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#216224 - 02/02/11 12:30 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: JerryFountain]
jzmtl Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 530
Loc: Montreal Canada
Originally Posted By: JerryFountain


If your pack is that small, can you carry all the equipment that should be carried to ski in remote locations? That requires enough equipment for a light overnight in my book! The weight penalty of a light fuel stove is not much.

Respectfully,

Jerry


Not THAT remote lol. I'm not good enough to consider blaze my own trail in back country skiing yet. This is more for if a blizzard comes up and can't get off the mountain for a few hours or maybe a day sort of thing (has happened to someone I know).

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#216229 - 02/02/11 12:45 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: jzmtl]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1325
I have used a MSR Pocket Rocket stove down to about -10C with no problems. The secret as others have posted is to keep the cannister warm. Also when using the stove, keep the cannister directly off the cold ground. I use a small piece of Polar fleece for this which is also big enough to wrap around the fuel cannister. A windscreen also helps (as with almost any stove.)
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Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#216231 - 02/02/11 01:19 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: jzmtl]
JerryFountain Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
[quote=jzmtl
Not THAT remote lol. I'm not good enough to consider blaze my own trail in back country skiing yet. This is more for if a blizzard comes up and can't get off the mountain for a few hours or maybe a day sort of thing (has happened to someone I know). [/quote]

If you might have to stay out all night it is THAT remote. smile

Having spent nights in that kind of weather without a full camp, I would want at least shelter and additional insulation (I often carried an elephant foot bag and my parka). Less than that can mean a very uncomfortable night!

Respectfully,

Jerry

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#216232 - 02/02/11 01:43 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: Teslinhiker]
jzmtl Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/18/10
Posts: 530
Loc: Montreal Canada
Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
I have used a MSR Pocket Rocket stove down to about -10C with no problems. The secret as others have posted is to keep the cannister warm. Also when using the stove, keep the cannister directly off the cold ground. I use a small piece of Polar fleece for this which is also big enough to wrap around the fuel cannister. A windscreen also helps (as with almost any stove.)


I have a Primus clip on windscreen and it fits great on pocket rocket, and take almost no additional space when inverted on a fuel canister.

Originally Posted By: JerryFountain
If you might have to stay out all night it is THAT remote. smile

Having spent nights in that kind of weather without a full camp, I would want at least shelter and additional insulation (I often carried an elephant foot bag and my parka). Less than that can mean a very uncomfortable night!

Respectfully,

Jerry


Everything add together is just a bit too much to carry for "just in case" though, at least for now. Up here there are tons of evergreen trees, I'm sure I could rig something up if it comes down to that, always have a knife and saw on me when I'm outdoors.

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#216301 - 02/02/11 11:27 PM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: jzmtl]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
OK, here's something I wrote up for a friend. These are rules of thumb, so if you see something that doesn't apply in some circumstance, you're probably right.

Typical backpacking type fuel canisters consist of three gasses: butane, isobutane, and propane.

Each of these fuels vaporizes at a different temperature: butane at 31F (-0.5C), isobutane at 11F (-11.7C), and propane at -44F (-42.1C). If you deliver the fuel as a gas, it has to vaporize before it reaches the burner. If the outside temperature is lower than the vaporization point (boiling point) of your fuel, your fuel won't vaporize (it'll stay liquid), and your stove ceases to function. You can shake your canister and hear fuel sloshing around, but your stove is, quite literally, out of gas.

As the temperature declines and you pass each one of those vaporization points, you lose one of the components of your pressure and as the canister empties you also lose pressure just from the reduced amount of fuel. Also, because propane has the lowest vaporization point, it has the highest pressure and burns off faster than the rest. In other words, in cold weather your best fuel gets used first, and only your lower performing fuels are left toward the end.

All three of these things contribute to "canister fade," increasingly reduced efficacy as the canister approaches empty.

You've got a few choices:
1. Keep the canister warm, but you'll still have canister fade toward the end, and in really cold weather, keeping the canister warm is either difficult or dangerous (depending on the technique employed).
2. Switch to a liquid feed gas stove. You're still using the same three fuels (butane, isobutane, and propane), but they're fed in as a liquid, and the burner is doing the vaporization, so the outside temperature isn't as big of a deal.
3. Go with liquid fuel (white gasoline or kerosene).

Here's Hikin' Jim's general temperature range recommendations:
40+ F Gas, Liquid Feed Gas, or Liquid Fuel will all work well.
30F - 40F Gas, Liquid Feed Gas, or Liquid Fuel will all still work, but you're going to start to notice degraded performance on gas.
20F - 30F Gas, Liquid Feed Gas, or Liquid Fuel will all still work, but you're going to notice degraded performance and you're going to have to use tricks on gas with many gas brands toward the low end of the temperature range.
10F - 20F You're getting below where regular gas stoves operate. If you're headed out in this kind of weather, do your self a favor and upgrade to a different type of stove. Yeah, if you fiddle with it enough, you can get your regular gas stove to work, but basic tricks don't work well down this low, and more advanced tricks are dangerous. Dangerous as in severe injury or death.
0F - 10FThis is simply below the operational range of ordinary gas stoves. This is where liquid feed or liquid fueled stoves rule the day.
-10F - 0FNo way in heck on regular gas stoves. Even liquid feed gas stoves can have trouble as you approach -10F. Specialized liquid feed gas stoves like the Coleman Xtreme will handle the cold better.
< -10F Liquid fueled stoves only.

OK, so there you have it. Those are "rules of thumb" and are a general guideline only. No guidelines can cover all circumstances and conditions. Those are guidelines that are going to work fairly well at most elevations. If you're going above 15,000', feel free to adjust the numbers as needed.

All of the above are ballpark numbers at best. So much depends on other things like wind, how you use the stove, what tricks you employ, how full is your canister, which brand of gas you're using, how sheltered a spot you're in, are you cooking in a tent or out in the open, etc.

HJ
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Adventures In Stoving

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#216305 - 02/03/11 01:04 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6083
Loc: southern Cal
The only time I have ever used at stove at high altitude was on Denali a "few" years ago. Everyone used liquid fuel stoves, not a canister in sight. -20F was a nice day at around 14,000 feet.

I am a fan of canister stoves, but in cold weather, if you absolutely, positively want a fire, go liquid.

Nice, concise write up. Jim, you should have it framed.
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Geezer in Chief

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#216327 - 02/03/11 06:20 AM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: hikermor]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: hikermor
you should have it framed.
lol. Thanks.

HJ
_________________________
Adventures In Stoving

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#216424 - 02/04/11 02:36 PM Re: Butane canister cold weather performance? [Re: jzmtl]
jshannon Offline
Addict

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 584
Loc: North Texas
Backpackinglight.com has a great article about winter stove and fuel use. Probably the best article on the internet about this topic. I think one must be a member to read it though.

Butane is reliable down to freezing or so, but propane/butane mixtures are good below that. The Coleman Xtreme stove uses what is probably the best canister fuel mixture for cold weather since that stove is used by some down to nearly zero degrees F. The stoves below freezing should have a remote canister with preheat tube (have not looked up and may have terminology wrong) for best results. Butane canisters kept warn and used upside down can work.


Edited by jshannon (02/04/11 02:40 PM)

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