I've heard mixed reviews on the two stove types, but my main concern is fuel availability along the southern tier route. Are their enough places to buy either type of fuel along the way, or is one more prevalent?
I really like my Canister Stove. That said availability of fuel has been poor in many place I have been on tour. I have only ridden a short bit of the Southern Tier, but fuel was not extremely available. On the Trans America cartridges were extremely hard to find from Pueblo to Virginia. In fact we never found any there.
When this comes up someone always seems to pipe up that you can get them at WalMart. I can say that we stopped at many WalMarts in the middle of the US and didn't find any isobutane cartridges. This was 2007, but I do not think that has changed. White gas was easier to find by far but often was only in gallon sized containers which are far more than I am willing to carry.
So neither are perfect choices.
Two options that I can recommend are:
- 1. Use an alcohol stove. My little Pepsi can stove has worked out well and I have always been able to find fuel.
- 2. Use the Isobutane cartridge stove and mail yourself or have someone mail you cartridges via general delivery. You have to mark the package
"Surface Mail Only
On our tour of the Sierras we planned to use our Pocket Rocket cartridge stove, but took a home made .5 ounce Pepsi can alcohol stove just in case. We wound up using the Pepsi can stove for more than half of the trip because we didn't find cartridges until day 19. We found yellow bottle HEET for the Pepsi can stove easily. Actually taking both wasn't bad since Pepsi can stove and pot stand combined were less than an ounce and we used the same windscreen for either stove. The yellow HEET comes in a very handy sized 12 ounce bottle.
The Pocket Rocket was nicer in a few ways, but the alcohol stove was adequate.