6. Never refill indoors. Do not operate in unventilated structure. Never fuel, ignite, or operate in a tent.

7. Place on level secure surface.

8. Periodically check fittings for leakage using soap solution.

9. Locate gas tanks, stoves, etc. below tents in case of heavy leakage.

10. Keep fuel containers, head, and body away from stove when lighting.

11. Do not leave a lighted stove or lantern unattended.

12. Do not overload a stovetop.

13. Dispose of empty fuel containers safely. Keep them away from heat, as they will explode.


I've read many units web sites that state that only adults can handle liquid-gas fuel, but my view is that boys can handle fuel under adult supervion. The boys can learn to avoid overflows and spills, and to make sure spills are cleaned up and/or allowed to evaporate before lighting. Make sure the boys using the stoves & lanterns know and follow the rules.


Then again, I've also known of troops that don't allow boys to carry matches too. I'm kind of surprized those troops allow boys to carry knives or go within 20 feet of fire.

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now we are getting somewhere...


As kenk notes; G2SS does not prohibit liquid fuel stoves...in fact a quick "look see" at most of the BSA literature shows pictures of small white gas stoves for backpacking (example-see page 253 of The Boy Scout Handbook...its a "naked"-ie. minus reflector and windscreen, MSR whisperlight).


Many districts are so "scared" they try to pre-empt units from doing anything that increases risk...and many units "buy into it"...but the real task for us is (and again kenk is "spot on") -training the boys and practice, practice and more training... and then supervision by unit leaders (adults).


Many outfitting stores (REI for instance) have set up areas to demonstrate not only how to use these stoves but to allow you to compare stoves before you buy. Check with local stores first... Which stove actually "cooks your goose" in many cases is a matter of personal taste...for ten or twelve boys you should be able to do ok with two stoves to start...ideally as you go along one stove for two boys is about perfect. Cooking is then done by tentmates (buddies) rather than by patrols ...before the boo bears start up - cooking for six boys on a small stove is difficult for most scouts and leads to using pots too big for these stoves which may lead to a tipped pot at best or an over-heated stove/fuel bottle at the worst (bad). Face it these stoves are not built to heat a 6/8/10 litre pasta pot...


As a practical matter, whatever stoves you decide upon...buy the same kind...it makes keeping repair kits and spare parts simpler and if necessary it allows for canibalizing one stove to keep another working!


I would read the reviews on the various internet sites and packpacker magazines and try to get a few demonstrations before making a final decision. I would be willing to bet however, that for pure value and ease of use you will end up seriously looking at the MSR whisperlite (international) or one of its cousins. Be careful whichever way you go... not all white gas fuel bottles are compatable with other companies' stoves.


BTW-The hobo/cat food can/pepsi can/ alcohol stoves are fun to build and warm water on...but not to do serious cooking...check out the older threads here for a thread on soda/pepsi can/cat stoves for more info.


One last plug...using separate, reusable white gas fuel bottles allows you to spread the fuel "weight" out among all of your backpackers. It also allows the stoves to be separated and stored inside the pack-protected from damage while the fuel bottles (not canisters- "canister" usually refers to a prepackaged 'single use' container -such as the one pound (heavy) propane mini tanks)...can be placed in large zip-locks then into nylon bags and lashed to the outside of your packs...or stuffed into a outside pocket on your pack...well away from clothing, food and water. On some stoves, (coleman feather-lites for instance) the fuel tanks are part of the stove and unless you drain the stoves after each use they are packed with fuel and are more liable to leak...if damaged or if the valve get 'accidentally' opened. Hope this helps.




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