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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Coleman Canister Gas – Caution

Coleman brand gas canisters now only normally work with Coleman brand stoves.  You might get lucky, but the current orange label Coleman brand gas canisters just plain don't work with a lot of brands of canister stoves.
UPDATE 25 March 2017:  See caveats to the above in the "Stoves Tested" section.
UPDATE 27 March 2017:  There is an emergency work-around:  Coleman Canister Gas – Emergency Work-Around
UPDATE 28 March 2018:  Since the Coleman canisters don't work reliably with the majority of my stoves, I'm now using them as "donor" canisters when I refill my canisters that do work.  See:  Refilling Backpacking Canisters II

What has changed?
I've never had this problem before with the older green label Coleman canisters.   Recently, it seems there's been a change.  The new ones have an orange label (see photo, below), but the changes appear to go beyond color.  They just don't work with other brands of gas stoves.  I'm speaking here about backpacking type canisters only.  I am NOT referring to the big 100% propane green canisters.
Front row:  The older "green" Coleman canisters.
Rear:  The newer "orange" Coleman canister.
Here's how I happened on this:
I test stoves.  A lot of stoves.  I burn gas.  A lot of gas.
Simul-testing multiple stoves.  I burn a lot of gas.
So, I bought some of the big 450 gram Coleman canisters recently at Walmart.  They're the cheapest brand (at least when bought at Walmart).

When I got them home, they simply didn't work.  On any stove tried (see list, below).  And I've got a lot of stoves.  None of them worked – until I tried a Coleman brand stove.

Here's a quick video:

And I am not alone.  Others are reporting similar experiences.

NOTE:  I am not accusing Coleman of doing this deliberately.  Why would they do that?  They want to sell as many canisters as possible.  If they make it so their canisters cannot be used with other brands, their sales will go down. I think this is a goof, not a deliberate business decision.

Stoves Tested

These stoves did not work when tested with orange label Coleman gas canisters:
  • MSR Pocket Rocket
  • MSR Pocket Rocket 2
  • BRS-3000T
  • Markill Hot Rod
  • Soto WindMaster
  • Kovea Supalite
  • Monatauk Gnat/FMS-116T/Olicamp Kinetic Ultra
  • Snow Peak GeoShield
These stoves kind of worked with orange label Coleman gas canisters cranked down hard (NOT recommended):

  • Kovea Titanium/Markill Hotrod
  • Soto MicroRegulator
  • Optimus Crux

These stoves did work with orange label Coleman gas canisters:
  • Jetboil PCS (personal experience)
  • Jetboil MiniMo (reported)
  • Primus Eta Express
  • MSR Micro Rocket
  • Soto Amicus
  • Snow Peak GigaPower
  • eTekCity (multiple reports)
It looks like Jetboil and Primus brand stoves in general do work with Coleman brand orange label gas canisters, but obviously I haven't tested each and every model of Jetboil or Primus stoves.  You'll probably be fine, but you should test your Jetboil or Primus stove with Coleman canisters before you head out on the trail.  However, I have now one report of a Jetboil not working with an orange label Coleman canister.

Other brands are all over the map.  Some models work; others do not.  I've had reports of a Pocket Rocket working, but my Pocket Rocket did not.  This tells me that the Coleman canisters are very close, only off by maybe half a millimeter or something like that.  Their Lindal valve is recessed just a bit farther down in the threaded connector than other brands.  It doesn't take much.  Notice the middle category, above:  Stoves that kind of worked.  It's that close.  Your "mileage" not only may but will vary.

Recommended:  Test your stove with Coleman orange label canisters if you plan to use them.
Not recommended:  Cranking your stove down hard to get a Coleman canister to work.  Stove threads are typically aluminum or brass which is softer than the steel of the canisters.  Don't ruin a good stove over a $5 to $10 canister.  Just buy a more reliable brand.  I have had no problems with the following canister brands:

  • MSR
  • Snow Peak
  • Optimus
  • Primus
  • Brunton
  • Jetboil
  • Gas One
  • Glow Master
I haven't tried Olicamp canisters; I haven't seen them for sale locally.

Conclusion
So, be careful.  That Coleman canister may be cheap (when purchased at Walmart), but it may not work with your stove – unless your stove happens to be a Coleman stove (or probably Jetboil and Primus, perhaps others).  Perhaps I'm belaboring the obvious, but always test your stove with the canister you intend to use before you hit the trail.  This is probably a good idea with all brands but particularly with Coleman brand orange label gas canisters.

Happy stoving,

HJ

27 comments:

  1. Nice review jim and great catch! By chance do they work on a Jetboil stove?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It works on my original Jetboil PCS.

      HJ

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  2. Have you tried to move the fuel from a new canister to an old one?

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    Replies
    1. Bill,

      That was my first thought.

      Unfortunately, the pin on my G-Works adapter isn't long enough to engage with the pin on a Coleman canister. Maybe I can figure out some way of putting an extension on the pin.

