• Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • What's the Point of Spotting Highball Boulder Problems?
  • Closet Car: Is it Safe to Store Climbing Gear in Your Vehicle?
  • Can a Belay Device Jam Open?
  • Marking the Middle of a Rope
  • Fitting Rock Shoes to Problematic Feet
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • When Your Partner Steals Your Gear...
  • Can You Climb on a Wet Rope?
  • Can You Decrease Fall Factor?
  • Should You Be Allowed to Practice Lead Falls in the Gym?
  • Rope Certifications: Twins, Doubles, or Both?
  • Are Cam Placements Compromised in Wet Rock?
  • What's the Correct Way to Girth Hitch to Your Harness?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • The Holding Power of Nuts
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • Should I Worry About Spinning Bolt Hangers?
  • Belay-Loop Myth
  • Rock Cleaning Made Easy
  • More, on the EDK
  • Why Not Clip Directly to Cam-Stem Loops?
  • Can You Recommend A Self-Release Knot?
  • What's The Protocol For Naming a Route After Yourself?
  • Is Dropped Gear Still Safe?
  • Can Ropes and Slings Be Contaminated By Essential Oils?
  • Is It Okay to Wear Socks with Rock Climbing Shoes?
  • How Should You Test Gear Placements?
  • Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?
  • A Better EDK?
  • What's the Difference Between a Double and a Single Rope?
  • Does It Count As a Free Ascent If You Grab the Anchor?
  • Can You Use Cams As Passive Pro?
  • I Found a Rope - Is it Safe to Use?
  • Am I Using a Daisy Chain Wrong?
  • Should I Buy a Plastic or Foam Helmet?
  • Why Doesn't Anyone Climb in Knickers Anymore?
  • Is Weight or Range More Important in Cams?
  • The Mysterious Phenomenon of Rope Shrinkage
  • Worst-Case Scenario - A Factor 2 Fall
  • The Trouble With Glue-In Bolts
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Nuts and Bolts
  • Why Are Climbing Shoes So Expensive?
  • Flaws in the Yosemite Decimal System
  • How Durable is Trad Gear?
  • Using Super Glue on Your Fingers
  • The Worst Gear Ever Invented
  • Rap Ring Strength
  • Spinners and Losers
  • Why Do People Use Oval Biners?
  • Is it Ethical to Clean a New Route?
  • Aid Climbing = Moped Riding
  • Cam Care and Maintenance Guide
  • Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are My Modified Crampons Safe?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip Ice Screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • How to Place Ice Tools and Crampons - Will Gadd's Tips
  • How to Place Ice Screws - Will Gadd's Tips
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your Fingertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • How to Hand Drill
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming the Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Will sports drinks freeze more slowly than water?
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  • Video Spotlight
    WIDE BOYZ: Spradventure (Full Film)
    WIDE BOYZ: Spradventure (Full Film)
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    Choosing a Stove Fuel


    What's the difference between propane, butane and isobutane? What stove fuel should I use?

    All three gases are canister fuels. Stored under pressure, the fuel vapors compress into liquid, making it possible to pack a lot of fuel into a small canister. When the liquid fuel is released from the canister, it re-vaporizes and burns hot. Canister fuels burn cleanly, don't require priming, deliver almost instant heat and require only simple burner stoves that can weigh just a few ounces.

    Under pressure, propane becomes liquid-propane gas (LPG), commonly used to heat homes and fire up Dad's barbecue grill. Propane burns the hottest and best in below-freezing temperatures and is the best of the three gases. But because LPG has to be stored under much higher pressure than the other fuels, it requires a heavy steel canister, making it impractical for climbing stoves. Propane canisters also have large screw tops that won't fit onto lightweight climbing or backpacking stoves, so rule it out as an option. Propane is the ideal canister fuel for car-camping stoves such as the ubiquitous two-burner Coleman.

    Butane is the gas you find in Bic lighters. Because it operates at a much lower psi than propane, it can be packaged in lightweight canisters. Butane works well in above-freezing temperatures where canister pressure is sufficient to deliver gas to the burner, but as the thermometer plummets so does canister pressure, which was low to begin with. In winter, or on a cold mountain, the barely trickling butane doesn't cut the mustard. To help propel butane out of the canister, it is usually mixed with 20 to 30 percent propane. Propane improves performance, but because the gases burn off at different rates, you run out of propane first, leaving you with the nearly unusable butane.

    Isobutane is another low-pressure fuel and has better cold-weather performance than butane, but barely. It, too, is often mixed with propane for cold-weather use.

    For cooking in temps above 40, the type of gas you use doesn't matter -- get whatever is handy and cheap. In colder temps you'll need a blended fuel. I've found that the propane, isobutane and butane mixes work best, although you still must keep the fuel warm for optimal performance. The easiest way to do this is to use two canisters, one on the stove and the other in your jacket or bag. When the stove canister cools and loses pressure, swap it out with the warmed canister. A sloppy option is to set the canister in a shallow pan of water, which will warm the canister. I've also tried keeping canisters warm with chemical heat packs, with poor results. Homemade heat-exchangers, such as flattened copper tubing coiled around the canister and with one end protruding in the flame, certainly warm the fuel. So much so, in fact, that use of such a contraption may soon have you counting your 70 virgins in paradise. A recent promising invention is the inverted canister stove, the Coleman Fyrestorm. This unique design flips the canister upside down, using gravity to feed the liquid gas from the canister, rather than relying on canister pressure to deliver gas vapor to the burner. Because canister pressure is irrelevant, cold-weather performance could rival that of white gas, and burner output should remain constant even as the canister empties. In the coming months I'll be testing the Fyrestorm, comparing it to conventional canister and white-gas stoves. (The Fyrestorm also burns white gas; it could be the most versatile stove yet.) Jetboil also has an inverted canister stove in the works. Coupled with the Jetboil heat-exchanger system, that stove could be the ticket. I'll test that stove as soon as it is available and let you know if it's the schnitzel.


    GOT A QUESTION? E-mail Gear Guy! rockandicegearguy@gmail.com

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