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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The New MSR Gas Canister

In conjunction with the release of the new, lighter 1.0L Reactor stove, MSR has changed the format of their 4 ounce (113g) class gas canisters.  Note the emphasis on the word "class."  We'll return to that in a minute.
The new 3.9 oz/110g MSR gas canister
Yes, I'm writing a post about the shape of a gas canister.  :)  But I think this is actually news, and good news at that.  For some time, MSR, which has the best cold weather gas available (at least in the US market), has made a big, ungainly 4 oz/113g canister.
The old MSR 4 oz/113g canister (left) and the new more packable 3.9oz/110g canister (right)
Now, this is not to criticize MSR.  I think MSR was very nobly trying to provide better service to their customers.  The wider 108mm diameter MSR canister was clearly more stable than the 90mm industry standard.  But with the advent of readily available canister stands ("legs"), such stability is no longer so much a concern.
The old MSR canister format (bottom).  The new MSR canister format (top).

Now that MSR has accepted the 90mm industry standard, I can buy any four ounce class of canister and know exactly in which pots it will fit and which it won't.  The guess work and having to remember which is which is gone.
MSR and Jetboil, now the same diameter (90mm)
Lighter Weight
In addition, the new four ounce class canister is lighter for the amount of gas it contains.  The old canisters weighed 8.6oz/244g.  The new canisters weigh 7.4oz/211g -- for basically the same amount of gas.  More gas per unit of weight?  That's pretty nice if you ask me, and I have no objection whatsoever to saving an ounce in weight per canister.
MSR, Snow Peak, Optimus, and Jetboil four ounce class canisters now all have the same diameter (90mm)
Now, note my emphasis on the word "class" when I say four ounce class.   That's because the amount of gas in canister varies a bit brand by brand.  Jetboil for example contains 100g, and the old MSR canister contained 113g (exactly 4 oz).  With the change, MSR, Optimus, and Snow Peak will all uniformly have 110g (3.9 oz) of gas.  Jetboil is the outlier with only 100g.  I figure a 110g canister will last about 5 days for a person who is conservative and doing simple cooking in good weather or 3 days for two people.  For tougher weather or more complex cooking, you'll have to bring more gas of course, particularly if you're melting snow.
The new four ounce class canister actually contains 110g (3.9oz) instead of 113g (4.0oz).  A 3g difference?  No big deal.
MSR has also printed the gross (total) weight on the canister (7.4oz/211g), which is handy.

The Fuel Gauge
But what the heck are those little markings on the canister to the left of the weight?
The "fuel gauge" on the side of the new MSR canister
Interestingly, they're a sort of fuel gauge.  When the canister is full, it will float low in water.  When the canister is empty, it will float high in water.  Out on the trail, all you have to do is drop your fuel canister in a bowl or pot of water, and wherever the waterline hits on the "fuel gauge" is approximately how much fuel you've got left in your canister.  Pretty cool -- and for zero weight penalty.

I asked my contacts at MSR where they had gotten the idea, and they told me that it was from my article in Seattle Backpacker's Magazine, How Much Gas Do I Have Left?  Yes, of course it's flattering to me that a major stove company adopted my idea, but think about what this really means:  MSR is listening.  I for one have been very impressed by what's been coming out of MSR in the last half dozen years.  They're really paying attention to what the backpacking community wants, even to the point of small details like this.  I doubt that MSR will be making piles of money on this "fuel gauge."  It's just part of MSR's attitude of excellent customer service.  Good work, MSR.

The new 3.9 oz/110 g MSR gas canister.

So, let's see:  More packable, more gas for the weight, and a simple yet effective way to tell how much fuel I've got when I'm out on the trail?  What's not to like?  The new MSR canister:  I welcome it.

Thank you for joining me on another Adventure in Stoving,

HJ

16 comments:

  1. Good to know that they changed the canister. I see MSR everywhere but like you said it didnt fit any pot I would use. Also glad to see they are reading your info and put that gauge on there. Its nice to know that they are listening to people who use there products. Good job Jim!

