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Looking for a new stove

Traveling in New Zealand, we had a few days to find white gas (naptha) for my MSR Dragonfly before we started a 3-day 'tramping' (backpacking) trip on Stewart Island. After visiting numerous outdoors retailers, we were unable to find any - all we could find was butane or propane in the little bottles. Finally (about an hour before our flight to the remote Stewart Island!) we stumbled upon a shop that sold 1L bottles of 'Coleman Fuel' only to find later that most outdoor shops didn't sell it because it was so easy to find at a gas station! But they usually call it 'white spirits' - even my references to 'white gas' had most people stumped. Most gas stations will brand it differently but with the word 'lite' in the name - i.e. Shellite is Shell's brand of naptha stove fuel. A few times we had it in our hands at gas stations without knowing it - I figured it was stove alcohol, not naptha, and wasn't sure if the Dragonfly would have used it without messing around with different jets etc.
I thought I'd post pics of my Optimus (sitting on the back deck of my Mariner Express) to give you all an idea of how compact it is in its own container. Remember that this little gem is 40 years old (at least).


I can hardly believe it, but Optimus still makes a version of my stove. It's called the Himalaya Hiker. Here is a link:


They've gone up in price (or maybe the dollar has just dropped in value; choose one) and MSRP looks like about $189 but street price looks like about $139.

I'm sure there are more modern designs out there but this stove has stood the test of time, has been modernized to burn different fuels, and is stable on almost any surface. I see they've added a pump. Maybe the younger generation couldn't figure out how to make the old ones work. <smirk> (I hope my face doesn't freeze this way.)
Craig, your version of that Optimus was pretty big beans in Seattle in the late 1960's; the hard core backcountry crowd adhered to the Svea 123 (of which there was an Optimus variant). Because the tank was not so closely attached to the burner, your stove would sometimes fail to maintain tank pressure when the air temp was very cold; the Svea was better in that regard, but had its own problems.

Somewhere in there Larry Penberthy (founder of MSR) got a burr up and began making stoves similar to the types now sold under that brand, which REI now owns, IIRC. Penberthy was a really strange guy, and had a fortune generated from his electromelt business in S Seattle. He had been an active climber in his day, but was pretty much an overweight old fogey when he began making ice axes and stoves. Maybe I can relate to that. His thesis was that a lot of climbing gear was unsafe (ice axes, 'biners, helmets, etc.) and he got in REI's face over this, principally about ice axe design.

Here is a link to an unauthorized couple pages about Penberthy. http://www.oregonphotos.com/MSR1.html Be sure to hit the second page ... it has a priceless photo from the year when Larry was convinced that ingestion of ammoniun chloride would help prevent altitude sickness, using urine pH to see if you had downed enough of the stuff. He had a couple legions of Mt. Rainier climbers experimenting with this stuff ... completely nutsoid. A buddy did an attempt on one of the longer ridges on Rainier with Larry and another old fart. A complete CF!
Hi everyone

I am looking for some information on a butane-mix canister called '190 gr'

I just received a stove that I was told was from Europe or the middle east... but it uses a type of canister that is called '190 gr', and after googling it, I have come across a post that says it may also be called c206 gaz. The name 'bluett' was mentioned in that post, too.

The fuel canister sits inside the lower base/canister-holder, and looks to be about 3 1/2" in dia. and about the same in height.

So, do any of you stove experts have any info on where I might find some of the appropriate fuel canisters?

many thanks

kelly t

I could be wrong here, but perhaps that "190 gr" identifies the net weight of the contents?

The more critical aspect of the canister is the connection it makes with the stove. Check the threads on your stove and compare them with the threads on other gas stoves at MEC or similar. Once you find a stove with identical threads, they should take the same type of canister.

I suspect the canisters available on this continent may have a different profile, but would still provide the correct mixture. I'm betting the mixture is a variant of the propane-isobutane mixture common in MSR stoves, etc. This one: http://www.msrgear.com/stoves/isopro.asp

Primus sells similar cartridges: http://tinyurl.com/49bzeg in various capacities. I have one rated to contain 450 g.

There are knockoffs available, also. I get some under Master Glow locally.
Arrrgh! Belay what I just posted. It is wrong. the "190 gr" identifies the capacity of the canister, all right, but the attachment to the stove is different. I think the canister you want is the common "Gaz" cartridge, such as this one:
http://www.worldofcamping.co.uk/shop/De ... ductID=824

These originally were intended for use with the old Bluett Gaz stoves, which used a pure butane fuel. Current cartridges use a mixture of isobutane and propane, I think.

Don't know if they are available in Canada. They are sold at REI down here. I bet MEC has them.
Don't know if they are available in Canada. They are sold at REI down here. I bet MEC has them.

The availability issue, and the necessity to find *exactly* the right cartridge when you need one, is the very reason I did not want to move to the cartridge-fuel camping stoves. Not to mention the disposal problem. Finding "Coleman" fuel (naptha) is bad enough.

It's even easier to find stoves that simply burn gasoline which, for a few years at least, should be easy to find. Maybe they'll manufacture a model that burns shale.

So I stick with liquid fuel camp stoves and decant fuel from the 1-gallon containers into something that I can tote along. At least it's always full.

