If you plan on winter camping or backpacking, you should get yourself a liquid fuel stove that burns petroleum distillates like white gas or kerosene instead of a canister-based stove that burns isobutane fuel. Isobutane fuel will only burn at temperatures of 10-15 degree F or above, and does not generate enough heat to melt snow which is necessary for making drinking water in winter or at high altitudes. Liquid fuel is also more readily available internationally.
Liquid fuel stoves consist of a tank to hold the fuel, a pump to create pressure in the tank so the fuel will flow out through the fuel line, a valve to control fuel flow, and a burner where the gas mixes with air and burns. Some stoves such as the Brunton AF can burn isobutane in canisters as well as liquid fuels but are priced at a premium and weigh far more than a canister-based stove.
All liquid fuel stoves burn a fuel called white gas. White gas is a very pure form of gasoline that does not contain any additives. Many liquid fuel stoves, particularly those intended for international (non-North American) use, also burn other dirtier forms of gasoline including kerosene, diesel, unleaded auto fuel, or jet fuel that are more readily available in places that do not stock specialized camping stove fuels. These other fuels share the high heat output and low temperature properties of white gas, but may clog your stove and increase the frequency in which you have to clean it. White gas is also self-priming, whereas other fuels such as kerosene require that you bring a second more volatile fuel such as primer paste or alcohol to prime them.
Some liquid stove manufacturers recommend that you use proprietary white gas formulations with their stoves such as Coleman Fuel, Optimus Artic Fuel, or MSR Superfuel. These are all branded variants of white gas.
There are quite a few liquid fuel stoves on the market. I’ve listed all the ones I could find below in a sortable table, including their weight (includes stove and pump, but not fuel bottle), the fuels they burn and their MSRP.
Some of these stoves provide simmering capabilities. It is arguable that this is an unnecessary feature if you will just be using your stove to melt snow or boil water. If you plan on using your stove in the US or Canada, it is probably not necessary to pay a premium for the ability to burn fuels other than white gas. However, if you are traveling internationally, make sure to purchase a stove that lets you burn other fuels such as kerosene which are readily available in other parts of the world.
|MSR XGX EX||13.2||Y||Y||Y||$149.95|
|MSR Whisperlite Intl.||11.5||Y||Y||$79.95|
|Coleman Feather 442||24.0||Y||$64.95|
|Brunton Vapor AF||16.0||Y||Y||Y||Y||$179.95|
oz: Weight, including includes stove and pump, but not fuel bottle
WG: White gas
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