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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review – The Kovea Booster+1 Dual Fuel Backpacking Stove.

The Booster+1 from Kovea is a dual fuel backpacking stove designed to work on either canister gas or white gasoline (e.g. MSR Super Fuel, Coleman Fuel, Crown Camp Fuel, etc.).
The Booster+1 dual fuel stove from Kovea.
Multi fuel or dual fuel?
Kovea refers to the Booster+1 as a "multi" fuel stove, but to my mind it should work well with at least three fuels in order to get the "multi fuel" designation.  Now, you may read reviews elsewhere that the stove can run on unleaded automotive gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc.  I would be very skeptical of such claims.  It can be run on some of those fuels, but the chances of it really running well are low (based on experience), and the chances of clogging the stove are high.

Alternative Fuels
If you're in an area where canister gas and white gasoline are simply unavailable, choose kerosene (1-K grade) if it is available or if you're near an airport Jet A1 or Jet A will work.  Leaded aviation gasoline (for propeller driven planes) and unleaded automotive gasoline should be avoided because of the tendency for the additives in the fuel to clog the stove.  So also diesel should generally be avoided, but special diesel #1 can be used in a pinch; just be sure it's the special #1 and not the normal diesel #2.

If you're interested in "alternative" fuels for the Booster+1, I have investigated the use of kerosene here:  The Kovea Booster+1 – Multi Fuel or Just Dual Fuel?  No matter what, don't expect even the best kerosene to work as well as white gasoline, and you will need special techniques.  See the above link.
The Kovea Booster+1 running on kerosene.  You can make do with kerosene in a pinch.
See the above link for tips and appropriate technique.

Beware of Imitations!
I've seen stoves that look similar to a real Booster+1, stoves that even come in a box with the same color scheme and say "Booster" on the side.  Beware of cheap clones.  Such clones are not up to mainstream manufacturing and safety standards and have been banned by several countries.  Check your source carefully and examine photos closely.  My recommendation is that you buy from an authorized dealer so that you a) know that you're getting the real thing and b) have a warranty.  Stoves bought on e-Bay, even if authentic, do not have a warranty.  Only stoves bought from an authorized dealer have a warranty.  I know that Campsaver.com carries the Booster+1, and I believe that Mass Drop occasionally offers the Booster+1 in it's "drops" (group sales), but check around.  I'm sure there are other legitimate outlets for the stove.  If you see it on e-Bay or Alibaba, it's not an authorized outlet, and you may not even be getting the real thing.

Boxed Set
The Booster+1 comes in a nice boxed set.  There are two versions, one with a fuel bottle included, and one without.  Make sure you know which one you are getting.  You will need a fuel bottle if you plan to use white gasoline.  If you only plan to use canister gas, then you're all set, and you don't need to buy a fuel bottle.  Either set includes a windscreen.
A Kovea Booster+1 boxed set.  This is the version that does not include a fuel bottle.

Standard Fuel Bottles
The good news about the fuel bottle, is that Kovea uses "standard" threads.  That is, Kovea uses the same threads as Sigg, MSR, Primus, Optimus, Snow Peak, etc. use in their fuel bottles.  So, if you already have one of those brands, you should be able to use the fuel bottle you already have.  HOWEVER, check to see if everything works before you head out on the trail.  One time I had a Primus bottle whose threads were the same size as all of my other fuel bottles, but my MSR pump couldn't be screwed into that particular bottle.  The threads on that particular bottle started too far down the neck of the bottle, and the threaded portion of my MSR pump couldn't quite attach to them.

Also, make sure the fuel bottle you intend to use is long enough to accommodate the Kovea pump.  As I say, hook everything up at home before you head out on the trail.
A Kovea fuel bottle, left. An MSR fuel bottle, right.
The Kovea fuel bottle is an excellent fuel bottle, but Kovea liquid fueled stoves can use any standard threaded fuel bottle.

