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Gear Guy

Will cheaper fuel work in my stove?

I've recently started using the MSR Pocket Rocket, in place of my trusty Whisperlite, going through $25 worth of fuel in three weeks, compared to a gallon of white gas per season—a pricey switch, I'm sure you'll agree. Today I happened upon a Glowmaster fuel cartridge, almost half the cost of the Primus and MSR cartridges. Will it work as well as its more expensive cousins, and should I burn this instead of my greenbacks? Allen Tumwater, Washington

A: I called Athena International, which now owns the Glowmaster product line, to ask the basic question: Does their isobutane fuel canister have a standard thread mount, the same one used by MSR, Gaz, and others? Their sales rep helpfully informed me that their canisters fitted Glowmaster stoves, yes sir, and most others, or so he thought. With this caveat in mind, I'm almost 100 percent certain that it fits the Pocket Rocket.

So, that's the big hurdle covered. As to your other question—whether the cheaper fuel will work well—the answer is: Sure, it'll work fine. The Glowmaster cartridge uses butane, isobutane, and propane, a common blend that extends the optimal burning temperature and helps ensure good performance up until the canister is almost empty. Obviously, this beats having the thing do a slow fizzle once it hits the one-third mark, which was the norm 20 years ago. The exact gas ratio is a closely held Glowmaster secret, but almost certainly something in the order of 50 percent butane, 30 percent isobutene, and 20 percent propane. In other words, it's very similar, if not identical, to the MSR fuel. Fuel weight in the canister is the same—eight ounces—so burn time should be the same.

Based on the above, my advice is to go ahead and buy yourself one Glowmaster cartridge, try it, and, if you like it, buy some more.

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