I recently treated myself to a Primus petrol stove not wanting to rely on and dispose of gas canisters for longer trips. It works well and gives out lots of heat and has a good turn down. However it is very noisy and does involve some faff, not to mention consequences if a mishap should occur. My fellow campers using Trangias complained about the noise and fumes, I can see they have a point especially in enjoyment of a tranquil camp location. The Trangia may be a little more bulky, I’m not sure on relative fuel consumption. What is the UKC collective view on Petrol vs Trangia for remote camping?
In principle you have 4 different types of stoves.
Gas Petrol Ethanol Solid Fuel
They each have their pro's and cons... Oh, and obviously you also have multifuel stoves (generally petrol or gas).
Gas is often low faff to use, but relies on the gas canisters... and if it stops working, well yer hosed. Most models are also quite quiet. Note you can get also a multifuel/petrol burner or gas burner to a Trangia.
Solid fuels, well more faff (depends on which type of solid fuel) but dead silent and really simple (ie. nothing can go wrong). The most simplest is the twig burner (so collect dead wood and but that... basically a portable firepit, albeit a lot smaller), major con of that is obviously you relay on your surroundings for fuel (easy if in dry woodlands... less so in the rain on a glacier). The other common type is fuel brick type of stove... for this you need to carry the fuel with you. But again, low maintenance (other than loosing your fuel, nothing really to brake on it).
Ethanol is almost the same as fuel brick stoves.... the only difference is the fuel is in liquid form, and you place it in a glorified cup to burn. Original Trangia is just this... Not much can go wrong with these (a hair more than on solid fuel stoves, but nothing really drastic that a little MacGyver jury rigging wont solve.
And lastly Petrol... well, these are the most complex things (but with the right tools and spares, still pretty much field repairable), often the loadest to boost (but certain models are actually quite low noise). These often also but out the most BTU, so are the fastest to boil water.
So from noise perspective, the order is ethanol/solid fuel, gas, petrol from silent to loud. But certain gas or petrol stoves are louder or quieter than others...
BTU order is the reverse, albeit I do recall there might be a noticeable difference between ethanol (liquid) and solid fuel stoves... just not sure which is which...
Faff order might be something like solid fuel (collect material from the nature), petrol, ethanol or solid fuel (bricks), gas... from most faff to least.
So now that the different types are dealt with (on general level).... your loud (thus high BTU) petrol vs (I assume ethanol) Trangia... the latter is silent, but low BTU. The latter is also to keep in working condition (almost nothing can go wrong with it).
But to step outside the BTU and noise... well, I assume the petrol stove you have is something like Omnifuel... if so, you need to carry some kind of windshield for it... Where as with Trangia types, the windshield is part of the stove... as are the pots and pans. So it's not just the stove... but also all the equipment that you carry (including fuel, if not relaying on twigs for your solid fuel stove) for cooking that you need to think about.
> One thing I forgot to mention, Trangia stoves seem to rely on the matching aluminium pans, which I’m not keen on due to adverse health impact
I've used a small Trangia for years using an original aluminium pan. I've never heard of any health impacts from this. I've never gone rusty either. I used to use MSRs but got fed up with the almost constant blockage clearing and maintenance problems.
> aluminium pans, which I’m not keen on due to adverse health impact
The link between Alzheimer's and aluminium has been shown to be associative, not causative.
As for stove choice, Hema makes good analysis, but misses the issue of weight. In my meths stove building period, I determined that meths is always the lighter fuel to carry, compared to gas (based on energy content). You can always carry only as much as you need, refilling your fuel bottle before trip.
Then there are the stoves themselves. My usual meths stove weighs 44g... (Caldera Clone and 250ml drinks can burner).
I have limited experience of petrol stoves; I have a Sigg Fire Jet, but I found it hard to light, temperamental, hard to do anything other than 'incinerate', and prone to terrifying flaring. I have seen Coleman and MSR petrol stoves behaving much better.
I don't recall the fumes from a petrol stove being any worse than a Trangia, and even the Fire Jet wasn't that noisy...
> As for stove choice, Hema makes good analysis, but misses the issue of weight.
It was only implied (the last part about the overall bulk/weight of the things), as there is so much variance between stoves of the same fuel type...
After all, Trangia is meths (ethanol) stove, it's big/bulky and also weighs a lot. I see 700g quoted for the bigger 27 series. A stark comparison to ~50g meth stove.
