Experts pick their most trusted stove.

Discussion in 'Other' started by Doc Mark, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Greetings, Mates,

    Back in the June/July, 1981 issue of Backpacker Magazine, as a complement to an article by Ray Smutek entitled "The World's Best Backpacking Stoves", this two page bit appeared. It featured very well-known and experienced folks, who were asked which stove they trusted the most, if they had to choose just one. You may find it interesting that, all these years later, their findings have just been proved out and bolstered, time and time again!! Their favorite choices still serve many of us today, which I think is a testament to their experienced choices back in 1981!!

    Here's what they each choose as their favorite stove:

    1378247913-Experts_on_stoves1.jpg

    1378247942-Experts_on_stoves2.jpg

    So, what say you, Fellow Stovies? As for me, aside from the Bleuet, which I hesitate to trust for more than weekend trips, and only with a backup stove, I think all the selections made by those famous experts from the 1981 era, remain valid and true, to this very day!! Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
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  2. Nordicthug

    Nordicthug R.I.P.

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    My favorite as always is the 123 nonR in a Sigg Tourist Cooker, accompanied by a Bleuet 206 with a spare fuel canister, windscreen and folding feet. In more than 45 years I've yet to have a hint of a problem with either one.

    They are roughly analagous to a dinner fork. You pick it up and it works.

    Gerry
     
  3. cazna

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    No mention of any meths burners? Wonder why? Maybe too slow but really they are the only foolproof stove.
     
  4. idahostoveguy

    idahostoveguy R.I.P.

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    Yep, Optimus 111 & 111B & 00, MSRG/K, Svea 123, etc. are in my collection. Very trustworthy stoves. Haven't had any of these types fail on me, the 123 especially.

    I thought it was interesting that Ms. Blum mentioned a starter on her Optimus 111. I'm assuming it to be a starter like the Petromax lanterns. Seems I've seen one of these devices before on a military version the 111 before.

    sam
     
  5. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Evening, Sam,

    I was thinking she might have added the sparker that was mentioned in the Off Belay booklet, "Stoves for Mountaineering. On the last two pages, you will find "A Useful Widget", which describes how to add it to various stoves, including quite a few of the stoves mentioned by the experts in the Backpacker article I've posted here. Rob posted that booklet here on CCS, or if you don't have one, I'd be happy to send you one. He shared the original with me, many years go, and I had copies made, a few of which I still have. Let me know if you want one, and I'll post it into the Post. Still at the same address, I assume? Of course, I could be wrong about which "starter" Arlene Blum meant...... Maybe I should try to track her down, and ask her. OK, I will! More later, if I'm successful. Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Mark

    P.S. Good fortune has smiled upon me tonight, as I found Arlene Blum, already, and have sent her a note on her web page, asking for info on her stove and it's "built-in starter". I also gave her the name of this site, and hopefully, she will post something here. If she does contact me, which I very much hope she does, I will also encourage her to share her stove experiences on Annapurna, and other adventures, right here at CCS. I'll keep everyone posted as to how it turns out!
     
  6. idahostoveguy

    idahostoveguy R.I.P.

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    That would be really awesome, Mark, to have one of the legends share something with us. A few of those guys have books out that I've recently read, like the guy from REI, Jim Whittaker, and John Roskelley. It would be a really nice treat to have anybody on the article you posted answer, even if it was just to you.

    Hopefully, something cool happens!

    Take care,
    sam
     
  7. Murph

    Murph United States Subscriber

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    I've mounted one of those spark lighters on a 8R, Coleman 502, M1950, Coleman 530, and a Primus 2260 Grasshopper, and IMO, it's the most useful device to be attached to a stove ever! :thumbup: :thumbup:

    Murph
     
  8. Matukat

    Matukat Subscriber

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    Good thread! :thumbup: :thumbup:
     
  9. SMolson

    SMolson Subscriber

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    Thanks for posting, an interesting read. This around the arrival of the Optimus Hiker on the scene, which most likely would have swayed a few of the review-ees. Interesting comment about the Coleman - the very early Peak 1's versions (Model 400/442?) just showing up with the feet but prior to the 550B-749 version (much improved over the 400) from mid 1980's- early 1990's.
    Majority of reviewers were avid climbers and nice for J Chouinard to point out the issue with the waste of the disposable gas canisters. Still a BIG issue today in many areas.
    Cliff Jacobson, noted American canoeist/author had mentioned in one of his expedition books a number of his favorites including the Optimus 111B & Hiker, Coleman Peak 1, Svea 123, Primus Dragonfly & Himalayan and surprisingly the Phoebus 625 for tripping.

    Edit: Why all the implied problems with the 111B? Seems odd to me they'd have to 'repair' them after every trip, I am not aware of such maintenance issues with that model.
     
