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Stove stories

Old 09-13-22, 08:42 AM
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Stove stories

I usually travel solo with a solid fuel system, and canister when with my family. Now considering a solo trip where fuel availability is a matter of concern. After researching the question quite extensively, I am quite positive that I will not use a multi-fuel stove. I hesitate between an alcohol (Caldera system) or an efficient canister (Soto Windmaster) system. Canisters are available in relatively few locations, but never further than 2 weeks distance. Denatured alcohol (or whatever name locals are using) is said to be available worldwide. I am unable to positively reach a decision (ex: alcohol is more tedious to use, takes longer to bring water to a boil, may not be available in convenient quantity -- BUT is cheaper, more environmentally responsible, available everywhere and would add a third system to my kit.)

Perhaps "fuel stories" would help. (ie. have you been stuck somewhere without fuel; have you moved from alcohol to canister or vice versa and for what reason; etc.)

Update here

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Old 09-13-22, 08:15 PM
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I have used white gas, multi-fuel (wg, kerosene, gasoline), canister, and alcohol stoves. Canister are quick and easy and clean, but can indeed be a pita if you are in a remote locale -- ended up riding for several days without fuel in Hokkaido, Japan on one trip because canisters were rare in the region. Alcohol stoves are lightweight and esp. in many places outside of the US are easy to find fuel for, but take forever to boil water -- but are better for cooking slowly, IMHO. Multifuel are super versatile and i've never not been able to find something to burn, but can be a filthy mess and don't tend to simmer well.

I have a sort of collection of stoves - -which one i use depends upon where i'm going, hoe long I'll be gone, how much cooking (and what type) I plan on doing. Not sure that an ideal stove type for all occasions exists.
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Old 09-13-22, 10:22 PM
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It seems that canister stoves have pretty much taken over the market, and 2 weeks worth of canisters should not take up that much space. If you know what your menu will be, you should be able to calculate how many canisters would be needed.
Otherwise, multifuel or a wood gasifier (with an alcohol kit) are you next best choices.
Let us know what you decide and why.
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Old 09-13-22, 11:42 PM
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We have used aluminum Swiss stove in our Troop for many years. On one occasion our consolidated supply of Denatured Alcohol got compromised in transport. So for the week end we used dried branches in the stove housings. WOW! It really worked well. In many ways we got more heat out of them. Our Swiss stoves gave us about 15-20 min burn time when in the stove housing. Using small branches we got at least 30 min of heat. One of our boys used branches with his Large German EZ Bit type folding stove and it worked well too. Sure, there was carbon residue on our equipment but it all cleaned up at return. I would suggest having a stove that uses Denatured Alcohol knowing I could use dried branches as a back up.


Swiss Army Mess Kit and Trangia Stove

Amazon: Folding Stove
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Old 09-14-22, 02:40 AM
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Homemade alcohol Cat Stoves with a slight modification can boil water quite quickly unless the ambient temperatures get pretty chilly. Remember they can also burn Heet automotive products which are found at almost every gas station so finding fuel is almost never a problem.
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Old 09-14-22, 04:44 AM
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A canister stove is so much easier, quicker, safer and convenient. I’d go canister, and carry either a Trangia burner/ultralight kit, or a homemade can stove to use in an emergency if all you can find is alcohol. Also, would recommend a titanium ultralight grill rack for when you can use a fire.

A Trangia is fine to cook over, but takes forever to boil water and is a bit inconvenient to extinguish (not too bad but you kinda have to drop the lid onto it) if there is still fuel left when you finish cooking. Homemade stoves aren’t practical to extinguish, better just to heat some more water (you always could use some more for tea or washing up). A canister stove wastes nothing, you turn it off and you’re done.

I usually ended up (back in the day, it’s been a couple of years) using a combo of a wood fire for ambience and sometimes cooking, and a canister stove. Trangia when younger but it is heavier and slower.

This sort of thing is what I mean by a titanium grill:
https://www.amazon.com.au/TiTo-Titan...52460850&psc=1

The Trangia ultralight setup is this:
https://www.wildearth.com.au/buy/tra...mini/TRA100285
The burner is available separately as well but you will need a stand and wind shield if you go that way. A wind shield can just be a bit of foil, preferably heavy duty (like a disposable grill tray or turkey tray).

