Canister vs white - gas in winter

Teori Praktik; English I've used a top mounted canister gas stove for several winters, down to minus 18-20 C. It has worked fine. However, for really deep cold, say below minus 25 C or so, it is undisputed that white gas or kerosene rules. Or is it?
By Jörgen Johansson
My question is simply; do I really need something else than a gas canister stove even for deep and bitter cold?
So I thought I'd simply list some of the pros and cons, for these types of stoves as I see them. It will be a combination of my own experiences and what I've read and heard. I will then lean back and wait for the response from people reading what I've written. Maybe then I can write a second article on this subject where I formulate some of the opinions and experiences that will have surfaced after this process.
I will look at a number of factors that I think are important for any stove in deep cold and then give my verdict on what I think performs best. The ground rules are, as mentioned, deep cold and two fairly similar stoves. Both have a burner on legs and a hose connecting the burner to the fuel container. The containers are filled with butane/propane mixes or white gas or petrol. No topmounted gas canisters.
Examples of the canister stoves could be Primus Spider or MSR Wind pro. White gas could be Optimus Nova+ or Markill Pheonix. Of course the pots and windscreens should be identical and therefore of no importance to this comparison. And since I from my own experiences consider a canister stove to be quite practical down to minus 18-20 C, please remember that we are talking about temperatures below that.

The factors I feel to be relevant for my own way of operating in the winter are the following. Feel free to comment on my selection:
-Ease of use (lighting up, shutting down etc)
-Usability in tent/foretent
-Works well even in extreme cold
-Fuel consumption/weight
-Mechanical reliability

Factors like availability of fuel in all corners of the world as well as price I will keep out of this discussion. Let's just assume that for this particular trip in deep cold both fuels are just as available and that differences in price is of no importance since we have unlimited funds. At least when it comes to backpacking gear. At least according to our spouses....

Looking at the above factors and trying to appoint a winner for each factor when choosing between canister gas and white gas I come up with the following:

-Weight = canister
-Ease of use = canister
-Usability in tent = canister
-Works well in extreme cold = white gas
-Fuel consumption = canister
-Mechanical reliability = canister

So far it seems ridiculously simple. The canister stove wins on all counts excepting one. However, let's not make the common mistake of thinking that all the above factors have equal importance.
Since we are talking about extreme cold this factor is obviously more important than for instance weight. If a stove doesn't melt your water and cook your food in extreme cold it's obviously useless and the fact that it's ligth doesn't really matter. In fact, all the above factors except reliability in extreme cold is of course the reason for many people to use canister stoves when it's not that cold.
However, if a canister stove could be considered to be reliable, if not super, in extreme cold, then all the other factors would give the canister stove a landslide victory. And to me it seems that it does. That is, work, if not optimally, in deep cold.
In order for a canister stove to work reliably in deep cold there are as far as I can see two tricks that does the trick:
-You should do your best to keep the canister warmer than the surrounding air
-You should turn it upside down while using it

Since both these are easily accomplished it seems to me that the canister stove wins hands down even in deep cold. But I could be wrong. Please give me your take on this.

Comments in English below, comments in Swedish at this link at

Fjäderlätt at Swesport 2010

New gear Last sunday we visited Swesport - the Swedish sports industry fair. It's mostly an exhibit of winter products, but we managed to find a few interesting news for lightweight backpacking too.
Martin Nordesjö

Marmot, represented by Granitbiten, brought two new jackets that caught our attention. First of all, the Trail Wind Hoody will replace the Ion windshirt.

Trail jacket is M, Martin is XL.

The greatest improvement is that the Trail feels less like maternity wear, mainly thanks to a drawstring. It will be a bit lighter than the Ion and a bit more expensive. But Marmot will keep their aggressive pricing, so we can still count on it being less expensive than many competitors.

The other interesting jacket is the new Essence rain jacket. It's a 2,5 layer jacket with Marmot's own Membrain Strata laminate. It weights 195 grammes in size M, and the price will be 1500 kronor. There will also be a pair of Essence pants, at around 140 grammes.

There were quite a few newcomers at the fair.

Carsten at Akzo helps
Jörgen fit an Aarn bodypack

Aarn packs may not be the most ultralight backpacks around, but they are definitely an alternative for those who have to carry heavy gear but want to do it comfortably without the heaviest pack. It is Akzo, former importer of Gregory and Bask, who will bring Aarn packs to Sweden. The thing that separates Aarn packs from the rest is the way they put weight on your chest, not only on your back, thus creating a better balance.

Another newcomer is British shoemaker Inov-8.

Recolite 190 and Roclite 288
made Jörgen a happy camper.

They actually appeared on the Swedish orienteering and trailrunning market last year, but I don't think Jörgen and I are the only ones to have imported other models more suited for walking. So we really hope the Nordic distributor will realize that there is a market here for those. Jörgen actually started beaming when he laid eyes on the new Recolite shoe/sandal hybrid. 190 grammes per shoe is not bad at all, even though they are intended for "recovery" use. We hope to lay our hands on a pair to see if they are good for "real" use too.

A third newcomer is Canadian apparel brand Westcomb. It looks mostly like a skiers' brand, but we did see an interesting lightweight padded jacket with unknown weight. There seemed to be an abundancy on the fair of lightweight jackets with down or synthetic filling, so it will probably be easier and easier to find good, warm jackets.

In the same stand as Westcomb we found a new Esbit stove.

Is it possible to
burn firewood in this?

A lightweight meta tablet stove that might just work with small firewood too. Anyway, the pot had a nice small size for the solo hiker who only wants to heat a cup or two of water.

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