MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

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markskor
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by markskor » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:30 pm

longri wrote: I have never needed to invert the canister while traveling in the Sierra. I'm sure there are some really cold nights in mid-winter but they must not be all that common. Most of the time it's 10 degrees F or warmer. And in the summer there is never any need to invert.
Respectfully, simply not true for any canister stove Sierra...or maybe I just go higher.

Canisters typically contain propane mixed with either isobutane or "plain" butane (n-butane). The boiling points (vaporization point) of each of those gases are as follows:
Boiling point
n-butane -0.5C 31F
isobutane -12C 11F
propane -42C -44F

Propane has the lowest boiling point and therefore the highest vapor pressure. Because of its high vapor pressure, the propane boils off at a faster rate than either n-butane or isobutane. Toward the end of a canister, you have no propane left, and you're running on just isobutane or n-butane. N-butane will not vaporize below 31F/-0.5C, so it's a poor choice for an upright canister stove in cold weather.

So, with that little fuel lesson out of the way, here's the answer: If you take a typical upright canister stove out in cold weather, you can run it on good fuel (no n-butane) to the point where the fuel temperature is about 20F/-7C at sea level throughout the life of the canister. Yes, isobutane vaporizes at 11F/-12C, but you need a certain amount of pressure in the canister in order to properly drive the stove. If your vaporization point is 11F/-12C, and your fuel temperature is, say, 12F/-11C, then the pressure in your canister will be so insipid that you can't run a stove off of it. Generally, about 10F/5C above the vaporization point will give you good operating pressure. So, if your fuel vaporization point is 11F/-12C, you generally want to shoot for about 21F/-6C in order to have good operating pressure. 20F/-7C is easier for me to remember, so I usually just say 20F/-7C fuel temperature for upright canister stoves using a propane/isobutane blend at sea level.


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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by longri » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:04 am

I understand the chemistry. Isobutane is the preferred base fuel. And when the stove is running the fuel isn't at ambient temperature. It works for me; maybe not for you. So carry a heavier stove and invert. I would too if I were having trouble keeping the stove going.

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by longri » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:07 am

rlown wrote:not sure why we're arguing about other stoves on this topic. it was a review on a particular stove and a pretty good one. A choice is a choice beyond that point. If you have a different point of view on a different stove, spin off your own review; or compare two or three. Video would be helpful. Nice job, hikin_jim.
The review was not just about one stove; it was also a comparison to several other stoves.

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:49 am

Has anyone done a detailed review of fuel canisters? I wish someone would do this. How do you know what the fuel mix is when you buy fuel? All the label says is "mix". Given that some brands are 20-30% cheaper than others, are you getting inferior fuel or is the cost difference due to the actual canister construction? Or is it all "brand name".

As for cooking inside a tent, I do not do this because I am always in bear country, often grizzly country, and do not want those food smells inside the tent. In fact I cook a good distance from the tent. Also, I have had a fuel canister blow up on me. After that experience I am really reluctant to cook inside.

Someone gave me a stove/pot system that has one of those heat shields. I used it once. I think it is more of the awkward pot size - too big for a "solo" cup and too small to cook a dinner for two. I figured the fuel weight savings would not over-ride the weight of the system until I was out for 10+ days. I have seldom had trouble finding a wind-sheltered cook spot, even above timber. Sometimes the site is a bit awkward, but my home-made wind screen seems to work fine. I am a "real cook" and do a lot of simmering. So for me I would not buy that stove. Agree that apples-to-apples comparison would be how it performs against the JetBoil.

Thanks for the review. How about doing a canister review??

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by longri » Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:37 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Has anyone done a detailed review of fuel canisters??
It wouldn't be easy to do. I've seen lists of ingredients. But not all manufacturers say what's inside and none of them are entirely transparent about it. Plus they change over time.

When camping cold and especially low, the main thing (for upright canister usage) is to make sure the base canister ingredient is isobutane, not normal butane. For warm weather use it doesn't matter so much. For inverted canister usage the propane percentage is more important.

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Re: Canisters

Post by hikin_jim » Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:31 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Has anyone done a detailed review of fuel canisters?
I've actually got that on my blog, a break down of the percentages of the major canister brands. See: What's the Best Brand of Canister Gas?

Caveat to the above: In temperatures of about 50F/10C or warmer, it doesn't make much difference which brand of canister gas one buys. It's below 50F/10C where it starts to matter. The colder it gets, the more it matters.

