OT - Camping stoves

My old backpacking stove just is not cutting it anymore and I have a week long trip scheduled for the San Juan Islands comming up. I was looking for a few suggestions and reccomendations on single burner stoves from those who paddle. REI has a Coleman dual-fuel 442 stove for $58. Does anyone own one of these? Good choice? What do you have and what do you like about it? I do prefer liquid fuel as opposed to disposable canisters…

Bunch o’ stoves

– Last Updated: Feb-10-07 12:05 PM EST –

Still use me 35 year old Swedish Optimus 8R. A little harder ta start, sounds like a jet engine but simple an' utterly reliable. Have a bunch of others over de years. Ah' do also like de Coleman Exponent Multi-Fuel - dis be de one ah' use de most but de first one ah' had a'mighty troubles de first couple o' times out, flaired up, sputtered an' was nothin' but trouble. Then one day down in de Dismal Swamp in Virginny, it caught on fire an' looked like it waar gonna blow up. Threw it into de water fast. Ah' then fished it out of de drink, tried it agin' an' it worked perfectly ever since (alas, ah' loaned it ta someone who then died in de meantime an' wasn't able ta git it back fro' his wife, so ah' wound up buyin' another one last year). De stove works quite well an' is easy ta operate. Granted, it ain't no high altitoot expedition stove but fer general campin' it's purdy good.


I really like my WhisperLite Shaker Jet Stove. A bottle of white gas and you are ready to go. You can simmer as long as you are patient with the valve. It is a very hot stove, lightweight and very reliable.

I absolutely love my JetBoil. Read the reviews at BACKPACKER, and you will see why it is an “Editors Pick”. Also at REI, it is a popular model. They are tiny, lightweight, boil water FAST, versatle, and I was amazed last summer at how fuel efficient it was. I also have a “pocket rocket” as a back up, very tiny and it heats up food fast, but you have to be more careful not to burn it. Good luck on finding what “fits” you.


I like the MSR Dragonfly that I bought
last year to replace the Coleman Apex I that bit the dust. The Coleman’s hose cracked and leaked fuel on the first meal of a ten day trip. I did the same as Fat Elmo and had to throw it in the river since it was shooting out flames. What a bummer having no stove on the start of a ten day trip. Coleman wants $35 to replace the hose and I only paided $50 for the stove. The Dragnonfly is easy to start and with the MSR base is very stable. It’s multi-fuel so I’m thinking that might come in handy if I ever do the Yukon trip I’m planning. I also have a MSR Wind Pro that I like but I only bring it on backpacking trips since on longer paddling trips in cold weather you can go through a lot of canisters. Plus I don’t like the idea of filling up the landfills with the empties.

keep in mind
he does prefer liquid fuel to disposable canisters

Svea 123

– Last Updated: Feb-10-07 4:55 PM EST –

FatElmo and I must be from the same vintage...

My Svea 123 is still kicking. I bought mine in 1966 when they retailed for $9.95

I recall seeing the price jump up over the years. The last I recall, they were going for close to a $100! But now I see they are discontinued.

It burns white gas or unleaded fuel, roars, is not easy to simmer, and is trouble free. Steep learning curve, but once you get familiar with it, you'll have a companion for life... kinda like a spouse.

I carried fuel in a special aluminum fuel bottle with a solid screw top. Once I had a dispenser top, but worried something would catch the dispenser, cause a leak, and...

It doesn't matter: carrying a container of gasoline around with you will help you develop a philosophy... if you didn't already have one.


I had the same experience with a Coleman Apex---flames shooting out a leaking hose gasket. Threw mine into the water as well. Hmmm... I'd bet a feller could find quite a few FREE Coleman Apex stoves by poking around in the lake near any campsite.

using the MSR dragonfly for awhile now and I’ve never had any issues with it. Very reliable and versatile.

Coleman or Dragonfly
I have both a Coleman “feather light” (the dual fuels white gas cousin) and a MSR dragon fly. The Coleman is, for the money about the best stove you can buy, with one proviso, the integral fuel tank. If your going solo or maybe with a partner it’s fine, but if you need to use any large pot, pan, or a “Bake Packer” it’s a bad idea. The heat reflected from the over size cook pot/pan can seriously overheat the tank. If your camping style includes two-gallon stockpots the dragonfly is the way to go (if it fits your budget). Either is very reliable.

For a simple, safe and fool proof stove it’s hard to beat a Trangia alcohol stove.

The disadvantage is alcohol is less energy dense than many other fuels so you need to carry more fuel. They also don’t work well at altitude but that shouldn’t be a problem for seakayaking.

Colman Dual Fuel 442

– Last Updated: Feb-10-07 5:28 PM EST –

I have a Coleman Peak1, which is the predecessor to the Exponent Feather 442. Mine is identical in every way to the 442 except for the paint job and it has the single fuel (white gas only) generator.

Some people will try to tell you the Coleman is hard to field maintain compared to a MSR, but I've never had a lick of trouble with my stove; it's never required field maintenance. If I was going to carry it on an extended trip however, I'd carry a spare generator which can be changed out with an average Multi-tool (need a phillips head and wrench or pliers). I've also never had a flare up that wasn't caused by not following the directions, which is typical all liquid fuel stoves.

