Any consensus on what stove(s) work well in winter alpine conditions?
Looking for light, small pack size, robust.
But also, more importantly, very quick and easy to use, not too affected by pretty low temps, relatively reliable in a bit of a draft, reasonable performance at moderate altitude (3-4K)??
What are all you slick chamonix alpinistes using?!
Bump because I'm interested. Not a clue though, sorry.
For what it's worth, a friend and I had massive trouble cooking in the Lakes last winter on a multi day walk due to low temperatures (-17oC I think was the lowest) and windchill, to the point where we couldn't boil water or melt snow. He's since bought an MSR Windburner and although it's been brilliant so far we haven't used it in conditions anywhere close to those.
Gas suffers in the cold, as it relies on the vapour pressure of the gas in the canister which is temperature dependent. Having said that, they are light and effective if you can warm the canister a bit before use. In a sock or hat in the sleeping bag works.
Jetboil type stuff is great for boiling water. If you plan on living on soup, boil in bag or dehydrated stuff they are great. Probably the best lightweight option for taking on a route. Crap for actual cooking though.
For options with separate pans:
Gas stoves that screw on top of the canister are light but crap if there is any wind.
Gas stoves with a hose and separate burner work better but weigh more. If the hose is long enough you can be naughty and get a boost by dipping the canister in the warm water. Primus gravity is a good option.
Then there's petrol. No problems with pressure but faffy and tend to flare. I have turned away from the fancy multifuel stoves lately and gone for a v simple optimus 123r with midi pump. The pump bit is vital as it's crap in self pressurising mode.
MSR XGK and Whisperlight international or something like a primus omnifuel would be more mainstream options.
tl;dr: If I had the budget for two stoves I would probably take a jetboil for the routes and something like a primus gravity for the valley.
It is a cracking lightweight stove but bobbins in the wind (we struggled to get a brew on on the summit of Snowdon with one) and not mega stable. I've used an MSR gas stove (dragonfly?) with an external gas supply so you can use the heat from the hot water to keep the gas warm (dangerous but effective). I still tend to do this for base camp/car use.
I've started to use a jet boil style stove (mine's an Alpkit brukit) but with the caveat about gas in the cold. You can fit a hanging kit too.
Disclosure: zero alpine winter experience on my part but a fair bit of UK winter wild camping.
I've used a primus omnifuel up at 3800m camping on the plan du midi in the spring. The thermometer on my watch reckoned that it was -18c one night. We stayed up there for a week and used the one stove for all our cooking and water melting using liquid primus fuel. It performed perfectly and the temperature didn't seem to make any difference, apart from needing a little longer to prime in the morning.
It's certainly not a light option though, and I wouldn't have wanted to be carrying it on a route, or even a long approach!
In reply to angry pirate: I'm the same experience wise, no alpine, but plenty of camping (and non camping tea making) experience in the UK in the winter. I'd say a multi fuel or petrol stove of some kind. Mine is coming up 20 years old so I expect there have been improvements since then, but fwiw it's an MSR.
I've been shouted at before for saying this but for cold weather a simple bodge is just to use a remote cylinder gas stove with a generator loop and turning the cylinder upside down after getting it warmed up. The pressure from the propane is enough to force the liquid butane into the generator loop where it's vapourised and it burns fine. It will flare a little at first but once you trim the gas flow it settles down fine.
I came back from my first trip to the Himalayas, where we'd used Jetboils and Reactors, with a bit of a tick list for a stove that solved some of the issues we'd had: obviously cold issues with the gas, and the canister melting into the snow with use, then getting stuck; the unstable nature of stoves on a gas canister (we lost a few hours worth of melted snow when we knocked a stove over, clumsiness from cold and altitude); a big volume pot for melting snow.
I could have gone for a liquid fuel stove, but the Jetboil Helios seemed to tick all the boxes, and works well. I just like the lack of fuss of gas. It has a pre-heater circuit, a remote cylinder line, and the canister is inverted, and a big pot with heat exchanger. It's not the lightest though, and a bit bulky. Better for base camp than bivvys.
For lighter weight, but almost as good, I also have the Alpkit remote gas stove, which also has a pre-heater circuit, and is very light! I pair it with a small kettle with a heat exchanger base, and it's now my most used set up, almost as fast as a jet boil.
I think the problem is that not all gas stoves have generator tubes as omitting them is an easy way to cut weight. Turning the canister upside down is fine if your stove has a generator but can be a bad idea if it doesn't.
Another technique I picked up from my Russian friends was each stove set up had a 1/4 of a fire blanket, the blanket was just draped over the whole set up, pot, stove and canister, heat inside kept canister warm and wind out, weighed next to nothing and could be used as a sit mat too!
I've used my jetboil in cold conditions with no problem, including in the alps in winter, in Alaska and in the Himalaya. As others have said, warming up the gas bottle in your pocket before cooking is important. A good home-made hanging kit for the jetboil is super useful for poor bivvy ledges, tiny tents, and prewing up whilst out on long days.
My climbing partner in nepal had a great set-up for getting the jetboil to work well in the cold: a foam insulating ring was made to fit around the canister. a piece of copper was then tucked into this foam, and into the flame, meaning that heat from the flame was transferred to the gas canister. This should probably come with a safety warning, but it is very effective- we cooked with it in -20 conditions at nearly 6000m.
I think Will Sim and Jon Griffiths had a grim time on the cassin ridge because the valve on their screw-on canister froze up, meaning they couldn't get their jetboil going to melt water, sounded pretty serious.
> I've been shouted at before for saying this but for cold weather a simple bodge is just to use a remote cylinder gas stove with a generator loop and turning the cylinder upside down after getting it warmed up. The pressure from the propane is enough to force the liquid butane into the generator loop where it's vapourised and it burns fine. It will flare a little at first but once you trim the gas flow it settles down fine.
This is my tactic in cold weather. I have a remote-canister gas stove and, using the inverted canister method, I've been able to use it at -12C with no issues.
> Another technique I picked up from my Russian friends was each stove set up had a 1/4 of a fire blanket, the blanket was just draped over the whole set up, pot, stove and canister, heat inside kept canister warm and wind out, weighed next to nothing and could be used as a sit mat too!
Does it keep oxygen out as well ? Just wondering if the stove would burn properly or kill you by producing CO