Camping stove test (for car camping)

Kestrel

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Edit: Long update (w/ add'l fuel options) added in Post #7.

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While I am very satisfied with my backpacking stove (a Jetboil w/ isobutane canisters), I am currently in the process of setting up a Toyota Sienna minivan as a camper.
While that would be a topic (-and-a-half) for another thread, the more modest topic for today is, Campstoves for car camping.

I recently purchased an extremely rare (in the US) Martin two-burner isobutane campstove. One of the advantages of this design was the independent burners (i.e. redundant fuel delivery systems), and a configuration that lends itself well to the larger 440g canisters (~$7-8 at WalMart). For example, this stove actually gets more stable with the taller canisters due to the lower overall center of gravity.


Furthermore, due to the larger platform & supports, this design is somewhat adaptable to doing propane conversions with the taller 1-lb propane cans (more on that later).

(link to picture album in post#2)

After acquiring all the necessary supplies, a test was in order: the necessary time to boil 2 cups of 55-degree water.

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Test #1:
- Jetboil backpacking stove
- Isobutane fuel
- 'Zip' kettle (w/ heat exchangers on bottom for add'l efficiency)
Boiling time : 5min 20sec

Edit: The test has been redone with proper (more efficient) nesting of the Jet kettle, and a new Isobutane fuel can (explained fully in the Post #7 update).
Updated boiling time: 2min 55sec

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Test #2:
- Jetboil stove
- Isobutane fuel
- MSR stainless steel kettle
Boiling time: 7 minutes

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Test #3:
- Jetboil stove
- Propane fuel (w/ brass adaptor)
- MSR kettle
Boiling time: 2min 15sec

(The more efficient 'Zip' kettle was not used due to the substantial propane flame on 'high'. For more practical use, the Jetboil stove burner should be turned down so as to not destroy the insulating neoprene on the outside of the 'Zip' kettle.)

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Test #4:
- Martin camp stove
- Isobutane fuel
- MSR kettle
Boiling time: 4min 50sec

(The more efficient 'Zip' kettle was not used due to the wider burners on the Martin stove.)

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Test #5:
- Martin camp stove
- Propane fuel (w/ adaptor)
- MSR kettle
Boiling time: 2min 30sec

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While isobutane canisters would normally be the preferred fuel source, I really wanted to have propane as an alternate option for the Martin camp stove: Less expensive ($3 for the one-pound canisters @ WalMart), widespread availability, and compatibility with my small Coleman space heater (pictured in my 'Breakfast nook' thread). Propane will also perform much better in winter conditions - I have had problems with getting satisfactory output from isobutane when temps get below freezing.

Although the height of the propane cans can certainly be a disadvantage due to their decreased stability, there are workarounds for this (visible here for the Martin stove, and pictured in my 'Breakfast nook' thread for the Jetboil).

Another propane aspect is that 'high/max' should probably not be used with stoves designed for isobutane, as the flame height is excessive. I did do all of these propane tests on 'high' as a proof-of-concept to ensure proper function, however.

By lowering the output of the adjustable burner on the Jetboil stove, the flame size can be reduced (last two pics in the album) so that the more efficient 'Zip' kettle could still be used when desired.

And I certainly understand that the boiling time is in no way related to efficiency for these configurations; while this metric is often used in backpacking circles, it is of less concern here: weight is far less relevant, and it will be easy to have a few extra fuel canisters on a car camping trip. In this particular case, convenience and operational reliability / redundancy are more important to me than the degree of efficiency.

Thanks for reading,
 
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markr6

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Propane is all I use in the winter anymore. I'm usually dragging a pulk now, so that extra 1lb and bulk with the green tanks doesn't matter. And it's either a Jetboil or MSR Reactor. The efficiency and speed is just ridiculous.
 

Sabrewulf

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I use this titanium folding stove, since I carry a map gas torch in my car usually, it will start fire from about any outdoor foliage if needed.
w2ipeb0.jpg
 

KITROBASKIN

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Car camping lends well to the Cauldryn water heating water bottle. I got one early on for review and it is working well after many uses (these days at least twice a day). The battery heats fast. 12V not as fast but doable. We like it for washing up. The lowest setting is good for that and the battery could heat it up a couple times before it should be charged again. They also have a newer model that I would like to try. (will have the option of using it as a blender as well)
 

Kestrel

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Long post with a few important updates;

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I am needing to point out a few aspects/revisions; the prior isobutane boiling times posted above will be biased toward the slower side, as they was done with a ~half-used (in the winter) fuel can.
I recently learned that during cold-weather use, the propane will burn off preferentially from the Isobutane/blend canisters, leaving the isobutane with its lower pressure. So the isobutane boiling times listed earlier will be slower compared to what a new can would provide.

