As part of Thru-Hiker's continuing
evaluation of backpacking stoves and their objective performance,
this study showsn the way that stove weight fluctuates over time
on a 14 day fuel resupply.
The top line graph shows
the weight of the stove and remaining fuel day by day. The bar chart
shows the cumulative weight of your stove and fuel as a function
of time. It was determined by adding the base weight of the stove
and remaining fuel for each day of the trip. It assumes that you
use your stove once per day to heat two cups of water to a boil.
The canister stove weights were determined from a new 3.5 oz canister.
can see that the clear loser here is the whisperlite with a total
weight carried over time of 281 oz / 28 days, which averages 20.
oz per day. Though it is one of the most efficient of the stoves
(.25 oz fuel/pint boiled), the fact that the stove, bottle, and
pump weigh so much more than the other stoves really adds up over
time. The double wall stove's relatively poor efficiency adds up
over time, despite the fact that the weight of the stove itself
is very small: 131 oz / 28 days = 9.4 oz/day average. The canister
stove and cat stove are neck and neck, a testament to the efficiency
of this homemade stove, at 7.8 oz/day and 7.4 oz/day respectively.
The surprise winner here is the Esbit stove at 5.1 oz/day. It consumes
the same mass of fuel as the most efficient of the stoves (canister
and white gas- .25 oz/pint boiled) but only weighs 3 oz.
thru-hikers have the opportunity to pick up some more fuel every
five days or so. It can be a pain to have to search down fuel at
every town stop, though, so most carry enough fuel to last for a
few stops. Nevertheless, hikers with a stong tolerance for having
to track down fuel could save weight by using an alcohol stove or
esbit tablets and only carrying enough to take them from town to
town. The 3.5 oz canister used for this article is currently the
smallest available, so further savings on weight using this stove
could only be achieved by carrying a partially empty canister.
Bottom Line: your choice of stove depends upon a few factors:
how well you can put up with the "fiddle factor", fuel
availability, the weather, and trip length. Of the three lightest
options (Cat, Esbit, and Canister stoves), none perform particularly
well in winter conditions. Even in temperatures around freezing,
the Cat and Esbit stoves will not perform particularly well. In
milder temperatures, however, the canister stove has the most hassle
free operation. Esbit will be the most affected by windy conditions,
and will cost the most to operate (about .25/day). The cat stove
has least expensive and most environmentally friendly fuel. Personally,
on a long distance hike I tire of having to fiddle with any piece
of gear and tracking down fuel, and go with the trouble-free, fast
cooking canister stove. Nevertheless, any one of these three stoves
would be a good choice. The whisperlite, despite being a well made
and solid performing stove, gets an enthusiastic thumbs down for
weight conscious long distance hikers.
Stoveless Can Be Heavier
There are a lot of people that are of the mind that not carrying a stove saves weight. I don't disagree with the concept; however, many of the no-cook foods then carried by the stoveless hikers end up being so much heavier due to water content that their weight savings dissolve. If you're considering going stoveless, do the math beforehand to make sure that it actually is going to be lighter.