What's in the Box?
Inside the box is a nice zippered nylon case.  Inside the case is the stove.  One can also place the supplied maintenance tool inside the case, but there is not room for the pump.  However, I don't get too excited about this.  Just keep the pump in the bottle.  The fuel bottle will protect the threads and underside of the pump, and the pump will take up far less space.  When the bottle is empty, don't screw down the pump tightly so that you don't wear out the gasket.

The zippered nylon case of the Kovea Booster+1 has room for the stove, maintenance tool, and the spares kit.
There isn't enough room for the pump, but who cares?  Just keep the pump on the fuel bottle.
Speaking of the pump, I regard the Kovea pump as a high quality fuel pump.  The fuel pump has some nice features like a knob that is turned so that one can screw on the connector.  See my review of the Kovea Hydra for details of this feature and further commentary on the pump.  Since the Booster+1's pump is the same pump as the Kovea Hydra, I will not repeat all of my earlier review here.
The high quality Kovea fuel pump.
As I mentioned, the Booster+1 comes with a spares kit which includes things like "O" rings, a spare jet, lubricant, and a spare pump cup.
The spares kit of the Booster+1
It's a nice little kit, and along with the maintenance tool, should be able to handle routine maintenance as well as trouble shooting in the field.
The maintenance tool for the Kovea Booster+1.
Note the wire "pricker" for cleaning the jet at the end of the tool.
The maintenance tool is a little on the heavy side in my opinion, but it certainly will get the job done.  It would be nice to see a few grams shaved off – so long as it didn't diminish the effectiveness of the tool.
The Kovea Booster+1 duel fuel backpacking stove (in folded configuration).

The Stove Review
The stove itself can only be described as beefy.  I mean this thing is strong.  This might be a great stove for scouts and for, say, college outdoor clubs and the like where gear tends to take a beating.  The legs are very strong steel.  The pot supports have a very wide span and will accommodate heavy pots for large groups or for snow melting.  There is little I would worry about failing on this stove; it is strong.  However, there's always a trade off on such things.  Yes, the stove is extremely strong, but it is therefore consequently also fairly heavy, weighing in at 310 g/11 oz for the stove, 116 g/4 oz for the pump, and 43 g/1.5 oz for the tool.  You don't absolutely have to carry the tool, and many people will just throw the stove in their pot (and leave the case at home), so let's say the minimum weight is 426 g/15 oz for just the stove and pump.  Of course you'll need a bottle, but the size and brand you carry will vary, so I'm not going to try to estimate the weight here.

The fuel line of the Booster+1 sticks out, rigidly, at a bit of an odd angle.
There is one thing here that I find slightly irritating.  It's minor, but the fuel line sticks out at a kind of funny angle, and, since the fuel line here is rigid, the stove winds up taking more space than it really needs to.  It's a fairly large stove.  I don't think it will be able to fit into a pot of less than about 1 liter in size.

However, that's not to say that there aren't some smart features here.  For example, there's a bend in the fuel line such that one can clean the jet without disassembling anything.
There's a nicely designed bend in the fuel line so that one can access the jet easily.
The Booster+1 attaches to both it's fuel pump and to a canister of gas by means of a standard 7/16ths UNEF threaded connector.
The Booster+1 uses a standard threaded connector to attach to a) its fuel pump or b) standard threaded canisters.
The Booster+1 is compatible therefore with standard threaded brands of canisters, for example, MSR, Jetboil, Coleman, Primus, Optimus, Brunton, Snow Peak, etc.
The connector of a Booster+1 attached to an MSR brand canister

Cold Weather Canister Gas Operation
Note that in the photo above, I am running the stove with the canister upside down.  Not all stoves can handle this kind of operation, but those stoves that can operate this way gain a roughly 20 Fahrenheit degree (10 Celsius degrees) advantage over stoves in cold weather.  See my article Gas Stoves in Cold Weather – Regulator Valves and Inverted Canisters for further information on cold weather and canister gas.

