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#189216 - 11/25/09 07:38 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7292
Loc: southern Cal
My SAR pack routinely included a small pan and a Trangia. It was dead simple, allowing one to devote attention to other matters while food or water was cooking. If really cold temperatures were on the dance card, I would usually replace it with a SVEA or a small cartridge stove.

In a stark survival situation, I would go with a campfire. You don't need to carry all that much to insure proper and continued ignition, in most situations. But circumstances do vary, don't they?
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#189217 - 11/25/09 07:48 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
I blame you guys for costing me money when I realize how woefully unprepared I am wink . But maybe Santa will be extra generous this year. laugh
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#189219 - 11/25/09 08:33 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Art_in_FL]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2111
Loc: NE Wisconsin
If you're looking at selecting a stove for use outdoors, whatever you get, don't underestimate the importance of a really good windscreen.

I may have mentioned this before on this forum, but last year my son had to do a science fair project and ended up testing backpacking stove (Whisperlite) boil times with and without the windscreen with a very light breeze. The difference was amazing - beyond my expectation.

He ran this in the back corner of our garage to remove outside sources of wind. He started with a fan at high (5.5 mph breeze as measured by my Brunton ADC Wind meter) but he couldn't get water to go above 170F, so he lowered the fan speed to low. Then he was concerned that about the definition of "boil", so he measured time to take one quart (4 cups) of water from about 50F to 190F.

Here are the results:

With Windscreen, but no lid: 6:30 (min:sec)and 8:10
Without Windscreen, but no lid: 16:45 and >22:00*
Windscreen & foil Lid (w/ thermometer poked through): 4:45

*He actually gave up after 22 minutes because he simply couldn't get the temp to go above 180F. We're not sure why he got it up to temperature once, but not twice. It was getting later into the early evening and it was getting a bit colder out. That's all we could think of. The times were captured in the order shown above.

Ken K.

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#189244 - 11/26/09 08:17 AM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: KenK]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
+1 on the wind screen, but don't forget the lid! Evaporation is a major heat loss. Trap it beneath a lid! Any lid will do, alu foil works really well for a lid.

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#189293 - 11/27/09 05:37 AM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: MostlyHarmless]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless
+1 on the wind screen, but don't forget the lid! Evaporation is a major heat loss. Trap it beneath a lid! Any lid will do, alu foil works really well for a lid.


Windscreen and lid make a huge difference. I second that. And a good windscreen and lid can allow a marginal stove to punch a bit above its weight. But my preference is for a stove that has enough power to spare so that conditions don't need to be ideal to get acceptable results.

Hypothermic, with stiff, uncooperative hands and rapidly running out of time, while a storm rages around me, is not the time I want a prema donna, finicky, stove that needs everything just-so before it will work. Everything works pretty well when things are just-right. I want gear that meets, preferably exceeds, expectations when things suck. When I don't have the energy, time or proper materials to cater to them. I want my equipment to take care of me. Ideally without my having to take too much care of it. Selfish? Why yes. But equipment is supposed to serve my needs. I would rather get through a tough spot and have the equipment destroyed than have someone find my bones near the very shiny gear I pampered.

That said every piece, and person, has limitations. Limitations that have to be worked around. Survival is often a matter of doing the most with the least. You can cut down a giant sequoia with a pen knife. Just a matter of time and patience. Prisoners are said to sometimes cook over a tiny fire fed with matchsticks and small balls of toilet paper. Matchsticks and balls of paper aren't going to put Wolf stoves out of business but you roll with what you have. I'm generally willing to carry little more more in weight and bulk to get a little more output, tolerance for rough conditions and robustness.

I know at least one person who winter camps in a frigid climate, to -10F or so, without any stove or fire. He lives on gorp and gets all his warmth from body heat and exercise. I get cold thinking about it. I'm a Florida boy with 90w gear oil for blood, good from 105F to 60F or so. I need my heat.


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#189305 - 11/27/09 01:55 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Art_in_FL]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2111
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
a good windscreen and lid can allow a marginal stove to punch a bit above its weight. But my preference is for a stove that has enough power to spare so that conditions don't need to be ideal to get acceptable results.


The stove my son used for his experiment was an MSR Whisperlite. Most people recognize that it puts out a lot of heat - as much as just about any other backpacking stove. Its commonly referred to as a "blast furnace".

Unfortunately that phrase is used when mentioning that it has only two settings - off and blast furnace. I've used ceramic gauze flame spreaders to add to the versatility.

Like I had said, both my son and I expected to see an improvement when the windscreen was used, but we were surprised by how difficult/impossible it was to get a boil without it. The one combination he didn't try - and I wish he had - was without the windscreen but with a lid.