If you want to DIY an alcohol stove do a search for Pepsi can stove, cat can stove and ultralight hiking alcohol stove and have a look at the options. They are light, not too bulky, easy to make. They need a pot stand and a wind shield to work well.

(edit)

Sounds like you have experience with a number of these systems. Where are you travelling? You might be able to get more specific advice if we know where you're headed.

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Old 09-14-22, 05:50 AM
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A lot will depend on how much fuel you personally use. Then the next is how the fuels in question are available in what quantities where you will be.

A few notes from my personal experience:
  1. I have done a good bit of touring with pop can stoves using alcohol. Where I have toured I have been able to find 12 ounce bottles of Yellow Heet. I find it works out well enough and my alcohol cooking kit is the lightest i have found. If there is a need to carry large amounts of fuel for some reason the weight advantage may shift to some more btu dense fuel, but I doubt I'll ever tour somewhere I'll restock that infrequently. Fire bans can be an issue though. They often ban stoves with no off switch/valve.
  2. Canister stoves like the pocket rocket or similar are a little heavier. The simmer a little better and boil a little quicker. I tend to use one when I am taking a stove for a small group or want an off switch. I have had issues finding canisters even at a time when every walmart was supposed to sell them according to posts on the forums. That was quite a few years ago though.
  3. I have a couple liquid fuel stoves that I'd consider using on a tour. One officially burns only white gas and the other is a multi fuel model. In practice either would probably burn gasoline in a pinch, but I'd prefer to only burn it in the multifuel one and that maybe only in a pinch. White gas (coleman fuel) comes in larger size containers than I prefer to carry, but I did find a workaround other than gasoline. It turns out that zippo or ronson sell lighter fluid for cigarette lighters and hand warmers that is the same thing as coleman fuel. It comes in 4, 6, 8, and 12 ounce bottles and is pretty widely available. I found it locally in a few places here in my home town and a google search seems to show it as pretty widely available. It was in 4 and 8 ounce sizes for about $2 here in my home town. Watch out for the charcoal lighter fluid though. That is usually closer to kerosene. It will burn in my multifuel stove but it burns poorly unless I swap to a special kerosene jet. Also it comes in larger sizes than what I want to carry at a time.
FWIW, my stoves I mentioned in item 4 are a SVEA 123 and an MSR International.

Edited to add that I have tested the zippo/ronson stuff and used it for a short trip, but not a bike tour. Also you may or may not be able to mail it to yourself via general delivery surface mail only. It would need to be labeled ORM-D. I tend to think it is okay for limited quantities based on the research I did when I wanted to mail isobutane canisters. I also did see some references on line to folks doing it. It definitely is shipped from Amazon and others via fedex and ups. I suppose you might be able to mail regular coleman fuel the same way, but the amount is very limited and I'd avoid repackaging it. A factory sealed small quantity would be most likely to be withing the acceptable realm of the USPS. I have no idea about the rules elsewhere.

The ORM-D regulations for flamible stuff are often disputed when brought up, but I decided it was okay to mail the canisters when I looked into it. There was a size limitation, but I don't recall what the deal was. I only wanted to mail small canisters so It wasn't something that concerned me much.
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Old 09-14-22, 07:51 AM
  #8  
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Here's a pretty good comparison from a hiking friend of mine.

Most of my touring and backcountry travel is stoveless, an option covered well in the link above. I still have several soda can stoves and an old Trangia, and use them once a year or so. Since that's mainly on winter trips, fire bans are not a concern. My old Whisperlite (neither of which is true) hasn't seen duty in decades.
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Old 09-14-22, 08:07 AM
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as you have surmised by the answers the conclusion is there is no 1 type of stove that is ideal for the trip because it depends on WHERE you are going and what the CONDITIONS of the destination are.

Alcohol or tablet stoves are not great in the winter at all (way too slow in the cold)
Canister stoves are not great in the winter (no pressure due to cold temperatures)
Wood burner or Alcohol stoves are frowned upon or flat out illegal in locations with forest fire danger
Canisters may not be available in certain countries or areas of the country
Some stoves are much better in high wind locations ... the list goes on and on. You need to assess where you are going and pick the right tool for the job.
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Old 09-14-22, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by JulesCW View Post
[...] riding for several days without fuel in Hokkaido, Japan on one trip because canisters were rare in the region [...]
Yes, not much fun although I assume that you've been able to eat from convenience stores -- which is what we tended to do in Japan

Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
Let us know what you decide and why.
My current thinking is to rely on a canister stove while bringing a Kojin (alcohol) to use if I run out of gas. I came across this remarkable post, comparing several upright canister stoves. They write that the Etek City is the most efficient (i.e. least fuel required to get to a rolling boil). Coincidentally, this is the stove we currently use, because it is one of the least expensive .

