Forums The Gear Room Winter Camping – Stove/Pot???
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  • #574743
    104 Posts

    Just returned from a three day/two nighter up Trophy Mountain outside of Clearwater, BC and it was pretty incredible to say the least. Any time that I can get blower pow/face shots in the middle of April is a good time!

    I’m just wondering what everyone has found to be the most efficient large cooking pot for winter camping? The average temp was -8C/17.6F at 2140m/7020ft and we (2 people) used my Coleman Xtreme Powermax stove with Powermax fuel (butane/propane blend) which I have used for years.

    The pot that I used was a large stainless pot with a lid and a pseudo wind screen that I made up out of an old six pack box and some tin foil…it was surprisingly effective and very scientific …ha….my preference is to take one large pot rather than multiple pots so I’m looking at a 2.5-3 litre pot which can fill up two 1L water bottles and leave enough for cooking.

    I know that I could get a lot better boiling times if I used a better pot with a heat exchanger so I was just wondering what has worked best for everyone else? I love my Coleman stove but maybe it is time to trade up to a MSR Reactor/stove system or the Jetboil Group Cooking System….any recommendations/thoughts/experiences?

    282 Posts

    Personally I don’t fuck around with isobutane for cold weather stuff. I know you can warm them with external packets and in your jacket blah blah, I’ve even used windscreens CAREFULLY to keep the canister warm. My experience is from an MSR pocket rocket and MSR branded fuel and Snowpeak giga whatever canisters in around 20-30 degree F weather.

    My workhorse winter stove is a Primus Omnifuel with a 4L aluminum pot with a normal windscreen. The thing is incredible. Usually boils more water faster than MSR DragonFlys and Whisper lights. Very very stable pot stand as well. Bomber metal fuel pump. Priming is also relatively easy too with the large cotton wick type thing in the bottom that soaks up fuel.

    Here’s a picture of it in action during snow camping:

    A good tight windscreen helps a lot, the lid helps and note the pot insulator I made out of the reflective bubble wrap from the hardware store. Saw another dude use this stuff for this purpose and it makes a world of a difference keeping things warm in the pot! And the foil backing lets you take the pot right off the stove and place it in the “pot cozy”.

    The bad news is that it is heavy even for a stove in its class. The “no leak” bottle flipping thing they advertise doesn’t really work for me as I still get some gas on me when disconnecting but not as much as normal. It’s also expensive and not as common as MSR stuff so replacement parts and what not will be harder to come by.

    Hope this helps! :rock:

    498 Posts

    I second aliasptr has stated

    I carry a MSR Rocket as an emergency stove and I have MSR Whisperlite International. Previously I had and old MSR XGK for winter camping.

    The MSR XGK is the stove to have for winter camping and boiling water, especially for a large group. If you need to cook and fry dishes, then the Whisperlite is great stove.

    A year ago, my wife and I had to emergency winter bivouac. That night I could get the Rocket stove started, but in the morning could not. I should have disassembled the stove and put the fuel canister in my sleeping bag to keep the fuel warm. Longer boil time too than XGK.

    Now I carry the Wisperlite, wish I still had the XGK!

    The XGK rocks.

    89 Posts

    MSR Pocket Rocket and sleep with the canister inside. Light titanium or aluminum (al transfers heat better) tea kettle. This makes melting snow in the tent way easier.

    726 Posts

    White gas stoves are proven as the most efficient snow-melters but they’re heavy. Isobutate stoves are lightweight but unless you use one that allows you to invert the canister upsidedown they are ineffective in cold weather. My recommendation is to either:

    1. Carry a white gas stove (MSR Whisperlite is the standard)
    2. Carry an inverted canister stove system (Coleman, MSR, and Brunton all make versions of this)

    White gas stove:

    Inverted canister stove:


    104 Posts

    Thanks for your input everyone! I guess that where I am still at is that I am just looking for a pot with a heat exchanger that is compatible with my stove. I don’t really need a multi-fuel stove unless will sponsor a trip to the Himalayas??? Bueller…Bueller…anyone…ha…just kidding…..

    The other stoves sound good but I don’t see any advantage to them over my old Coleman. My Powermax fuel canister actually sat in the snow all weekend and I never had a problem and that is with an average temp of -8C/17F and the first night it easily got down to -15C/5F. There is zero fuel waste when connecting/disconnecting, no fuel pump/priming to mess around with and The 60/40 butane/propane mix and the liquid withdrawal system delivered all weekend.

    From Coleman’s website….

    Coleman’s exclusive high-performance butane/propane (60/40) blend dramatically extends the operational range of backpacking appliances. High altitude and incredible cold don’t phase this fuel. It’s delivered via a liquid withdraw system that ensures consistent output, even when the fuel level in the canister is low. No fighting the drop-offs you get with propane and butane canisters, which rely on vapor pressure. Each Powermax cartridge has a resealable connection so that you can detach the cartridge to pack it, then reattach it later. No fuel goes to waste. And canisters are recyclable.

    Coleman Powermax – 60/40 blend of butane/propane
    MSR Isopro fuel – 80/20 blend of isobutane and propane
    Jetboil Jetpower fuel – ?/? blend of isobutane and propane

    I just tracked down a really technical chemistry based explanation as to why the Powermax fuel is so effective in the cold and basically it comes down to the liquid withdrawal system. Here is the link

    So…anyone know of any good pots? :doobie:

    498 Posts
    1490 Posts

    I tend to disagree with the white gas vs isobutane comments here. For short trips (2-3 nights) I prefer the ease of use, and super fast boil times of the MSR Reactor setup-this is perfect for two to three people on shorter trips. I have no problems with isobutane down to around 0 degrees F, and not having to constantly pump and prime is a huge hassle reliever, and saves time on those early AM alpine starts.
    For expeditions, and super cold below zero (F) temperatures, then I go for the XGK and the white gas.

