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How To Choose a Fuel Container That Will Last a Hike

When thinking about bringing a stove with you on any trip to cook food one must weigh the can with how much cook time they will get and whether it will last through to the next town. Today we are going to look at the many Isobutane tanks along with figuring out how long does […]
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When thinking about bringing a stove with you on any trip to cook food one must weigh the can with how much cook time they will get and whether it will last through to the next town. Today we are going to look at the many Isobutane tanks along with figuring out how long does a fuel canister last?

The standard size of 8 ounces will typically burn for 3 hours of continuous use at the high temperature setting. Three hours will help you figure out what your use would be based on your stove and boil times for water and to cook your food or coffee.

Now that we have a broad understanding of the fuel canisters and the standard size we can take a look at how the size and the stove can change the length of time they will last, maybe the stove choice will be vital to the length the canister will work for you.

Isobutane has long been loved for the simplicity as fuel for hiking as it is super simple and safe to carry with you when traveling. Unfortunately they do have some limitations to overall understanding as to length of useful cooking.

How Long Does a 4 oz Fuel Canister Last?

There is a smaller option available which comes in at typically a 4oz fuel canister for hiking which is half the size of the larger 8oz version. This may lead you to wonder how long does a 4oz fuel canister last for a hiker out on the trail?

A good rule of thumb many will use is about 0.1-0.2 oz of fuel used per each cup of water you boil, so for a 4oz canister you would expect on average, since each stove is a little different, to boil up to 40 cups of water for a VERY efficient stove.

This is very different though based on the stove, the ambient temperature, the amount of wind, and more though. What you need to do is test them and understand your stove and set up so that you know how long it will last and how much to bring.

How Much Water Will a Fuel Canister Boil

This is where the rubber hits the trail for almost all hikers looking to cook food, most hiker foods rely on boiled water to rehydrate foods along with getting them to a good temperature to enhance taste and texture.

The average amount you can boil will work down to math and the baseline I follow is that it takes about 7g per 2 cups I have boiled. If you then have a 100g canister of gas this would mean about 11 full boils.

Important again to understand your conditions to boiling will change this number greatly, if you are at alpine levels and in snow, this will skew numbers. Understand your weather and use to ensure you are properly planning your need.

What is White Gas For Camp Stoves?

There are many different types of stove and gas available, you may have heard of "coleman fuel" or similar. It is the most common fuel used overall in the outdoors world and comes in canisters unlike other fuels.

White gas which will typically show as "naphtha" on the label is the most widely used gas available for camping stoves. This gas is pressurized and is widely used for ease of transport, no bad smell, and efficiency.

White gas is available from brands like MSR, Jetboil, and many others. It is available in multiple sizes so you can choose the right size for your needs, from 4oz to 16oz can help you cover from days to weeks based on your trip time and food requirements.

How Much White Gas Per Person Per Day Is Normal?

One more question you will want to make sure you have answered for yourself and anyone in your group is around how much gas will be used per person per day to ensure you bring enough with you to not run out.

For most hikers their normal gas use will be around 2-2.5oz per day they are out on the trail, but should you need to boil more for coffee in the morning or 3x meals a day this number can greatly increase your need of fuel for backpacking.

This will typically decrease per person by a little bit since typically you may boil all the water at once and this should cut heat needs by a little each time but this will be up to your cooking habits and stove of choice.

What is the Empty Fuel Canister Weight?

Once you use up all the fuel though in the can you will need to carry it out with your gear until it can be properly disposed of in the trash or recycle and not left out on the trail. So what is the empty fuel canister weight for an 8oz or 4oz can?

The weight for an empty can will vary but a 4oz MSR, for example, weighs about 100g and about 210g full. So when you look at each tank the weights will be different from each other based on the can size and gas volume.

MakeGasGross WeightEmpty Weight
MSR isoPRO4oz211g100g
MSR isoPRO8oz
MSR isoPRO16oz660g450g
Jetboil JetPower4oz
Jetboil JetPower8oz
Table of Canister Weights

Final Thoughts on How Long Does a Fuel Canister Last

When looking to make a choice for your hiking trip to cook your food you really want to know the ability of the stove you purchased and how fast it heats water and what the use to boil will be.

For some systems, like the JetBoil MiniMo, this may be super low due to the entire system being more closed off to make it more efficient, or if you use a MightyMo or other minimal stove you will typically be more wasteful on gas due to open-air loss.

In the end your stove and fuel needs to last you for your entire trip and you really don't want to run out prior to expected needs for cooking. Always make sure you have the proper fuel needs understood prior to leaving to ensure your safety.

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