Similar variability exists in nearly all stove types.
So what it boils down to, is the full weight/bulk of your complete cooking set. I'm sure meths or solif fuel systems would be at the top of the pack for weight... But some like bog standard Trangia, would also sit the the other end of the spectrum... that being said, you could make it even heavier, by changing the meth burner to say the Primus Omnifuel one (I recall they even sell adapters for this, but also riggin' one on your own is not hard).
Also the comment about usability on weather is something to keep in mind. Well built systems (like the Trangia) is really light it up and forget kinds of stoves... no matter if it is raining cats or dogs. Some lightweight solutions don't cope with harder climate conditions so well... at least without extra windshields etc. (adding to the bulk and weight of the full system).
If you fail to melt snow in a (ethanol) Trangia in winter conditions (so cozy -20 C) your doing it wrong. Granted it will take half the time to melt the same quantity of snow with a jet engine... sorry, meant my Primus Himalaya Multifuel. That being said, using the "turbo" on a Trangia will greatly change your fuel consumption figures...
But the bottom line, is that Trangia is even a reasonable option for snow melting in proper Nordic conditions... Are there faster options, sure... but they each have their pros and cons.
That being said, those that do a lot of winter camping, often do end up using a petrol stove (high BTU, reliable fuel consumption, field repairable with skillz). But for occational winter camping trip something like Trangia will do just fine.
If you're in one place for a long time and are boiling a lot of water for tea, pasta, spuds etc a lot of times the Trangia is hard to beat. It works very well in conjunction with things like gas for more precise/refined cooking.
I’ve used all over the years and now my mountaineering/bivvying days are over I just use ‘petrol’ and gas. ‘Petrol’ stoves are just the common name, they actually run on anything liquid and volatile, paraffin & panel wipe for example. They are of course liquid fuel stoves. A ‘Gas’ stove is just a liquid fuel stove with the gas compressed to a liquid and stored in a can.
Im still a regular stove user, year round angling. in spring and summer, you just can’t beat the convenience of gas. It’s quick and clean. The liquid will vaporise when exposed to the atmosphere - that is, when we turn the valve on, it will burn straight away and bobs your uncle. The problem comes in the colder months. As our atmosphere gets colder, the liquid doesn’t want to vaporise, zero degrees and forget it, it takes an age to make a brew. Special mixes helps, butane/propane etc but it can be a struggle. Autumn and winter is when I’m out fishing most of all and my MSR whisperlite is a godsend. These stoves do need a little faff as the fuel needs help to vaporise before it burns properly. This is priming. I prime mine with a little squirty bottle of isopropyl alcohol. (meths works just as well) The priming dish of the stove is filled with alcohol and lit, the flame from this burning alcohol heats up the burner head and takes maybe 2 minutes to burn off, just before the flame dies, open the fuel valve and the fuel shoots out of the jet, hits the now hot burner head and instantly vaporises, and a roaring blue flame is produced. A windshield is essential for the priming stage, not only to protect the burning alcohol from wind but to keep that important heat in. You can prime with the main fuel at a push but you tend to find it’ll make the stove very sooty so clean burning alcohol is best. Fuel wise, I use regular unleaded in my coleman 533, this stove doesn’t tend to get sooty but not something you want to be carrying up a hill! It’s a base camp type stove we use when fishing or car camping for a few days at a time and can easily cook a chilli and rice from scratch for 2 or 3 of us. The whisperlite is my mainstay though and I run that on a fuel called Aspen 4. This is a garden machinery fuel, basically petrol but without the additives car engines need. It’s more expensive than petrol, £22 for 5L but prob half the cost of coleman fuel. Once you understand them, petrol stoves are simple to use, very hot, very fast, reliable and cost effective. If overnighting in the colder months, I’d take on the extra weight and bulk of an MSR, gas in warmer months (pocket rocket/jetboil etc) I’d never go back to a trangia, I like a hot brew too much and too often!
Like I said, I use them a lot and these are my experiences over many years, hope it helps!
As an aside, a long time ago I took my Optimus 96L paraffin stove to Yosemite. I was initially frustrated that I couldn’t find paraffin in the local store, but then found that “scented lamp oil” did the trick. Meal cooking was very fragrant.
The Trangia is often derided as being heavy, but when you include three pans, burner & windshield, it looks a lot better. I've got two of them, and a Swedish Army Stove...