Craig Jungers
Moses Lake, WA

Thanks! Yup, that seems to be the one. It appears to be an old style, where the can is pierced as it is pushed into the holder, then clipped in.
MEC does not stock the canisters, and the more common ones by primus et al will not fit, as there is not a screw-on fitting.... I wonder if there is an adapter type of fitting that I could locate somewhere that would let me burn the common types of fuel.....

thanks, as always, for the great info!!

kelly t
Stumpy said:
harbor freight has a propane refill kit that allows you to refill 16oz bottles from a 20# canister; cost of the kit is about $20. I've never tried one, but it seems pretty cool to refill them, as well as a lot cheaper.

I finally got around to checking this out; seems pretty cool (and simple)!

http://maccoupler.com/ 8)
Time to revive this informative thread...

Here is a brief report of testing undertaken over the past year that compares the MSR Whisperlite (naphtha/whitegas), the MSR Windpro (butane), and the Trangia (alcohol) systems. Since the field testing was undertaken by expedition kayakers, I figured it would be appropriate to post to WCP. The author is David Craig, sea kayaking/marine natural history instructor at Prescott College.


I've also used the Optimus.

Used mine for about 40 years now. I think it is the 8R model. (NOT the Hiker model) I like it a lot. I've had it rebuilt with some parts which have been available at places like army surplus stores.

There is a small pump available that works well with it, although hand warming / priming usually works.

A user gets used to what ever stove they have and this one is easy to use once used to it...

The drawback for Me is weight. I'm new to sea kayaking and have a smaller capacity which is fine except when I will need to carry more than 2 days of water.

A stove, I'm considering is another Optimus. The Nova or Nova+. I'm not familiar with it but have trusted Optimus and it gets great reviews.


My stove is the size of oldsailor's (pictured May 16, 2008). Don't confuse it with another stove that looks similar but is larger and heaver named the hiker. The smaller version is ok for hiking but a little heavy... The larger version is unexceptable for lightwight use.

It looks like Optimus doesn't make the 8R today. If it was important for a person to have one they can be bought used, but the new ones are probably better.
That is a useful study, in part because most of the stove users are novices or relatively new to the stoves. The failures would likely be smaller in number for experienced users, so perhaps the study is a good benchmark for a "worst case" comparison.

The results are a strong endorsement of the simplicity and ease of use of the alcohol stove system. Something most of us perhaps overlook.

(Won't alter my personal preferences for my own use, but it is very useful for someone contemplating a stove who is new to the game.)
I liked reading David Craig's stove report that MartinZ provided.

My criticism is that he is comparing stoves that I would not consider for purchase to just one excellent stove, the trangia, which of course topped the list on all comparisons. I would rather that he had compared the trangia to other good quality stoves like the dragonfly, and perhaps a good propane burner, or even a bluett butane job.
Having posted David Craig's interesting report I thought it might be useful to post a few comments from my perspective as equipment logistician:

I was disappointed with the Optimus hiker. I bought one to test (see the report), but it failed me before even going out into the field. The button detached itself from the pump arm the first time I used it. It had been attached with glue. The pump arm disappeared into the tank and was retrieved after much operator growling. Then the tank slide mechanism seemed to seize - again it looked like poor fabrication of what was originally a pretty nifty design.

After it returned from the sea kayaking course I sold it - with a heavy heart. I have fond memories of meals in beautiful places with fine friends gathered around the old Hiker stove. Its sad to see such a fine piece of engineering reproduced poorly.

I've been generally impressed with the high quality of all MSR products. I'm not a fan of plastic pumps, and while the MSR has done a good job of producing an elegant design in plastic, I am, never-the-less compelled to send back several every year (which MSR replaces without question, to their credit). Once the plastic pump cylinder is scratched there isn't much that can be done (caused by operator error - sand on pump cups during field cleaning I suspect).

The MSR Windpro is every logistician's dream. Out of the 30 I have that go out routinely, the most serious failure was the loss of the burner top screw mentioned in Dave's report. I dropped one in salt water - twice - last year without any noticeable effects. I wonder whether sand might clog the tiny fuel intake port, but it hasn't happened yet to any of our stoves.

As for the "venerable MSR Whisperlite" we continue to struggle with keeping our current "fleet" afloat. We've got about 80 of them, about a third of which require some kind of attention after coming back in to our warehouse from the field. In fairness, most of the problems can be traced back to operator error in the field. This is a fine little stove, but I now feel confident in saying that they are not the right choice for a program like ours (http://www.prescott.edu/about/index.html). We have not purchased any replacements for a couple of years. Instead, we will move towards the MSR XGK which will be used primarily in our mountaineering and winter ski courses. The XGK was not featured in David's Stove Report because none were available for his course to take.

The Trangias continue to be a hit with most of our users. I haven't had them in stock long enough to have a feel for what they will require maintenance-wise. So far, nothing beyond a good clean to get sand and left-over food particles off the windscreen. I've been using my own for about a year - daily use at my place making morning coffee and evening dinners. Plus, several excursions to local lakes and a couple of Sea of Cortez week-long paddles. Personal story: One morning the stove lid o-ring stayed on the stove after I removed the lid. I failed to see it in the pre-dawn darkness, lit the stove and, a few minutes later, wondered where the odd, rubbery smell was coming from. We'll call that operator error...