If you are heading out into the backcountry for a lengthy camping trip, you will likely want food beyond just protein bars and energy chews. Packing a camp stove can provide you with a way to cook meals and warm liquids.
Be sure to watch the videos included in this post for real-life tests of MSR fuel.
How long will MSR fuel last? An 8oz or 227g fuel bottle is pretty common. Depending on your stoves specifications, this fuel could last for a burn time of one to three hours. A smaller 3.9oz or 110g fuel bottle will have a shorter burn time of 1.5 hours to half an hour. A larger 16oz or 450g fuel bottle will have a likely burn time of three to six hours.
Pack too much fuel and you will be stuck hauling more weight than necessary, too little and you will be stuck eating ready to eat meals. How much MSR fuel you need to pack depends on how long your trip is and how long the amount of fuel in your tank or canister will last.
This article will discuss how long MSR fuel lasts for a 3.9oz 110g tank, an 8oz 227g tank, and a 16oz 450g tank. Also, what MSR fuel is composed of, its properties, and tips for making fuel last longer.
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How Much MSR Fuel Should I Pack?
In order to determine how much MSR fuel is required, you will need to analyze a few factors regarding your trip. You should think about the duration of your trip, the location and predicted conditions, the number of people camping with you, their meal preferences and the number of meals.
If some members of your group don’t mind a cold breakfast, lunch, or dinner, then you will not need to take as much fuel. One aspect that most people partake in is a morning cup of coffee, this will definitely cut into your fuel consumption.
The location and expected conditions can affect fuel usage. If it is windy or cold, you may find yourself consuming a greater amount of fuel.
If it is particularly windy, an open flame burner will have to work harder and use more fuel. The same goes for conditions that are cold or at high altitudes. In cold conditions, food and water will take longer to heat. High altitude results in food cooking much slower, using more fuel.
In warmer conditions, you can expect the water temperature to be warmer. This means that it will require less time and fuel to get your water to boiling.
Meals that include components necessitating only boiled water will help you to conserve fuel. If you plan to cook many different items, especially meats, in order to prepare a gourmet spread, you should plan on using a large amount of fuel.
How to Calculate Fuel Needs
MSR liquid fuel stoves using white gas can boil anywhere from 1.3L to 1.6L of water per ounce of fuel. Any meal not requiring boiled water should still be counted as a liter as the stove burning requirements are likely nearly the same.
As previously mentioned, you should plan meals for your camping trip for each member of your party. It can be helpful to list out each meal for each day, the contents of the meal, and the required water in liters. You can then add up the numbers to get an idea of the total amount of fuel required.
Your stove will probably include specifications that can assist you with this. It should tell you “boil time”, or how fast a given amount of water can be brought to a boil (in near perfect conditions). For example, considering the MSR dragonfly using white gas, 1 liter in 3.9 minutes.
And it should tell you burn time, how long a stove can run on a given amount of fuel. For example, 126 minutes on 120 ounces of fuel. It may list a couple of burn time specifications, dependent on the types of fuel you plan to use and that the stove can safely accommodate.
Most stoves should list these specifications. If the specifications have worn off or are missing, or if you even want to be absolutely sure about them, feel free to perform a trial run at home.
Using your meal plan chart that lists the total amount of water required in liters, multiply that sum by the boil time. The result will be the total number of minutes required to boil water for all of your meals.
For example, if you will need 3.5 liters of water (total) x 3.9 minutes (your stoves specific boil time) = 13.65 (the total amount of time to boil all of the water needed for your trip).
Now, you need to know what percentage this is of your stoves total burn time. Divide the total boil time from your trip by your stoves burn time specifications to result in the percentage.
For example, 13.65 (your total water boil time) / 126 (your stoves burn time specifications) = 10%.
Finally, use the percentage to determine how much fuel you will need to boil your total amount of water in conjunction with the burn time specifications. To find this out, multiply the percentage by the total fuel from the burn time specifications.
