Backpacking Stove Fuel Use, Part 2

After my Grand Canyon trip, I took a somewhat-controlled look at how much fuel is used for a typical alcohol stove. The post is here.

After Troop 15 got back from our trip to Colorado, I collected all of the leftover fuel canisters except for one, and weighed them.

For scale, I am talking about these size alcohol/propane fuel canisters:

primus_8oz

First, I had one truly empty can. I had thought an empty canister would be around 130 grams, turns out the actual functional weight is around 160.

When I tested these in my kitchen, I found that taking a pot (five cups) of water from tap to boiling consumed about 10 grams of fuel.  I derated this for altitude and slightly colder stream water to 15 grams on the trail.  Of course, I couldn’t control for the amount of water boiled up there.  We were on the trail for six days, which means that we had 10 opportunities to boil water for breakfast and/or dinner, for a total of 17 people.  One confounding factor is that some people (I think about five) brought their own stoves and fuel.  Regardless, here are the results.

For seven brand new canisters (using 15 grams of fuel per pot), three of the canisters showed a total of 10 meals were cooked, which is right on what was predicted; each of those still had five meals left.  The other four showed a total of five meals cooked, which looks a lot like just dinner or just breakfast, so that’s pretty good as well.

I had also brought four partially used canisters.  My thought had been that just in case all eight of the brand new canisters were used up, we could use the partials to complete the trip.  Two of the canisters had 300 and 260 grams of fuel, and were completely empty, so they had prepared 20 and 17 or so meals each, which seems a little high.  The other two were… completely unused for this trip.

I mentioned about that several of the crew had brought their own stove and fuel, mainly JetBoils.  That lessened the impact on the larger canisters somewhat.

What does all this mean?  Well, the first thing is that I brought too much fuel, again, but it’s getting better.  Four of the canisters (out of 12) were essentially unused.  Even accounting for personal stoves and fuel, that’s a lot of extra weight to carry.

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