  10. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Evening, Stephen, and All,

    I think that the 111 mentioned was not the silent Hiker, which came later, but the regular kerosene burning 111. Hopefully, if she responds, Arlene will let me know about that, as well as the sparker/lighter she mentioned in the article.

    As to the reliability of the 111B, I'd say to remember that ANY stove is only as good as the person using it. I see folks mistreat their stoves quite often, actually, and think nothing of it. Then, when the stove finally conks out, they bitterly complain that the stove is a POS, and not worth buying. With care, most all of the mentioned stoves, including the 111, are very dependable, and quite reliable. Look at all the abused Military stoves we see on the surplus market, and then you can see why some folks then their stoves are not reliable. I'd say it's more likely that the USERS were not reliable, nor dependable, at least from the stove's perspective!! ;) ;) :lol: :lol:

    Interesting that you think the 550 stove is an improvement over the Model 400. I have several M400's, and each of them works wonderfully, even the first one I ever got, which was my very first backpacking sized stove. I've done nothing to them, other than feeding them fresh, clean Coleman fuel, and they have never let me down. The 550A was a bit more trouble, and though the 550B is better, I don't consider it more reliable than a good M400, given proper fuel choices. We have used the 550B on a steady diet of water-white, K-1 kerosene, during some of our Sierra trips, and when priming with paste under the generator, they work much better than just pumping and starting, though the burners do begin to show a bit of yellow-tips in the blue, after months of hard use. So, this requires more care than the M400's need, including cleaning the generator, or replacing it. Just my experiences with those stoves, and quite obviously, by the comments of the experts in that article, some have had different experiences with them. The interesting thing is that most all of them still considered those stoves to be the best of the best, period. Works for me.

    Someone asked why no Meths stoves were used, and I'd say it has to do with fuel weight, and slowness of melting snow/ice for hydration. Though those types of stoves work well in the cold, and up high, at least in my experience, they ARE slower, and you have to carry more fuel, which is a serious consideration when mountain climbing. I hope to hear from Arlene Blum in a few days, and will ask more questions, and report back here, if she does not want to do that, herself. But, I, too, think it would be quite magical to have her pay CCS a visit!! I did get to meet, and talk to Jim Whitaker, several times, many years ago, and he even promised to send me a 1942 Mountain stove, back then. I really didn't expect he would do so, but it was very nice of him to make the offer, just the same. He thought that my stove collecting was a wonderful thing, and was quite pleased that I was interested in his thoughts about such things. He is a good man, and has tons of great stories from his climbing days. He would be another one for me to recontact, about possibly stopping by here for a visit, if he felt so inclined. I'll send him a note tomorrow, and see about that. Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  11. SMolson

    SMolson Subscriber

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    Hi Doc - thanks for the reply. I realize they were not referring to the Optimus Hiker, as the first version of it just came out in 1980 I believe. But if it was around and was used when they did their review, I wonder how many would opt for it versus the 111/111B. Although she's more prone to wind issues, she's a better simmerer (imo) and larger, more consistent/controllable flame pattern.
    In regards to the 400 versus 550B - I have both versions and although never a power user of the 400 I find the 550B a better designed stove. We used the 550B-749 on our fish distribution study for 4 months straight in the field (Algonquin Park), never failed us. Lower profile so less tippy, improved leveling adjustment (with the ring), not as prone to rusting + improved wind resistance. We just ran them with Coleman Fuel, nothing else. After that summer I bought my own and used it for 10 years until I upgraded in 2005 with the Exponent. The 400 is a fine stove too (have only used her in controlled conditions), but imo the best of that line was the 550B-725, Coleman Exponent.

    Edit: you are most likely correct on your assessment of the 111B issues, that and a leaking NRV...
     
  12. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Morning, Stephen, and All,

    At 5:18 this morning, I got a short reply from Arlene Blum!! She told me she used a good bit of alcohol, or gasoline, to prime her 111 and get it going. No mention of a sparker, or "built-in starter", so I'm thinking she was originally meaning the entire priming process, rather than an actual "starter". In any case, I've asked her a few more questions, and given her the site address of CCS, with encouragement to check out this site, and possibly share a few of her memories of using that stove with us. She also told me that she thinks that original old 111 is still out in her garage, and she lives not too far from me here in CA. I have offered to fettle her stove back to life, if she so desires it be done, at no charge. I also told her to please check out my reputation here at CCS, if she is interested in my proposal. We'll see what comes of it, but it was very nice to hear from her so very quickly after having sent my original contact note! More info as it comes to hand.... Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  13. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Hi, All,

    In my casting about this morning, I ran across this video about Jim Whittaker. It's well worth watching, and enjoying, over and over again.



