Canister stove

I tell ya, I have been having a terrible couple years with my MSR whisperlite int. This season I haven’t even been able to get it to light.

So yesterday I went and bought kerosene and after getting that stinky stuff all over my hands and everywhere else I still couldn’t get the thing to light. I greased the tube, cleaned out the carbon deposits, gave it a couple more pumps and the plastic pumper snapped.

SO here I sat covered in kerosene that won’t clean up, broken stove, I look on the MSR website and after getting through their opening page with the slogan

“gear that performs-for life”

I call them and the replacement pump is $20. Now the only reason someone would buy a replacement pump ius if like mine, theirs was a POS. So haveing “gear that performs for life” you wouldn’t think you would need it, and if you did, it would be cheap, but it’s not, it’s $20 that this little made in china piece of garbage plastic could possibly cost that much. Even if I bought one, which I won’t, the stove still may not work.

SO today I got a canister stove, and I can’t believe I haven’t tried one before.

–2 seconds, it’s lit and roaring. No mess, no fuss, just screw it on and light, snd it adjusts better, burns better, is way smaller. I’m hooked.

Me too

SVEA 123. Noisy but reliable.
I have two bought in the early 70s.

The whisperlite is great!

– Last Updated: Jul-18-08 8:09 PM EST –

I got a bunch of stoves...canister to whitegas and the whisperlite is excellent for boiling water. Are you preheating it right? I was having trouble with mine till I was told to let just a little gas seep into the cup and not to fill that cup up. then light it and just as the gas is about to burn out, open the valve and presto! Canisters just don't work as well in COLD weather....

An’ de Optimus 8R - same era.


Canister stoves are OK in the summer
but in cold conditions they suck. pressure drops, hard to light and slow to boil. I’ll take the regular Whisperlite every time. But I would never use the International, I run Coleman fuel exclusively. Just my 2 cents on that subject. They do not simmer worth a crap but I know ways around that too.

Another problem
is you have to carry several of the canisters because they tend to run out of gas when you are in the middle of cooking something. I use a Whisperlight and a Svea 123, both over a decade old. They are great stoves. Not a fan of propane.

2nd That!
Our Whisperlite works just fine - gotta prime it properly, and it occasionally flares when first turned full on, but it has never failed us. We do, however, use white gas rather than kerosene/gas/etc., since it burns much cleaner and leaves less sooty residues. YMMV

Optimus 8R
Two years ago I refurbished a Optimus 8R (cosmetic issues) that has been on the shelf since the 70’s. Won’t say its better than modern stoves, but it does the job. It cost me just a can of spray paint to refurbished. I used motor enamel to last while subjected to heat of the stove.

Fun to use the 8R as a nostalgic experience, works fine, and only cost me about $5 for a can of paint as I had bought the stove cheap ($10) as a damaged item decades ago.


Ol’ classics
Me’ old timey stoves which still work great…


I got the international…
got a pro deal on it so’s I got that one…but I’m in line to get another one, right Norb?

coleman excursion
Although not crAZY about canisters I brought a Coleman Excursion up to Canada with the Scouts.

we used 3 1/2 Canisters for 12 days cooking for 3-5 scouts twice a day. I was equally as impressed in several winter camping trips.

BTW in a timed trial my sons excursion could be set and boiling water faster then the svea, microlight and some other canister.

F’Elmo stoves
Right handed, left handed, and any-handed.

I have a 123R, just keeps on ticking. My main experience with it was when I may have overfilled it with fuel. On the priming and lighting, the relief valve lifted and it became a flamer. I was on a canoe camping tour, grabbed it by the key and chain, flung it 30 feet under a pine tree, above the pine needles on the ground, and into the lake. A great calculated fling, because I didn’t want it to end in 80 feet deep water either.

The Svea is a carefully designed stove, where the heat output to cook, the heat needed to run, and the conductive/radiant heat from the stove tank area need to be right, or problems can occur. Does painting the tank area cause any difference in operation?

Painting tank on Sevia 123
I don’t know if painting the tank on a 123R could have any effect, but suspect it might.

More directly, why would one want to? The tank is brass and with cleaning and polishing it looks great. Easy to clean after use with any good brass polish.

When I mentioned painting a 8R it was painting the sheet metal case, not the brass tank or brass stove.


Jet Boil
I got a Jet Boil a couple years ago and love it. Bruner and fuel canister nestle inside the boiling cup. Great for kayaking or motorcycle camping.

Easy on fuel, too…
…Very happy with mine.

Have Used a WindPro for a few years…
and love it- nights below freezing, the canister shares the sleeping bag. A pan of lake or river water to set the canister in also works when it’s cold. Gave up liquid a long time ago.


I tend to agree with Northcoaster here, with some exception. I’m of the opinion that environment affects the Whisperlite. Highly humid environs are what I’m thinking may make a difference. Some years back I ran a program and we had a dozen or so. They required regular cleaning and I got very frustrated with them. Engineer at MSR told me it may be carbon build up internally in the vaporizing tube, which is smaller than the venerable XGK’s which i used in the Alaska Range w/o issue.

We sold off the MSR’s and went to canisters and problems ended. Yeah you end up with 1/3 full canisters.

I’ve had luck with my Snow Peak stove as well as Primus Himalayan multi fuel.

So many new stoves i’m out of touch. Many years with SVEA’s 8R’s 111B’s etc…

Gas vs. Canister
1) 1983 XGK has NEVER given me a problem from -20F to 100+F, desert to mountains to coast… I have busted or otherwise killed off 3 MSR Dragonflies over this same period of time. MSR has been good about replacing broken pieces, but I would never trust one of these as my only stove.

2) For trips less than 1 week and above freezing, I prefer my >20+ y.o. hand-me-down (freebie!) GAZ bleuet canister stove. Prefer the simplicity and size.

3) Fat Elmo, awesome spread!


Methyl alcohol for priming
For a hotter prime, and to prevent the black soot that results from priming with even white gas, use methyl alcohol instead. I buy the familiar (at least, here in the snowbelt) yellow bottles of HEET gas line de-icer and dispense into a tiny plastic squirt bottle.

Squirt a half-teaspoon into the stove’s priming cup, ignite (careful–an alcohol flame is invisible), let it burn for about 20 seconds and when it is nearly boiled away, open the fuel valve. Often, the priming flame will light the fuel for you, otherwise you’ll need to hold a lighter near the burner as usual.

Good Luck!