Also, I neglected to fully seat the Zip kettle down into the stove, using the standard-pot adapter instead - which adds height & decreases efficiency.

Removing the adapter and using a new canister of isobutane fuel:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/yn0ax9vx2qzjw64/17 Jetboil - isobutane.jpg?dl=0

I obtained a new boiling time of 2min 55sec - and have updated Post #1 with an edit.

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I was also interested in the ability to use inexpensive 8oz butane canisters (only $1.50 per 8oz vs. ~$6 per 220g Isobutane/blend can).
I purchased an inexpensive adapter from eBay to add a Lindal valve to the butane canister:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nsdceij672b5bh1/15 Butane.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/e7dmgbvsijd337h/16 Butane with adaptor.jpg?dl=0

The resulting setup is of course potentially quite unstable:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/25595nltzj31uif/18 Jetboil - butane.jpg?dl=0

The boiling time using the less-expensive butane fuel was 3min 40sec.

With regards to stability, these taller canisters would instead most likely be used suspended inside my milk-crate cooking surface (shown in my Breakfast Nook thread).

Or used with the far more stable Martin two-burner stove:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z6ua7esw9m8jt66/19 Martin stove with butane.jpg?dl=0

Or even used to refill the isobutane/blend canisters with a different (& inexpensive) eBay adapter.

Please note that this would be only a 'summer' fuel; inexpensive butane is far less viable as a stove fuel below ~50F, due to its greatly-diminished vapor pressure compared to Isobutane/blend, or propane fuels.
But I certainly like the significantly lower cost and greater fuel flexibility.

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Final notes after doing some reading elsewhere; apparently stability with these stove designs is even more important than I first thought.
Besides the inconvenience of a spill, the true danger is that the stove is expecting fuel in the gaseous state; if the stove tips over, liquid fuel is immediately sent to the burner, instantly creating a much longer flame - if propane was being used, it could be 2+ feet long, creating a severe fire hazard especially if being used in a car. :-/

Also, it is not recommended to use the higher-pressure propane with the latest generation of isobutane stoves that have upgraded simmer capabilities; these stoves can contain a true pressure regulator which might be damaged by the high-pressure propane gas.

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And again, if the individual pictures for this thread are too inconvenient to pull up singly, the entire picture album can be viewed here:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jm8vbpfos8vx218/AADXRFE7ZCoe9BhtmCFWELSga?dl=0

Thanks for reading & best regards,
K
 
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Monocrom

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Must say, I've been amazed just how much fuel those mini isobutane canisters have inside of them. Been using one to test out a variety of different canister stoves. Gotten 9 uses out of one. Though I don't crank up the stoves to their highest settings. We're talking roughly 10-15 minutes of boiling luke warm water. I then use the boiled water for coffee or tea at work. (All boiling done outside on a flat surface.)
 

Kestrel

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This is a super informative thread K. Thanks for updating it.
Love the “Two Buck Chuck” in #13!!
Happy you enjoyed it & thx for the feedback. :)
Well, 2.5 buck Chuck; but yes a wine that seems to travel well LOL! :D

Must say, I've been amazed just how much fuel those mini isobutane canisters have inside of them. [...]
The last time I used a liquid-fuel stove was on a cross-country bicycle trip back in '02; definitely inexpensive to run, but only if the bottles can be refilled from the 1 gallon jugs at home. And I really disliked the jet-engine sound from some of them - particularly the upgraded MSR 'Whisperlite' of the ~ late 90's. :-/

So my brother got me into these isobutane stoves and I never looked back; the efficiencies of the JetBoil Zip were truly amazing to behold; I thought it was a bummer to not be able to refuel those canisters, until I realized just how long they would last. I did a winter elk hunting trip a couple of yrs ago, and found that an $8 Walmart/Coleman 440g can would last for an entire week of cooking. Just turn on / turn off, with no spilling/pumping/leaking. :D
 

Kestrel

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A stove update; just spent a week in the woods with temperatures ranging down to about 25 degrees.

I did find that my relatively-inexpensive Coleman "isobutane" fuel canisters (shown below) didn't hold up very well after they were partially depleted;
https://www.dropbox.com/s/k2mjpde55lwaqoq/20201102_211622.jpg?dl=0

Later reading ("Adventures in Stoving" :thumbsup:) indicates that particular blend is not recommended for cold weather, being 20% Propane / 80% standard (not iso-) butane.
So in cold weather, once the propane preferentially burns off, you're left with mostly straight butane - so it's basically a summer blend at that point.