    460 Posts

    I agree with Barrows. The Reactor is tops for quick boilage and smaller groups.

    For an extended basecamp situation a bigger heavier pot + heat exchanger + cozy w/ XGK type stove is the ticket.

    I have used that MSR XPD heat exchanger a bunch and it improves performance, but an integrated pot/heat exchanger combo is superior.

    Interesting about the Coleman fuel. All cannister fuels rage for the first about 1/2-3/4 and then go out w/ a whimper, but again for the right trip w/ the right stove they are the ticket.

    christoph benells
    717 Posts

    short trips- msr reactor
    long trips- msr xkg

    343 Posts

    I haven’t used my jet boil in extreme conditions, but I have boiled water quickly at the resort to make a dry soup, and I have used the jet boil pot as you have pictured to prepare those pacs of lentil soup, or rice, or canned stuff, but only in temperatures around freezing, but so far so good!

    264 Posts

    @samh wrote:

    2. Carry an inverted canister stove system (Coleman, MSR, and Brunton all make versions of this)

    Inverted canister stove:

    I want to inform everyone including samh that the pictured device above is NOT for inverting your canister stove. This is ONLY a canister converter for butane stoves that allows you utilize a windscreen with your stove. It safely keeps the canister away from the burner to prevent heat reflection back onto the canister. It also offers better stability by lowering your stove’s center of gravity. If you invert a full fuel canister while using this device it can result in a flare-up because there’s no generator tube to safely convert the fuel from liquid to vapor. Note: You can safely invert a fuel canister when it’s nearly empty while using this device.

    The ONLY butane canister stoves that are designed to be inverted are the following…

    Snow Peak Li Crab
    Coleman Fyrestorm Ti
    Coleman Xtreme Powermax w/ inverted canister converter
    Jetboil Helios (group cookset only)

    MSR also recommends to invert the canister on their Windpro stove when it’s almost empty, but it’s strongly NOT recommended to invert it on a full canister due to possible flare-ups or gumming up around the valve causing issues. Note: Even though there’s a generator tube on the Windpro, it’s not engineered to handle the high pressure of a full canister. That’s why there’s no canister stand that comes with this stove to hold the fuel inverted.

    Mark (Snow Peak Rep) 😉

    947 Posts


    Thanks for checking in. I currently have a snowpeak gigapower and have only used it on spring trips, although it has gotten quite cold at times. The bottom line for me with canister stoves is that you have to carry more fuel then think you’ll need because of the pressure issue when they’re near empty. This is fine if you also use it to cook while car camping from time to time as I always carry a FULL canister into the BC with me, but the partial ones can work pretty good.

    Regarding keeping a canister in your sleeping bag with you, well, honestly, if it’s that cold you’re probably sleeping with you bootliners too right? And a waterbottle? So just stick the canister in your bootliner and you haven’t used any extra space in your bag/bivy.

    Also, I live on the west coast, and general ride in the Sierra and Cascades, so extreme cold temps are not a huge concern. This being said, I’ve used canister stoves down to single digit temps. Again, you just have to prewarm the canister, just like you would with a butane lighter…

    …and I KNOW lots of you guys are using butane lighters in all kinds of temps and conditions!

    726 Posts

    Mark, just curious but is your statement above “lawyer speak” or absolute truth? Thanks.


    343 Posts

    @fitit wrote:

    I haven’t used my jet boil in extreme conditions, but I have boiled water quickly at the resort to make a dry soup, and I have used the jet boil pot as you have pictured to prepare those pacs of lentil soup, or rice, or canned stuff, but only in temperatures around freezing, but so far so good!

    Update: I tried the jetboil the other day at 14F, and had difficulty getting water to boil quickly as I was used to. I was using a 4-season blend, but maybe I need something fuel more winter specific.

    264 Posts

    @samh wrote:

    Mark, just curious but is your statement above “lawyer speak” or absolute truth? Thanks.

    If & when I speak I only speak what I know to be the truth. The reason for my statement is purely from a point of providing correct informing and thus safety. It has nothing to do with any “legal” speak. 😉

    The device you posted is specifically (and only) designed to convert an “upright” canister stove into a “remote” type stove that can then be safely used with a wind screen to improve the stove’s performance. If this device was actually intended as a converter for “inverting” a stove it would be marketed that way by the manufacture and it would probably come with some type of a stand to safely hold the fuel canister inverted. It would also need a generator tube built into it’s design which it does not.

    I’ve heard that supposedly some have managed to get this conversion device to safely (relatively speaking) burn an “inverted” canister when the canister was nearly empty and combined with some fine-tuned adjusting of the flame control. I have some doubts about these claims due to how inverted the canister may have been because the adjuster valve attached to the top often makes the canister sit slightly canted when inverted allowing vapor still into the fuel-line. No matter what was achieved, the issue of flare-up is still VERY present with this set-up because if ANY liquid fuel is injected into the fuel-line, there’s no “generator tube” to safely vaporize the fuel before it’s ignited.

    All the butane stoves that are currently designed to be use with an “inverted” canister have generator tubes. All “remote” canister stoves and “liquid-fuel” stoves also have generator tubes as well. With out the “g-tube” these stoves can’t convert the liquid fuel into vapor.

    If you have any doubt about my statement then simply go light an “upright” stove and then knock it over onto its side or give it a good shake and see what happens. When the canister introduces the liquid fuel into the burner you’ll see the flare-up that I speak of. PLEASE TAKE CAUTION IF YOU DO THIS TEST!!! :thumpsup:

    Mark (Snow Peak Rep)

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