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Reactor Fuel Usage

Original Post
diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

I'm looking for some rules of thumb with regards to fuel planning with the reactor.  Here is my situation:

  • Cold temps (-5 to 20F range)
  • Moderate altitude (5-10k)
  • Alpine style w/ 2 people

I'm thinking Breakfast, Dinner and a couple brews during the day.  Maybe 8L or so? All of it melted from snow but only half or less needs be boiled.

I'm aware of plenty of tricks to keep the thing burning in the cold but I'm not sure what to figure on gas.

I'm kind of estimating that 1 of the medium size canisters (8oz) will get through one day like I described. What is your experience?  Am I off base?? Recommendations or commentary welcome!

Don Morris · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 1,228

The Reactor is quick to boil. I use it above 10,000 feet in cold temps, and medium canister gets me through a two-three day trip easy. I am being conservative. I usually have enough fuel left for another one or two trips.

diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks Don!

And just to be clear does your use include a partner and making your water from snow?

If so I'll be really stoked with how far the can will go!

Chris Walden · · Soldotna, Alaska · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 640

Here are some of my notes, findings and testing.  

  • Make sure your Isobutane cartridge(s) is a winter mix 80% isobutane & 20% propane.  The cartridge matters at those temps and different manufactures change the mix up to deal with cold temps and pressure issues in the cans. Primus sells a Brown can Winter Mix that works well -  
  • 10 boils (~10L) in small 3.5 oz canister. 
  • 1 oz of Isobutane fuels boils ~100oz of water or ~3L of H2O
diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks Chris!

We're flying and can't buy canisters in advance but I have confirmed the local shop stocks MSR isopro which is 80/20 so we are planing to go with that.  If they have the Primus Winter Gas I might check that out. Interesting concept with the mesh and I can imagine it helping performance.

The way I am figuring is about a 50% hit on your numbers for melting the snow. Seems reasonable but maybe a little tight.


Don Morris · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 1,228

Yes, water from snow. And sometimes with a partner. Enjoy your adventure!

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585

With a good mix (isobutane propane 80/20), I can get 9 - 12 liters of water out of a canister depending on stove use diligence.

Chris Walden · · Soldotna, Alaska · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 640

Just getting back from the Alaska Range and I was "kind of" tracking fuel usage on our Mt. Hunter trip.  I have an MSR Windburner and we used a large 16oz Primus winter mix (their new winter solution in the brown can) over 3.5 days with 3 people.  One morning I believe we passed on hot liquid and ate food we had anyway that works out to ~1.5 oz of fuel per day per person melting snow.   I didn't mention in my note above but a good rule of thumb is factoring 2oz per day per person melting snow.  

Next trip I need to bring a sharpie and mark off actual liters of H2O boiled in real world conditions, altitude, melting snow etc... 

As a side the Primus cans worked really well at moderate altitude in cold weather.  Fuel canisters are more efficient if you keep them warmer than cold and we usually put the can in the bottom of a sleeping bag.  You can set the can in the bottom of the plastic lid to help insulate from the snow, you can also add a little bit of warm water to the cup if things get really really cold.  

diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks for the update!  I had similar experience on my trip in the Ruth.

2oz/person/day would have been conservative and 1.5 oz more realistic.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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