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Thread: Camping stove test (for car camping)

  1. #1
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Camping stove test (for car camping)

    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

    -----

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

    -----

    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.)

    -----

    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.)

    -----

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

    -----

    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,
    Last edited by Kestrel; 07-08-2019 at 02:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)


  3. #3

    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    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.
    GOOD TINT!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    I like the look of that Martin stove. 👍 Looking forward to more details on the Sienna project!
    Wildflower seeds on the sand and stone
    May the four winds blow you safely home...

  5. #5

    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    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.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    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)

  7. #7
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    Long post with a few important updates;

    -----

    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/yn0ax9vx2q...utane.jpg?dl=0

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

    -----

    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/nsdceij672...utane.jpg?dl=0
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/e7dmgbvsij...aptor.jpg?dl=0

    The resulting setup is of course potentially quite unstable:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/25595nltzj...utane.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:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qhygxpvk6c...loyed.jpg?dl=0

    Or used with the far more stable Martin two-burner stove:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/z6ua7esw9m...utane.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.

    -----

    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.

    -----

    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/jm8vbpfos...mCFWELSga?dl=0

    Thanks for reading & best regards,
    K
    Last edited by Kestrel; 07-08-2019 at 02:42 PM.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* wacbzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    This is a super informative thread K. Thanks for updating it.

    Love the “Two Buck Chuck” in #13!!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    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.)
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

  10. #10
    Administrator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Camping stove test (for car camping)

    Quote Originally Posted by wacbzz View Post
    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!

    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    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.

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