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MSR vs. Primus stoves

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:38 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
Sea Kayaking Magazine recently rated the MSR Whisper as one of their top gear items. When I went shopping for stoves I noticed other options that included a Primus multiple fuel, white gas/diesel/petrol. Has anyone tried these?

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:45 pm
by chrstjrn
Yes. Dirty fuels are dirty, but they still burn.

Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:13 pm
by Alm
Multifuel stove can be very useful when travelling to unknown areas (not to ignite another endless discussion there, but same useful in unknown areas would be Sierra Zip stove that burns any solid fuel, - if you like this gadget). There is also Primus Omnifuel, that burns all the above liquid fuels plus LPG canisters (in my opinion, one of the cleanest fuels - only alcohol is cleaner). I tried a gasoline stove - not much fun, but I'm not a fan of liquid fuels anyway. Pumping, priming, smelling it in the backpack or boat - no, thanks, me no likes it :-) ...

PS: finding LPG Primus/MSR canisters (same thread in both) in Baja could be a problem - little propane tanks occure more often, but still not everywhere. In Greece- don't know, but again, I am sure propane must occur more often than LPG. Small propane tanks are used in camping-style briefcase-sized 2-burner stoves, while LPG cartridges - in smaller hiking stoves, which are not something that local villagers are interested in, because these cartridges are lighter, but cost 2 or 3 times more, no to mention that these hiking stoves are too small and unstabile for any substantial pot, in normal local's opinion.

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:07 am
by mje
For my trips- which tend to be a week or less, and in areas reachable by car or boat- I like small butane cartridge stoves. Neat, no spills, instant ignition. I used to use a Bluet, and now use a little MSR. Of course if you're travelling in more remote areas, or somewhere you have to fly to and can't buy the cartridges locally, liquid fuel may be the only choice.

My other favorite for warmer weather is the Trangia alcohol stove and cookit. Quiet, clean, no moving parts.

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:49 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
It seems that these butane stoves are rather popular and Complete Folding Kayaker endorses them. I've had a Bluet since my teens, and it takes a phenominal amount of punishment from neglect, dirt, sand and water. They are fantastic stoves for the money, but have limitations.
I've found that they don't perform well at altitudes above 12,000 ft. -Not a problem for kayaking unless you're in Nepal or the Andes. :D
Likewise they don't perform well in cold temperatures. Also, I've only managed to extract the most BTU's for beach camping in windy conditions by digging a small hole and placing the stove below ground level. Cartridges for my stove have been a serious problem lately and I spent hours recently scouring what seemed like every camping supply store in upper NY state. I finally found some on discount, -"hadn't sold any for years!" I suppose this is my prime reason for looking at alternatives.
I haven't flown recently with this stove, but was avoiding hassles before by buying the canisters on location, -this is becoming more difficult.
We didn't use a stove for kayak camping when I was a kid, -we simply built a fire on the beach. This doesn't work well with the modern demands of stealth or "commando" camping and not to mention limited wood supply in the best locations.
I agree w/ the notion that fuels can easily make a stinky mess.

Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:38 pm
by chrstjrn
Building a fire is not in keeping with Leave No Trace ethics, either, although "there is no substitute", if you'll pardon the cliche.

I didn't see that anyone had mentioned it above, but you can't fly with anything other than an alcohol stove or the Zzip stove (I've tried both, and I love my Zzip). Even then, you have to lie about whether you have a stove (I would argue that it is a "portable fireplace") because the small-minded airport officials won't be able to think outside of the box (sort of like the famous case where they wouldn't let an airline pilot carry-on a pocket knife (on a flight where he was PIC) because he might hijack the plane).

Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 12:50 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
Don't you hate it when you get a schizo PIC that holds a knife to his own throat and argues with himself about taking everybody to who-knows-what-radical-country? It just sort-of dampens the whole trip, -the kayaking's a bit lack luster in some African or middle Eastern desert spots...
Not to stray too far off the subject, but speaking of utterly confounding officials, has anyone side stepped boater registration for folding kayaks w/ sail rigs? My boat was originally used in Germany, then Chile and now here. I've thought of just declaring a Chilean home port, as Chile has not such tight regs. (-The stealth miniture battleship, more enemy tonnage sunk by the pound/class argument would probably land one in hot water. Shhh! W might be watching/listening! :wink: )

Any performance specs on the zip or alcohol stoves?

Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 11:43 pm
by Alm
>Any performance specs on the zip or alcohol stoves?

Zzip is essentially a miniature version of blast-furnace used in metallurgy, with hot air conveyed around the walls of combustion chamber. So, performance is hard to determine. Let's say, it is more economical than a bonfire. May be - 3 times more.

Alcohol fuel will need more bulk and weight of fuel for the same amount of cooking, than MSR/Primus cartridges (which are the mixture of propane and butane, if I'm correct).

The matter of "What stove for me" often boils down to personal prefenrences, rather than to efficiency.
I find alcohol stoves more difficult to control than LPG or propane stoves (and ZZip - even more difficult than alcohol).

If the criteria is - the stove that you will always find some fuel for, - than it will be either Zzip, or Primus Omnifuel (there will be at least gasoline or diesel where you will get off the airplane or bus). On the second place it would be an alcohol stove - it burns not only pure alcohol, but also 70% rubbing alcohol (less effective), available almost anywhere. I consider Zzip and alcohol Mini-Trangia good backups for this reason.

If - what stove will cause the least problems with airport security, - then it is either Zzip or liquified natural gas - propane or butane or their mixture.

Airport factor be debated endlessly, due to variations in airport security diligence, or their common sense, or to what extent they believe their machinery VS blindly following the orders. I always wash my propane burner in soapy water and leave it to dry in open, before flying. Didn't have any problems ever. I also washed and dried my alcohol stove, and haven;t used it for a long time (a backup), so it must be clear if checked with sniffer-machine, but am prepared to give it up if they say so. It it still "a container that was used to transport a fuel", unlike ZZip or natural gas stove (the latter has no container, - I buy fuel upon landing). Liquid fuel stoves have more parts that may contain residues of fuel, so I would expect it to have higher risk of being seized, but some people cleaned these stoves so well that it didn't cause a problem.

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 5:50 am
by chrstjrn
ALM's description of a Zzip is pretty good. With a Zzip, once you've got it going, the problem is never that you don't have enough heat-- but you can have too much! It really is a little furnace. It is very efficient-- just a couple of 2 or 3 foot long sticks broken into little pieces can cook a big meal. And there is a titanium version available if you're weight-conscious.

I've used my Zzip more than any other camping stove. A lot of the lighting hassles can be overcome with a couple of tricks-- use fire-starters, and find dry wood under natural cover. Zzip, themselves, recommend cotton balls soaked in Vaseline and packed in a film canister as a fire starter.

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 2:00 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
Has anyone tried to fly w/ butane canisters recently? Most airlines seem to allow a certain number of lighters, checked. Also, for many expeditions, gas stoves are a vital part of the equipment. My brother in-law is a scientist (& now that I think about it, I'll ask him and report back) He's always going on safari in the Sahara to study impact craters and cooking fuel sources would definitely be an issue.
Alm pointed out that washing the equipment may help. The fuel bottles of multi fuel stoves are often substituded (but not interchanged) for water bottles. Cleaning a fuel bottle out w soapy water (or buying a new one) and filling it w/ an inert liquid (water) may be sufficient even for carry on. Inspectors may insist on hand inspection (I insist on it for my film), but it may be enough to get by the sniffers. Simply air dry the bottle upon arrival. I'm not sure what could be done w/ the burner, but my imagination says that alcohol, then soapy steam pressure might do the trick. Packaging it in it's original box (Is it new?) may help. Again this is all suposition and speculation. I'm going to do the research to find out and report back.
I don't want to harp on it for too long, but the inconsistancies of security can be almost infuriating. Last year at the Calama airport in Chile, I flew in w/ my tripod, but was forced to check it on my way out. I agree that it can be a weapon (It's the first thing that comes to my mind if I were to defend my $10,000 camera gear) but to add insult to injury, the screeners were too busy watching their football (soccer) match from the next room to bother to see if I had really done it, -or if I'd even acquired a new piece of contraband :? ! At Ft. Lauderdale, FL, last May, the screeners were busy confiscating nail clippers from passangers, but the convenience stores by the gates had them for sale :shock: !

