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.

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 do not work 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 work with orange label Coleman gas canisters cranked down hard (NOT recommended):

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

These stoves do 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 canisters.

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.

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,


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Upright Canister Stoves – the State of the Art

What are the best canister gas stoves of today?  What are our options?  What's the best technology?
The latest from MSR:  The new Pocket Rocket 2
I've got a friend who works over at Massdrop*.  He's been bugging me to do a stove article, a sort of taking stock of the current state of canister stoves.  Kind of a fun project, so what the heck, I wrote a little something up:  Upright Canister Stoves – the State of the Art.

This post here on my blog has a couple of things that I couldn't include in the article, mainly a dynamic HTML version of the table in the article; see below.
A classic old Hank Roberts stove.
I created a table of upright canister stoves available in the US today.  I've got pretty much all the major brands and even some that are less well known.  I didn't get everything, but it's a pretty representative compendium.

I didn't have a way to create a dynamic HTML table over on Massdrop, so I thought I'd create one here.  It may be easier to read this dynamic HTML table, depending on what type of device you're viewing things on.  Neither method of presentation is perfect, but hopefully one or the other gets the job done for you.

Adventures In Stoving -- https://AdventuresInStoving.blogspot.com
Brand Stove BTU Grams Oz's Class $$'sPros Cons Comments
BRS BRS-3000T 9,200 25 0.9 SUL $20 Super Ultralight, compact, inexpensive Terrible in wind, pot supports can deform if overheated (inconsistent quality control), poor pot stability, short valve handle Poor pot stability, but dang is it light, compact, and cheap.  The only Super Ultra Light canister stove on the market.
Fire Maple FMS-300T (Olicamp Ion Micro) 8,900 45 1.6 UL $50 Ultralight, compact Open burner, poor pot stability, short valve handle, loud Limited pot stability, a bit loud.  Sold under Olicamp brand in US.  Cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
Fire Maple FMS-116T (Olicamp Kinetic Ultra) 9,600 48 1.7 UL $50 Ultralight.  Good pot stability.  Well distributed flame avoids hot spots Open burner, not particularly compact A little more distributed flame than some UL stoves.  Sold under Olicamp brand in US.  Cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
Snow Peak Lite Max 11,200 54 1.9 UL $60 Ultralight, compact, low carbon monoxide Open burner Surprisingly compact.  Good pot stability.  At 11,000 BTU/hr it can really eat fuel if you let it.  Turn it down. Made by Kovea.
Kovea Supalite 6,575 56 2.0 Light $50 Light, very compact, low carbon monoxide Open burner Surprisingly compact.  Good pot stability.  Some variants are 56 g; others are 60 g.  Made by Kovea.
Soto WindMaster 11,000 67 2.4 Light $75 Wind resistant, excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, regulated burner, good to excellent pot stability.   Detachable pot support can be lost, tall (not compact), pricey, but there are deals out there. Great stove.  Best upright canister stove on the market today -- if you can live with the detachable pot support.  
GSI Pinnacle 8,750 68 2.4 Light $50 Seems reasonably well made. A little over priced for its class.  Open burner. I haven't really seen this one in person, but I've seen some talk on the net; I therefore include it for completeness.
Optimus Crux Lite 10,200 72 2.5 Light $40 Lighter than the regular Crux Bulky, open burner Doesn't pack well because burner doesn't fold.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2 8,200 73 2.6 Light $45 Simple, solid, improved pot stability Open burner I really like it's simplicity and how solid it is. Made by Kovea.
Soto MicroRegulator 11,000 73 2.6 Light $70 Excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, regulated burner. Somewhat floppy pot supports; open burner. Nice stove, but I would go with the WindMaster if you're looking at this type of stove.
Soto Amicus (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $5 for piezo 10,200 75 2.6 Light $40 Wind resistant, excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, excellent pot stability. Slightly bulky when compared to the most compact. A really fabulous new entry from Soto at a nice price point.  The wind resistance is real.  Definitely worth a look.
Primus Express (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $10 for piezo. 8,900 82 2.9 Light $45 Good build quality. Excellent pot stability. Open burner.  Pot supports do not fold out of the way and take up a lot of room.  Not the best piezo. Primus makes good stuff, but I think their Express stove is a little heavy for what it is.
Snow Peak Gigapower (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $10 for piezo. 10,000 85 3.0 Mid $40 Good pot stability, compact, strong, low carbon monoxide Heavier, open burner.  Poor ignition. A classic, fantastic stove albeit a bit heavy by today's standards.  The ignition sucks; get the version without.  Made by Kovea.
Olicamp Vector 10,200 85 3.0 Mid $30 Reasonalby priced Open burner Included as a low cost option.
Kovea Titanium 7,600 88 3.1 Mid $60 Reasonably compact Poor quality ignition, open burner. Ignition isn't particularly reliable.
Optimus Crux 10,200 93 3.3 Mid $50 Fairly compact Heavier, wobbles at joint, open burner, open burner Nice stove, but it would be great if it didn't wiggle at the joint.
Jetboil Mighty Mo 10,000 95 3.4 Mid $50 Regulated burner Poor quality ignition, only fair pot stability, open burner Lowest cost regulated burner, but the ignition is crappy.  Soto's stoves in this class are better but more expensive.
Kovea Power Nano 7,300 95 3.4 Mid $35 Inexpensive Heavy for its class.  Open burner
Kovea Eagle 6,000 128 4.5 Heavy $30 Inexpensive Heavy for its class.  Open burner
MSR Super Fly (manual, piezo).  Add $10 for piezo. 10,000 177 6.2 Heavy $65 Distributed flame, threaded and non-threaded canisters Heavy, bulky, sharp, pointy pot supports, open burner Dislike.  Too big, too bulky, too heavy, and the pointy pot supports poke holes in your pack.
Primus Classic Trail (Yellowstone) 10,000 227 8.0 Heavy $20 Inexpensive Heavy, bulky, open burner Cheap, good pot stability, can handle larger pots, but I'm not a fan of this heavy beast.
Adventures In Stoving -- https://AdventuresInStoving.blogspot.com

