|An FMS-116T "Gnat" stove weighs less than two ounces.|
What the heck do I mean by that? Well, when I was in school, some instructors would look at the scores on their tests, expecting to see a "normal" (bell shaped) curve. If the center of the curve didn't line up with "average" performance, they might adjust the test scores. In other words, students were judged not just on their test scores alone but on how well they did in relation to the class as a whole. This is referred to as "grading on the curve."
So also, we can judge canister stoves not just on their weight alone but also on how their weights compare to other stoves in their class.
|Some stoves today weigh under one ounce, giving new meaning to the term "ultralight."|
Upright Canister Gas Stove
(Less Than or Equal To)
|Moderate||< 4||< 113|
|Light||< 3||< 85|
|Ultralight (UL)||< 2||< 57|
|Super Ultralight (SUL)||< 1||< 28|
Upright canister stoves today weigh as little as 25 grams – less than one ounce! There are five commercially available stoves that weigh less than two ounces.
Given the light weight of stoves available today, it's reasonable to insist on that a stove be truly light in order for it to belong to the class of "ultralight" and to be even more demanding of weight savings for a stove to earn the title "super ultralight."
- SUL: If an upright canister stove weighs less than or equal to an ounce (28 g), it's super ultralight.
- UL: If a stove weighs less than or equal to two ounces (57 g) but more than one ounce, then it's ultralight.
- Light: If a stove weighs less than or equal to three ounces (85 g) but more than two ounces, then it's light.
- Moderate: If a stove weighs less than or equal to four ounces (113 g) but more than three ounces , then it's moderate.
- Heavy: If it weighs more than a quarter pound (4 oz/113 g), then, by modern standards, it's heavy.
Next time you read an ad or hear a salesman say that a three (or more) ounce stove is "ultralight," just nod your head and say "unh hunh, sure," and have yourself a little chuckle. Now, you know better.
Thanks for joining me,
For Further Reading:
- For an overall look at canister stoves including an explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of each high level type, please see: Canister Stoves, Compared – a Compendium of Canister Stoves.
- For a look at upright (top mounted) canister stoves, please see: Upright Canister Stoves, the State of the Art. A chart of comparative weights is included.
- For a look at integrated canister stoves (Jetboil, Reactor, Windburner, etc.), please see: Integrated Canister Stoves, the State of the Art. A chart of comparative weights is included.
The Purpose of this Post:
As a brief post script, let me just reflect for a moment. I wrote this post with two things in mind:
1. To let people know, particularly those less familiar with backpacking stoves, what's out there. There are stoves being marketed as "ultralight" that are above three ounces in weight. That's actually on the heavy end of the scale. It's not even light let alone ultralight. If you're shopping for a stove and trying to get your base weight down, you need to know that you can do better.
2. ALL WEIGHT CATEGORIES ARE ARBITRARY including those that talk about total base weight. I like weight categories insofar as they give me a goal that I can challenge myself with, but I don't like weight categories if they lead to one upmanship or a loss of focus on the true bottom line: enjoyment. Reduced gear weight should facilitate the enjoyment of one's hiking. Increased enjoyment of hiking is the true bottom line, not some arbitrary weight class.