Author Topic: Northern Tier and which stove  (Read 5623 times)

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Offline Inge

Northern Tier and which stove
« on: November 11, 2018, 02:11:47 am »
Have ridden the Pacific Coast last summer and contemplating cycling the Northern Tier for a next trip. What surprised me was the ease with which to get gas canister in comparison to Cloeman/ Crown fuel. I took with me my MSR dragonfly and had to really search and ask for Coleman fuel (1L. containers) wheras gas canister where available left, right and center. Do not really like using petrol.

I am wondering is it just as easy to get canisters along the Northern Tier as it was on the PCT? For if it is I will be bringing a gas stove (Triangia) instead of my Dragonfly.

I would really appreciate thounghts on this this from those who have ridden the Northern Tier recently.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 01:06:11 pm »
I can't answer the question directly as when I did both the PC and the NT, I was not cooking.  However, since the PC has more population and more "outdoor" activities I would guess the PC has an easier time with gas canisters.  That said, most Wal-marts have the canisters.  A regular alcohol stove would probably have the fuel readily available due to the northern climate.  HEET, a gas line antifreeze for cars that is good for alcohol stoves, is readily available in the northern states.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2018, 07:12:24 pm »
I don't think finding canisters for a stove would be a problem.  Outdoor stores are all over the place until maybe you get to eastern Montana and North Dakota but they're still not that hard to find even then. Usually a hardware store will have them. Walmarts always seem to have a selection of canisters and they are , as we know, ubiquitous.

Offline Inge

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2018, 12:45:11 am »
John & Hikerjer - thanks for your replies.
On the PC I found Wallmarts far apart sometimes nearly too far to rely on for Coleman. Do about 3.5 weeks with 1L of Coleman fuel. Yet indeed there were plenty of hardware stores selling gascanisters.

"HEET, a gas line antifreeze for cars that is good for alcohol stoves, is readily available in the northern states" - that is good to know. What kind of stores do carry heet? And how about their size since I do not want to carry a gallon of it. But when taking a Triangia I can make sure I can use both gas and alcohol.
How easy is: Denatured Alcohol/ Solvent Alcohol to get or is that similar to Heet?


Is there a way to find out where to get canisters along the route?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2018, 09:09:49 am »
Places that sell HEET are Walmart, most auto parts stores (O'Reilly's, AutoZone), gas stations/convenience stores & truck stops (sometimes), etc.  It is available pretty easy up north.  In Texas it is harder since freezing temps are less likely.

They come in 12ox bottles so are easy to carry.  Do NOT put in a regular aluminum fuel bottle as the fuel would be corrosive to the fuel bottle.  Here is a sample bottle: 

https://smile.amazon.com/HEET-28201-24PK-Antifreeze-Water-Remover/dp/B00B966CU6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1542031527&sr=8-5&keywords=heet

BTW, you usually buy them by the single bottle, not the case as shown in the picture.

Hope this helps, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2018, 10:12:59 am »
If you're considering alcohol, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different forms.

An alcohol stove will burn any kind of alcohol: ethanol, ethanol/methanol mixture, methanol or isopropanol, in that preference order. Pure ethanol is sold in liquor stores and is expensive (and thus not really practical). Denatured alcohol is a ethanol/methanol mixture, and is available in the paint department of hardware stores. It adds some methanol to the ethanol to make it undrinkable, but it is typically sold in larger containers than I would want. Methanol is readily available in modest quantities from gas stations and WalMart in the form of yellow HEET gas-line antifreeze. Methanol, however, is toxic to breathe or absorb, so caution is advised. Isopropanol is available in auto parts stores as red HEET, and in drug stores as rubbing alcohol. It is sooty when it burns. Rubbing alcohol has just marginally enough concentration of alcohol (70%) to even burn.

Offline TCS

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2018, 11:13:42 pm »
In Texas it is harder since freezing temps are less likely.

In the off chance a Southern Tier rider is reading this Northern Tier thread, 'Alcohol Stove Fuel' and 'Denatured Alcohol' are both widely available in one quart cans with snap tight lids throughout Texas.  I've seen plenty of HEAT (in the yellow bottle) throughout Texas, used to deal with water condensate in automotive & boat fuel.  Any Texas liquor store will have 190 proof Everclear in 750ml glass bottles.
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Offline Inge

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2018, 01:00:00 am »
John & John & TCS - thanks for the replies. They are veryu useful.
John Nettles - thanks for the information on where to get Heet - had never heard of it before. That indeed should not be too hard to obtain. That way I can use gascanisters in combination with Heet and not having to worry about where to get fuel. Brilliant!. 120oz (355ml) does not sound like a whole lot - am still used to 1l bottles. But if readily available it makes carrying larger quantities unnecessary. Nice!

John Nelson - Thanks for the heads up on the different forms. Am reading up on it. Though here (Netherlands) it is mostly bio-ethanol that is used with the Triangias. For when cycling the Tier I will try to get Heet or a can of denatured alcohol.

TCS - that indeed is nice for those riding the Southern Tier and wanting to use an alcohol stove.

My worries at least are taken away now that I now that Heet is readily available and obtaining gas canisters hopefully is not a problem either.

Offline KF8MO

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2021, 02:51:12 pm »
Bumping this older thread to ask: can anyone with recent direct experience on the Northern Tier comment on the availability of fuel canisters on the route? Do you have to carry enough to get you from Great Falls to Bismark, or can it be found along there? What about in the rural/small town country of Minnesota and Wisconsin?

