Tooth of Time Traders

Official Store of Philmont Scout Ranch

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Fuel at Philmont

Stove Types:
There are 3 categories of stoves:

  1. Liquid Fuel Stove
  2. Canister fuel stove (Isobutane/Propane, Powermax, Propane/Butane)
  3. Non-compressed fuel stoves (Sterno)


Stove Type Pros Cons

Liquid Fuel

Inexpensive operating cost (cost of fuel)*
Work well at altitudes of 10,000’
Work well in cold weather (-10)
Large groups and long trips

Priming required
Expensive Stove
Requires maintenance

Canister Fuel

Inexpensive Stove
Flame control
No Priming
Weigh Less
Less Maintenance (simple construction)
More Reliable

Less efficient (more fuel volume is required for the same heat output)*
Do not operate well in cold temperatures
Empty canisters can be a hazardous waste
Large groups and long trips

Non-compressed Fuel

Maintenance Free
No priming

Fuel availability
Do not operate well at high altitudes
Slowest to boil
Large groups and Long trips


*It will take a quantity of 3 (8 oz) canisters to 1 (22oz) bottle of liquid fuel to boil the same amount of water.

Philmont has carried liquid fuel (white gas) stoves and fuel and Coleman Xponent Powermax stoves and fuel in previous seasons.

2008 will be the first season that Philmont will be carrying canister fuel stoves and fuel. The main reason is that we wish to serve the preferences of all participants coming to Philmont in addition to the traveling and shipping restrictions of canister fuel.

Liquid Fuel Stoves:
Liquid fuel stoves tend to be more complex than canister stoves because the fuel must be vaporized prior to burning. The fuel line containing the liquid fuel must be near the flame of the burner. The heat from the flames convert the liquid fuel into a gas prior to reaching the burner. Once it reaches the burner this gas mixes with air and is ignited.

Most liquid fuel stoves must be primed before the burner is turned on. This requires the operator to open the fuel valve briefly and allow the liquid fuel to flow into a small pan. This is then lit and allowed to burn down. When the fuel valve is opened again, the fuel vaporizes from the heat of the pan.

In some liquid fuel stoves, the operator must prime the stove using a small hand pump that forces air into the fuel container. As the fuel is consumes, the pressure decreases so the pump must be operated occasionally during use to maintain steady stove operation.

Once they are going, liquid fuel stoves usually burn hotter. They work better in cold weather and their fuel tanks can be refilled which eliminates the carrying weight of numerous canisters and better for large groups and long trips.

Disadvantages to liquid fueled stoves is they require priming, which means some skill is needed to operate them properly. The fuel does not burn as cleanly as gas fueled stoves. They tend to be more expensive, are larger and heavier. They will require more attention when you are trying to gently simmer. Some liquid fuel stoves offer adjustability while some don’t. They can also require more cleaning and maintenance.

There are many types of liquid fuel stoves including alcohol, kerosene, and unleaded gasoline. The type that Philmont carries in base camp and at Ponil, Baldy, Rich Cabins, Apach Springs, Phillips Junction, Ute Gulch and Ring Place is white gas.

White gas is inexpensive, provides intense heat and performs well in most weather conditions. If spilled, it can be easy to ignite accidentally but it does evaporate quickly.


Liquid Fuel Stoves

Product Price Description
MSR Whisperlite $69.95 Classic Backpacking Stove
MSR Simmerlite $99.95 Ultralight, Compact
Exponent Feather 442 Dual Fuel by Coleman $50.00 Sturdy, lightweight
Optimus Nova+ $169.95 Easy to use, and Reliable
Optimus Nova $139.95 Easy to use and Reliable



Canister Fuel Stoves:
Canister fuel stoves are easy and simple. There is no pumping or priming. Turn on the gas, light and the stove is working immediately. The fuel burns cleanly and they simmer better. Since the gaseous fuel quickly dissipates, the fire hazard associated with leaking fuel is reduced. Safety is also increased because there is no priming. They weigh less than liquid fuel stoves and are much simpler therefore much easier to maintain.

Some disadvantages of canister fuel is the difficulty of accurately gauging how much fuel remains in a container. Gas fuel is less efficient than liquid fuel so it takes more fuel for the same heat output. Canister fueled stoves do not operate well in colder temperatures. Canisters tend to be heavier than liquid fuel bottles. When the can is partially empty, it takes longer to boil the same amount of water (some new stoves on the market have addressed this issue – see what we carry below). When the burner is removed from the canister, the canister reseals itself. These canisters have to be disposed of properly.

Canister stoves also come in two different styles. Recently stove companies have begun releasing canister stoves designed more for group cooking in mind. These stoves look similar to white gas stoves and offer several advantages in group cooking. Stoves like the Optimus Stella have the fuel canister connected to the stove remotely by a fuel line rather than directly connecting the stove to your fuel canister. Balancing large pots on top of a directly connected canister stove can cause extra heat to reflect back to your fuel canister which can cause you to lose efficiency. Also, having your fuel canister connected remotely to your stove allows you to adjust your flame without having to get too close to your cooking flame. Most importantly, remotely connected stoves offer a much sturdier base to place a large cooking pot than directly connected canister stoves do.

