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Best type of stove or fuel for Peru-Bolivia-Argentina-Chile-Patagonia trip

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WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Best type of stove or fuel for Peru-Bolivia-Argentina-Chile-Patagonia trip


I am planning to set off for 6 months trip with my girlfriend this september.
I am wandering if someone can give me some advises based on his experiences. I Am thinking about multi-fuel type of stove, but some of them run on gas some don't same thing with alcohol. I read that alcohol (alcool para quemar )is cheap and easy to find in Bolivia. This qould be good option since it's cleaner than gasoline. My questions are:
1. Is it worth to look for a stove that runs on alcohol, is alcohol a practical fuel?
2. Is it worth to look for a stove that runs on gas canisters? They are convenient but aren't they very expensive in south america, especially on Carretera Austral?
3. How about cooking on 3800m in Altiplano? Are there types of fuel that are not efficient on this altitude?
4. Maybe someone can recommend specific stove model?

Planned route:

Any help appreciated,

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Best type of stove or fuel for Peru-Bolivia-Argentina-Chile-Pata

Dear Szymon,
definitely not an alcohol fuel stove, it wont work at high altitude. I would highly recommend the MSR Whisperlight international. It's easy to use, and you can burn it on all the dirty fuel they sell in those countries.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
alcohol stove

Over the years I have used every backpack stove that has been on the market. Multi-fuel, white gas, isobutane and alcohol.

On a recent bike tour in Denmark and Sweden, I took a simple alcohol stove with me and it was fine. However, alcohol generates less heat (cooking takes longer) and my "cooking" was primarily boiling water for hot coffee, and porridge for breakfast. I obtained most of my lunches and suppers in grocery stores, cafes, bakeries and WarmShowers hosts.

Advantages for alcohol:

Fuel (denatured alcohol) is available in pharmacies, hardware stores, paint stores and even in many grocery and convenience stores.
Stove is very cheap. Look for the Swedish brand "Trangia."
Stove is very simple; just pour alcohol into the basin of the stove and light. It has no moving parts, valves, or seals.
Stove is silent. You can actually have a conversation while the stove is burning.
Stove is light. Some alcohol stoves are made out of pop cans. Check the internet on how to make an "ultralight" alcohol stove.
Alcohol is less toxic than hydrocarbon fuels. It is water soluble and evaporates quickly. It is not as explosive as petroleum fuels.
Alcohol is available and cheap.
Disadvantages for alcohol:

Short burn time; the stove burns the fuel fine for boiling water; you can't prepare complex meals with long simmer time with alcohol
Alcohol does not generate the same amount of heat. Two cups (approx 300 ml) of water boils in 5 minutes on alcohol compared with 3 minutes on isobutane.
You cannot cook for a crowd as easily.
You need a windscreen or the flame can blow out.

Hope this helps. bob

WS Member ユーザー mskop の写真
I have seen people use

I have seen people use alcohol in peru at altitude I think it was Trangia. You buy alcohol at pharmacies there. Used petrol one myself and was fine in arg peru bolivia

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
I would recommend a multifuel

I would recommend a multifuel stove like the MSR Whisperlite Universal. You can run it off petrol in any country. When you get to Chile, white gas/Coleman fuel is readily available from any hardware shop under the name benzina blanca; it is very cheap (1.50€/liter) and burns very cleanly.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Pressurised liquid fuel

Pressurised liquid fuel stoves such as the MSR models mentioned will give the best performance at altitude and still be cheap to run, with many able to use a range of fuels that are easy to find. Also look at Optimus models - I have an Explorer 11 which is 20 years old and now out of production, that has had a lot of use and still works well. I had an MSR multifuel model before that and the Optimus stove is more robust, quieter, and maintenance and flame control is easier, but my Optimus is a little bit heavier. My Explorer 11 can run on alcohol after changing the jet (it appears that the current Optimus models can't do this) and there is noticeably less heat burning alcohol.

Alcohol and white gas will burn cleanly and leave no soot on your stove or cooking gear. Kerosene, petrol etc will produce soot.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Paraffin pressure stove

I've used paraffin (kerosene/jet-fuel/lamp-oil) pressure stoves for over 50 years & have rarely had "sooty" pans, mine are Valor & Primus, similar to the Optimus, & many available on Ebay for example.... I have no experience of the MSR stove mentioned but it would seem to have the advantage of being multi-fuel, so perhaps a better solution, the choice is yours & good luck with your trip...

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
multi fuel stove for sure

MSR and Primus stoves are all good. I used a primus optimus for 4 years continuously. Now I have an MSR Whisperlight. These stoves just always work, they are pretty amazing. Car fuel is available absolutely everywhere in the countries you mention. The MSR is cheaper than the PRimus.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Get yourself a 'Solo Stove'.

Get yourself a 'Solo Stove'. It's great, I love it :)

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
"solo" stove not much use in a tent...

I'm all in favour of more eco-friendly forms of cooking/heating, but contrary to a liquid fuelled stove, which I've used in a tent, caravan & boat both for cooking & heating, the "solo" stove strikes me as being limited to outdoor use only & in areas where wood is readily available, which rules out some parts of the world... Ideally one could carry both types but space & weight are at a premium when cycle-touring, so on balance I'd still recommend a liquid fuelled stove, but that's only my opinion...

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Feedback after the trip

Thanks for all the comments. I returned from the trip and the trip was great :-)
I want to share some experiences.

We decided to buy alcohol stove - Tangia 27-7 UL/HA. Below comparison to other stoves I was considering.

Comparing to alcohol can stove:
-I was experimenting a bit with can stove, but we found trangia more reliable and durable. Of course if anyone masters construction of can stove this argument is not valid.
-trangia's wind screen is really great. I think the whole set minimizes heat loss comparing to hand made stove.
Can stove advantages are definitely price and weight

Wood stove:
-Fuel could be problematic: in south Peru or Bolivian Altiplano I traveled on semi desert, and it would not be easy to find something else that really thin branches of small bushes. They were hash and sometimes spiked so cutting them would take some effort.
-cannot be used indoor
I was planning build wood stove in Patagonia but finally I have found time for it...
Wood stove advantages are weight(no need to carry fuel) and carbon footprint

Multifuel/petrol stove:
- starting is not as easy as alcohol
- petrol is dirty and has to be treated with care.
- produces soot, is loud and smells bad
- in some regions petrol is less available than alcohol
- cannot be used indoor
- simmering, heat level regulation is difficult
Advantages are reliability and its power - short cooking time.

Main advantages of trangia:
-can be used indoor. We often found it useful to prepare tea or coca tea, or some warm meal when staying at a hostel/hospedaje/alojamiento.
Alcohol burning is clean so we could cook in our bedroom. It is silent so none disturbed us about it.
-can be used at the tent entry - in case of rain or heavy wind the last thing you want to do is to leave the tent.
- can be used inside the tent. Both trangia and tent manuals forbid cooking inside the tent, but after we got used to the stove, when if was really cold(around zero) we where paying special attention and cooking inside. Flame is perfectly controllable.
- in Peru 96% alcohol is available in every phamacy, in Bolivian Altiplano in almost every small (easier to find that bread). In Chile and Argentina 70% is in every pharmacy, for 96% one has to look a bit.
- alcohol can be used for disinfection. 60-70% alcohol can be used for cleaning body. with use of cotton pads, I was able to wash out the sweat/dust. Great feeling when you travel through a desert.
-windscreen is great

-trangia 27 is a bit small for 2 people. 1L capacity is at full level, usually you need to place less
- weight (690gr for our set)
- in some parts of world alcohol may not be so accessible

Alcohol can be used to cook at high altitudes, here our cooking and 4900m:

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Szymon, your post is broadly

Szymon, your post is broadly useful and it’s great that you prepared such a detailed comparison, but you fail to distinguish between the multiple types of fuel that you can use with an MSR multifuel stove (it is called multifuel for a reason!). Coleman fuel/white gas does not produce soot and it burns as clean as alcohol. Kerosene and petrol (i.e. fuel for cars) do burn more dirty, but it depends to a large extent on the quality of the fuel (Third World stuff tends to be more dirty than developed-country fuel). Petrol is is not hard to find anywhere in the world – people drive cars everywhere, and any petrol station will fill your bottle.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
south america

Hi My husband and I spent 5 months in 2015 cycing back roads and at high altitude through Peru Bolivia chile and argentina we used MSR Dragonfy we ran it on petrol/gasoline which was cheap and we were able to find it everywhere. Often poured out of 20litre containers at the back of someones house. They are a bit noisy but can adjust flame, just had to clean it regulary.
We are heading back in 11 days for 5 months to do Ecuador and other places south that we didn't get to last time.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真

we used Primus Omnifuel from Ushuaia on our trip through Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, the US and northern Europe.
We were very happy with it, because it is fairly easy to clean which it Needs from time to time using gas Station Petrol... very reliable and pretty light. Worked up to 5000meters which was our highest Camping spot, although cooking anything up there takes forever......

Many times, you will be happy to just use normal gasoline, for instance when you go off the tracks in Bolivia, Peru...

have a great trip!

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