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1/7/2016 11:12 AM
 

Along the lines regarding the ongoing discussion in the related thread "Heat Sources In A Shelter" (http://www.hillpeoplegear.com/Forum/t...), I did a test burn with three different small stove systems.  All of them can be used as a hanging system.  Although each manufacturer warns against using these in a closed space like a tent because of the danger with CO poisoning, many (including myself) have done so successfully in a well-ventilated tent or shelter.  The warnings are real, but are also included to absolve the manufacturers of liability.  At the end of the day, it's the user's responsibility as to whether they feel comfortable using one of these stoves in a tent for cooking and as a source to improve ambient temperatures for warmth.

With that said, I wanted to provide some boil times conducted in open air as a baseline for determining the pros and cons of these stove systems.  All three were tested to boil 20 oz of water, with an average temperature of 45.4 degrees Fahrenheit, measured by a Kestrel 2500NV weather device.  Each was tested with the stove placed on the ground next to one another, in order to provide equal conditions for each stove.  Once I can test each of these inside my small shelter, I'll have a good comparison of boil times and effectiveness for raising ambient shelter temperatures.  I'll then post those findings in the Heat Sources In A Shelter thread.

The first stove I tested is the MSR Windburner.  This was the only one of the three that had to be used with its own integral pot, because MSR's Reactor technology integrated pot-burner-wind shield-heat exchanger interface requires that only the pot supplied with the stove be used for boiling water.  Of course, it was by far the most efficient.  20 oz of water was brought to a full boil in 2:15.11.  That's incredibly efficient.  The upside of such an efficient system is that the user can expect to get 11 or more boils out of a single 3.9 oz canister of MSR IsoPro fuel, thus saving weight and space in the pack because the canister can be housed inside the stove pot along with the burner in one compact package.  The single 3.9 oz canister would likely be enough for a 5 day trip.  Another plus is that hot fluids and food can be consumed readily...which will raise a person's body core temperature and help them feel warmer in winter environments.  The speed of this stove also means it is excellent for time management out in the mountains.  That can be very important if there are other tasks to attend to.  The downside of this highly efficient stove is that because it boils so quickly, if used in a well-ventilated small shelter, it really wouldn't be running long enough to provide any lasting ambient warmth benefit.  

The next stove I tested was an MSR Superfly.  Once again using 20 oz of water but now in a standard cooking pot with lid.  In this case, the cooking pot was a Solo Stove 30 oz capacity pot.  The Superfly brought the 20 oz to full boil in 5:57.86.  Significantly less efficient than the Windburner.  Aside from being less efficient than the Windburner, it is also a more thirsty stove.  One can expect a lesser number of boils out of a canister...approximately 7.5 liters boiled per 3.9 oz canister.  Basically, a 5 day trip would probably need two 3.9 oz canisters.  However, the large burner of this stove coupled with a slightly longer boil time would hopefully allow for ambient shelter temperatures to improve.  This stove is actually lighter (burner and fuel only) than the Windburner, but once a cooking pot, hanging system, and possibly a heat exchanger are added, the space required will be more than the Windburner, and the weights will likely be near the same, as well.  One benefit of this stove is that fuel canisters other than the threaded MSR IsoPro brand can be used, because of the multi-mount design of the burner.  This improves its usability overseas where possibly another brand of fuel must be used.

The final stove I tested was my Solo Stove, using the supplied alcohol burner (virtually identical to the standard widely-used Trangia).  The Solo Stove gasifier housing and pot stand are used with the alcohol burner to shield the flame and improve efficiency of it.  This stove actually is more efficient using wood as the fuel, but for testing purposes with the intent to use the stove inside my tent, I would only use the alcohol burner.  I used 96% pure isopropyl alcohol as the fuel.  In retrospect, had I used a high ethanol content denatured alcohol, the boil time would have been shorter.  However, the chemical additives to formulate it into its methylated spirits form might make this a poor choice for use in a shelter, even with plenty of ventilation.  The alcohol burner has a capacity of 2.37 oz, and it took half of that capacity to boil the 20 oz of water.  This translates to roughly 2 boils per full alcohol burner.  For a 5 day trip where one intends to have two hot meals per day, the required amount of alcohol fuel would be between 11-12 oz.  This stove was the least efficient of the three, and it took 17:34.19 to bring the same 20 oz of water to a full boil in the same environmental conditions as the previous two.  The clear benefit of this longer boiling time is that because the stove is running for a longer time period, ambient temperatures inside a shelter should certainly improve.  Once again...with all of these stoves, it is imperative that lots of ventilation be employed, in order to effectively mitigate the dangers of both CO poisoning and catching tent fabric on fire.  The versatility of this stove, since it can use both wood and globally-available alcohol as fuel, make it a good choice for international travel.  At 20.3 oz (stove, alcohol burner, and pot), plus additional weight for a bottle of alcohol for the trip would bring the total weight well above that of either canister stove.

I did not test any other stoves I have like the MSR Whisperlite International or XGK Expedition because I would never use either of those anywhere close to a shelter, due to the potential of flare-ups and the less controllable nature of these stoves.  Other canister type stoves like the Jet Boil (which also can be used with a hanging system) was not tested because it is similar enough to the Windburner in design and function.

I figured that providing this sort of baseline data will help out with the current heat source discussions and also provide more food for thought on backcountry stove choices.

 


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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1/8/2016 2:52 PM
 
The military man in you is still good at data creation to ensure it is usable by all your piers. Thanks for taking your field experience and making it tangible for all of us brother.
 
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1/8/2016 5:41 PM
 

Glad to help, bro!


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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6/2/2016 8:52 AM
 
thanks for this
 
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6/2/2016 11:30 AM
 
Looking at your alcohol burner boil time, I suspect you need a better windscreen or maybe need the stove closer to the pot.  My Caldera Cone will boil 16oz of 50F water in a little over 8min with 3/4oz of HEET.    For solo use, that Windburner looks enticing.  I'd be interested in collecting Windburner boil times in front of a fan (speed tested by an anemometer/Kestrel).  
 
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