Friday, June 3, 2011

Why a Gas Stove?

I recently got a note from "DG" concerning what type of stove is best:
I vote for liquid fuel type stoves. Fast heat no matter what condition.
I don't disklike liquid fueled stoves the least bit, but I thought I'd talk a little about why I also like gas stoves.  Read on...


My first stove that was all my own (i.e. not my dad's) was an MSR Whisperlite that I bought in 1987. It's still going strong.

You're absolutely right that a liquid fueled stove will work in all conditions. But let me list out a few reasons that people might want to also have a gas stove on hand:
1. Bulk and weight. A liquid fueled stove typically takes a fair amount of room in the pack as does the fuel bottle. I can literally hold a little gas stove in the palm of my hand.
Optimus Crux
And in no way is a liquid fueled stove anywhere near as light as a gas stove.

2. Speed. I've been using liquid fueled stoves for years. My family used them back in the 60's and 70's when I was a kid, and I've been using them on my own since the 80's. I've got priming and set up down to a science. HOWEVER, even if you're good at set up and priming, it takes time. I started noticing that my friends were getting tired of waiting for me when we were breaking camp. I bought my first gas stove just so I could break camp as quickly as my friends.

3. Cost. You can go on down to Walmart and get an inexpensive Coleman gas stove for something on the order of $30.00. The cheapest white gas stove is at least double that. The cheapest decent white gas stove is probably another $10 to $20 more expensive than that. The cheapest decent multi-fueled (white gas or kerosene) is at least $10 over that.  Over time, a liquid fueled stove may prove cheaper -- if you stick with it. For those just trying out backpacking or who aren't going to do a lot of backpacking over time, the gas stove will be significantly less expensive.

So there you have it: Gas stoves are lighter, faster/more convenient, more compact, and less expensive than liquid fueled stoves. They're great for fair weather hikers or as a supplement to four season hikers.

All that said, I continue to use white gas as my primary stove fuel. But on those trips where the weather will be good and I want to go fast and light, gas is my choice.


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