So, I'll run a few tests at home in order to get a better grip on autonomy, and will try to improve my "technique" (which was -- turn the heat quite high; not bothering with the wind; and achieving a rolling boil). I plan to run tests to measure how fast the water temperature rises (I read somewhere that half of the fuel was required to move from 90 to 100C / 200-212F) and see what a partial wind screen does to efficiency, I hope to be able to meet my needs (1.5L/day) for 2 weeks or more on a single 8oz / 225g canister. Back of the envelope suggests that this would be possible in ideal conditions and almost certainly doable with a 16oz (450g) canister.

Among the things I want to learn : (1) figuring out how much gas is left in the canister. The float trick is nice, perhaps sufficient, but I'll also try ultra small digital scales (apparently popular among party goers...). Certainly more accurate, probably over doing things. (2) learning more about "warm-enough" / "hot enough". As in: tea shouldn't be prepared with boiling water; oatmeal and ramen are OK with warm water, etc etc. (3) figuring out how to evaluate water temperature. Typical advice is to look for the apparition of small and then larger air bubbles, and other physical changes occurring as the water gets warmer. Imprecise and implies that you open the lid and watch the whole process, which is counter productive and frankly boring / obsessive. There are temperature-sensitive stickers that might work. I'll probably try a cheapo (a few $, displays temperature up to 70C) and based on what I find, consider getting more accurate patches.

Interesting process
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Old 09-14-22, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
...it depends on WHERE you are going and what the CONDITIONS of the destination are...
...and what you want to cook!

A couple of points off the top of my head:
There are campgrounds/regions/times of the year where your stove must have a positive shutoff valve
There are campgrounds/regions/times of the year where it is against the rules/illegal to gather combustibles (sticks, twigs, pine cones...)
The only fuel I'm aware of that you can fly with is hand sanitizer (80%+ alcohol)
There are canisters and then there are canisters and there are adapters


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Old 09-14-22, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
...and what you want to cook!
[...}
The only fuel I'm aware of that you can fly with is hand sanitizer (80%+ alcohol)
I merely boil water. for tea, coffee, oatmeal, ramen and dried chili.

Really appreciate your observation WRT hand sanitizer, which has perhaps become the most widely available fuel Have you tried it in a stove? Worth the trouble?

[EDIT]

Found the following video. Excellent!


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Old 09-14-22, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Really appreciate your observation WRT hand sanitizer, which has perhaps become the most widely available fuel Have you tried it in a stove? Worth the trouble?
Yeah, I have tried it straight out of the bottle in an alcohol (Trangia) stove and it works okay. Not my favorite alcoholic fuel, but because of the pandemic TSA will let you fly with it and it will do until you can buy some yellow HEET/KleanStrip Green/Nu-Flame/FireDragon/GemClear.
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Old 09-14-22, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I merely boil water. for tea, coffee, oatmeal, ramen and dried chili.

Really appreciate your observation WRT hand sanitizer, which has perhaps become the most widely available fuel Have you tried it in a stove? Worth the trouble?


.
It varies widely in what percentage of alcohol it is. I have some that is 90%. It is from a local distillery and I am saving it unopened in case I ever want to fly with it, but suspect that the TSA will still confiscate it due to the high alcohol content. I figure it might pass muster since it is labeled hand sanitizer, but wouldn't 100% count on it. So, I'd be half expection to have to find some yellow Heet at the start of the tour.

