Tag Archives: camping

Butane Refill Tool, Revisited

It’s been 4 years since I did my little review on Camping In Taiwan’s butane refill tool, so I think we’re about due for a follow up. This revisit isn’t so much about the tool, but about the durability of the canisters themselves: are they safe to refill? What about rust? Will they eventually rupture?  The TL;DR answer is that canisters are sufficiently over-designed to allow numerous refills and even some degree of overfilling.

As a kind of proof, here is my 5-year-old MSR IsoButane canister, refilled 30+ times, and still going strong:

Snow Peak GigaPower run on MSR IsoButane canister, refilled with 100% butane

A note, that some low-quality butane fuels did cause some flecks and orange-coloured flames temporarily when using the canister in inverted mode with another stove. These seem to depend entirely on the quality of your refills (cheaper fuel = potentially more impurities). When using the canister in normal, upright mode (pictured), the flames always register clear and blue.

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Clean, blue flame

I have not noticed any rattling or structural integrity issues of the canister either – moisture contamination, if it is happening, doesn’t seem to be a large concern.  The more important factor than stress from refilling is wear and tear on the fitting’s seal – a few times during cold weather, the valve has stuck open when removing the stove (oops!). It closed itself again after a few seconds, but considering these canisters aren’t meant to last forever, I would look at the seal as the likeliest point of failure. I will likely retire the canister if (when) the sticking issue gets worse.

Over the course of my summer and fall hiking and camping, I have consumed at least 12 225g bayonet-style cylinders refilling the MSR canister. That’s about 24 full refills, though in reality I did many more partial refills. I manage to get my refills for about $1 each, which means over the course of the 4 years, I’ve spend $12 on fuel. Comparable 225g IsoButane canisters go for about $7.25, meaning I saved myself $75 on fuel over 4 years! The refill tool has certainly  paid for itself!

And the stove using the refilled canister still makes coffee just fine, too!

 

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Coffee!

 

Happy Stoving!

DIY Snow Peak GigaPower Windscreen

My snow peak GigaPower stove has been a great companion on day-hikes and trips when I haven’t wanted to haul out my bigger Coleman 2-burner (only really useful for car-camping) or my MSR WhisperLite. The fact that it actually simmers unlike the WhisperLite has also made it my go-to stove for any real backcountry cooking – that is to say, anything that requires more heat adjustment than boiling water.

But the shortcoming of this stove is its windscreen – or rather that lack thereof.  I was using my MSR aluminum-foil windscreen, but that lead to hot canisters (dangerous) and it was annoying to reach down and risk burning fingers to try adjusting the valve.

Snow Peak offers their own nice, lightweight, no-fuss windscreen for the GigaPower on their website:

…but of course, me being the hack that I am,  spending $12.50 for what is essentially an metal plate with holes is just hard to justify to myself.  So I made my own DIY prototype, with an unused aluminium pan from a broken camping cookset:

IMG_0417At 50g, this is the exact same weight as a bonafide Snow Peak windscreen – theirs is made of stainless steel – but at a fraction of the cost. Go to a garage sale, or Canadian Tire, and you can often find these plates for a dollar or two amongst someone’s camping gear or in the discount section.

But how does it work? Pretty well, actually! Being slightly deeper than the official GigaPower wind screen, my small pot set is almost cradled:

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Despite a fan blowing at full 6 feet away, the flame remains upright
The Snow Peak windscreen leaves a 1/2″ gap between the legs and the bottom of a pot

The fan test showed good results with the windscreen. The stove was able to boil water! Without any windscreen, the flame’s heat just blew away too quickly to even warm the pot of water in a reasonable amount of time.

 

Flame comparison:

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….and viewed from the top:

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All in all, a respectable prototype from a DIY project that took 15 minutes!