The fuel line is nice and flexible, and it's long enough that you can stand the bottle up as you pump, letting gravity help you with your work.  I find this to be a huge plus.
The fuel line is nice and flexible which allows one to stand the bottle upright while pumping.
Note that I use alcohol for priming which burns much cleaner than white gasoline and is less prone to fireballing.
The fuel bottle in the photo is a Sigg brand bottle. The Booster+1 is compatible with standard Sigg type threads.
At the base of each leg, there is a nice non-slip rubber pad.  I found the Booster+1 to be extremely stable.  Extremely.
The Booster+1 is well thought out with nice features like this non-slip rubber pad on the end of each leg.
The Booster+1 vs. the Hydra
Here is a photo of the Kovea Booster+1 alongside another stove I recently reviewed, the Kovea Hydra.
The Kovea Booster+1, left, and the Kovea Hydra, right.
Whereas the Kovea Hydra is a study in compactness, the Kovea Booster+1 is not.  The Booster+1 is a much larger, beefier stove.  Indeed, if one were to compare the two stoves, one might describe them as opposites.
Stove Weight Bulk Strength Noise Maintenance Wind Resistance
Booster+1 310 g Bulkier Very strong Loud Easy High
Hydra 308 g Compact Adequate with care Particularly quiet A bit trickier Low*
*It is important to use a properly sized windscreen with the Kovea Hydra.  See my review of the Hydra

Again, though, the Booster+1 is built like a tank and will take a lot of abuse.

Here's a photo of a 2.6 L pot on the Booster+1.  Note that the pot supports extend beyond the edges of the pot even though this is a fairly big pot.  The Booster+1 can take some pretty big pots.
A 2.6 liter pot on the Kovea Booster+1.
Note how the pot supports still have more length out beyond the edges of the pot.
One can put some pretty big cookware on a Booster+1.

Snow Melting
In terms of power, the stove has plenty.  I found it to be a good snow melter on liquid fuel.  The Booster+1 is rated at 9600 BTU/hr on white gasoline.

Melting snow on a Kovea Booster+1.

Uh, but of course in snow, you'll want to use some kind of base lest your stove sink into the snow – and your dinner into the same.

The Booster+1 needs to be used with some kind of pad or platform when in snow (just about all stoves do).

OK, hopefully the preceding text and photos will give you a good sense of the stove.  By all means feel free to ask questions and make comments in the comments section, below.

I thank you for joining me,

HJ

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Kovea Booster+1 – Multi Fuel or Just Dual Fuel?

The Kovea Booster+1 stove is advertised as running on white gasoline (e.g. Coleman Fuel) and canister gas only – but I keep hearing that it can be run on other fuels like kerosene. I've even read reviews to that effect.
The Kovea Booster+1 Dual Fuel Stove
So, I thought I'd try it.

I took my Booster+1 out the last three weekends and ran it on kerosene. Here's a video of one of my tests:































As I think you can see from the video, the Booster+1 can run on kerosene, but not as well as with fuels for which it was designed.  However, it's good to know that, in a pinch, one can run on kerosene.  To do so, one should be aware of a few things such as:

Priming
As with most liquid petroleum based fueled stoves, one must "prime" the stove, that is, one must burn something in the burner of the stove to preheat the "generator" before running the stove.  The generator is that portion of the fuel line that passes through the flame of the stove. The heat of the stove causes the fuel, as it passes through the generator, to turn from liquid into a vapor.  It is the vapor that is burned.  If the fuel enters the burner still in liquid form, you'll get a big sooty mess.