I hope you find the information useful.


*Massdrop, if you haven't heard of it, is sort of a "group buy" site.  They contact companies and basically say "hey, if we could get X number of sales, would you give us a price break?"  If a company agrees, Massdrop then posts a "Drop" on their site.  Members of the public can then join the Drop and get a group discount.  Here's a link:  https://www.massdrop.com/r/ETFBT7. I think I get a free T shirt or something if enough people click on that link and then later buy something, but whatever.  I hope you find a couple of good deals.
An old Camping Gaz S-206 "Bleuet" stove.
The canister had to be physically punctured and could not be safely removed until empty.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

BRS-3000T – Failure #3

Since the pot supports failed on my BRS-3000T, a number of people have come forward saying that they have experienced the same thing.  I thought I'd post a couple more photos, below; the photos are from John H.  John reports that he had good results with the stove at first but that over time the pot supports deformed.

Note how the pot supports have twisted out and away from the stove.
Notice that these photos are pretty much the same as the first set and also the second set.  In other words, the same thing appears to be happening repeatedly.
It's not a gross failure, but the pot clearly cants off to one side.
BUT there are plenty of people who are experiencing no problems at all.  Matt S. recently ran a 15 minute test on his (after seeing my post).  No problems.  Gary D. reports doing up to 20 minute runs while melting snow.  That's a long run. No problems.

Some people have a failure with only one cup of water on; others melt snow for 20 minutes and have no failure.  It’s a hit or miss stove.  You might get lucky and get one that’s fine.  You might not.

I’m going to revise my original post to recommend a test run.  Run the stove  for 15 minutes on high with 2 cups of water on before taking it out on the trail for the first time.  If your stove can handle a 15 minute run on high at home, then it's probably going to be OK out on the trail.  If it fails at home, just buy another one.  They're cheap enough.  Eventually you should be able to get a good one.  Of course you could just get a quality stove in the first place and be done with it, but each to his or her own.

Some people have advocated carrying more than one BRS-3000T at a time.  They're so light and so cheap, why not?  If one stove fails, just swap it out for the one in your pack.  If you decide to go the multiple stove route, maybe you should space out the purchases so that you get a stoves from different manufacturing lots.  Hopefully the chances of getting two duds is minimized.