As you say, we need to consider the entire cook system weight. I have made caldera clones for trangia UL & mini pans, msr titan, alpkit mtimug, plus others. Oh, and squeezebox stove for the titan. And hundreds of drinks can burners... I mostly do rehydration cooking, so it's a stove/windshield, pan, pot & cozy. If I'm cooking, I'll take a low-profile pre-heating gas burner, allowing liquid feed for low temperature use (a karrimor-badged Fire Maple).
In 1965, researchers found that rabbits injected with an extremely high dose of aluminium developed toxic tau tangles in their brains. This led to speculation that aluminium from cans, cookware, processed foods and even the water supply could be causing dementia. The ability of this high dose aluminium to induce tau tangles, increase amyloid levels and contribute to the development of plaques has been shown in laboratory experiments on animals.
Importantly, these results were only seen with extremely high exposures that far exceed the levels that can enter the body through food or potentially through contact with aluminium cookware.
Since this study was reported, much research has been done on the relationship of aluminium and Alzheimer's disease. As yet no study or group of studies has been able to confirm that aluminium is involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Aluminium is seen in the normal, healthy brain. It is not clear how aluminium is getting into the brain from the blood. The levels currently seen in peoples brains hasn't been shown to be toxic but an ageing brain may be less able to process the aluminium. Although aluminium has been seen in amyloid plaques there is no solid evidence that aluminium is increased in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. No convincing relationship between amount of exposure or aluminium in the body and the development of Alzheimer's disease has been established.
Aluminium in food and drink is in a form that is not easily absorbed in to the body. Hence the amount taken up is less than 1% of the amount present in food and drink. Most of the aluminium taken into the body is cleaned out by the kidneys. Studies of people who were treated with contaminated dialysis have shown an increase in the amount of aluminium in the brain. This was believed to be as a result of inadequately monitored dialysis which then led to encephalopathy related dementia. Methods of dialysis have since been improved and doctors are better able to predict and prevent this form of dementia.
One large recent study did find a potential role for high dose aluminium in drinking water in progressing Alzheimer's disease for people who already have the disease.
However, multiple other small and large scale studies have failed to find a convincing causal association between aluminium exposure in humans and Alzheimer's disease.
I have a Primus multifuel stove that would run on petrol, parrafin or gas (I used heating kerosene as we had a thousand litres of the stiff in the garden). It is a wondrous thing that burns with such a fury that the tips of the titanium pot stand glow cherry red, but priming it is a fiddle and it sounds like a miniature jet engine, shattering the peace of a wild camp.
So I switched to an alcohol stove for use on the hill. I have used a trangia lookalike in the past but I wanted something a lot smaller and lighter for my simple needs on short camping trips.
After messing around with home made burners I ended up buying a simple open alcohol burner from Speedster Backpacking Products, and built my own windshield/potstand to fit around a 650ml titanium mug. I have used this for 3 years now, not the fastest, but it has reliably got on with the job of boiling water for noodles or a brew on many a windy mountain top. The whole lot + 150ml fuel, lighter and spork fits inside the mug and weighs about 350g.
Speedster do a range of burners and windshields to suit different sized pots, and they do a complete "Border Raider" cookset including a burner, windshield/potstand, ground heatshield and 750ml titanium mug that all fits inside the mug with room to spare for fuel etc.
A cookset based upon a titanium mug is great for boiling water, but useless for heating any kind of sauce as the thin titanium causes hot spots, burning the sauce.
I never did pluck up the courage to try out my multifuel Primus with petrol. As you say, the consequences of a mishap, such as a damaged seal, could be catastrophic. Parrafin/kerosene is an alternative, safer liquid fuel, makes priming simple as a tiny bit of tissue soaked in parrafin does the job just fine.
> The Trangia may be a little more bulky, I’m not sure on relative fuel consumption.
Fuel consumption depends upon the calorific value of the fuel and the efficiency of the cookset.
Petrol (and Parrafin) have a significantly higher calorific value than meths or bio-ethanol, but the Trangia has a highly efficient purpose built windshield, so is likely to be significantly more efficient than the Primus (unless you use a close fitting windshield, that is).
Gas also has a high calorific value, but as you point out, you have the empty steel cannisters to deal with - I suppose if you carry a full one in, you can carry an empty one out. My gripe with gas is that you often end up carrying a part emptied cannister up the hill, whereas with liquid fuels you can take exactly what you need (or what you think you need) in a lightweight plastic bottle.
the roaring noise of a primus (assuming you mean the pressurised liquid stoves not their gas stoves) is like the clank of a hex or the taste of a fine quality single malt, it's to be savoured by the (older?) connoisseur of the outdoors
> So what it boils down to, is the full weight/bulk of your complete cooking set.