With white gasoline type stoves, one can prime with the stove's regular fuel.  White gasoline, when used for priming, does leave a bit of soot, but it's not too bad.  Kerosene is another story.  Kerosene is a big sooty mess to prime with.  One really needs to bring a little squeeze bottle of alcohol for priming.  One can use pretty much any clean burning alcohol for priming including ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol (methanol), or denatured alcohol.  Do not use isopropyl alcohol such as HEET brand sold in the red container (yellow container is fine) or the alcohol sold in drug stores as "rubbing" alcohol.  One doesn't need a lot of alcohol for priming, maybe 5ml (for white gas) to 10 ml (for kerosene) per prime.  Priming with alcohol is actually a good practice even with white gas since alcohol is so clean burning and is easier to control in terms of amount dispensed.  If you've ever allowed too much fuel to flow into the priming area of a stove, you'll know exactly what I mean by that last remark.

Get your stove good and hot before opening up the valve to let kerosene flow through to the burner.

Moderation
Once your stove is good and hot, you can open up the valve, gradually, and let kerosene start to flow to the burner.  Be ready to quickly turn off the flow if large yellow flames spring up.

Even when fully hot, one has to run the stove at a moderate level.  If one opens up the valve too far with kerosene, one will start to see little droplets of un-vaporized (i.e. liquid) fuel shooting out of the jet.  There just isn't enough thermal feedback in the stove to vaporize large amounts of kerosene.  One has to keep the stove turned down a bit for good operation.

Conclusion?
The Booster+1 is really a white gasoline and canister gas stove – but, with proper technique, kerosene can be made to work in a pinch. One must however have some kind of priming fuel in order to properly prime the stove.

Thanks for joining me,

HJ

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MSR PocketRocket 2 – Review Supplement #2

I've gotten a couple more questions from readers re the new MSR PocketRocket 2.  I'll list the questions and my responses, below.

In case you didn't catch the actual review itself, here's a link:  Review – The New MSR PocketRocket 2

Since this is Review Supplement #2, yes, there is a Review Supplement #1.
See also: The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 vs. the Soto Amicus

Q.  Can an MSR PocketRocket 2 fit into a MSR Titan Kettle (850 ml capacity) along with a 110 g canister of gas?

A.  Yes, it fits just fine, no trouble at all.  It fits right inside; the kettle's lid closes tightly; you don't even have to take the lid off the canister.
An MSR PocketRocket 2 and a 110 g canister of gas fits just fine inside an MSR Titan Kettle
Q.  Can an MSR PocketRocket 2 fit into an Evernew 600 ml pot along with a 110 g canister of gas?

A.  Uh, no.  Not even close.
A 110 g canister of gas and an MSR PocketRocket 2 cannot both fit inside an Evernew 600 ml pot.
Interestingly, you can fit a canister – just the canister – inside the pot if you a) take the cap off the canister, and b) turn the canister upside down.
One can fit a 110 g canister of gas inside an Evernew 600 ml pot, but you have to turn the canister upside down.
The dimple in the pot's lid will fit into the concave base of the canister.
OK, that's it for today, short and sweet.

Thanks as always for joining me,

HJ

Monday, January 23, 2017

The G-Works Adapter – 100% Propane for Backpacking

Backpacking gas canisters are for backpacking and car camping canisters are for car camping, right?  Well, yes, generally that's true – but not if you have a G-Works adapter.
A G-Works propane adapter connects a backpacking stove to a car camping type 100% propane canister.
A G-Works adapter screws on to the top of an everyday ordinary Coleman type 100% propane canister, the kind that are used for car camping, picnics, BBQ's, etc.  The other side of the adapter is a 7/16" UNEF threaded connector – just like the one on the top of a backpacking type gas canister.  You screw in 100% propane on one side of the adapter and your backpacking stove on the other, and, voila! – you're cooking on 100% propane.

Now, the big 16.4 oz/465 g 100% propane canisters are pretty heavy and bulky.  Why use them?  Well, see my list of reasons, below.

However, note, that there are a lot of techniques and technologies that can help you use regular backpacking canisters in cold weather; see Gas Stoves in Cold Weather – Regulator Valves and Inverted Canisters.  You can also use a liquid fueled stove in cold weather.  This adapter is just another option.  Each person should evaluate his or her own circumstances and preferences and choose accordingly from among the options.

