Sunday, December 11, 2016

What is a Remote Canister Gas Stove?

Sometimes you'll hear me (or others) talking about "remote" canister stoves.  What the heck is a remote canister stove?  And how is that different from just a regular upright canister stove? (like a Pocket Rocket)
A pot of tea on a remote canister stove.
Note how the gas canister is not at the burner but rather is at a distance, connected by a hose.
Well, there are two general classes of canister gas stoves:
  1. An upright canister stove, which mounts directly onto the top of the canister of gas.  
  2. A remote canister stove, which has the gas off to the side, connected by a hose.
Why might this be important?  Well, each type has real advantages – and disadvantages.  You need to understand the pros and cons in order to make an intelligent choice.

Take  a look at the below photo.
An upright canister stove, left, and a remote canister stove, right.
Note how the set up on the left, the upright canister stove, sits up really high.  Generally, upright canister stoves, because of their height are a little more "tippy" and are more exposed to wind.

On the other hand, the set up on the right, a remote canister stove, is far lower, giving it greater stability and making it less exposed to any potential breezes.  In addition, you can use a full 360 degree windscreen on a remote canister stove whereas you cannot safely do so with an upright canister stove.  Why? Well, with an upright canister stove, the canister (of highly flammable gas) is directly under the burner.  Surround the burner, and you surround the canister as well.  The windscreen traps a lot of heat.  Heat a canister too far, and KABOOM!  Uh, you wouldn't want that, trust me.

Canisters are required to be able to withstand temperatures of 50C (122F) – which really isn't all that hot if you think about it.  There are plenty of days in deserts around the world where the afternoon high is nearly that temperature.

Now, will a canister blow up the minute it reaches 51C?  Probably not, but it's going to blow somewhere above 50C, and do you really want to be around when that happens?  By the way, it's generally a bad idea to let boiling water spill over onto a canister.  Boiling water is 100 C (212F) at sea level.  The canister is designed to withstand 50 C (122F).  Get it?

On the other hand, with a remote canister stove, the fuel is nowhere near the burner; it's off to the side.  In fact, a windscreen will separate the fuel from the heat of the flame, making your stove actually safer to operate.
A remote canister stove nestled deep down inside a full windscreen – impervious to normal winds.
Do NOT try this with a regular upright canister stove.
Well, shoot, more stable and far better wind resistance, that sounds pretty good.  Why doesn't everyone just use a remote canister stove?

Well, not so fast.  Remote canister stoves are heavier, less compact, and more expensive.  Upright canisters stoves are affordable, compact, and light.

Here's a list of some of the pros and cons of remote canister stoves, below.

Remote Canister Stoves
  • More stable, less likely to tip.  Great for families with small children, younger Scouts, et al.
  • Can safely use a full 360 degree windshield
  • Sticks up less into the wind
  • Can be far better in cold weather (see Stoves For Cold Weather II for details).
  • Better for large pots or large frying pans
  • Heavier
  • More expensive
  • Bulkier
  • Fewer choices (there are far more upright canister stoves to choose from)
Many people that plan to be out in winter, use larger pots or pans, place a premium on safety and pot stability, or need improved wind resistance will choose a remote canister stove.

I hope you have found this post useful.  I thank you for joining me,



  1. HJ,
    Any suggestions on products for making the Pocket Rocket into a remote canister stove?

    1. Eric, there are various adapters that are sold. The Kovea Cobra is a reasonably good quality one. You can get them on eBay. However note that you have to NOT let the canister roll or shift or you can get a flare.

      That said, I think you're better off just getting a stove that is designed to be a remote set up.


  2. There is another very important benefit to remote stoves. You can put the gas canister upside down. This will allow you to use it at high altitudes and in very cold conditions where the propellant separates from the fuel.

    Shop around, some of the new remote stoves are the same size and only marginally heavier than the top stoves, and price is comparable. For me the benefits outweigh the disadvantages easily.

    1. Johan, yes, and I have a link to an article on that subject, but let me cleat up a couple of mis-conceptions:
      1. You canNOT turn the canister upside-down on all remote canister stoves. Please read the above linked article.
      2. Altitude really doesn't affect canister stoves. This is a rather persistent myth, but it is completely baseless.
      3. The lightest remote canister stoves are quadruple the weight of the lightest upright canister stoves. I really like remote canister stoves, but there is something of a weight penalty.
      4. There is no propellant in a gas canister. There is a blend of fuel gasses. The fuel itself has a certain vapor pressure. The fuel itself acts as its own propellant. There is no separate propellant. That said, some fuels vaporize at lower temperatures than others. Those that vaporize at a lower temperature will be burned at a faster rate which could affect the stove's performance toward the end of the canister.