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How Much Fuel to Bring?

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How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby BSquared » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:33 pm

I'm an old white-gas stove user, but I persuaded myself that these newfangled isobutane stoves are good enough that I'm going to try one for this summer's JMT hike. They weigh nothing, and the propaganda persuaded me that the total load will be lighter even with the fuel canisters. But how much fuel will I need? One cool website <http://www.howardjohnson.name/Backpacking/Stove/Stoves.htm> has a very complicated calculator that makes the fundamental assumption that it takes 0.25 ounces of fuel to boil a pint of water. A couple of other sources seem to have similar numbers. REI claims the SnowPeak GigaPower (my stove) can boil 7.7 L/100g, which works out to 0.22 oz per pint, so everyone seems to agree. This works out to a little more than six days per 100-g fuel canister. Wow, four canisters for the whole trip, even with a substantial safety factor? Hmmm...

Am I doing something wrong, or does this sound about right to people with experience with isobutane stoves?

How important is it that I get Snow Peak fuel? Is there standardization in connectors so my Snow Peak stove will fit other isobutane canisters?

Can I buy isobutane canisters at Muir Trail Ranch?


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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby oldranger » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:05 pm


As long as your menu involves just bringing water to a boiling point your calculations are probably correct. If you make pancakes, biscuits, or cook fish on a regular basis you will probably use more fuel. If you use wood when legal you can conserve your fuel but then your pans get sooty.

I think I might have seen a canister or two at muir trail ranch a few years ago. You might e-mail them to confirm.


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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby hikerduane » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:30 pm

With only bringing two cups of water to a boil in the evenings, I have gotten by with one small MSR canister, using my Pocket Rocket for an eight day trip on part of the country/elevation you will be going thru. YMMV.

Larger Snow Peak fuel canisters may be available more places because it is cheaper then the small MSR canisters, shipping adds a big tab per a dealer I buy stuff from in Nevada.
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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby markskor » Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:14 pm

After checking out your typical gas consumption on the trail to Tuolumne/ Reds Meadows (canisters sold at both spots), I would think 4 large full canisters would do you both well enough the rest of the way. You could always buy 1 extra at VVR or Muir Ranch, both carry/sell them but doubtful you will need any more.
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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby trav867 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:22 am

Hope I'm not being redundant here- I used a white gas stove (Optimus Svea) for two years before I bought a Pocket Rocket for summer trips. I was blown away by the fuel consumption (or lack thereof). My cooking only consists of bringing a few cups of water to boil at night, then dumping them in the food bag, so even on longer trips I seem to only use a few ounces.

There's a lot of info on the net about iso/pro canisters, but I'd say your guess of 6 days per 4oz canister is going to be pretty accurate. If you're good about warming the canisters up before you use them, and keeping the stove sheltered from the wind, you can really increase your MPG.

I'm not sure how concerned you are with weight, but the larger 8oz canisters have a slightly better fuel to weight ratio. A 4oz can weighs 8oz when full, and the 8oz size weighs something like 14oz full.

The brand of can really doesn't matter (they all have the same threads, and will nearly all be an 80/20 isobutane/propane blend), although for what its worth, I don't like the Giga/Snowpeak cans because their smaller footprint means that pots can get tippy on the stove.

Hope this helps!
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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby snusmumriken » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:23 am

If you are going north to south you have a lot of time to experiment with the fuel consumption. They sell the cannisters in the stores in Yosemite Valley, and later again in Tuolomne Meadows, often in the store at Reds Meadow, often in the store at VVR and always at Muir Trail Ranch.

So you can keep track of how much you are using and buy accordingly at MTR. My guess is that one 8 ounce can each will do you fine for the rest of the way to Whitney.
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Re: How Much Fuel to Bring?

Postby BrianF » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:03 pm

I'd suggest doing your own tests. If you aren't going to be doing many trips with your rig before the JMT just go out in your backyard on a cool to cold, slightly windy day and see what it takes to heat the water you would need for an average meal in the pot you will be taking, then dump out the water and start again with ice water (like you'd get from a Sierra stream) and repeat until you have burned thru a cannister and see how many meals you get. If you have different breakfast and dinner routines alternate those. Be sure to let everything cool in between tests. And add a day for safety, windy days, an extra round of coffee, whatever may come up. I had a friend who lost most of a cannister when it leaked after he removed the stove - he thought he had gotten some grit in the gasket, but you could also spill your white gas. Same friend is also fond of saying the difference between a disaster and an adventure is your attitude.
Personally I take My MSR pocket rocket on shorter trips and my white gas Simmerlite for week or more trips, but I've never done a weight comparison, I'll have to calc it out myself.
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