Offline ray b

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2021, 04:56:59 pm »
For what it's worth, currently on the  GDMBR with no stove. Last year I sold my dragonfly and replaced it with an MSR pocket rocket.

 I don't use much fuel but I should note I have had no trouble finding canisters along the way. Many hardware stores carry them for torches and most towns that cater to campers will have a supply .

 I found that in the summer I was doing less and less cooking in the summer - especially in the heat. I prefer to eat in the late afternoon and do a little cycling in the cooler evening before setting up my tent. (This has an added advantage vantage in bear country.)

 (This will be my 2nd long trip with no regular morning coffee. I still get my fix of good coffee, as it seems every town now has a nice coffee house with pastries.   If there is a local bike shop I always check in and ask them where they get their coffee….)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2021, 12:08:01 am by ray b »
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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2021, 05:14:13 pm »
I have hiked with people with alcohol stoves and I carry a JetBoil. While I never had problems getting fuel the alcohol folks had trouble in the south and sometimes had to hitch hike to get fuel. Add to that the risk of wild fires (especially out west) and the general fire danger and nasty smell of alcohol stoves -- I would definitely go with the canister.
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Offline staehpj1

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2021, 06:56:47 pm »
The yellow heet bottle size is a plus IMO.  No need to carry more unless you will be a long way between resupply or use a lot of fuel.

I usually tour using it, but if you like coleman fuel, using a stove that can use it and also gasoline is an option.  That way in a pinch you can always use gasoline.

Canister stoves are okay too.  I have found fuel less readily available in some places though.

Offline misterflask

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2021, 07:35:58 am »
Down here in my little corner of the Southeast, yellow Heet was available ubiquitously in convenience stores, but disappeared all at once.  It was always kind of a mystery why it was there, given the rarity of hard freezes.  Still available at the bigW and autopart stores.  I shy away from using the alcohol stove for backpacking: alcohol fuel is pretty inefficient by weight and it seems more likely to find canisters than Heet along the AT.

Someone mentioned the fire risk of alcohol.  My Trangia seems pretty safe, but my alcohol penny stove blew apart a few times.  In waning dusk, those luminous blue pools of burning alcohol are really pretty, even when they're on you.

Having caught the stove bug (I have to own ALL the stoves) I recently picked up a MSR Whisperlite.  If there's any fuel you can find on the road it's gasoline.  I plan to carry gas in the third bottle holder on my LHT to keep odors out of my bags.  I cut out a piece of a cookie sheet to put under pots that seems to correct the MSR's inability to simmer.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2021, 08:36:58 am »
I used the MSR multi-fuel stoves for years and before that an old Primus "kerosene" stove, which I often burned Coleman fuel in. After the JetBoil and can't see myself ever wanting to go back to multi-fuel (or any non-canister) stove, unless I stated winter camping somewhere colder that the mountains of the Northeast.
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Offline staehpj1

Re: Northern Tier and which stove
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2021, 08:47:08 am »
I shy away from using the alcohol stove for backpacking: alcohol fuel is pretty inefficient by weight and it seems more likely to find canisters than Heet along the AT.

Yeah, the break even point to when alcohol is lighter than other fuel setups varies with the stove choice, amount of cooking, and number of days of fuel carried, but for sure at some point alcohol fuel gets heavier when it is longer between resupply.  For me that means alcohol is almost always lighter for bike touring, but something else might or might not be lighter for backpacking depending on the trip.

Quote
Someone mentioned the fire risk of alcohol.  My Trangia seems pretty safe, but my alcohol penny stove blew apart a few times.  In waning dusk, those luminous blue pools of burning alcohol are really pretty, even when they're on you.
I have always been a little puzzled by the comments about that.  I have seen pressurized stoves flare up now and then over the years, but alcohol stoves have never burned out of control for me.  Even if a little alcohol would spill and burn it isn't a very aggressive fire and with any reasonable care it would be on a cleared surface.  The fireball that a pressurized stove can create on the other hand can be terrifying.

Quote
Having caught the stove bug (I have to own ALL the stoves) I recently picked up a MSR Whisperlite.  If there's any fuel you can find on the road it's gasoline.  I plan to carry gas in the third bottle holder on my LHT to keep odors out of my bags.  I cut out a piece of a cookie sheet to put under pots that seems to correct the MSR's inability to simmer.
Yeah me too on the stove bug.  I have way too many.  I found that the WhisperLite International simmered okay for me.

I'd like to burn coleman fuel, but carrying even a quart seems excessive for a bike tour to me and that is the smallest quantity I have seen for sale.  I am pretty sure the the stuff sold for zippo lighters is pretty much the same thing.  Ronson and Zippo sell it in 4, 5, 8, or 12 ounce sizes.  The containers look like they might be a reasonable container to carry it in if bagged in a ziplock bag.  It is expensive at as much as a buck an ounce though.  The 4 or 5 ounce sounds small but given that it has something like twice as many btu's per weight it isn't as bad as it sounds.

I just checked to see how available Zippo or Ronson fluid is and Walmart and walgreens both seem to have the Ronson 8 ounce bottles in stock within 2 miles of my house so probably pretty available.  It is $1.97 for 8 ounces at walmart here.  That sounds like not too bad of a way to go.  Gasoline is a reasonable fallback in a pinch, so there would always be something to burn in the Whisperlite.

I have read claims that charcoal lighter fluid was similar, but I have my doubts.  I think it is closer to kerosene.