Regarding the weight of the 100% propane canisters:   I have a couple of Coleman brand 465 g canisters of 100% propane in front of me.  They weigh about 850 g each.  The weights vary, but the lowest I've seen for a full 100% propane canister is about 840 g.  By contrast, a 450 g Jetboil brand backpacking type canister weighs 660 g.  That's a minimum difference of about 80 g (roughly 3 oz) for comparably sized canisters.  Some Coleman 100% propane canisters weigh 870 g.  That's about about 110g (about 1/4 pound) more than a comparable backpacking canister.

Is the weight worth it?  Well, that's something you're going to have to decide for yourself.  Read the rest of the post and see if benefits are sufficient to justify the weight of the heavier canister.
A car camping type canister of 100% propane
16.4 oz/465 g net fuel weight
Cautions
High pressure!
Now, remember, the vapor pressure of propane is WAY HIGHER than a normal backpacking canister. Start on low, and open up gradually the valve on your stove.  This is a big boy/big girl, grown ups only, type adapter.  There's no built in safety.  YOU are the safety.  In order to operate this safely, you have to control the gas flow with the valve on your stove.  Turn it up too high, and you might blow out the flame.  If the flame goes out, you've now got a highly flammable, potentially explosive gas rushing toward the red hot metal of your stove. I'm thinking maybe that's not such a good idea – if you get my drift.  So, BE CAREFUL.

Do not tip over!
Also, DO NOT tip the canister over.  The canister needs to be upright.  If you lay the canister on it's side, you're going to be feeding liquid fuel into the burner instead of gaseous fuel.  Don't lay the canister on its side UNLESS you've a) got a remote canister type stove with a generator (pre heat device) of some type and b) your stove is good and hot.  If you don't know what a generator or pre heat device is, don't lay the stove on its side!  You could get a huge yellow fireball.  This is highly dangerous.  Don't do it.

Not recommended for regulator valved stoves above 40 Fahrenheit/5 Celsius.
If your stove is equipped with a regulator valve, I would not use this adapter in cool, warm, or hot weather.  Why?  Well the regulator in your valve is not built to handle the high pressure of propane.  Can your stove's regulator handle the high pressure of propane?  I have no way of knowing – so don't do it.  If you use 100% propane on a regulator valved stove, you could damage the regulator.  If the regulator fails, how are you going to control the flow of gas?  I'm not sure exactly what would happen if your regulator failed while your stove was lit, and I don't want to find out.

Of course, in colder temperatures, high canister pressure is hardly a problem.  At temperatures around 40 Fahrenheit/5 Celsius, 100% propane has roughly the same vapor pressure as an 80/20 isobutane/propane mix at 110 F/43 C.  Your stove should be able to handle such pressures. You should be pretty safe so long as you start with the stove on low and turn it up slowly.  Particularly below freezing, a regulator valve equipped backpacking stove should be fine.  However, note the effects of altitude.  The pressure inside the canister relative to the outside air will become greater at higher elevations.  For every 1000 feet in elevation gained, you should deduct 2 Fahrenheit degrees from my 40 Fahrenheit estimated safe temperature limit.  That would be about 1 Celsius degree for every 300 m.  For example, at 10,000, instead of a 40 Fahrenheit safe limit, you would want to not operate a regulator valve stove above 20 Fahrenheit.  

The vast majority of stoves do not have a regulator valve, but you should check with your manufacturer as to whether or not your particular stove has a regulator valve.

Here are some stoves with regulator valves.  Do not use this adapter with these stoves in cool (above 40 F/5 C), warm, or hot weather.  Use only in cold weather (below 40 F/5 C).
  • Jetboil Joule
  • Jetboil MightyMo
  • Jetboil MicroMo
  • Jetboil MiniMo
  • Jetboil Sol
  • MSR Reactor
  • MSR Windburner
  • Soto Micro Regulator
  • Soto WindMaster
That's all the regulator valved backpacking type stoves I can think of off the top of my head.  Remember to check your stove to see if it has a regulator valve before using this adapter.  Usually it will say on the manufacturer's website if a particular stove has a regulator valve.

Reasons to use this Adapter
1.  Cold weather.
Why 100% propane?  Well, for starters, cold weather.  Butane, which is often the majority component in backpacking gas canisters, vaporizes at 31F/-0.5C.  That's really not all that cold.  Not only that, but you have to be about 20 Fahrenheit degrees (10 Celsius degrees) above the vaporization point before you have consistently good pressure.

Propane on the other hand, vaporizes all the way down to -44 Fahrenheit/-42 Celsius.  That's cold!

Vaporization (Boiling) Point
 n-butane    -0.5°C    31°F
 isobutane    -12°C    11°F
 propane      -42°C   -44°F

And yes, I know they usually blend in some isobutane and propane into the typical backpacking gas canister, but still, nothing beats 100% propane for cold weather.

NOTE:  If you're going out in really cold weather, TEST YOUR SET UP FIRST.  Propane is typically not pure (well, maybe if you work in a laboratory or something).  The temperatures listed above are based on pure propane which you can't buy at least in the US, so you're not going to get quite the good cold weather performance that you might expect.  The propane typically sold in the US conforms to the HD5 standard which is as follows:

  • Minimum 90% propane (no less than 90%)
  • Maximum 5% propylene (no more than 5%)
  • The remainder is comprised of "other" petroleum based gasses
The "other" might include methane, ethane, isobutane, butane, etc., some of which will give you less performance in cold weather, others of which will give you better performance.  So, the number -44F/-42C is something of an approximation, depending on exactly what you've got in the canister.  Still, 90% minimum propane is going to be significantly better than any backpacking canister's mixture which is typically no more than 30% propane.  And remember that you need to be about 20 Fahrenheit degrees (10 Celsius degrees) above the vaporization point before you have decent pressure.  Of course, one can always warm the canister by various means, and so long as isn't warmed to the point of being too hot to touch, it should be safe while giving one good pressure.


2.  Instantly "winterize" your existing stove. 
With this adapter, you don't have to shell out the cash for a dedicated winter stove.  Here's what I mean:  Say you're basically a summer camper.  Most people are.  But every couple of years you get a wild idea and go out when it's cold.  A stove is pretty close to a necessity on a winter trip.  But do you really want to spend the money on an expensive stove that you're only going to use every couple of years?  No, of course not.  No problem.  Just get this little adapter, and voila! you instantly have a winter capable stove.

3.  Outlying areas (no backpacking canisters available).
In a lot of outlying areas, specialty items like backpacking canisters may simply not be available.  I know guys who have hiked in rural New Mexico where they just couldn't find backpacking canisters, but, walk into a hardware store or gas station, and, there they are:  100% propane car camping type canisters.  Having this little adapter might mean the difference being able to do a given trip – and having to just go home.  This is particularly true if you have to fly in for a given trip and cannot take canisters from home.

4.  Natural Disasters.
You could look at this adapter as $20 worth of cheap insurance.  This adapter opens up a whole new fuel supply for your backpacking stove.  The ability to boil water for drinking can be critical in times of natural disaster.

5.  Cheap fuel.
Another reason for buying 100% propane is that it's typically cheaper.  I've seen propane for as cheap as $2.50 (USD) per canister.  About the cheapest you'll find for the equivalent amount of backpacking gas is $7 or $8.  That's a HUGE price difference.  Why?  Well, think about it.  For every backpacker, there are hundreds of car campers, hunters, picnickers, and back yard barbecuers.  The economies of scale just aren't there for backpacking canisters.