The main limitation is that you'd be ill advised to use a camp oven with this or any single piece design. However, you can actually simmer with the Peak1/442, so I figure it's a fair trade-off.

Modern all-in-one Coleman stoves lack any kind of cold weather preheating mechanism such as a wick or cup, but a tube of starting paste solves that problem.

You can usually find a surplus (cube shaped) cook kit made specifically for the Apex1 (and therefore 442) on Ebay for a few bucks. Mine's stamped "Property of US Government"; the military used the Peak/Apex series stoves at one time. As a matter of fact, almost all single burner U.S. military stoves dating all the way back to WWII have been manufactured by Coleman. FWIW, I also have a Coleman WWII stove that kicks butt. It's bigger and heavier than the 442, but it has it's own integral cook kit/case, wrench, tiny fuel funnel, has a nickel plated fount (tank) and will burn just about any liquid fuel. It's 60 yrs. old and still cranks.

The Coleman stuff doesn't have the same cache as a Whisperlight Internationale. Yes, they're a bit heavier and won't run on kerosene, jet fuel or beef tallow, but it's somewhat of a moot point for canoe/kayak camping.

If you were planning to scale Mt. Rainier, you'd probably want an ultralight take-apart stove. The Coleman should work great for just about anything else.

Tips: If you do buy the 442, it tends to simmer better if you let it run full blast for at least 30 seconds with a clean blue flame before slowing it down. Also position the pot support so it is not touching the generator. Make sure the generator isn't bent and touches the pot itself. If a pot of cold water touches the generator, it'll cool it down and flood the stove. Test before lighting and fix by hand. Finally, the 442 and all other stoves are more efficient if you use a heat shield. You can buy a piece of aluminum flashing at Home Depot and cut it to size to make a flexible ring. Cut notches or holes along one (the bottom) edge for good air flow. Works great.


Only stoves that have ever let me down in the field were MSR’s. That’s working as an alpine guide all over including Denali, and running an outdoor program for ten years. So, stoves, I have dealt with. Most reliable are the Butane canister stoves…hands down…but you end up with 1/4 full cartriges. Of the multifuels I like the MSR XGK way better than their other stoves. International Whisperlite is better than the standard. Used the Dragonfly on a kayak trip to Alaska…pump broke twice…stove was OK at best. Like my Primus Himalayan multifuel, but it also had a pump failure. New pump seems better, and it can take a cannister. Lately I have been using a snow peak and I really like it. All the liquid fuel stoves have issues…so far I’d vote for the Primus…Old Optimus 111B’s SVEAS, 8R’s etc., were super reliable stoves. Performance has improved with the newer stuff, but so has complexity. MSR products I think are great for individual users, but in my experience they don’t hold up to program abuse. Some newer stoves out there that look good and I have not tried them. Boiling times etc., are just a guide. My Dragonfly never peformed in the fieeld like it did on paper…and yes i know how to clean and maintain a stove.

Brunton Crux canister stove
Just got a Brunton Crux canister stove for several reasons.

-Very compact

-Good sized burner

-Well made

-Fits under the bottom of a canister or right in the bottom of my meal cup.

Really nice stove - check out the reviews at BackPackGearTest.


The 442 is just fine
I have seen the flames shooting out of the sides of them before as described above, but this is normally due to poor maintenance or a stove that sits around for long periods of time between uses. Periodically going around checking and tightening up (if needed) the few nuts and screws that connect the fuel line and the burner is all that is required. Those boxlike aluminum military cases you find at surplus stores or on Ebay are perfect for them since Coleman made them for use with its Peak 1 predecessor. I wish I could find one for its big brother the old 508 single burner or any case for that matter.

Primus Himalayan
A good stove. Somewhat noisy, but adjustable and stable.


– Last Updated: Feb-10-07 8:52 PM EST –

Though I am not as experienced as Salty, his observations ring true to me. My wife's XGK has worked flawlessly for 23+ years. My Dragonfly lasted less than 2 before the pump broke. My 20+ y.o., hand-me-down Camping Gaz Bleuet canister stove has never let me down either, and it has very good flame control.
"Let The Deed Show" James Flemming's motto

Another MSR Whisperlite fan
Multi-fuel, shaker jet feature keeps clogs at bay, repair/maintenance kits available everywhere. I took mine camping for a week in the Vermont rain. It sat out all night every night, very wet. In the mornings the stove looked like it had spent the night at the bottom of the lake. It started every time without fail! I never bothered with fire paste on the generator tube. Just drained a bit of white gas into the pan and sparked it off with a handheld pizeo sparker that I touch to the stove leg and spark to the pan. If you are looking for reliable go for the Whisperlite.

Campmor has them cheaper
Campmor has the Feather 442 (dual fuel) for $49.99 and the Feather 400 (white gas only) for $39.99.


Alcohol stoves - yes…
I don’t have a Trangia yet but I really like the alcohol stoves because they are simple, environmentally friendly, use renewable energy, and you don’t have to worry about fuel smell or a spill ruining what it might come in contact with.

wood stove
thought about this one ?


I own one. Nice combination stove/campfire