Canister vs. White Gas

Don't Get Burned When Choosing Between Stove Types
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I've used canister gas stoves a lot more than usual of late while collecting data for an upcoming GORP field test (look for it in late August). Watching pots of water come to a boil left me with plenty of time to consider these stoves' characteristics, both enjoyable and exasperating. At times, I even wavered in my long-held preference for stoves that burn white gas.

Timeout here for a quick definition. There are two types of lightweight stove: 1) Canister stoves, which burn liquefied gas (butane or butane-propane mixtures) you purchase in ready-to-go sealed canisters found at outdoor stores and other outlets.

These stoves feature instantaneous lighting. And, 2) white gas stoves that burn a gasoline-like liquid bought in quart or gallon cans, and poured off into the stove tank in the quantity you need. These usually require some form of priming to light properly.

The choice between white gas and canister stoves really boils down (pun intended) to a number of factors, including your budget and the type of weather and elevations you camp in, as well as how much you like or don't like fussing with fossil fuels.

To make your own decision,consider the pros and cons of each stove presented on the following pages.

Chef's Choice

Canister Stoves
Best for: Weekend backpackers, pedalers, and paddlers who primarily camp in warm weather, at low elevations, and who would rather trade dollars and a few ounces for an extra measure of convenience.

White Gas Stoves
Best for: Ounce-counting adventurers bound for long trips (5+ days) in avariety of conditions and topography, including high, cold places. Also best for people concerned about the monetary and environmental costs of using canister stoves.


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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