....AND fuel. Doing a multi-day unsupported trip with no ability to buy fuel means you almost certainly want a petrol or paraffin stove. I worked out that my wife and I could do 8-9 days on an MSR Dragonfly and a litre of petrol.
> Solid fuels, well more faff (depends on which type of solid fuel) but dead silent and really simple (ie. nothing can go wrong). The most simplest is the twig burner (so collect dead wood and but that... basically a portable firepit, albeit a lot smaller), major con of that is obviously you relay on your surroundings for fuel (easy if in dry woodlands... less so in the rain on a glacier). The other common type is fuel brick type of stove... for this you need to carry the fuel with you. But again, low maintenance (other than loosing your fuel, nothing really to brake on it).
Isn't a disadvantage with solid fuel the inability to turn it off easily? Can hexy blocks be blown out?
> But to step outside the BTU and noise... well, I assume the petrol stove you have is something like Omnifuel... if so, you need to carry some kind of windshield for it... Where as with Trangia types, the windshield is part of the stove...
MSR windshield weighs far less than a Trangia one. Isn't the ideal trangia solution the small burner base thingy and a 3rd party foil windshield?
My Trangia, nearly 30 years old, is hard to beat. However there are a few negatives. Doesn't work well above 8000ft and, essentially, not at all above 12000. The nonstick pans don't last very long. It's bulky if you're just boiling water (for this I use gas).
Anyway I love my 40 year old Trangia. Stable, good in the wind, nothing to go wrong. I use it for all car camping and some backpacking. I use a petrol abroad when buying meths is problematical and gas if I want to go really lightweight and for my coffee pot.
> ....AND fuel. Doing a multi-day unsupported trip with no ability to buy fuel means you almost certainly want a petrol or paraffin stove. I worked out that my wife and I could do 8-9 days on an MSR Dragonfly and a litre of petrol.
Petrol and parrafin have a higher calorific value than meths or bio ethanol, but efficiency of the burner/cookset is important too (a close fitting windshield helps), as is choosing food that is easy to cook or rehydrate, and not being too self indulgent when it comes to tea and coffee. I typically use around 50ml of bio ethanol a day, enough for a packet of noodles and two brews, so a litre would last me 20 days.
> I typically use around 50ml of bio ethanol a day
The amount of fuel needed obviously varies with temperature, but in reasonable camping weather, my caldera clones will boil 500ml of water with between 8-12ml of meths. So your 50ml would give 2l of boiling water. For noodles and a couple of brews, I'd expect to use a lot less. Depending on size of brews, of course...
I made loads of measurements, computed energy content from bond energies, calculated system efficiencies and all sorts of obsessive stuff, 15 years or so ago. Haven't got the data with me, but it's archived on my NAS...
> the roaring noise of a primus (assuming you mean the pressurised liquid stoves not their gas stoves) is like the clank of a hex or the taste of a fine quality single malt, it's to be savoured by the (older?) connoisseur of the outdoors
> > I typically use around 50ml of bio ethanol a day
> The amount of fuel needed obviously varies with temperature, but in reasonable camping weather, my caldera clones will boil 500ml of water with between 8-12ml of meths. So your 50ml would give 2l of boiling water. For noodles and a couple of brews, I'd expect to use a lot less. Depending on size of brews, of course...
> I made loads of measurements, computed energy content from bond energies, calculated system efficiencies and all sorts of obsessive stuff, 15 years or so ago. Haven't got the data with me, but it's archived on my NAS...
Sounds as though there is room for improvement in my system. But I do like large brews...
Edit - I think that I would be boiling slightly over 1 litre a day, and I suspect that I am a bit wasteful when it comes to the unused fuel in the burner.
I always highly favoured paraffin primus (or Optimus) stoves over the rest when camping/climbing for weeks or months. Paraffin stoves were the standard issue with the Greenland Geological Survey. Petrol second, but a bit temperamental. Small gas, ethanol and solid fuel: feeble.
> ....AND fuel. Doing a multi-day unsupported trip with no ability to buy fuel means you almost certainly want a petrol or paraffin stove. I worked out that my wife and I could do 8-9 days on an MSR Dragonfly and a litre of petrol.