6.  Trailhead camping – or just using your backpacking stove for everything.
You might also want to bring 100% propane to cook your supper and/or breakfast if you spend the night before a backpacking trip at the trailhead.  That way, you start with a 100% full backpacking canister for your hike.  Or heck, maybe you just want to own one stove, and your backpacking stove is it.  You use backpacking canisters when backpacking, but when car camping, picnicking, etc. you just use cheap propane, and who cares about the weight when you're using your car, right?

Other Compatible Canisters
Of course there's no reason that you have to restrict yourself to the big, fat 16.4 oz/465 g propane canister.  The 14.1 oz/400 g canisters will work just as well and may be more packable.  For a remote canister stove that can handle liquid feed gas (inverted canister type operation), this might be a nice option.  Heat the stove up with the canister upright, then when the stove is hot, lay the canister on its side for liquid feed.
A 14.1 oz (400 g) propane canister

Really, any fuel canister with compatible threads could be used – but is it a good idea?  For example, the little 5.45 oz/155 g Bernzomatic QuickFire canisters appear to be compatible.  This has NOT been tested with this adapter or with a backpacking type stove is NOT recommended.  Note that the gas contained is NOT pure propane.  Bernzomatic QuickFire canisters contain MAPP gas which does have propane in it but also has a high percentage of propylene.  Propylene burns at a much hotter temperature than straight propane.  What will this high heat do to your stove?  I don't know, but I do know your stove is not built to handle that kind of heat.  I wouldn't do it, but it's up to you.  If you decide to go against my advice, exercise extreme caution with any non-propane canisters.
A Bernzomatic QuickFire 5.45 oz/155 g canister of MAPP (high propylene content) gas.
This has NOT been tested and is NOT recommended with this adapter.
Weight
Some of you may remember my post a few years ago on the Kovea propane adapter.  The Kovea propane adapter is a great little adapter, but it weighs 105g – that's nearly a quarter of a pound!  By contrast, the G-Works adapter weighs 33 g, about 1.2 oz – only about one-third the weight of the Kovea adapter.  In other words, the Kovea adapter weighs roughly triple what the G-Works adapter weighs.

Using the Adapter
OK, so how well does the darned thing work?  Pretty darned well, actually.  Here's a video demonstrating its use:
  
Compatible Stoves
There is a rim around the threads where your backpacking canister attaches.  I used a Kovea Spider stove with my G-Works adapter, and it worked great, but some stoves with a really wide base might not work.  The rim around the threads is about 25 mm outside diameter and about 21 mm inside diameter.  Again, however, I would not recommend that this adapter be used with any regulator valved stove.

The G-Works adapter is made in Korea.  Generally stoves made in Korea work well with the adapter if they fit within the rim.  I've had reports of some stoves from China where the pin on the stove was too short to open the valve on the adapter.  A lot of stoves are made in Korea including some MSR, Snow Peak, and of course Kovea stoves.

Price and Availability
They're available on e-Bay for about $20 although there may be better deals out there.  Amazon is a lot more expensive.

OK, that's it.  That's my presentation on the G-Works adapter, a very nice piece of gear.  Thanks for joining me,

HJ

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 vs. the Soto Amicus

Recently, I've reviewed two small upright canister stoves, the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 and the Soto Amicus.  Which is the better stove?
The Soto Amicus, left.  The MSR Pocket Rocket 2, right.
Well, it depends.

I try to be pretty even handed with the brands. If a given brand puts out a solid stove that is reasonably well executed, I'm generally going to give them a good review, but this doesn't mean that they're necessarily my top pick for that class of stove.

With respect to the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 ("PR2") and the Soto Amicus, they're pretty much in the same class:
  • About the same price – $40 (without ignition) or $45 (with ignition) for the Amicus* – vs $45 for the PR2.
  • Roughly the same weight, 73 g/2.6 oz for the PR2 vs 78 g/2.8 oz for the Amicus.
  • About the same level of compactness and packability.
  • Both have needle valves – as opposed to a regulator valve which can handle cold weather better (see:  Canister Stoves in Cold Weather – Regulator Valves and Inverted Canisters).
So, which is better? Well, I guess that depends on what one values. The Soto is clearly the more sophisticated, and for the same price*, you get a piezo ignition, better wind resistance, and better pot stability.

