Will I be able to get canister fuel in the Dolomites?
I'm off trekking in the Italian Dolomites and want to know which stove to take. Self-sealing butane/propane canisters are convenient and light but can be difficult to buy in some areas, and guidebooks never give much advice about which fuel type is most easily available. Ashley Falmouth, United Kingdom
Life’s a gas, so you’ve got to pick yours carefully when about to embark on a big trip! On the one hand, you have the old standby liquid fuelswhite gas or kerosene. They’re apt to be available nearly anywhere on the globe, from the Australian Outback to the high Himalaya. They also offer generally better performance at high altitudes and in extreme cold.
Canister fuels, a mix of propane and butane, are indeed easier to use than liquid fuels. Just screw in a canister and light. They also burn more cleanly, so stoves don’t require much maintenance or nozzle-needling, as is the case with all liquid fuels and especially dirtier ones such as many grades of kerosene. But, they’re not available in as many places as liquid fuels.
But in Italy? Well, both can be found everywhere there, so it’s strictly a matter of preference. It’s a sure bet you’ll pass several trekking stores en route to your hike’s start point, and I can all but guarantee that you’ll find fuel canisters. For more detailed advice, you might check with some of the companies that offer guided treks in the Dolomites (try the Italy-based Mountain & Trekking Guides Association; www.alpintrek.com).
Also, check with your airline before departing to see what they’ll allow in terms of stoves. Some airlines forbid anything that even smells of fuel. So you might consider purchasing both fuel and an inexpensive canister stove in Italy, then simply leaving the stove behind.
I’m envious of your trip. I’m sure you’ll have a splendid time!
For more expert camping-stove advice, check out Outside Online’s all-new Stove Buying Guide.