Sunday, January 8, 2012

The SuperGnat (Gaz *and* Threaded!)

There are two types of modern gas canisters for backpacking (see Backpacking Gas Canisters 101).

Generally, stoves built for one type of canister only work with that type of canister.  For example, Camping Gaz stoves generally only work with Camping Gaz canisters.  However, there are a few exceptions -- including a relatively lightweight one that you can assemble yourself in only a few minutes.  This post shows you how if you'd like to try.

In terms of factory-built exceptions, the only widely available stove in the US that will work with either canister type is the MSR SuperFly.  In Europe, there are a couple of dual format stoves available from Primus.  None of the dual format stoves that I have seen are lightweight.
An MSR SuperFly will work with either a Camping Gaz type connector (left) or a standard threaded connector (right). 
Well, then we just have to put up with the SuperFly, yes?  Uh, well, yes, but... the SuperFly is an awfully BIG stove.  I mean it's fine for group cooking, but for the "fast and light" crowd, it's a bit much.  Don't take my word for it, here, take a look:
An MSR SuperFly (left) is a large stove.  Compare to a Monotauk Gnat (right).
What's that you say? I'm silly?  A SuperFly being compared to a Gnat is absurd?

Really?  Are you sure?  Maybe the comparison isn't as ridiculous as you might think.  Have you ever noticed how similar the threads are on the two valve assemblies?
An MSR SuperFly (left) an a Monatauk Gnat (right).  The valve assemblies have been detached from the burner columns.
 I mean just look at those threads.  They sure look the same.  It looks like you could just switch one for the other.
The valve assemblies of a SuperFly and a Gnat, swapped.
Which, in fact, you can.  Now the stove with a Gnat valve assembly and a SuperFly burner head may not buy us much, but the other stove, the one with a Gnat burner head and a SuperFly valve assembly is kind of cool.  Let's have a look.
A SuperGnat mated to a Camping Gaz canister
Behold the SuperGnat!  Here, we have a fairly compact, relatively lightweight canister stove that can be used with either standard threaded or Camping Gaz canisters.  Cool!

But does it work? Let's give it a try.  Note:  Before you try what I'm depicting here, read the warning below.
Lighting a SuperGnat with a Kovea piezoelectric ignition
Sure enough, it works!
A SuperGnat in use.
Pretty shameless, aren't I? I just mated a Camping Gaz canister to an MSR valve assembly with a Monatauk (probably made by Fire Maple of China) burner head and lit it with a Kovea built MSR piezoelectric ignition.  Dr. Frankenstein would be proud.  lol.

A SuperGnat immediately after use.
And the thing works pretty darned well.

Now, I said lightweight.  How lightweight you ask?  My scale says 84g (3.0oz).  Now, that's a bit heavier than the Monatauk Gnat, but consider some other typical stoves used by weight conscious backpackers.  For example, the Snow Peak GS-100, weighs 86g (3.0oz).  An Optimus Crux weighs 88g (3.1oz).  A PocketRocket weighs 86g (3.0oz).  When compared to such stoves, really, the SuperGnat is in the same class.  The SuperGnat is certainly far lighter than the 131g (4.6oz) SuperFly!  Note:  All weights were measured in grams on my KitchenChef scale.  Manufacturers stated weights may vary.

So, there you have it, a relatively lightweight upright canister stove that will work with either canister format, Camping Gaz or standard threaded.  Such a stove could be of real benefit to someone backpacking, bicycle touring, motorcycle touring, or otherwise traveling in Europe or other regions where one or the other but not necessarily both canister types may be available at a given location.

A special thank you to Mark F. of Australia who tipped me off that such a thing might be possible.
An extra special thank you to Bob G of California who provided the Gnat for testing.

Note:  It may be possible to do with an Optimus Crux Lite the very same thing that I've done with the Monatauk Gnat, however I haven't yet tried it.

Look, if it isn't immediately obvious just from the nature of what I'm doing, swapping stove components could well be the very last thing you ever do. Get it wrong, transfer a bit too much heat to the canister, and KABOOM! your backpacking trip (and maybe a whole lot more) just ended.  I don't think that what I'm showing here is automatically going to result in a problem, but it has that potential.  If you try to emulate what I have done, understand that you are doing something inherently dangerous and that you are making a decision to deliberately expose yourself to that danger.

Now, that being said, I think the dangers can be mitigated to a degree.  Just a) understand that the dangers are real, b) that the consequences could be very severe indeed (i.e. great bodily harm or death), and c) take every precaution to be safe.   At the very least, hook it up outdoors away from any heat source or open flame.  Then, before you do anything else, listen.  If you hear gas escaping, go no further until you can eliminate the source of escaping gas.  If you decide to take the risk of lighting such a cobbled together stove, try it on low first.  Look for any odd flames.  If there are any flames where there shouldn't be any, turn it off immediately.  Adopting the precautions mentioned in this paragraph might lessen the risk but will not eliminate risk.  Messing around with gas stoves in any way other than those recommended by the manufacturer could be dangerous no matter how many precautions you take.  

Thank you for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving.