But the PR2 is dead simple. It's really beefy, and there's little to go wrong with it. It's most vulnerable point is its aluminum threads which can wear out with heavy use. The Amicus has a brass insert which will wear better – but which can still wear out.  Note however that there are many people who have done multiple long distance through hikes with stoves that have aluminum threads and have reported no problems.

With all canister stoves, always:
  • Keep the stove's threads clean.  Do NOT set a stove base down in the dirt!
  • Keep the canister's threads clean.  You might actually want to keep that little cap.
  • Thread the stove on carefully
  • Gently tighten; never over tighten

Dimensions
Soto Amicus, folded:  1 9/16" x 1 9/16" x 2 7/8" (40 mm x 40 mm x 73 mm)
Soto Amicus, unfolded: 4 1/8" x 4 1/8" x 3 5/16" (105 mm x 105 mm x 84 mm)

MSR Pocket Rocket 2, folded:  1 11/16" x 1 11/16" x 3" (43 mm x 43 mm x 76 mm)
MSR Pocket Rocket 2, unfolded:  4 3/4" x 4 3/4" x 3 9/16" (121 mm x 121 mm x 90 mm) 

The Amicus is slightly more compact in terms of width and a bit shorter when packed.  

The Pocket Rocket 2 has a wider span to its pot supports when unfolded, but as I say in my write ups, the Amicus actually has better pot stability with it's four pot supports compared to three for the Pocket Rocket 2.  

When unfolded, the Pocket Rocket 2 is slightly taller than the Amicus.

The MSR Pocket Rocket 2, left.  The Soto Amicus, Right.
Note spark point on the Amicus' ignition.
Conclusion
So, sophisticated with lots of features for the same price – or dead simple? Both are pretty good stoves. One has to decide what is most important to them. For me... probably the Amicus. I really like the improved pot stability and the wind resistance. The piezo is nice too.

But I know a lot of people – particularly through hikers who typically want simple, strong, and reliable – are going to go with the PR2.  The PR2 has everything you need but nothing you don't.

Advantages of the Amicus vs. the PR2:
  • With no ignition, lower price – $40 for the Amicus* vs. $45 for the PR2.
  • With an ignition, the same price.
  • Better pot stability
  • Better wind resistance overall, quite a bit better
  • Better simmering, particularly in wind (although the PR2 generally simmers pretty well)
  • Threaded brass insert (vs. aluminum for the PR2)
Advantages of the PR2 vs. the Amicus
  • Simple
  • Strong
  • Reliable (not that the Amicus is unreliable but there's little to go wrong on the PR2)

If you would like to read my reviews as input to your purchasing decision:

I thank you for joining me,

HJ

*There are some screamin' deals on the Amicus right now:
  • Backcountry Gear is selling the Amicus with ignition for $45 – but they're including a free cookset in the deal.  I've never used the cookset, but for free, hey, why not?
  • Campsaver has the Amicus without ignition for $32 and with ignition for $36.  Tough to beat that.  Supposedly, if you sign up for their email list, you can get an additional discount.
Unfortunately, the PR2 is a new stove just coming out, so it will be a while before you can find discounts on it.
The Soto Amicus, left.  The MSR Pocket Rocket 2, right.

Disclosures:  
  • I don't think I've ever purchased anything from either of these two sites.  They look reputable, but these links do not constitute an endorsement.  Friends have bought stuff at Campsaver and had a good experience.  I can't say either way.
  • I receive no remuneration posting these links or writing this blog post.
  • I receive no benefit if you purchase something at either of those two sites
  • I have no financial relationship with either site.  I'm not even a customer as of this writing.
Considering the above disclosures, you probably have realized that I know a lot about stoves, but I don't know much about making money on the internet, lol.  Have a nice day, and get out there.