Another blogging Scoutmaster has posted some questions and ideas about stoves for Boy Scouts. Note: I linked to the February archive since the individual posts don’t seem to be linkable, so go there and scroll down to “Stoves for Scouts” and “Stove Feedback”. They are deciding between propane stoves and white gas stoves, two options that weren’t even on the table for our troop, so I’m a bit surprised.
We don’t use white gas stoves with boys. The stoves are finicky, require regular maintenance, and can have dangerous flare-ups if mistreated or misused. But the major reason is that we don’t want the temptation of white gas being available for starting campfires, because it will be used. That is just too dangerous, besides being against BSA policy on fuels and stoves.
We have used white gas backpacking stoves with our Venture Patrol (older, more responsible Scouts), on high adventure trips, and when snow camping. These are personal stoves, nearly all MSR stoves.
Traditional propane cartridges are just too heavy for backpacking. We take several backpacking trips each year, so we would need separate car camping and backpacking stoves.
In the past, we’ve used the Campingaz stoves, but they are tall and tippy with the large pots used for patrols (as are many backpacking stoves) and don’t really work below freezing, which meant we used white gas stoves when snow camping. We were down to only three stoves, thanks to lost stoves and lost parts, so it was time for new equipment.
We ended up with a pretty tough list of requirements, listed here.
Amazingly, there is a stove that meets all these and has a few extra advantages. We chose the Coleman Exponent Xpert stove. Luckily, we didn’t have “non-silly name” as a requirement. Warning, Coleman has several stoves with similar names. The one I’m talking about is a four-legged stove that takes PowerMax cartridges.
Let’s check this out against our requirements.
These stoves even do a few things that weren’t on our list.
We might use white gas backpacking stoves for a 50-Miler with no resupply. The weight of cartridges can add up for long trips. I really can’t think of any other Scout outing where our new stoves would not be the right choice. Well, maybe a Venture Patrol “Ten Pound Challenge” ultralight outing.
Backpack Gear Test has multiple reviews of this stove’s three-legged brother. The owner review is especially comprehensive. The only common negatives from those reviews are: weight, can be difficult to attach the canister, and the O-ring seals occasionally come off with the canister. Even the lightweight purists seem to like this stove for winter use.
Update: The Complete Walker IV has a lot more info about this stove, back when it was called Peak 1 Xpert instead of Exponent Xpert. The aluminum Powermax cartridges have a better fuel to weight ratio than other cartridges, and seem to be about 50% more fuel-efficient. Chip Rawlins reports using one 300g cartridge per person on a one week trip, so it might work just fine for a 50 Miler.
Further Update: After a couple of outings, these are working well. The push, twist, and latch motion requires pushing kinda hard and the latch isn’t a sharp snap, so the boys have some trouble with getting the cartridges on. Also, if you read a review that says it the stove burns funny for the first minute or so, you’ve found someone who didn’t read the directions. You need to run it on low for 30 seconds to heat up the generator.Posted by Walter Underwood (firstname.lastname@example.org) at February 7, 2007 10:59 PM | TrackBack