Recently, I’ve been preparing for a seven-day two-person canoe trip by reorganizing my cooking gear. I’ve settled on taking a Penny Stove, made from beer cans, but what if I wanted to use a canister stove? There are lots of reasons to bring a canister stove, but I find the most compelling reason is its ability to easily control the flame. Least compelling for me is having to use a non-renewable energy source. Still, from a weight perspective a canister stove makes good sense.
My favorite lightweight canister stove is MSR’s Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove. Its simply and light design has few moving parts to break, and it packs up into a small container. If I were to revise my gear list for the trip to account for a change in stoves, it’d look like this:
Cooking Gear Weight
- 5.8 oz. – Snow Peak 34-fl.oz. Titanium Pot and lid
- 3.1 oz. – MSR Pocket Rocket
- 0.4 oz. – Light My Fire Sporks (0.2 oz. each)
- 6.4 oz. – Empty Jetboil fuel canister (need two – 3.2 oz. each)
- 15.7 oz. – Total without fuel
- 7 oz. – Jetboil propane/isobutane four-season blend (35 boils – 14 meals)
In my test of stove performance, the MSR canister stove boiled 16 ounces in 3:36 minutes. It used 0.2 oz. of fuel. So, I could get 17.5 boils out of a canister. It takes 12 oz. of alcohol on the Penny Stove to achieve about the same number of boils. But, there’s a catch. The Penny Stove requires 0.75 oz. of fuel to bring the same amount to a boil, and then it continues to burn for about another minute. If you drop the simmer ring onto the stove, it simmers for about another 5 minutes. This gives a cook time of around 8 minutes or about the right amount of time to cook a Knorr Lipton Dinners. For the MSR canister stove to achieve the same boil time, it must use 0.5 oz. of fuel, which drops the number of meals in a canister to 7. So, it looks like I need two canisters for the seven-day trip. Note: Breakfast usually requires just a boil for oatmeal, so I could probably get by with 1.5 canisters, but you can’t buy them that way.
I like a cook system to fit into the largest pot I’m carrying. A small Jetboil canister fits into my pot and leaves enough room for the stove. A cup can’t fit into the pot, like it can with the Penny Stove. A larger fuel canister takes up too much room and doesn’t allow the stove to fit in the pot. So, if I take the MSR, I have to find another place to stash the second canister–not a big deal in a Duluth pack.
The MSR system with fuel for this 7 day trip for two weighs in at 22.7 oz. The Penny Stove system weighs in at 21.2 oz. The lightweight Penny Stove ends up weighing less by 1.5 oz. By using a Penny Stove, I gain convenience in storage, but lose convenience in flame control, and I use a more sustainable energy source. As I continue to use fuel with the alcohol stove, my system becomes increasingly lighter. By the last day of the trip, it’ll be about 6.5 oz. lighter. Not a bad breakdown.