Another failure, this one reported by Terry S. who reports that the metal had become so soft with use that he could no longer depend on the stove.
A stress fracture has developed on the pot support arm of this BRS-3000T

Thursday, March 2, 2017

BRS-3000T – Failure #2

I recently completed a review of the BRS-3000T.  In that review, I mentioned that one of my pot supports deformed after 10 or so minutes of using the stove.

My pot, listing to the left, after one of my pot supports deformed.
Since posting that review, a couple of other people have come forward and mentioned that they've had similar experiences, including Miguel C. who kindly sent me the below photographs.
A BRS-3000T with deformed pot supports.
Photo courtesy of Miguel C.
Miguel reports the following:
Not sure how it happened.  I was just cooking rice and a cup of water.  I was using the msr [Titan] kettle and two of the stands bent a lil.   
The stove was on medium low cooked for like 15 [minutes].  It got super red.  There was no winds but it was cold.  It happened at night.

Another view of a BRS-3000T with deformed pot supports.
Photo courtesy of Miguel C.
You will note in the above photo that the pot stands are even more deformed than mine were.

Some people have criticized my use of a 1300 ml pot and 3 cups of water as "heavy."  While maybe someone could misconstrue 3 cups of water as "heavy," an MSR Titan Kettle with just one cup of water cannot.
Miguel's MSR Titan Kettle which contained only 1 cup of water and some rice.
This is not a weight issue.  This is a design and materials issue.

So, What the Heck is Happening?

Well, for one, the titanium here is not melting.  Titanium melts at about 3000 Fahrenheit (about 1700 Celsius).  The flame temperature in air of a butane-propane mix (i.e. canister gas) is about 3500 Fahrenheit/1970 Celsius, but you'd have to really focus the flame, as in a blow torch or similar, in order to get the metal that hot, and air would tend to conduct away the heat.

OK, so it's not melting.  So what is happening?  Well, metals get soft long before they melt.  Think of a blacksmith shoeing a horse.  He doesn't melt steel, pour it into a mold, and make a custom shoe.  No, he typically already has the shoe made.  He just heats it and then pounds on it until it's the right shape.  He heats it because the metal gets softer, and then it's easier to work with the metal.

The same thing is true with titanium.  Long before it melts, Titanium will become more malleable. Metals are assigned a rating called a "service" rating.  This a temperature above which the metal becomes unreliable.  The maximum service rating for titanium is 1100 Fahrenheit/600 Celsius, and that's for a really high grade alloy. The alloy used in a backpacking stove has a rating more likely around 750 Fahrenheit/400 Celsius.  Our flame temperature is 3500 Fahrenheit/1700 Celsius, more than four times the service rating of the metal of our stove.

Titanium is a poor conductor of heat.  If the heat can't be conducted away, and the small, thin pot supports of the BRS-3000T aren't going to conduct a lot of heat, the temperature can climb above the maximum service rating, and "creep deformation" can occur.  Creep deformation isn't a sudden snap or anything like that.  It's a gradual softening of the metal.   The metal slowly droops.

In the case of Miguel's stove, he had it on for a fairly long time (15 minutes) and it was a still night.  With no air currents to whisk away the heat, the temperature of the metal climbed above the maximum service rating, and... well, you can just look at the photos, above.

The Good News
Miguel reports that he just bent the pot supports back after the stove cooled and went on his way.  He continues to use the stove.  Now, how many times can you do this before the supports break?  I don't know, but I wouldn't push it.  You want to avoid getting the supports too hot.

I too just took my fingers and bent it back.  The BRS-3000T isn't exactly a beefy stove.  It's pretty easy to bend the thin little pot supports.

The Bad News
The bad news here is that Miguel's failure happened in still air (or a breeze so light as to be undetectable).  My failure occurred when the wind focused the flame on my pot support.  I was thinking that all one had to do was protect the stove from wind.  I still think it is important, vital actually, to protect the stove from wind, but one also has to worry about excessive heat build up in the right conditions.  It's a bit of a wild card here, but in general shorter burn times should be OK.

Interesting stuff.  More will be revealed.