    What a grand man, Jim is, and what a fine example to one and all who love the wilderness, and taking care of it for future generations to enjoy. Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  14. jenspetter 123

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    Hi all

    Great post!

    I could not agree more. The 111,00,MSR...123 are truly great stoves. And they will still do their work in the years to come. In my opinion the 123 and the 00 are almost bullitproof. Simple and reliable. Out in the wilderness that`s what counts :)

    Regards

    jenspetter
     
  15. presscall

    presscall United Kingdom SotM Winner SotY Winner Subscriber

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    Fascinating stuff.

    Key to the Bleuet for the mountaineers is the fuelling characteristics of the gaseous fuel at high altitude being altogether better than at sea level.

    The effect of evaporative cooling at low altitudes - creating a tailing-off of performance we're all familiar with - would be more than offset by the enhanced vapour pressure and atmospheric pressure differential at high altitude, making for much livelier performance with no reduction in power during a firing.

    The doc Doc has mentioned - 'Off Belay' - Stoves for Mountaineering - explains this phenomenon in the technical talk at the outset.

    John
     
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  16. Retro Camper

    Retro Camper Subscriber

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    Interesting that the US Outward Bound organisation used petrol fired 111B stoves. In the UK petrol stoves have never been acceptable with youth groups. Outward Bound, schools and others used the paraffin fired 111 for many years (I started my outdoor life using one) before switching to the current trend of meths fired Trangias. Petrol has always been seen as too flammable, mind you meths is too but at least it is a cleaner fuel to work with.
     
  17. anlrolfe

    anlrolfe Subscriber

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    I'll throw in my 2-cents worth with the Primus 71. Pack it in a cook set like the multi-pot Edelweiss or SIGG and you've really got something tougher than a bucket of hammers that packs smaller than a 123.

    AR
     
  18. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Hi, Retro Camper,

    I guess that does seem strange to you, but here in the US, most of us grew up using stoves that burned Coleman fuel. Remember, as far back as the 1920's Coleman was making gasoline stoves, and they were a common household name, beginning back then. Our Dads, and Grandfathers were using Coleman stoves and Coleman fuel when we were all just little sprogs, and to most of us, it was just normal and right for us to use those same stoves and fuel, too, as we got into camping on our own.

    Most of us never even heard of a paraffin stove until much later, and I'd wager that kerosene is still not hugely popular with the regular American campers out there today. Of course, neither is Coleman fuel, to be honest. But, CF is far more popular than kerosene, IMHO. Once I found the joys of using kerosene stoves, I now trust and enjoy using that fuel very much, as do many others of my US Mates here at CCS. Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  19. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark SotM Winner Subscriber

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    Greetings, Friends,

    Arlene got back to me today, and also cc'ed our correspondence to Joel Bown, who accompanied her on the "Endless Winter" trip she did back then. Arlene does not recall, exactly, but thinks they used matches to light their stove. However, Joel chimed in with his own thoughts, and mentions that they actually took TWO Optimus stoves, one a regular kero-burning 111, and the other a Coleman fuel/gasoline-burning 111B. Here is what Joel recalls about using the stoves back then:

    "Hi Arlene and Mark,
    You are pushing old memory buttons, but I do somewhat recall what we used. We bought somewhere, probably in Africa, a small fine screen mesh cup with a handle, sort of like a small strainer you'd use in the kitchen. All we had to do was splash a small amount of kerosene in it and light it with a match. At some point it seems like we had some kind of manual sparker as well, but I'm not sure about that. Anyway, the kerosene thinly coated the wire mesh giving it a lot of surface area, so it would easily light and produce a flame that we would hold next to the burner on the 111 until it lit. Worked great as I remember. That was a great stove for sure and I seem to recall we had both a kerosene burner and a gas burner that we could swap depending on what fuel was available.

    Dunno where it ended up. I do know that I don't have it. What I still do have is a Svea 123 with a Sig Tourist Cooker kit. It still works and I actually used it on a backpacking trip just a couple of years ago. I still even have a small pump that can be used to pressurize the tank so I don't have to light a gas fire around the base of the burner. Hope this is helpful. Best wishes, Joel"

    So, there you have it, Mates! I would like to try their thoughts about using the small cup/mesh screen idea, and see how it works. I have an old Primus funnel, made of Copper, and it should work nicely for that experiment. I'll cut some brass mesh, and give 'er a go, then report back here.

    I do hope that Arlene, and Joel, will pay us a visit, here, but if not, I'm very happy to have heard from them, and that they shared their memories about that time with us. More later, as it comes to hand. Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc
     
  20. SMolson

    SMolson Subscriber

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    Hi Doc - Thanks for the follow up and keeping us posted, your efforts are much appreciated! :thumbup: