How Much Camping Gas Should I Take On My Thru Hike?
I’ve written this article to help you answer the question of, “How much camping gas do I need” for your camping trip or thru hike. I will also share some great tips on maximising your gas usage to stretch those canisters further in a subsequent article tagged to this.
I am writing this article during my preparation for the Pennine Way (One of the U.K’s longer and well known long distance hikes, 250+ miles.) My thru hike of the Pennine Way will feature many nights of wild camping. During each day I should imagine that my stove will be used for 1 coffee brew up and 1 evening meal cook-up with perhaps an extra brew up on colder days. The stove I will be using is a Lixada variable control Titanium pocket rocket (here). Coming in at 28g this is the lightest pocket rocket on the market. Some of you may know this stove by it’s equivalent model, the BRS for example.
110% Effort. Let's do the maths.
Using a pocket rocket stove limits us to upright gas canisters. In the U.K these are normally available in three common sizes: 100, 300 and 500. Now if I am going to the effort of writing this article, I may as well go 110%. So in order to determine just how much camping gas you need, let's compare the gram to gram ratio of these sizes.
Gas gram content for each total gram.
100: 97/175 = 0.55
300: 240/361 = 0.66
500: 440/598 = 0.73
This tells us that the most efficient gas to weight ratio comes from the largest 500 canister. However there is an added level of complexity to consider if you really want to explore the limits of efficiency. Let us look at how long each of these canisters will typically last.
Burn Rate. How long will the gas last?
I’ve compiled a number of sources together to work out a rough burn rate (we will discuss the variables later). Roughly a stove will burn at 150g/hour. A normal day for me would be 30 minutes of usage. 75g of gas per day.
Lets see how that looks:
100: 97g of gas: 1.3 days.
300: 240g of gas: 3.2 days.
500: 440g of gas: 5.8 days.
On my particular Pennine Way Itinerary I plan on stocking up on gas 1/3 of the way & 2/3 of the way. In total, including the gas I take with me from the start, that is 3 supplies. Over a maximum of 15 days, that is 5 days supply I need at the start of a stretch.
So now the question is: Do I get a 500 canister or two 300 canisters with the ability to dispose of one along the stretch? Let us look at the average carry weight over each stretch. (D1 = Day 1)
D1: Weight = 722g.
D2: Weight = 647g.
D3: Weight = 572g.
D4: Weight = 497g – 121 = 376g. Canister empty & disposed of. Adjust for variance to weight of a single unused canister. 361g.
D5: Weight = 301g.
D1: Weight = 598g.
D2: Weight = 523g.
D3: Weight = 448g.
D4: Weight = 373g.
D5: Weight = 298g.
2x 300 Average: 520g.
1x 500 Average: 448g.
Summary – How much camping gas do I need?
So what to make of these findings. On average it is more efficient to carry a 500 canister for a 5 day stretch. However, the numbers arent black and white, as we will have left over gas, especially with the 2x 300 option.
Personally, these findings are enough to convince me that I will take and look to resupply with 500 canisters. One downside to consider with a 500 canister, is that it is difficult to ascertain how much gas you are using. For instance, If you are on a 5 day stretch and you have just emptied a 300 canister on day 3, you know you will be fine to splurge a bit extra on days 4 and 5. That safety cushion is not present with a 500.
There you have it, a guide to how much camping gas you need. If you would like to continue reading on gas efficiency, please find a series of great tips and tricks to maximise your gas usage and minimise your cooking times here.
If you made it to the end of this article, you probably should just get out onto the trail already. Have a great adventure!