Technical Appendix -- Weights
Stove            Weight     Canister Type
SuperFly       131g/4.6oz   Both
Optimus Crux    88g/3.1oz   Threaded only
GS-100          86g/3.0oz   Threaded only
PocketRocket    86g/3.0oz   Threaded only
"SuperGnat"     84g/3.0oz   Both
MicroRocket     73g/2.6oz   Threaded only
Soto OD-1R      70g/2.5oz   Threaded only
Monatauk Gnat   47g/1.7oz   Threaded only

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  1. I think, were we are lucky with gas stoves is that the components are probably mostly standardised, and are made in a very small number of factories - probably mainly by Kovea and Bulin/Fire Maple. That probably increases the chances of components working together. That is, as you state, no guarantee that things won't go horribly wrong with a "frankenstove"...

  2. Hi, Geoff,

    Everything went very well in my testing, so it's not the automatic kiss of death. It's just that things COULD go very wrong indeed. A proper warning needed to be made.

    The "Frankenstove" works fine now that I've tested it.


  3. I used my "SuperGnat" evry day for 6 weeks on the HRP in the Pyrenees and on several 2-4 day walks in Australia without problems. As it is a simple screw off - screw on mod, I wouldn't expect any problems.

    It is the best solution I have found for walking in Western Europe where both canister types are quite common but often only one type will be available in a particular village or town.

    Mark F

  4. Hi, Mark,

    Thanks for the original tip about the SuperGnat.

    As with any gas stove, something COULD happen, so I feel compelled to warn people. I don't want some 13 year old Scout reading my blog and then blowing himself up.

    For an adult who has spent much time at all around gas stoves, I think it's really pretty safe. Test it first of course, but all the parts fit and work well together.

    Thanks again,


  5. What a a great site! There is so much talk about stoves and now I've discovered a place dedicated to them!

    Just for the record, there is a (heavier) alternative, the Edelrid Valve Canister Adapter, 75g, which allows MSR-type screw fit stoves to be used with Camping Gaz CV resealable canisters. For details see e.g.: www.hitchnhike.co.uk/acatalog/edelrid_valve_cartridge_adapter.html

    There's also the possibility in Europe of hitting a situation where only the older Camping Gaz C206 puncture canisters are available, for which Edelrid also make an adaptor but unfortunately this weighs 142g.

    Availability of a particular type of canister often of course depends on stock levels. Several years ago we were in Abisko, Sweden, well inside the Artic Circle, to backpack a stretch of the 270 mile Kungsleden (Kings Trail). We knew there was an outdoor store at the STF mountain station at Abisko, and this being Europe, assumed we would have to use Camping Gaz canisters rather than our Pocket Rocket. But then disaster: we discovered no canisters of any type were available and, after much procrastination, were forced to buy an Optimus multifuel stove (GBP100/$150 in 2000 - ouch!) plus extra fuel bottle, and pick up some gasoline from the single pump gas station down the road. Funny thing was that 2-3 days in we discovered resealable Camping Gas canisters for sale in a STF mountain hut. The whole episode taught me the importance of researching appropriate stove(s) and fuel supplies for out-of-the-ordinary trips. And now we have an Optimus Nova multifuel on the shelf along with the Whisperlite...

    Graham L.

    1. Dear Graham,

      Do you remember what kind of Camping gas canisters are sold at the STF mountain hut? Is it a srew on canister or the cheap ones your gas stove punctures? I don't want to make the same mistake!
      Thanks for your reply in advance.

      Jeroen G

    2. Jeroen,

      The type that Graham is talking about is neither the threaded type nor the puncture type. He's talking about the Camping Gaz proprietary resealable canisters that do have valves but are not threaded. See Backpacking Gas Canisters 101 for further info about this type of canister.


  6. Hi, Graham,

    Thanks for the informative story. Yipes! Big expense in the middle of nowhere.

    I wasn't aware of the Edelrid stove, so thanks for that as well.

    Glad you're enjoying the site.


  7. Hey Jim,
    I'm cobbling something together here, can you check if the base\valve of an MSR pocket rocket detaches from the shaft and can be mixed and matched like you did above? Specifically the pocket rocket not the micro rocket. I need that round base with the circular notch in order to use a clip on windscreen that is designed to clip onto the neck of a fuel canister. I need it so I can use one of those 3 legged long butane canister adapters with a stove.

    1. Eddie,

      Sounds like an interesting idea, but unfortunately my Pocket Rocket is out on loan to someone right now. Sorry I couldn't help.


  8. Hi Jim
    Looking for a Gnat. Are they still made? Any suggestions?
    Cary, NC

    1. JD,

      Yes, the Gnat is still sold. You can get it in various configurations from different sources. Really, they're all the FMS-116T from Fire Maple. See http://www.fire-maple.com/en/productsinfo.aspx?pid=9

      Liberty Mountain sells it as the Kinetic Ultra in the US, but it's the same stove (except that it's blue instead of orange). http://www.libertymountain.com/products/5145/NTN12994/olicamp-kinetic-ultra-titanium-stove


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  10. Hi, any idea if you can do this on a Primus Mimer

  11. Where could you buy this adapter from camping gaz to rocket pocket ?
    We are from Canada

    Thanks Harry

    1. Well, I'm not using an adapter per se but rather I'm taking the bottom off one stove and combining it with the top of another stove.

      However, there are adapters that will allow one to use Camping Gaz canisters with a Pocket Rocket. I haven't seen them for sale in North America, but if you look at online shops in the UK, you should be able to find them.



My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!