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All About Camping / Camp Stoves – Part 2

By Editor | March 13, 2008

3. Liquid Petroleum Gas Camping Stoves – best for Overnight Hikes and High Altitude Mountaineering

picture of a generic liquid propane gas camping stoveLiquid Petroleum (LP) gas covers fuels such as butane, isobutane and propane which are often blended to optimize heat output and enhance cold-weather performance. Fuel is stored in pressurized metal cannisters that are sold in most parts of industrialized world. Liquid Petroleum camp stoves are easy to use (no matches or lighters required on some models) and almost maintenance-free, making them ideal for the weekend camper, hiker who wants an easy meal.
Altitude improves the ability of LP gas to vaporize, since the pressure difference between the cylinder interior and the outside atmosphere is increased. This benefit, combined with the simplicity of operation and spill-proof design makes LP gas camping stoves popular with high altitude mountaineers. However, LP gases are affected by temperature more so than other fuels. When temperature outside decreases, the pressure inside the fuel tank decreases making vaporization (hence burning) almost impossible in colder temperatures. At sea level isobutane will only vaporize at -10 degrees celcius or warmer.
Climbers often store canisters in their sleeping bags to ensure the liquid petroleum canisters will be warm enough to ignite. Empty canisters should always be packed away and recycled or safely disposed of when your trip is over.
Propane-only camping stoves will work at temperatures down to -45 degrees celcius, but the canisters are generally heavy, made of thick walled steel. Propane-only camp stoves are more suited for car camping or base camp cooking.

4. Methyl Alcohol Camping Stoves – best for Cycle Touring and Easy Simmering

Methyl Alcohol camp stoves are simple and lightweight. They are similar to those found on buffet warming trays and they use a form of alcohol that burns with a silent, invisible, low-output flame. Methyl Alcohol camp stoves are ideal for simmering or stove-top baking, but not melting snow in a hurry (heat output can be enhanced with windscreens, which are often included). Methyl Alcohol is unavailable in some parts of the world. Their compact size makes them ideal for cycle touring and overnight backpacking trips.

BTU / Heat Efficiency

Heat output is measured in maximum BTUs per hour (above 10,000 BTU/hour is suitable for most uses) and boiling time refers to how long it takes to boil one litre of water at sea level, a task most camping stoves should be able to do in three to five minutes.

Airline Transportation

Heightened airport security these days makes it very likely that camping stove fuel containers will be intercepted; even stoves are coming under increased scrutiny. It’s best to ship new empty containers to your destination, and obtain fuel when you arrive.

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Topics: Articles, Camping, Hiking and Backpacking, Gear Related | 214 Comments »

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