Most all of our winter camping (under 40F) has been with my son's Scout troop using suitcase style propane stoves with 20# LP tanks. The stoves have pretty nice large windscreens that work pretty well. The boys quickly learn to rotate the stove to block the wind in order to be able to cook.

In this discussion I'm assuming that by "survival stove" the stove's primary survival function is boiling water to make it potable. In general I tend not to view meal preparation as a survival activity - though as recent posts show, skipping meals can certainly impact one's mental & physical condition, which can lead to matters getting worse.


Ken K.


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#189313 - 11/27/09 03:44 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: KenK]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
This is my current lightweight stove kit setup.



Primus EtaPower 1 litre Pot with Fry Pan Lid - Weight 290 grams.

Optimus Folding Stove - Weight 90 grams

Home made Titanium Windscreen - Weight 60 grams

Brunton Lighter and Fuel Tool - Weight 84 grams

Propane/Butane Coleman 100gram Cartridge - Weight 150 grams
or
MSR Isobutane/Propane Stove Cartridge - Weight 354 grams

Total Weight with 100 gram Colemane Cartridge including stuff sacks etc - 745 grams - Certainly not the lightest but gives a good compromise in difficult conditions if needed. During Winter conditions I would use the MSR isobutane cartridge instead.



The optimus gives a good hot flame and when combined with the EtaPower pot with the built in heat exchanger can boil 0.5 Litres of cold water in less than 2 1/2 minutes in difficult conditions with excellent efficiency approaching the MSR Reactor stove but with the flexibility to use other pots and kettles when needed i.e. a Primus tea kettle.



I haven't had a chance to use the lightweight Titanium windshield in the field yet but it does look quite promising to help improve efficiency of the stove in very windy difficult conditions during winter.



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#189328 - 11/27/09 08:34 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
MostlyHarmless Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 982
Loc: Norway
Originally Posted By: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor

I haven't had a chance to use the lightweight Titanium windshield in the field yet but it does look quite promising to help improve efficiency of the stove in very windy difficult conditions during winter.


The setup looks awesome, but my initial gut reaction is "that is a HUGE gap between the windscreen and the pot". You may want to try out tightening the titanium wind screen (which really is just a sheet of titanium bent around the stove, right?). My proposal is to add several points of attatchment so you can adjust to the optimum size for different pots. I think a gap of 1 cm (about 0.4 inches) is about right.

You also may want to consider raising the wind screen just a bit, allowing for a draft underneath but covering the pot higher up. (Or a higher windscreen sheet, but I guess that is out of the question).

Mind you, I don't really have the experience to add such claims - just a hunch and gut feeling of may work best. Experiment and do tell us what is the best setup.


Edited by MostlyHarmless (11/27/09 08:35 PM)

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#189333 - 11/27/09 10:20 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: MostlyHarmless]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2111
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless
I think a gap of 1 cm (about 0.4 inches) is about right.


The MSR Whisperlite and Dragonfly stoves recommend that gap between the pot and windscreen be 1 inch "for optimum performance".


Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless
You also may want to consider raising the wind screen just a bit, allowing for a draft underneath but covering the pot higher up.


That brings up an interesting point. The MSR windscreens sit directly on an aluminum heat reflector disk with no gap. That would be an interesting experiment - with and without a gap at the bottom of the windscreen.

I'm trying to think of whether a stove transfers heat through convection (air movement), conduction (movement of heat through materials), or radiation (heat coming directly from the flame). I think its mostly by radiation. I think.

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#189335 - 11/27/09 11:21 PM Re: How to Choose a Backpacking/Survival Stove [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Looks like a winner of a setup there. Nice.

What I want to know is if the stove overheats or for some other reason you want to turn down the stove how do you work the valve on the stove when it is in the windscreen? How easy is it to open the windscreen? Perhaps I'm over thinking it but I'm feeling like I would want a small hole, just big enough for a couple of fingers. Or perhaps just large enough for a stiff piece of wire that I could use to work the valve on the stove.

Most gear won't show its secrets, for better or worse, and the intricacies of how to handle it effectively, until you go camping in rough conditions or get creative with backyard testing. I once helped someone test her gear in the backyard I was in charge of the fans and garden sprinklers, wind and rain. Being Florida, and a bit short of real cold, she pressed a friend who owned a restaurant to let us use their walk-in freezer. The ceiling hung evaporator kept a stead wind going so I just had to use a spray bottle to simulate wet sleet. Damn near froze my fingers off.

She said, when she got back from her expedition, for the first days of a storm she was the only person who had a firm handle on how to work her stove and cooking setup in sub-zero wind and sleet. Others ended up wasting time and fuel, experiencing a lot of frustration, learning to function. She had done most of her learning at midnight, the only time it was free, in a walk-in freezer.

I can also report that time spent torturing your girlfriend in a freezer earns you big points. Made the frostbite entirely worth it. Who knew?.

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