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 6:55 pm
by chrstjrn
A few days ago the TSA announced they are changing their search policies at airports in the US, and you can now carry scissors, small pocketknives, etc. Not to put words in their mouths, but they essentially acknowledge that some of their previous restrictions were stupid. That does NOT, however, extend to anything that is potentially explosive. Think ValueJet over Florida-- not terrorism. The airlines are going to allow us to carry fuel containers-- in any form-- any time soon. You can often mail this stuff to yourself, by surface mail. Otherwise, look at Zzip stoves and campfires. In Japan, at some locations, you can rent campstoves (Yakushima is my case in point. Chuck: did you ever make it there?).

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 9:41 pm
by Alm
>Has anyone tried to fly w/ butane canisters recently?

I wouldn't even think of this. You may check some airlines websites, - even if they don't specifically prohibit butane/propane/LPG canisters, then it falls into the category of flammables and explosives. If you have set your mind on pressurized natural gas, I suggest getting a propane stove. Propane tanks (1 lb size) are available much more often in both USA and other countries, than other types. Sometimes it is green tank by Coleman, and sometimes - long tank, size of a bottle of wine, either blue or yellow, available in hardware stores (you may see them in Home Depot, in Welding aisle). Sometimes these long tanks are red (in Europe).

Yes, cigarette lighters until recent have been allowed in carry-on bag or in your pocket (there was some very recent changes that lighters were either banned, or had to be checked-in, I don't remember); but these lighters contain little amount of fuel, and are encased in plastic, so at least it won't become a grenade if overheated or if cabin pressure drops, - no metal splinters. Still looks dangerous to me, but it's useles to speculate on this topic - it wasn't me who wrote and enforced these rules.

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 12:24 am
by chrstjrn
chrstjrn wrote:The airlines are going to allow us to carry fuel containers-- in any form-- any time soon.
I meant "The airlines are NOT going to allow us to carry fuel containers". Sorry for the slip.

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 12:28 am
by chrstjrn
Alm wrote:so at least it won't become a grenade if overheated or if cabin pressure drops
Cabin pressure ALWAYS drops. Airline cabins are normally pressurised to 8000 feet MSL-- that's why your ears pop when the plane is landing or departing. 8000 feet is a pretty serious dose of altitude, although it's rarely unhealthful.

Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 10:20 pm
by Kapitän von Klepper
Thanks for the insight. Interestingly, my previously mentioned butane stove has been all over the globe w/ canisters. I always removed and disassembled the stove before flying, as I was always concerned about leaks. I stopped carrying this stove when I first encountered warnings against arosol cans. For similar reasons, I now regularly use a shaving brush & soap instead of "Foamy". Believe it or not KENT shaving soap* is even less expensive to use than "Foamy".
I should mention that I've recorded cabin pressures w/ a pocket altimetre at around 4,000 ft. I've regularly had my stove to 14,000 ft. w/ the afore mentioned performance difficulties but never any leaks. I really don't think there's the remotest chance of a "grenade effect" (or I wouldn't be rucksacking it to 14,000 ft w/ 4 other canisters next to it). But than this topic really isn't about what really is, but more about what will give us fewer headaches as passengers. -Does anyone remember the paraphin stoves we used to build in Boy Scouts?:wink:
My most serious "almost" incidently, was once when my torch (flashlight) developed a hard fault and the batteries nearly blew up. That one had me seriously sweating, -and they still allow batteries on planes!

*It even has a Royal Warrent :!: -Com'on, just like Fairy Liquid for washing up dishes, do we really believe the Queen uses the stuff? :?