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MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby 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

Postby 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

Postby 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

Postby 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
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby 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

Postby 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.

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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby markskor » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:40 pm

HJ -
Figured that you would pick up on your own blog...a homage?
Especially liked:
30F - 40F Regular 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 Regular 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 can be dangerous. Dangerous as in severe injury or death...


Reinforces my observations about temperatures found Sierra and always using a stove with the canister inverted. A canister upright, the more volatile gas vaporizes first - burns off first, leaving increasingly poorer performance as the canister empties over time.
Inverted, (all liquid), solves this problem.
Thanks,
Mark
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby rlown » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:36 pm

my coleman apollo also states it burns unleaded. haven't tested that out yet. kind of afraid to.

Got a free MSR stove sitting around here somewhere deeper in the gear box. dunno what it does as I haven't really started it up.
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby longri » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:51 pm

It's usually reassuring to have your opinions buttressed by others.

I don't use any special tricks. I put the stove in a snow pit, often inside the vestibule. I surround it with a partial windscreen. And I melt snow. A monkey could do it.
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby longri » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:10 pm

Hiking Jim,

Where did you get this grainy chart that you included in your blog?

Elevation_vs_Boiling-Point_Chart.gif

It's wrong. Look at the value it gives for the boiling point of isobutane at 10,000 feet. It's hard to read but it looks like about -9°F. It should be -5°F.

Assuming you need between 5 and 10 psi gauge pressure for acceptable stove operation, the minimum isobutane fuel temperature at a given elevation is the region between the blue and green lines below.

isobutane_vs_elevation.jpg


I haven't been doing much winter camping in the last few years. The drought has taken the joy out of it for me. But the last time I camped above 13,000 feet in the Sierra in mid-winter it never got below 20°F.
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby hikin_jim » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:21 pm

longri wrote:Where did you get this grainy chart that you included in your blog?
That's from an old climbing magazine from the 70's called "On Belay". I had seen a lot of talk about how the vaporization (boiling) points of gasses are affected by temperature, but I hadn't seen a lot of talk about the effect of elevation. My "How Cold Can I Go?" post was written in part to emphasize the affects of altitude. It probably doesn't matter much if one is living in Florida (the highest point in Florida, Britton Hill, is only 345' above sea level!) :eek: but for us Californians who regularly travel above 10,000', it's a significant difference -- as in 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, if you can operate a particular stove with a propane/isobutane fuel mix at 20 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level, you can operate that same set up at 0 degrees Fahrenheit at 10,000 feet. THAT'S COOL! \:D/ No one was talking about it, so I did. And that graphic was illustrative albeit old. In a way, I chose that graphic on purpose, just to illustrate that the concept had been around for a long time. We just need to reincorporate it into our thinking. It's not just a matter of temperature and fuel type. Elevation (really air pressure, but that's highly correlated to elevation) must also be considered. Now, is the graphic, precise? No. But it communicates the idea very effectively.

longri wrote:Assuming you need between 5 and 10 psi gauge pressure for acceptable stove operation...
Actually only about 3 psig is required for decent pressure on an upright canister stove. Keeping the fuel temperature about 10 Fahrenheit degrees above the boiling point of the fuel mix should be sufficient to generate that pressure. Your stove won't necessarily be screaming at maximum, but it'll be decent. For an inverted canister stove, you can get by on as little as 1 psig. You just need enough to get liquified gas to the generator (i.e the "pre heat loop").

longri wrote:the last time I camped above 13,000 feet in the Sierra in mid-winter it never got below 20°F.
Wow, that's warm. I've camped in the teens in lower elevations than that. If you're not getting below 20F, then bringing an inverted canister stove isn't absolutely necessary, but God help you if the temperature drops unexpectedly low. Of course at 13,000', you've got a lot of "slack" because of the low pressure which depresses the vaporization temperature of your fuel. And you'll do better with a fresh canister with an upright canister stove since the propane content is still fairly high when the canister is full.

HJ
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Re: MSR Windboiler – Completed Review

Postby rlown » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:35 pm

canister cozy.. can already see a market for it. :) most pics on line show them soaking a can in hot water.. umm. Just sleep with the can and then slip some neoprene sleeve over the thing.
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