Continuing with our example, 10% (the percentage of fuel required from the total burn time) x 120 ounces (total fuel from burn time specifications) = 12 ounces or 340 grams.
Therefore, to boil 3.5 liters of water over the duration of your trip, you will need 12 ounces of fuel. Keep in mind, this fuel amount is when using your stove in ideal conditions. If you know the weather will be particularly cold or windy, or you will be camping at high altitudes, you should expect to use more fuel.
It is also important to remember that it is always better to go home with excess fuel than it is to run out of fuel during the camping trip. You should pack enough to cover your usage and hope to have some extra fuel to spare.
How much water can an 8oz MSR canister boil (Video)
How Long will My Fuel Canister Last?
This depends on your particular stove and its burn and boil specifications.
An 8oz or 227g fuel bottle is pretty common. Depending on your stoves specifications, this fuel could last for a burn time of three hours to one hour.
A smaller 3.9oz or 110g fuel bottle will have a shorter burn time of 1.5 hours to half an hour.
A larger 16oz or 450g fuel bottle will have a likely burn time of six hours to two hours.
Again, all of this is dependent on your stoves specifications and the conditions in which you will be camping. It can be very helpful to calculate your boil time at home before your trip to get a better idea of how much fuel you will need to boil your total amount of water over the duration of your trip.
The way in which your fuel canister is used will greatly affect its lifespan. Even though you may find your 8oz canister or fuel bottle lasts three hours in one circumstance, under other conditions it might only last an hour. Once you know the typical lifespan you can weigh any partially used canisters to figure out their fuel duration.
How many meals can an MSR canister make (video)
How to Make Your Fuel Canister Last Longer
There are a few tips and tricks to extend the life of your fuel bottles and canisters.
Don’t let your canister get too cold. Warm your canister before you start cooking by keeping it in an insulated jacket or sleeping bag. If you have more than one canister you can keep one warm while using the other, as the one in use cools, swap it out for the warm canister.
Don’t light your stove until you are ready. Prepare all of your cookware and food items prior to lighting your stove. You don’t want your cookstove idly using fuel while you are still getting set up.
Build a wind barrier. If it is particularly gusty where you are camping, try to build a wind barrier to keep your flame from having to work hard. Don’t build it too close and try not to use highly flammable materials. Be warned, some stoves do not play well with wind barriers as they increase the potential for an explosion.
Keep your canister from the ground. Placing an insulative material that is non-flammable between your canister and the ground will keep it warm and able to readily supply fuel.
Don’t feel that you have to boil everything. Honestly, not many people can or will want to drink boiling water. If you are making tea, hot chocolate, or other warm drinks you likely won’t have to wait for the water to come to a rolling boil. If you are cooking meat or other food products they may require boiling to maintain food safety.
Maintain your stove. Be sure to follow all steps and instructions to properly maintain your stove, fuel bottles, and fuel canisters. A clean and well-maintained stove will work better and require less effort from your fuel source.
By planning ahead, considering the conditions, and taking care of your camping stove you will be able to hopefully use only as much fuel is necessary. Fuel can be heavy so you don’t want to have to carry more than you need, however, you most certainly don’t want to run out halfway through your trip.
So How Much Fuel Will I Really Need?
How much fuel you need and how long your fuel canister and bottles last depends on a variety of factors and conditions. It is always important to consult your stove specifications to determine how much fuel you should pack.
You will also want to do a fair amount of planning. Determine your location (altitude), expected weather conditions, meals, number of people in your group, and calculations for total water needed, and total water boil time.
Follow the maintenance and care instructions for your camp stove and give it a trial run at home. You can bring a variety of full bottle and canister sizes in order to more closely match your fuel requirements. Remember, unless you want to resort to eating granola bars and cold food items, always be sure to pack a little more than enough fuel.
What is MSR and MSR Fuel?