The next few pics are running the stove from 100% propane - definitely the way to go for cold weather car camping.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/saba4468dsaolo1/20201106_091659.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/b77ugqb74tes1px/20201107_062003.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/es9cxyciimiicms/20201107_062517.jpg?dl=0

(Illumination via an Oveready BOSS :))

Best regards & may your freeze-dried food never be crunchy. ;)
 
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badtziscool

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I’m not sure if this fits your criteria but I really like my Primus Omnifuel Ti stove. It’s not the lightest or most portable but it works in all sorts of conditions. I had no issues at all using it in sub freezing weather. Pretty versatile since it can use multiple types of commonly available fuels, and you can get really extended run times with the large canister.
 

vadimax

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After rather extended study I have discovered that isobutane stoves are not that good at low temperatures (internal pressure falls nearly to zero because of boiling point is -11.75ºC only -- at -12ºC it turns into a paperweight). This way my primary stove is Optimus Nova backed up with a SilverFire Scout stove.
 
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desmobob

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I could never warm up to stoves that used disposable gas canisters of any type... (yuk yuk yuk).
My most-used camp stove was a liquid fuel Coleman 400 backpack stove ("Feather" or "Peak 1" model). They seem heavy at first, but when you consider it is complete: fuel container, stove, and pump, they're not bad. They are also very convenient and easy to use in all temperatures (I have done a fair amount of snowshoe camping.)

And nothing needs to be said about the old-school king of lightweight stoves: the Svea 123. Wonderful! A white gas stove that is reliable as they come. Classic.

My idea of a car camping stove is an old green Coleman suitcase stove!
 
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markr6

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Later reading ("Adventures in Stoving" :thumbsup:) indicates that particular blend is not recommended for cold weather, being 20% Propane / 80% standard (not iso-) butane.
So in cold weather, once the propane preferentially burns off, you're left with mostly straight butane - so it's basically a summer blend at that point.

I stick with MSR or Jetboil fuel for the good 20/80 propane/isobutane mix. 25° is possible but anything around freezing and I start to consider something else. I like base camping with the pulk so I can drag in a few of those green 1lb propane bottles you have here. I run my Snowpeak stove on one and MSR Reactor on another. The coldest I used them was -14°, even the propane struggled to flow. I had to switch to a full bottle and it worked, but at about 75% wide open.
 

Poppy

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You may want to google
[FONT=Roboto, sans-serif, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, Segoe UI, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol]copper strip heat exchanger for camp stove

You may want to use body heat to heat up your gas, to get it started.

The heat exchanger concept takes heat from the flame and transports it down to the canister to keep it running even while it is cooling, and getting colder as it depletes.

I am pretty sure that I have also seen the use of a heat reflective windscreen that captures and aims some of the flame's heat downward to the canister.


[/FONT]
 

markr6

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You may want to google
copper strip heat exchanger for camp stove

You may want to use body heat to heat up your gas, to get it started.

The heat exchanger concept takes heat from the flame and transports it down to the canister to keep it running even while it is cooling, and getting colder as it depletes.

I am pretty sure that I have also seen the use of a heat reflective windscreen that captures and aims some of the flame's heat downward to the canister.




The Jetboil "cups", the plastic cover for the bottom were always useless to me until I found out the canister fits in them perfectly. Add a modest 2-3oz of lukewarm water and it's like running the stove in the middle of summer! Amazing. You can add more warm/hot water as it cools down if necessary.

Windscreens as nice too. I use a foil sheet rolled up. Of course, the legal department says no due to overheating, but I don't think you could get that hot enough to explode if you tried with a windscreen alone.
 

Kestrel

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So I just rec'd a converter hose for 20lb propane tanks - /now/ I'm cooking. :)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/swktzbj1b2zb9uk/20201121_082120.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/70fvxezuodcgam2/20201121_082155.jpg?dl=0

(Viewable in the second pic is the brass 1lb.propane / threaded Lindal valve adapter.)

My calculations indicate I could camp w/ the Jetboil stove for ~one year on the 20lb. propane tank. :D

Edit:
If anyone wants to page through the entire stove picture series for a full review, here is the Dropbox folder:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jm8vbpfos8vx218/AADXRFE7ZCoe9BhtmCFWELSga?dl=0
 
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