This isn't to say direct connect canister stoves are bad. These stoves tend to boil water very quickly and work great for smaller or more personal cooking. Crews that have a coffee drinker or two will appreciate having a MSR Pocket Rocket or similar product on hand for morning coffee or when they wish to heat smaller amounts of water quickly.


Canister Stoves

Product Price Description
MSR Pocket Rocket $39.95 Uber light, and flame control
Coleman Exponent Fyrestorm TI $189.99 Multi-fuel, Compact
Coleman Exponent Xpert $55.00 4-leg design, Powermax
Coleman Exponent Fyrestorm SS $149.95 Multi-fuel, Built Tough
Optimus Stella+ $99.99 Packs small, Quick Setup
MSR Windpro $79.95 Light, Great Simmer Control


How much fuel should you bring?

This will vary depending on the fuel used, wind, temperature, altitude, type of stove, cooking times, and individual habits. Individual habits vary from crew to crew. When deciding how much fuel to bring it's important to think about your crewmates. Does anyone in your crew like coffee in the morning? If so, how many? How efficient you are when cooking meals will also play a role in fuel consumption. Whether your crew prefers to cook each component of your meal seperately, or prefer to dump everything into one pot will effect how much fuel you go through on a given day.

Once you've narrowed down your choice of fuel, take a look at how much heat a stove generates by comparing how quick they boil water under 'ideal conditions.' A few minutes can make a difference when you're hungry. Next compare how long the stove can burn while at wide-open. Figuring out how long you'll run your camping stove, how many times a day, and for how many days will give you a rough approximation of how much fuel you'll use. It's always a good idea to have extra fuel especially in cooler weather or at altitude.


Stove Fuel Type Burn Time: Per 8oz Canister / 20oz bottle Boil Time: Per 1 Liter of water Weight
MSR Whisperlite White Gas 136 min 3.9 min 11 oz
MSR Simmerlite White Gas 122 min 3.75 min 8.5 oz
MSR Pocket Rocket Canister 60 min 3.5 min 3 oz
MSR Windpro Canister 90 min 4.25 min 16.5 oz
Coleman Exponent Fyrestorm Ti White Gas 75 min 3.3 min 7.7 oz
Canister 45 min 3.1 min
Colemean Exponent Fyrestorm SS White Gas 75 min 3.3 min 9 oz
Canister 45 min 3.1 min
Coleman Exponent Xpert Powermax 70 min 3.5 min 13.5 oz
Optimus + Canister 60 min 3 min 9 oz
Nova + White Gas 120 min 3.5 min 11 oz
Nova White Gas 120 min 3.5 min 11.3 oz
Coleman Exponent Dual Fuel White Gas 118 min 3.75 min 24 oz



Backcountry Availability

White Gas costs $2.25 - 33 0z. / .6 Liters, and $2.00 - 20 oz. / 1 Liter. Canister prices are $5.50 for 220g and $8.95 for 450g.


Quick tips:
1) Camping stoves should have a wind screen to protect the flame from blowing out and to help hold the heat in. Wind and altitude can slow heating down quite a bit. Besides sheltering your camping burner from being blown out, they also serve to hold the heat in. It's important to note that stoves that sit on top of a canister cannot use a windscreen.

2) Be sure to purchase a filter funnel to help prevent any clogging prior to setting out on your trek. You can find fuel funnels in our trading post or online.

3) Prior to your trek if possible purchase a service kit as well as an annual maintenance kit for your stove. Tooth of Time Traders carries these items in our store and online as well.

4) If you're having difficulty lighting your liquid fuel stove at higher elevations, try using less fuel reservoir/bottle pressure. With less oxygen available at higher elevations it's important to lean out the mixture, so to speak. Too much fuel can 'suffocate' the flame because there's not enough air for the flame to breathe.

5) Reducing the fuel bottle pressure is also a good idea if you have a stove that doesn't simmer very well. Less pressure, equals less fuel, which means a smaller flame.

6) It may sound funny, but fuel can lose its 'freshness' if it's exposed to air for awhile. That's why it's important to have airtight containers for storage to insure maximum performance from your stove.

7). Pressurizing with a pump is important for liquid fuel stoves. At sea level with a full bottle/tank figure on about 15-50 strokes of the pump. As you use fuel, the air space inside the tank will grow. Since air is compressible it will take more pumping to bring the bottle up to the recommended pressure (i.e. Where a full bottle may require 15 strokes, a bottle that's only a quarter full might need 40.)

Helpful Links:

We Highly recomend checking out manufacturer links for more information on the stove(s) you're looking to purchase.

Optimus Stoves

Mountain Safety Research

Coleman Exponent Stoves