Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monatuak Gnat Stove -- 1.6 oz

As part of Hendrik's gear pass-around I got a chance to test the "lightest [canister stove] in the world", the Monatauk Gnat. I went rafting and moose hunting and carried the 1.6 oz Ti and Al cutie around but never used it in the field.

I would have used it to start a fire a la Thai Verzone-style (think gas barbeque grill vs charcoal grill to ignite the fire) while packrafting or as a hot drink fixer while moose hunting, but the moose came down 150 yards from camp and our boating has all been warm and dry (no cold swims), so I had to settle for a test at home.

Now, I have been fortunate enough to share shelter and stove with Skurka and seen his catfood can in action. That's gotta be the lightest stove out there, for sure, but I like the convenience of a canister stove for shorter trips and don't really like messing with liquids.

The beauty of these micro canister stoves like Pocket Rocket, Soto OD-1R MicroRegulator and the like is that they fit in my "Thing" worn inside my rain jacket or drysuit while wilderness boating. The Thing I use as an internal "pack" (but I load the front mostly) to hold fire starter food and extra camera, as well as map. So these micro stoves are for starting wet wood on fire in the rain when we are cold, wet, and miserable in fall weather on a glacial river in Alaska: dumbstruck cold with hands that won't work and teeth chattering.

Liquid fuel stoves are too finicky and bulky for this application.

Currently the stove I have been carrying is the Soto (2.6 oz). I like its igniter which saves the weight of a lighter, but it has pot supports that are attached using little screws which I have had fall out! This made the stove incapable of holding a cook pot. The standard stove I have as a canister stove for family-trips is the JetBoil. Heavy though it is, it's super convenient and stable and better in the wind.

My test was these three stoves mentioned above using the system I'd have: i.e Jet boil w/100g fuel (each test used a 100 g can) and its integral pot; the other micros stoves with the Ti cook pot (about 1L).

I usually have no wind screen and if I cook usually it's inside my pyramid-style, floorless shelter: the tests were in 10 C weather, cool, calm morning on my front porch, no wind screens or other surrounding breaks.

I put 3 cups of cold tap water and a waterproof datalogger in each and then lit the stoves. The micro stoves got brand new cans of fuel. The Jet Boil had some slightly used fuel. I turned the stoves on, lit them and then turned them on full and backed down a little so they were right where the initial big "brrrrrrrrr" sound starts. My thinking was this was maximally hot hot but not wasteful and likely where I'd set it if I was heating water without using the thing as a fire starter. I then let each go until water was spitting out the lid (i.e. roaring boil).

Here are the results:

As you can see the Jet Boil was slowest and the Gnat and the Soto very close in heating rate at about 10 C/minute. The jet Boil has other nice features (stability, integrity, neoprene sleeve and cap for drinking) but the micro stoves are what I am really comparing -- the Jet Boil is just an outgroup. My dataloggers should have been set at a closer interval than 1 minute, but alas that's all I had time for. There are no replicates either and all the usual oh-wells and qualifiers that go along with gear tests like this.

I'm going to buy the little Gnat as it's cute and Ti and has no parts to fall off or fail and it's an ounce lighter. I usually have a lighter too, anyway, and I am a sucker for stoves.

Thanks Hendrick for this opportunity and Beni, sorry the stove's late on its way to you.


  1. Ti totally rules. *ahem*

    Also, the Gnat sounds awesome. I need one of those.

  2. BTW Backpacking Light ran out of their little Ti pots some time ago, so they are currently not available....

  3. Hi I know this is not strictly the place to make such a post but I need some advice on stoves. I want to go walking in Sweden in feb from hut to hut but do some camping or snowholing too. I know that gas does not perform well in cold temps but I have come across references to remote canister gas stoves where the canister can be inverted to provide a liquid gas feed through a pre heat tube. Has anyone tried these in temps of -20? Also I was in sweden this summer and noticed gas foe sale almost everywhere but I did not look for coleman fuel or kerosene. Are these fuels widely available in small towns in Sweden? I know you are in Finland but thats closer than me as Im in UK. If anyone knows a better place to post such enquiries please let me know.
    Thanks for any help you can offer.


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