How to choose the right fuel can: Isobutane Vs Propane

5 Ways To Light Your Backpacking Stove

5 Ways To Light Your Backpacking Stove

5 Ways To Light Your Backpacking Stove

Two items you’ll see at every outdoor store:
Isobutane fuel and Propane fuel

In the back country, your backpacking stove is your lifeline.

The fuel cans stacked next to each other in various sizes, shapes and bright colors -- it can be, shall we say overwhelming. When you’re staring at the shelf many questions come to mind; What is the best fuel can? Is my camping stove compatible with every can? What is isobutane? What is propane? Does it really matter? Let’s dive into it... 

Deciding on a backpacking canister stove certainly isn’t easy…You have probably spent an overwhelming amount of time researching the best models on the market — Believe me, we all have been there. Now flash forward to your camping trip. You just stumbled into your campsite after a full day of hiking the back country and you’re in need of a hot meal. You pull out your newly purchased canister stove but spent so much time researching the different models, you forgot to look at the variety of ways to ignite it.

In the back country, your backpacking stove is your lifeline.

In the back country, your backpacking stove is your lifeline.

Deciding on a canister stove certainly isn’t easy…You have probably spent an overwhelming amount of time researching the best models on the market — Believe me, we all have been there. Now flash forward to your camping trip. You just stumbled into your campsite after a full day of hiking the back country and you’re in need of a hot meal. You pull out your newly purchased canister stove but spent so much time researching the different models, you forgot to look at the variety of ways to ignite it.

Deciding on a canister stove certainly isn’t easy…You have probably spent an overwhelming amount of time researching the best models on the market — Believe me, we all have been there. Now flash forward to your camping trip. You just stumbled into your campsite after a full day of hiking the back country and you’re in need of a hot meal. You pull out your newly purchased canister stove but spent so much time researching the different models, you forgot to look at the variety of ways to ignite it.

Which is better: Isobutane or Propane?

Best way to light your canister stove?

As you probably guessed -- it depends. Choosing between isobutane and propane depends on three key factors:

1. The outside environment you'll be in
2. The type of backpacking stove you have
3. The outdoor activities you need it for  

1. Environment
.  Isobutane and propane preform differently in different outdoor environments. The two most important things to consider in the environment are outside temperature and altitude.

2. Type of Backpacking Stove. Isobutane and propane have two very different stove attachments but with the right adapters both become compatible with most all backpacking stoves. The most important things to consider are if you are using a Lindal valve stove and if you have the right adapter if you intend to use propane. 

3. Outdoor Activities. As you’ve noticed isobutane and propane fuel cans are different sizes and weights -- this might seem minor but if your backpacking for multiple days it becomes a major issue. The most important things to consider are size, weight and fuel efficiency. 

Believe it or not, a classic lighter isn’t the only way to ignite your stove. There are five key ways to light your canister stove. It’s always best to practice more than one ignition source in case one fails — Below are the 5 most common ways to light your backpacking stove.

1. Match
2. Lighter
3. Fire Steel
4. Flint Stick
5. Piezo Push Button Igniter 

Best way to light your canister stove?

Best way to light your canister stove?

Believe it or not, a classic lighter isn’t the only way to ignite your stove. There are five key ways to light your canister stove. It’s always best to practice more than one ignition source in case one fails — Below are the 5 most common ways to light your backpacking stove.

1. Match
2. Lighter
3. Fire Steel
4. Flint Stick
5. Piezo Push Button Igniter 

Believe it or not, a classic lighter isn’t the only way to ignite your stove. There are five key ways to light your canister stove. It’s always best to practice more than one ignition source in case one fails — Below are the 5 most common ways to light your backpacking stove.

1. Match
2. Lighter
3. Fire Steel
4. Flint Stick
5. Piezo Push Button Igniter 

ISOBUTANE

Isobutane is a mixture of butane gas and propane gas. It was designed to provide a fuel that can be used in colder weather conditions while being lightweight and powerful.

Best environments for Isobutane?

Mild and Warm Climates. Isobutane has a boiling point of 11 F/ -12 C -- meaning if you intend to use your fuel in weather at or below 11 F/ -12 C, it will not not be reliable. 

Low Altitude. Ideal for low altitude, as you get higher in altitude the boiling point becomes lower, the 11 F / -12 C could soon become the the 32 F / 0 C boiling point. Even though it’s warmer than the boiling point outside, you still won’t have a flame. 

Is it compatible with my backpacking stove?

Lindal Valve Standard. Isobutane fuel cans come equipped with a Lindal valve, which is standardized in the USA (EU has fuel cans that follow a different standard) and most parts of the world, which means it will fit any backpacking stove built around this standard (which is almost all of them). Whether a top-mount canister burner or integrated canister burner, simply screw your stove onto the top of the fuel can and you are ready to go.

Compatible backpacking stoves: Top Mount Canister Burner, Remote Canister Burner, Integrated Canister Burner

Best outdoor activities for isobutane?

Long Backpacking Excursions. Compact and lightweight makes isobutane perfect for long backpacking trips. Ideal for mild to warm climates, the warmer it is outside the better the performance. Similar to temperature isobutane performs worse at higher altitudes. 

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as the ultimate back up to my other igniter methods.

Is isobutane right for you?
Check out the camping stove system.   

1. Matches

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light 
  • User-friendly 
  • Reliable (when dry) 
  • Cheap & readily available  

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp 
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions 
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment 

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as the ultimate back up to my other igniter methods.

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as a backup to my piezo igniter.

