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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A different kind of review

Today’s product isn’t technically a horse or endurance product, but we could make broad assumptions such as:
  • When you are at ride camp you cook food
  • Hot food is better than cold food
  • Thus, you must have a stove of some sort
  • True, you might have a standard camp stove that uses the ubiquitous green propane bottles, or even fancy butane stove – BUT you might use your backpacking stove. Because, like, carrying 20% of your body weight around the hill side is almost EXACTLY like asking your HORSE to carry 20% of HER body weight around the hill side – thus backpacking and endurance riding are basically the same thing.
  • Thus – you have a backpacking stove
  • And so, you will use backpacking fuel.

See how easy that was? Time for more assumptions

Whew! That was a lot of work. But as you can see, a review of fuel canisters, such as this one, will be EXTREMELY useful .

I went on a backpacking trip last weekend. It was very cold. It was very important that I eat very hot food. *nods vigorously*

I’ve owned the raptor stove for 2 ½ years and used name brand fuel canisters – brunton, snowpeak etc. I’ve never had an issue heating water efficiently and quickly in a range of different temperatures. The downside? This stuff is pricey. My mother told me that Walmart carried a fuel canister that was the same thing. I was skeptical, but it was Coleman branded, a brand that I trust (at least until recently, as this is not the first coleman product I’ve been disappointed by recently). If I could get 2x the fuel for ½ the price – it seemed like a risk worth taking.

Fast forward to the first night on the trail. I was frusterated. I had to keep retightening the stove on the canister, and no matter what I did, the flame was not as hot as I was used to, and it was taking FOREVER to boil water. At least twice as long. It was difficult to say for sure though. Mom pointed out that when she was researching stoves, many reviews of the raptor mentioned you had to overtighten the canister onto the stove. I wasn’t convinced – my stove performance was different enough to make me a bit suspicious.

Last night I whipped out the stove and 2 canisters – the walmart/coleman and the brunton for a head-to-heat test. Both canisters were half empty. I boiled water in the pot to make sure neither canister had an advantage of a hot pot to start. I premeasured water from the same tap at the same time.

Ready, set, go.

Kind of.

The Coleman canister was up first and I had to re-tighten 4 or 5 times before even getting the gas to flow through the stove for ignition. It was even worse than when on the trail. Perhaps you have to screw the stove on tighter and tighter and tighter as the fuel canister is used? Finally I was able to start the test. Time didn’t start until the post of water was on the flame. Result? 4 ½ minutes to boil 2 cups of water. I redid the test. 5 ½ minutes to boil water.

Next up was the Bruton canister. I tightened, but did not over –tightened. Voila! It worked. Put the pot on…..and didn’t have to wait very long. 3 ½ minutes to boil water. Redid the test. Just under 3 minutes.

A clear difference between the canisters.

For when it really matters (for example – a backpacking trip in January) I will be reaching for a name brand canister. It doesn’t matter if the canister is half the cost, if it takes 2x the fuel to boil water. Not to mention the extra weight of carrying that extra fuel.

There’s a couple of reasons why the canisters could have performed differently. I would love to know the “real” answer, so if you know, please speak up! These are all guesses -

  • The mix is different. Bruton publishes their mix, but I couldn’t find Coleman’s stated mixure for their canister.
  • The connection or consistency of the connection is different. Why do you have to over tighten the stove on the coleman and not of the bruton or snowpeak canisters? It makes me wonder whether the reviewers of the raptor stove were using cheap fuel and that’s why they were having trouble? Maybe some stoves can handle the cheaper fuel better than others.

I will not be taking something as important as fuel for granted for future tests. If I switch to a brand I haven’t used before, I will be taking the time to do a boil test pre-trip!

1 comment:

  1. To increase the "scientificacy" (I just made up that word!), you might want to try a few more examples of each type of canister, just in case you got a lemon.

    Of course (this would be MY sticking point) that would entail buying a bunch more canisters. Theoretically, you would use them all eventually, but what if the Coleman really turns out to be sucky? I've already explored the return procedure at Walmart ("baaaaaaaaaaad experience") so you probably want to avoid that!


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