Also I always figured that isopropyl was poor due to being 70% (I tried it and it was), but I have seen 90% lately. I'd expect it to burn pretty well. I have not tried it though.
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Old 09-14-22, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Also I always figured that isopropyl was poor due to being 70% (I tried it and it was), but I have seen 90% lately. I'd expect it to burn pretty well. I have not tried it though.
This is also something I'll eventually try. Read somewhere that it burns yellow (cooler, some soot) but works ok.
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Old 09-14-22, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
This is also something I'll eventually try. Read somewhere that it burns yellow (cooler, some soot) but works ok.
That is true of the 70%. In my limited test of it it was something that you could use in a pinch, but a long way from ideal. Not sure about the 90% stuff, but I'd expect it to be better. I think I have might some around (I think the wife bought it). If I get around to it I'll give it a try and report back. I don't have any yellow heet on hand at the moment for a side by side comparison though.
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Old 09-15-22, 07:56 AM
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a couple of quick thoughts
when traveling with an alcohol stove, trangia, sometimes you end up finding only large bottles of some sort of alcohol, 1.5 L or more, but if it whats available, you take it and then decide if you want to carry it all. I mention this more from a weight thing, but sometimes practicality comes into play, ie not knowing how easy it will be to find more , so you carry more than you really need. I've had this happen in France and in some Latin American countries.
Plus, sometimes its just worth the hassle of carrying more, knowing that you won't have to track down a store with it sometime in the future.

Also, sometimes language issues come up and what people answer when you ask can be for quite different alcohol.
Ive used low grade rubbing alcohol sometimes, the 70% stuff, and its more sooty than higher grade stuff. The really good stuff sometimes can only be found in medical supply places, because in some countries high percentage alcohol sales is regulated (use in illegal stuff I guess). For example, in Guatemala City, I went to numerous big pharmacies, but kept being told that higher quality alcohol was only in medical supply places, but my Spanish was good enough to understand this and to get an address for a very controlled place where I went and got a litre of it.

also, if all these questions are about doing your high mountain trip idea, in a lot of developing countries, fuel is often sold at the side of the road in plastic coke bottles etc, gasoline, diesel. Ive bought alcohol like this from asking around and buying it from some lady in a doorway, in a coke bottle, and not really knowing what sort of quality, percentage of alcohol it is, but in a pinch, you take what you can get when you need it.

there used to be a webpage somewhere with different alcohol words in different countries, so look up trangia or alcohol stove fuel terms, or something like that, you should find it.
I can attest that people call various trangia/alcohol burning stove fuels very different names, and paint supply places can be a source also, but it can be tricky with the actual words that are used, so you do have to be careful (from a safety aspect)

so just be careful of wording and what the average Joe Smith will understand and tell you.
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Old 09-15-22, 08:47 AM
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I've always used gas or multifuel stoves since I started backpacking in 1963. For trips from home, I use Coleman fuel. For distant trips especially involving air travel, I use pump gas. Usually one can just take a hose down to ground level and pour what's left in the hose into a small container. When I toured on my motorcycle, I could drain gas out of the tank into a small fuel bottle. I've also poured gas from my fuel bottle into the bike's tank when I was low on gas. A great advantage of gas stoves is the universal availability of fuel, speed of cooking, and general convenience. Svea 123 and Optimus Nova are my faves. The Optimus is a multifuel but I've never burned anything but gas or Coleman fuel in it.

To fly with gas stoves and bottles, one must clean the stove well enough that no odor remains. This eliminates the Svea 123 because it has a wick. A dishwasher works really well for my Optimus. For the fuel bottle, an easy thing is to fill it with vinegar and label it so.

In National Forests and Parks during fire danger, it's illegal to use a stove without a shutoff valve. In any case, I really like having a shutoff valve.
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Old 09-15-22, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've always used gas or multifuel stoves since I started backpacking in 1963. For trips from home, I use Coleman fuel. For distant trips especially involving air travel, I use pump gas. Usually one can just take a hose down to ground level and pour what's left in the hose into a small container. When I toured on my motorcycle, I could drain gas out of the tank into a small fuel bottle. I've also poured gas from my fuel bottle into the bike's tank when I was low on gas. A great advantage of gas stoves is the universal availability of fuel, speed of cooking, and general convenience. Svea 123 and Optimus Nova are my faves. The Optimus is a multifuel but I've never burned anything but gas or Coleman fuel in it.
I've always read and been told that gasoline in the SVEA123 was a no no. I have heard that folks did it, but thought is was an "at your own risk, only in an emefgency" kind of thing. Did you routinely burn pump gas in your 123 with no issues? I am not sure whar was supposed to happed. Flare up into a fireball? Just soot up? Ruin the wick? Clog the jet? More than one of the previous items?

I love my SVEA, but I have never burned gasoline in it. I'd never fly with it for fear that they'd confiscate it. I have a sentimental attachment so, if I fly I take the whisperlite, a canister stove, or an alcohol pop can stove.
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Old 09-15-22, 09:15 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
[...] sometimes you end up finding only large bottles of some sort of alcohol, 1.5 L or more [...]
Yup. And not obvious what to do (ex refill an "official" fuel bottle, strap on top of the other stuff; do you discard excess fuel, how, etc.).

