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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: Solo Tripping
      White Gas & Alcohol Volume Needs & Comparison     



09/21/2016 02:08PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
So I’m planning on a 5 day trip this next week and it looks like I’m going to be going solo. I want to bring my DIY Fancy Feast alcohol stove, but wasn’t sure how much fuel I should bring. Hence the following testing and analysis.

I think that Butthead has done something similar as well so sorry if there is any duplication here.

For the test I used 3 cups of 45 degree (F) water with an outside air temperature of 68 degrees (F) and there was a slight breeze. Here’s where it all came out to.

I went ahead and did the analysis for up to 100 uses (or 50 days boiling 6 cups of water each day) just to see where it would end up. The weight calculations include the need for larger/more fuel bottles as fuel volume increases. Here’s a graph of the result for those that like that sort of thing.

Hope that some folks will find this helpful in taking some of the guessing game out of how much fuel to bring.
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09/22/2016 09:49PM  
Interesting to me that the biggest difference seems to be the time . . .

Maybe you could put pictures in your photo album, like HansSolo did with some canoe specs.
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09/23/2016 10:12AM  
I love it! Thanks for sharing.
09/23/2016 12:10PM  
Ok, to get a little more nerdy...

The time factor really does start to add up and so I created a little formula to try to compare the weight vs. volume vs. time to boil to determine at what point I want to switch from one setup to the other. Basically I subtracted Boil 2 from Boil 1's weight, volume and time and then averaged all three of them (a lower number in this case would be better) and so on and so forth. I then graphed them against one another. It's interesting to see how they begin intersecting from Boils 9 - 25. So I guess I would consider bringing the alcohol setup for about a 12 day solo trip and beyond that, while there may still be some significant weight savings in alcohol, I think that time and volume requirements would push me towards the white gas setup. Here's the graph and data:

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09/23/2016 08:40PM  
Fantastic analysis. Thank you. It proves what I already knew and that is for a gram weenie like myself, it is always less weight to bring an alcohol stove. Even on a hypothetical 100 day trip. You didn't compare the weight of the stove itself, but just for fun, a WhisperLite stove weighs in at 11.5 ounces (326 grams) while a Fancee Feest stove weighs in at 3/4 of an ounce (24 grams). An alcohol stove is a no brainier on a solo of any length for me. Nice work.

09/23/2016 09:14PM  
Thanks DuluthPak. The weight totals actually are included in the analysis and are factored into the weight totals. The weight of the MSR (including the wind screens, repair kit, nylon bag, etc.) came in at 18.6 oz. and the DIY Fancee Feast (including a foil windscreen and ground reflector/insulter both made of heavy duty aluminum foil) came in at 1.6 oz.

Each line in the data is also per boil so assuming you boil 3 cups 2 times per day of fairly chilly (late fall/spring) water the weight savings of the alcohol stove are lost at approximately day 50.

Overall I don't mind spending a few extra minutes to boil my water and really like the quietness of an alcohol stove, but the time really adds up over the long haul, so for me I think 12 days give or take will be my maximum length trip with an alcohol stove.

I have a 5 day solo planned for next week so the rubber will hit the road on this and I'll report my "real world" findings when I get back.
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09/24/2016 06:34AM  

Thanks brux. I thought the alcohol system would be lighter. What are the units on the vertical scale on your chart weight & volume verses days?
09/27/2016 09:25AM  
Thanks John! I do not go into that much detail, but your fuel use mirrors mine closely. What's up with the Whisperlite at 18+ oz. International 600 with added burner plate.
Mine with windscreen, Trillium base, 2oz. full alcohol primer bottle, Ti fork/spoon, bag, weigh 19+oz.

The choice really turns into a personal style issue, over weight/pack size. My cooking varies too much to do just boil water cooking. Also leaning to colder pack trips, so the cold performance becomes an issue. Where I see an advantage is in 2 to 3 day trips (backpacking), where the total package is very light and compact. Say a small windscreen/burner setup for my 600ml cup, using a double wall insulated 450 mug instead of cozy.

Alan Gage
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09/29/2016 09:24AM  
The choice really turns into a personal style issue, over weight/pack size. My cooking varies too much to do just boil water cooking.

I agree it really comes down to style and personal preference but, unless I misunderstood, you seem to be insinuating an alcohol stove isn't good for much more than boiling water. I bring my Trangia alcohol stove on trips as a backup to fire. I try not to use it but sometimes towards the end of the trip when it's raining and I get lazy I'll fire it up for a few meals. I have no problem cooking pancakes and bannock over the alcohol stove. I actually find it pretty friendly because of the relatively low heat output.

Most of my cooking over an open fire is done with a littlbug Jr. stick stove which also doubles as the windscreen and pot holder for the alcohol stove. My last trip was 42 days and the only stove I brought was the Trangia and 16oz. of fuel.

All that being said if I was going on a long trip and cooking mainly over a stove I'd probably invest in some sort of pressurized fuel system.

09/29/2016 03:30PM  
Alan, I like to do some baking. Most often this takes more time/fuel than an alcohol burner. Even manage with an old version XKG to bake at reduced flame levels.
I do have a great working carbon wick "fancy feast" burner that will do great on short (no baking), trips.

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