It depends on how many you're cooking for, if you're group cooking then yes petrol stoves are good. If you're melting lots of snow their also the way to go. But, if you're solo backpacking, spring to autumn a petrol stove would be far too heavy. I been using a fire maple remote type gas stove for several years. I can do about eighteen days with a large (500) canister. But that canister is dead weight so I've been trying a speedster Meths stove. I'm finding the fuel consumption varies quite a lot, depending on how windy it is. It's still a much lighter set up than gas and far lighter than any petrol stove.
I also think that petrol stoves produce too much heat for solo use. I use a 700lt pot, with a12cm diameter. Put that on a petrol stove and most of the flame goes up the side and misses the pot altogether.
> You can get them even cheaper on ebay where you can also buy a 6 pack of the big 500g cylinders and use them to refill your small cylinders.
Ah yes, this is a discussion that is being had on another forum right now. Has potential if used carefully, but disposable gas cartridges are not designed for repeated use, so I would be very careful about not using one too many times, and you need to allow a decent amount of ullage.
Re the aluminium thing, I was just looking for a recipe for baked mackerel in the oven in tin foil and quite by coincidence came across this, which is slightly different from the concern about cooking in alu pans.
I use gas now but still have a couple of petrol stoves and a Trangia somewhere in a box. I started with a paraffin stove (Optimus) then changed to petrol (Optimus then MSR). For years I was a petrol stove bigot because that's what expeditions used and Trangias were seen as bulky, slow and smelly. Then someone gave me a Trangia and I took it on a sea kayaking trip. I found it so easy that I hardly ever used the petrol ones afterwards, especially the MSR XGK which needed a rebuild after every use, stunk out the tent with soot and exhaust fumes, and sounded like a motorboat. The Whisperlite was much better in the regard.
Certainly the Trangia is slow, but that's only an issue if you're in a hurry. I've used the MSR at c.3500m and it took forever to boil water as well. Ultimately I got fed up with having smelly combustible liquid which with the best will in the world does end up contaminating everything.
Trangias look bulky but the ingenious design packs a lot better than you may think, especially compared to a set of pans, a petrol stove which may not fit into the pans, and a fuel bottle.
I still use a Trangia for car camping, but with a gas burner.
If I was doing something like a remote sea kayaking expedition or maybe a motorbike trip through Africa or the like I'd take a petrol stove along but otherwise it's gas every time for me, either a tiny near-weightless titanium burner or a Jetboil depending if I'm on foot or on a bike. For camping in the UK, if it was between petrol and Trangia and choose the latter.
Regularly use an omnifuel sea kayaking or hiking, but also have lighter gas options available.
I run the omnifuel on Aspen 4T or equivalent, always burns cleanly, never had a problem with combustion fumes, and in winter regularly fire up in an extended tent porch without worrying. Previously had an MSR which I ran in standard unleaded, and that did need regular maintenance and care, and a ‘keen’ ear.
The thing to watch with a stove that can run on petrol and gas, is that if you swap to gas and there is still residual petrol in the line you will get a brief gas/petrol mix flare up when lighting.
I have however nearly been killed by a trangia due to fumes…..so I don’t like them.
Some of it comes down to whether you actually want to cook, rather than just melt and rehydrate stuff.
The relatively low out put of the meths trangia, that it can be turned down to almost nothing, the massive stability of the thing all makes cooking a joy. It's probably not something with a strong use case for edgy alpine ascents, but if you are in a less cutting edge situation, then being able to cook nice real food that requires a bit of simmering it hard to beat.
My best memory is cooking a Ratatouille, leaving on a low simmer while we went to the pub. The meths runs out so it stops cooking after 30 mins. Come back to tent warm up. Perfect.
I remember having this issue arriving in Yosemite 25 years ago. Luckily I found someone who could translate from English to American... They call meths denatured alcohol, had no problem finding it once I knew what to ask for
However I bought the gas conversion kit at some point and never went back - faster, cleaner burn.
However, with the gas upgrade and a non stick frying pan, the system still comes on every trip with me after 35 years
I'm one of those that uses what suits, petrol or gas depending on what I'm doing and the mode of transport and how long,, I even fired up my Esbit cooker a couple of weeks ago as I only needed coffee in the morning. I borrowed a Trangia once, we named it "the gazpacho cooker" after a miserable weekend.
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