The more info I get, the more I think that, in Ladakh, canister will be the default option (available in several towns due to the popularity of trekking), in addition to a small emergency alcohol stove and hand sanitizer. Or perhaps learning the best way to cook on yak dung which apparently can fuel a backpacking wood stove
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Old 09-15-22, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yup. And not obvious what to do (ex refill an "official" fuel bottle, strap on top of the other stuff; do you discard excess fuel, how, etc.).

The more info I get, the more I think that, in Ladakh, canister will be the default option (available in several towns due to the popularity of trekking), in addition to a small emergency alcohol stove and hand sanitizer. Or perhaps learning the best way to cook on yak dung which apparently can fuel a backpacking wood stove
Ya, I've jammed an oversize flexible-ish France grocery store bought large bottle into a bottle cage after filling my official red MSR bottle, just to take it along, figuring if it leaked it would be better there than in a pannier. I probably left this in a campsite area for others, and at end of trips, I have also given extra fuel to regular people for them to use.
That makes sense about cannisters with trekking popularity, and an alcohol stove as backup seems like a good idea.
Cow dung is burnt in India non? I know someone who grew up in a house where they used peat in the stove, and it apparently has a very particular smell, as I'm sure Yak dung does also !
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Old 09-15-22, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I've always read and been told that gasoline in the SVEA123 was a no no. I have heard that folks did it, but thought is was an "at your own risk, only in an emefgency" kind of thing. Did you routinely burn pump gas in your 123 with no issues? I am not sure whar was supposed to happed. Flare up into a fireball? Just soot up? Ruin the wick? Clog the jet? More than one of the previous items?

I love my SVEA, but I have never burned gasoline in it. I'd never fly with it for fear that they'd confiscate it. I have a sentimental attachment so, if I fly I take the whisperlite, a canister stove, or an alcohol pop can stove.
Quite right. I once filled my Svea with water and they still took it away. Kept if for me until I returned to the same airport, so I did get it back.

I used pump gas in my Svea for a couple years when I was in Europe. Worked fine, with a caveat. I think it's possible that burning pump gas can overheat the stove and cause the pressure relief valve to function properly, meaning a jet of flame erupts from same. Quite impressive. Not turning the stove all the way up is the trick - that only happened once, in Turkey. I threw water on the stove, cooled it right down. That was the only issue. A few years ago, I polished it up and it now sits on a display shelf along with other revered items. A friend keeps a fresh flower in hers.

I have a Sigg Tourist cook kit - https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...t&_sacat=16034 - which I bought at Sporthaus Schuster in 1967. My wife and I use it to make home-cooked level meals when backpacking or touring. While built for the Svea, it works fine with our Optimus. We're in no great hurry. We even wrote a cookbook based on its use.
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Old 09-15-22, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I used pump gas in my Svea for a couple years when I was in Europe. Worked fine, with a caveat. I think it's possible that burning pump gas can overheat the stove and cause the pressure relief valve to function properly, meaning a jet of flame erupts from same. Quite impressive.
I bet that adds a little excitement to the trip!
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Old 09-15-22, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Ya, I've jammed an oversize flexible-ish France grocery store bought large bottle into a bottle cage after filling my official red MSR bottle, just to take it along, figuring if it leaked it would be better there than in a pannier.
FWIW, MSR says their regular fuel bottles will be damaged by putting alcohol in them. I have carried it in the bottles that bottled water came in. There is the danger that someone might drink it though. I drew big skull and cross bones on them. You could additionally ugly them up with duct tape or something. I tend to keep mine in my baggage so I am the only one I have to worry about drinking it. I find the lids secure enough that I don't worry about a spill. I do tend to put it with something other than my down sleeping bag though.

Actually 99% of the time on tour I just used yellow heet in the original bottles. At one point I did have a gallon of alcohol that I used for backpacking in bottled water bottles.I think I also used it for some tours that I drove to.
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Old 09-15-22, 03:36 PM
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Thats really curious about alcohol in msr bottles, they are aluminum, so that surprises me. I will look into it though.

and yes, there are real dangers using soft drink bottles or anything 'drink" looking, I was the only one using it, but still was concerned and did mark it like crazy.
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