      HJ

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  3. I have a couple of those Coleman canisters, the large ones with the orange band around the top. I had one handy, so I tried it with some of my stoves. I tried a Coleman F1 and it worked. I tried a Soto Amicus and it worked. I tried a Roberts Mini Mk III with the eBay adapter and it worked. The only thing that I noticed was that the Amicus and the Roberts stoves didn't seem to run full blast, but they did work. I've got another canister that I haven't used, but I'd have to go dig it out to try it. This is hardly an exhaustive test and I suspect that Coleman may have had some bad batches of canisters. That doesn't mean that they have addressed the problem and I would still be wary of these canisters. I wonder if there is a date or batch code on the canisters?

    The only real difference that I noticed in the stoves that I tried is that the bin in the base of the F1 that operates the valve in the canister has a hole up the middle of it, like a propane torch base pin. The other stoves have solid pins and a little hole in the base by the O-Ring. The only simple explanations are that the pins don't depress the valve far enough or that there isn't enough clearance around the pin for the gas to reach the little hole in the base. I haven't tried the refilling adapter, but refilling is why I bought these big canisters anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, what type of refill adapter do you have? Please please please let me know if it works. If I can transfer the gas out of these Coleman canisters, then I can make use of them. Otherwise, they're just paper weights.

      HJ

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    2. I have the G-Works. I need to find a canister that only works with Coleman stoves. I only have a couple because they don't normally stock them at the stores near me.

      Delete
    3. OK. I'll have to try my G-Works adapter again. I couldn't get it to work, which is a serious bummer.

      HJ

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    4. I bought these canisters a couple of months ago. The problem may not have shown up at that time. When I get a chance, I'll drag out all of the Coleman canisters that I have (most are smaller) and give them a try.

      Delete
    5. Bill,

      I actually have two G-Works adapters. I thought I lost my first one but then found it. Anyway, I tried the second one last night, and it worked. Huzzah! I was able to xfer the contents of one Coleman 450 g canister to multiple 110 g canisters, and that was just at room temperature without any heating or cooling of the canisters to promote xfer. I did hold the donor canister in my hands so that my body heat would neutralize the effects of evaporative cooling within the donor canister. It was pretty easy to get 75 to 80 g into the recipient canisters. I think to really get all the fuel out of the donor, I probably need to immerse it in warm water to increase the vapor pressure.

      I did have to crank down excessively hard on the G-Works adapter, which I wasn't too happy about, but I do have two of them.

      HJ

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    6. I got my G-Works adapter and my other big canister out today. I didn't see much sense in trying anything other than the G-Works adapter because that is the only thing that I had intended to use on these canisters. My G-Works adapter works with both of these canisters. I topped off a couple of 100g canisters, just as you described, and had no problems. I should get into the city late this week and I'll look for another big canister. So far, I haven't had any problems, but that doesn't mean that the next one will work.

      Delete
    7. Yeah, that's the salvation for these Coleman cansiters -- as donor canisters.

      It's a *lot* easier to use the G-Works adapter than the 100% restaurant type adapter.

      HJ

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  4. I have used these new canisters without issue with my MSR pocket rocket and BRS 3000

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jordan, I'm hearing very mixed things on MSR and BRS stoves. My BRS stove did not work, but you're the second or third person whose BRS did work.

      I tried three MSR stoves. Two didn't work at all. One worked just fine. Go figure.

      The bottom line is: Test before you hit the trail.

      Sounds like you're good though.

      HJ

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  5. My GWORKS Gas Saver+ seems to work fine with the 1# orange label Coleman can I have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. I have two G-Works Gas Savers. One works; the other does not. I have a work around, but that's the subject of another post.

      HJ

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  6. Works with my Fire Maple. I noticed when I unscrew it doesn't make that "pscht!" like it does when I use a Kovea gas canister. So it confirms that Coleman's valve goes deeper down into the canister.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. Thanks for sharing that, Lou.

      HJ

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  7. Hi guys, has anyone tried the new canister with a Primus OmniFuel stove yet? Greetings from southern Germany

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sven,

      I haven't tried it. I have an Omnilite Ti, so if I get a chance I'll try it. It's my mother's 80th birthday in a week or so, so I am very busy right now. If you leave me another comment in a week or two, that might help me to remember to check.

      HJ

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    2. Great Jim, thank you very much! Enjoy the birthday!

      Delete
  8. Ah now I understand why there were so many coleman canister left for grabs (some were full!) when I was in Iceland...peoples couldn't use them lol (or they bought too many and were leaving).
    I myself had to remove the flat washer off my chinese remote stove to get it to engage on the Campingaz screw on canister, it still had a 2nd inner o-ring to seal it
    I have the old version of the Lingyun F-06: http://www.dx.com/p/sunfield-folding-high-altitude-applicable-camping-gas-stove-silver-432350
    with the typical adjusting end

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi there,
    Thanks for this article!!

    I was camping in a spot for an extended length of time, and ran out of the MSR fuel which I was using for my Jetboil. I tried out the Coleman fuel, and the first canister worked fine, though I needed to tighten it down really hard.
    The second 2 Coleman canisters I purchased would not work at all.

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  10. I couldn't understand why Walmart didn't pull Coleman canisters after 6 plus months. They are also selling the Peak 1 stove, so that could lessen their customer complaints. Are these canisters still a problem?

    ReplyDelete