So, what are the tricks to getting good fuel economy stove? Are some stoves more fuel efficient than others? Herein, I address this and more. Read on, dear reader, read on.
|A Kovea Supalite is an example of an upright canister stove.|
Note the use of a heat exchanger pot.
|An uber cheap stove from Amazon.|
Is it fuel efficient? Who knows.
1. Stoves combined with a heat exchanger. For example, a Jetboil. A Jetboil will use less fuel than a "conventional" stove (all else being equal).
|An MSR Windboiler uses a heat exchanger pot to achieve high levels of efficiency.|
|A Caldera Cone type set up for alcohol or ESBIT is efficient by design.|
Efficiency must be designed in for alcohol and ESBIT stove systems.
The set up in this photo is a Ti-Tri Sidewinder from Trail Designs.
- Turn it down. High heat = inefficient. This is the number one mistake of new stove users – they open the valve 100% (i.e. maximum), which is the absolute last thing that you want to do if you want to be efficient. Running your stove at say 30% of max will be far more efficient. Lower heat = more efficient. Of course it's going to take a bit longer when you turn down the heat. Here's where you'll want to experiment. You need to find the balance between speed and efficiency that works for you.
- Pick a sheltered spot. On top of a rock or picnic table might be convenient, but it's going to be windier up there. Set up your stove on the ground behind a rock or log. On a windy day, this is absolutely the most important thing to address in terms of efficiency, far more important than turning down the stove.
- Use a windscreen. Yes, even on an upright type canister stove (like a Pocket Rocket), just not a full 360 degree windscreen. If you use a (partial!) windscreen with an upright canister stove, be careful to check the canister frequently with your hand. If it feels hot, take immediate steps to cool things down. See Canister Stoves and Wind before you use a windscreen on a canister stove.
In general windscreens add to efficiency in two ways. They a) prevent wind from blowing away the heat and b) focus the heat on the pot. Because a windscreen focuses heat, it's always good to use a windscreen even on a day where it isn't particularly windy.
- Use a lid. A tight fitting lid without a strainer or other openings is best. Escaping steam = escaping heat = inefficient.
- Use a wider pot. Tall, skinny pots wind up having flames go up the sides, wasting heat. A wide, squat pot catches that heat better.
- Use a heat exchanger pot. Now, you will save fuel with a heat exchanger (e.g. MSR Reactor, Jetboil Flash, etc), but usually the heat exchanger weighs more than the weight of the fuel you save. In other words, using a heat exchanger is typically heavier overall. However, if on a trip you prevent having to carry a larger or second canister, a heat exchanger can actually save you weight. See Can a Jetboil Save Weight? for specific examples and a full discussion.
- Use a darker colored pot. This is pretty minor compared to the others, but a darker colored pot will absorb more heat than a shiny reflective one.
|A windscreen makes any stove more fuel efficient.|
Featured in this photo: A Bobcat system from Flat Cat Gear.
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