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Monday, November 28, 2011

Which is Better?

 Happy Christmas time everyone.  I think that is how we are supposed to say it.  People tell me we are only supposed to anounce one holiday at a time when talking to friends.  I am always told that "Happy Hollidays" is offensive because I took Christ out of the saying and I am also lumping together Christ's birthday with other days of celebration and that is wrong.  So I just tell people Happy Christmas time and not be offensive to anyone.  Of course this is just a fun little soap box I am on.  No matter what the holiday, diabetes rules the day.
 One of the greatest eternal debates in the backpacking and hiking community is which fuel is better?  Liquid fuel or canister gas fuel.  So liquid fuel has been around the longest, probably since early fuel was ever used to cook on.  The most common name for this is "Coleman Fuel" or "White Gas."  This fuel is lower on octane than pump gasoline and it also does not have the additives pump gasoline has.  Now, the argument for liquid gas is that it is cheaper than canister gas, it is easier to store than canister gas, and you know how much you have with liquid gas.  In a canister you have to go by weight and I am unaware of anybody that brings a scale on a backpacking trip.  The down side to liquid gas is that it is heavy, can leak and create a nice odor on all your gear, and it boils water slower than canisters do.  Personally I am a proponent of liquid gas.  I feel it is just more reliable.  Now my reliability factor is based on a stove my father had when I was growing up that ran on butane canisters and it just leaked and the flame was spotty most of the time.  That was my first experience with canister stoves.
 One of the most widely used liquid gas backpacking stoves is the Coleman 508.  The 508 has been around probably since the early 80's and is now still sold at Coleman as the 533 dual fuel stove.  The 508 is probably one of my favorite stoves because of its durability.  I used these same stoves as a kid and they are built like a tank.  Then if you do break something on your stove, all the parts can be replaced.  The stove in these pictures I picked up at a local pawn shop recently for ten bucks.  Pawn shops are great to search once every month or so for camping equipment because people bring in lots of camping equipment to sell.  The shop gets the gear at low prices for shelf filler pieces and they wheel and deal on them to any person willing to buy.
 Now all of this comparison I do is relative to my use of different stoves.  My canister stove use has been limited to the stove I mentioned earlier and old MSR windpro that leaked gas, and I felt was horrible in the wind (this was before the wind shields), and last it was hard to find a flat place to cook with it.  That of course is the past and MSR is a quality product then and now.  I just had a lemon and have felt burnt ever since.  The other canister I had was the one mentioned earlier and that was a pile of dog doo to say the least.  It was not a name I can even remember and just was plain old junk.
 Recently people I have backpacked with purchased the Jet Boil system and it really did impress me with their pots that lock to the stove and how the heat exchangers work.  The Jet Boil system really seemed like something I would like to see in action again.  The Jet Boil system uses the isobutane/propane canisters.
 The biggest thing about the Coleman 508 that puts it leaps and bounds above all other single burner stoves and backpacking stoves is its ability to control the heat and flame.  My friend Paul is an artist at making coffee and he uses his Coleman 533 with a peculator coffee pot.  The 533 can simmer, boil, and heat food all with the switch of the two levers.  That makes this stove the perfect backpacking and general stove on the market.
There are lots of other stoves that boil water faster and are lighter but none other has the ease of getting replacement parts and its versatility than the classic Coleman 508 or the exact replacement 533.

1 comment:

  1. The MSR Simmerlite competes with the Coleman 508/533. Liquid fuel, easy maintenance, easy to find replacement parts, and flame control.