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    1. Hi, Dean,

      I'm the same way. I've never bought the old format MSR canisters since they didn't fit and weighed more. In fact, the only old format MSR canister I've ever purchased is the one I picked up for the photos posted above. That's the first (and last) I'll probably ever buy. I think the new format is the way to go.

      HJ

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  2. It;s a nice idea the Fuel Gauge. I’m not knocking it but i definitely know when my cylinder is empty. I don’t need to float it. The stove just stops.
    Great blog btw.

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    1. Hi, Alan,

      I think the usefulness of the fuel gauge is more in the middle range of the canister. If you're 3 or 4 days into a week long wilderness trip, it's nice to know that you've got either plenty of gas left or -- even more importantly -- that you're using too much and need to cut back.

      Before I worked out this idea, I had been out on trips where I was husbanding my gas like a miser but wound up with a lot off left over gas at the end of the trip. I could have had a second cup of tea (or what have you), but did not for fear I would run out of gas. Now, with the "gas gauge", one can more comfortably allocate their gas throughout the trip.

      HJ

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  3. HJ,
    I can see it’s usefulness mid range. Take no notice of my dry sense of humour.

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    1. Ha! How embarrassing. I completely missed it.

      HJ

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  4. Thank God there is someone intelligent running a forum on camp stoves. It's nice to go to a website and get not only usefull, but accurate information. This site is going in my favorites. Please do some Optimus Vega comparisons if you can.

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  6. Nice article about the advantages of the MSR fuel canister. I wish the Jetboil would do the same.

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    1. Ken, the MSR and Jetboil canisters are now completely interchangeable. You can just use the MSR canisters.

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    2. ExcellentI I'm going out to get the new MSR can right now. Thanks Jim.

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  7. I've recently purchased this canister (110gr) but doesn't work with me monatauk gnat stove. Am i doing something wrong or the aren't compatible? Any response will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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    1. George, the should be compatible. Exactly what is happening? Are you screwing it on, opening the valve, but no gas is coming out? If so, you could try screwing it on a bit tighter.

      If that doesn't do it, there could be some odd quirk with the canister you've purchased. Either exchange it for another MSR canister or buy another brand. 90% of the threaded canisters out there are are made by Taeyang Industrial Co, Ltd. of South Korea, so there shouldn't be any difference from one canister to another, but even though they're almost all made by the same manufacturer, specs can vary canister to canister.

      HJ

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  8. Great post...
    What do you think is the best Portable LightWeight Mini Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove Burner. I just watched a video on you tube at https://youtu.be/r-OOFyniJQY and it looks great but is expensive, both for the stove and to buy canisters from the company that makes them (olicamp). I looked at reviews of a few others on amazon, but they seem to be problematic. If they're made of plastic, they can melt. Or they leak. Or they're just really expensive (like olicamp). Anyway thanks for this post. I'm just beginning to get into lightweight backpacking and prepping, and these MSR canisters are going to fit the bill nicely it seems.

    Thanks,
    Jess

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  9. I've never had any difficulty judging the amount of gas in a canister by how it feels when I shake it. When you don't hear the gas sloshing around anymore, you only have a meal or two left in the can. I can go for a week or more on a single 220g Coleman can, using my MSR Rapidfire. The older MSR 110 g cans did have the advantage of being more stable than most other companies' cans, but I honestly don't understand why anyone would save 110 g of weight, when with a canister stove, you are SOL if you run out of gas. Take a 220g can and be done with it. The ultralight fetish can get silly, sometimes. Safety first.

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    1. Well, of course a 220 g canister doesn't actually weigh 220 g. 220 g is the weight of the gas alone. The full weight is the weight of the steel canister (about 150 g) plus the weight of the gas (220 g), which is a total of 370 g (13 oz). When total weighs are compared, the difference is about 160 g (5.6 oz).

      Now, is 5.6 oz "significant?" That is entirely up to the individual. HYOH as the saying goes.

      HJ

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