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by hikin_jim » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:24 am

longri wrote:The scenario where you are just squeaking by with one canister and the Jetboil uses ~15% more fuel and so requires a larger or second canister, you do save 1-2 ounces of weight. But in many other scenarios it's the other way around. And if you include other canister stoves the Windboiler gets blown away, weight-wise.
Yes, that's absolutely true.

Honestly, if one were looking to save weight, an integrated canister stove probably isn't the way to do it. I try to be thorough in my reviews, so I included a specific example of when a highly efficient stove might be actually lighter than other integrated canister stoves. But I also wrote that you'll seldom save weight by efficiency alone.

If one is truly looking to go light, then alcohol may be a good choice. Alcohol is always lighter by the end of a trip and is usually lighter on average. ESBIT is lighter still. Both alcohol and ESBIT require a good set up. Most DIY set ups aren't that good unless you either just luck into it or spend a fair amount of time experimenting.

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by hikin_jim » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:40 am

markskor wrote: Canisters typically contain propane mixed with either isobutane or "plain" butane (n-butane). The boiling points (vaporization point) of each of those gases are as follows:
Boiling point
n-butane -0.5C 31F
isobutane -12C 11F
propane -42C -44F

Propane has the lowest boiling point and therefore the highest vapor pressure. Because of its high vapor pressure, the propane boils off at a faster rate than either n-butane or isobutane. Toward the end of a canister, you have no propane left, and you're running on just isobutane or n-butane. N-butane will not vaporize below 31F/-0.5C, so it's a poor choice for an upright canister stove in cold weather.

So, with that little fuel lesson out of the way, here's the answer: If you take a typical upright canister stove out in cold weather, you can run it on good fuel (no n-butane) to the point where the fuel temperature is about 20F/-7C at sea level throughout the life of the canister. Yes, isobutane vaporizes at 11F/-12C, but you need a certain amount of pressure in the canister in order to properly drive the stove. If your vaporization point is 11F/-12C, and your fuel temperature is, say, 12F/-11C, then the pressure in your canister will be so insipid that you can't run a stove off of it. Generally, about 10F/5C above the vaporization point will give you good operating pressure. So, if your fuel vaporization point is 11F/-12C, you generally want to shoot for about 21F/-6C in order to have good operating pressure. 20F/-7C is easier for me to remember, so I usually just say 20F/-7C fuel temperature for upright canister stoves using a propane/isobutane blend at sea level.
Well, I see people are actually reading my blog, which I appreciate. :thumbsup: Thanks for including the quote here in this discussion. The full post is worth reading: Gas stoves: How cold can I go?

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by rlown » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:53 am

My favorite quote out of your blog:
So there you have it: Gas stoves are lighter, faster/more convenient, more compact, and less expensive than liquid fueled stoves. They're great for fair weather hikers or as a supplement to four season hikers.

All that said, I continue to use white gas as my primary stove fuel. But on those trips where the weather will be good and I want to go fast and light, gas is my choice.
I love my white gas stove, other than it's 14 buxx a gallon now, but I like it. Even sometimes I have to stop at altitude because i get the white gas smell wafting out of my pack and check both the stove and the fuel bottles. :)

I like your blog. very helpful.

Russ

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Post by hikin_jim » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:29 pm

rlown wrote:My favorite quote out of your blog:
So there you have it: Gas stoves are lighter, faster/more convenient, more compact, and less expensive than liquid fueled stoves. They're great for fair weather hikers or as a supplement to four season hikers.

All that said, I continue to use white gas as my primary stove fuel. But on those trips where the weather will be good and I want to go fast and light, gas is my choice.
I love my white gas stove, other than it's 14 buxx a gallon now, but I like it. Even sometimes I have to stop at altitude because i get the white gas smell wafting out of my pack and check both the stove and the fuel bottles. :)

I like your blog. very helpful.

Russ
I've actually converted over to alcohol for most of my solo three season hikes. It's light, burns cleanly, and is reasonably cheap. One has to burn more alcohol to do the same amount of cooking as white gas, so white gas continues to be the cheapest backpacking fuel for most people.

Keresene, IF your stove can handle it, can be even cheaper if bought in bulk. I've seen 5 gallon drums of kero where the price per gallon is about $8 -- ultra cheap. Of course who is ever going to burn through 5 gallons of kerosene in a backpacking stove. You'd have to go in with others or use the kero for heating or other purposes. Home heating oil #1 can also burn well in kerosene capable stoves.

HJ
Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving

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