Winter Liquid Fuel Bottle Insulation Hack
In cold weather, the temperature of white gas, or liquid fuel as it is also known, can dip below freezing (0 centigrade) but still remain in liquid form. If it touches your skin, it will evaporate immediately, causing frostnip or frostbite. In fact, simply touching a full but uninsulated MSR Fuel Bottle with the bare skin of your hand in sub-zero temperatures can cause a cold injury.
To prevent the latter, I wrap all of my fuel bottles with a few layers of duct tape to insulate them and protect my hands. Some Appalachian Mountain Club leader taught me this and I’ve done it ever since. It works.
To protect my hands from direct contact with stove fuel (I use MSR Superfuel), I am very careful when I unscrew my liquid fuel bottle and insert my MSR Whisperlite stove fuel pump into it, being careful to screw it down firmly. In cold weather, I can do this while wearing a thin pair of gloves.
The key to doing it safely is to carefully set up all of your gear on stable surfaces before you assemble your stove and to pay close attention to what you are doing. It’s really an easy skill to master, even if you just do it a few times a year.
You need to be equally careful when you disassemble your stove because the outside of the pump will probably be wet with fuel or contain some residual liquid. This should evaporate quickly when exposed to air, but you still need to be careful when handling it.
Despite its more persnickety nature, white gas is the stove fuel of choice for winter and international use. White gas is the most powerful cold weather fuel available and great for snow melting, it will burn in temperatures as cold as to -40F making it much more reliable than canister stoves, and it doesn’t create landfill waste because the fuel bottles are reusable. You just need to be more careful with it, because you’re in direct contact with the fuel.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and some sellers may contribute a small portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
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