MSR stands for Mountain Safety Research, and the company produces and sells a wide variety of camping and hiking gear as well as mountaineering equipment. One of their most notable products is portable camping stoves.
Portable stoves are a beneficial camping accessory. They can be used to cook meals and warm liquids such as your morning coffee. Camping stoves come in many different types and styles. MSR produces canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves involve a tank, a pump, and a burner. The fuel tank burns white gas, a highly refined form of gas from which all impurities have been removed. White gas is readily available and can burn in frigid conditions.
What is White Gas?
White gas is also known as naphtha,100% light hydro-treated distillate, or Coleman Fuel. White gas remains popular for most campers in the United States; weekend warriors and certainly those going on long or cold temperature trips.
White gas is one of the cleanest burning gases as most impurities have been removed and it contains no additives. White gas also burns or vaporizes at a low temperature, this means that starting your stove will be simpler, and using your stove will be less smelly and require less cleanup.
Due to the gas’s cleanliness, if you do have a spill there should not be that much of an odor or nasty residue. White gas should not clog your fuel lines and requires only a minor amount of maintenance.
One characteristic of white gas to be wary of is its lifespan. Once white gas comes into contact with the air, it will begin to degrade. Therefore, it can be beneficial to purchase smaller containers if you plan on storing your camping stove between trips.
Characteristics of Liquid Fuel Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves burn clean and hot on the less expensive white gas. Another advantage is that they can be used on unstable ground and perform well in versatile conditions. If you plan on camping abroad it will be easier to find fuel for your liquid fuel stove than canister gas.
Liquid fuel stoves operate with an attached fuel bottle, as previously mentioned. The amount of gas you have left will not be a mystery because you can look into the fuel bottle to see what remains. However, you must purchase and discard fuel bottles, they cannot be reused.
Though there are quite a few positives to liquid fuel stoves, there are some drawbacks. These stoves are usually a bit heavier and bulkier to carry. Additionally, each time the stove must be primed and maintenance must be kept up in between uses.
In order to prime your stove, you need to assist the burner in converting the liquid fuel into a flammable vapor. In order to do this, you must place a few drops of the liquid fuel into a cup below the burner, this will create a flame that in turn preheats the fuel line. The fuel bottle will also need an increase in pressure facilitated by pumping the bottle.
Liquid fuel stoves are often an optimal choice for those going on international camping trips due to the gas’s availability and the stoves versatility to burn other types of gas. Those going on long camping trips will also prefer liquid fuel stoves because of the ease of seeing how much fuel remains.
MSR Canister Stoves
MSR also manufactures canister stoves. Canister stoves consist of a burner that attaches to a closed fuel canister by screwing onto the threaded neck. The canisters house two gases, propane, and isobutane, that are pressurized.
There are fewer components to canister stoves, making them compact and lightweight. Canister stoves do not require priming, unlike liquid fuel stoves. To begin cooking on your stove you simply need to light the burner with a match or lighter after opening the valve.
Canisters stoves are adept at simmering as the flame can be adjusted with the valve. The omission of parts also means that you are less likely to have unwanted spills; canister stoves are typically self-sealing once the burner is removed.
Canister stoves are also extremely low maintenance. These stoves are a trooper and can stand up to repeated camping use for decades.
There are a few drawbacks to canister stoves. The fuel that they run on is not as readily available in other countries unlike the prevalence of the white gas used by liquid fuel stoves. Canister fuel is also usually more expensive.
Canister stoves are also limited in the pot size that they can hold in balance. Sometimes, the burner arms are not long enough to adequately support large cookware.
Canister stoves cannot outperform liquid fuel stoves on cold conditions. As the temperature drops so does the strength of the flame. At temperatures below zero, the canister stove will typically quit functioning altogether.
It is also easy to unexpectedly run out of fuel when using a canister stove. You cannot see inside the canister so it can be difficult to determine how much fuel you have left. Therefore, it might be a good idea to carry a small extra canister.
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