2. Lighter

ISOBUTANE

Next is the oh-so popular BIC lighter. Other than the piezo igniter, lighters are one of the common ways I light my stove. When hiking the back country, weight matters most. BIC lighters are not only portable and lightweight, but they are also reliable. Just like matches, lighters can be a little tricky to spark when getting close to the canister. If you have extra space in the backpack, candle lighters are also a great option to avoid burning yourself. 

Pros

  • Portable
  • Reliable 
  • Affordable
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • Requires fuel
  • Poor in windy conditions
  • Not usable if wet

It’s never a bad idea to keep a handy BIC lighter in the backpack if all else fails! Just make sure you’re aware of the fuel level. 

Is isobutane right for you?
Check out the camping stove system.   

2. Lighter

Next is the oh-so popular BIC lighter. Other than the piezo igniter, lighters are one of the common ways I light my stove. When hiking the back country, weight matters most. BIC lighters are not only portable and lightweight, but they are also reliable. Just like matches, lighters can be a little tricky to spark when getting close to the canister. If you have extra space in the backpack, candle lighters are also a great option to avoid burning yourself.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Reliable (when dry) 
  • Affordable
  • User-friendly 

Cons

  • Requires fuel 
  • Poor in windy conditions 
  • Not usable if wet 

It’s never a bad idea to keep a handy BIC lighter in the backpack if all else fails! Just make sure you’re aware of the fuel level.

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as a backup to my piezo igniter.

ISOBUTANE

Isobutane is a mixture of butane gas and propane gas. It was designed to provide a fuel that can be used in colder weather conditions while being lightweight and powerful.

Best environments for Isobutane?

Mild and Warm Climates. Isobutane has a boiling point of 11 F/ -12 C -- meaning if you intend to use your fuel in weather at or below 11 F/ -12 C, it will not not be reliable. 

Low Altitude. Ideal for low altitude, as you get higher in altitude the boiling point becomes lower, the 11 F / -12 C could soon become the the 32 F / 0 C boiling point. Even though it’s warmer than the boiling point outside, you still won’t have a flame. 

Is it compatible with my backpacking stove?

Lindal Valve Standard. Isobutane fuel cans come equipped with a Lindal valve, which is standardized in the USA (EU has fuel cans that follow a different standard) and most parts of the world, which means it will fit any backpacking stove built around this standard (which is almost all of them). Whether a top-mount canister burner or integrated canister burner, simply screw your stove onto the top of the fuel can and you are ready to go.

Compatible backpacking stoves: Top Mount Canister Burner, Remote Canister Burner, Integrated Canister Burner

Best outdoor activities for isobutane?

Long Backpacking Excursions. Compact and lightweight makes isobutane perfect for long backpacking trips. Ideal for mild to warm climates, the warmer it is outside the better the performance. Similar to temperature isobutane performs worse at higher altitudes. 

3. Fire Steel

ISOBUTANE

For those looking for a way to light your stove at high altitudes in cold or windy conditions, fire steel is your perfect companion. Unlike matches and lighters, they perform best in the worst conditions considering they never run out of fuel and can get wet. If you’re unfamiliar with fire steels, they consist of two components —a ferrocerium rod and a striker. For someone who considers themselves an amateur backpacker, fire steel isn’t the best option due to the fact that it takes three arms. You will need two hands on the rod and striker, and another person who can spark the stove.

Pros

  • Reliable in windy conditions 
  • No fuel required
  • Works even when wet
  • Portable

Cons

  • Not very user friendly
  • Easy to burn yourself
  • Hard to use by yourself

Is isobutane right for you?
Check out the camping stove system.   

3. Fire Steel

For those looking for a way to light your stove at high altitudes in cold or windy conditions, fire steel is your perfect companion. Unlike matches and lighters, they perform best in the worst conditions considering they never run out of fuel and can get wet. If you’re unfamiliar with fire steels, they consist of two components —a ferrocerium rod and a striker. For someone who considers themselves an amateur backpacker, fire steel isn’t the best option due to the fact that it takes three arms. You will need two hands on the rod and striker, and another person who can spark the stove.

Pros

  • Reliable in windy conditions  
  • No fuel required 
  • Works even when wet 
  • Portable 

Cons

  • Not very user friendly 
  • Easy to burn yourself 
  • Hard to use by yourself 

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as a backup to my piezo igniter.

4. Flint Stick

ISOBUTANE

A flint stick is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a tool made of a stick of flint and a small sheet of steel which can spark a flame. Flint sticks are more commonly used for starting a campfire, but can also be used to spark your canister stove. Similar to the fire steel, flint sticks will take three arms to light so it may not be the most user-friendly option. 

Pros

  • Works even when wet
  • No fuel required
  • Portable

Cons

  • Difficult to use
  • Easy to burn yourself
  • Poor performance in windy conditions

Is isobutane right for you?
Check out the camping stove system.   

4. Flint Stick

A flint stick is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a tool made of a stick of flint and a small sheet of steel which can spark a flame. Flint sticks are more commonly used for starting a campfire, but can also be used to spark your canister stove. Similar to the fire steel, flint sticks will take three arms to light so it may not be the most user-friendly option.

Pros

  • Works even when wet 
  • No fuel required 
  • Portable 

Cons

  • Difficult to use 
  • Easy to burn yourself 
  • Poor performance in windy conditions 

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as a backup to my piezo igniter.

5. Piezo Igniter 

ISOBUTANE

Believe it or not, you have more than likely used a piezo igniter before. Your push button grill at home is one of the many machines to use a piezo igniter. In today’s market, piezo igniters are commonly sold attached to the canister stove. Out of all options mentioned above, the piezo igniter is by far the easiest to use. All it takes is a push of a button to spark a flame. With the advancement in technology, piezo igniters are growing in popularity within the backpacking community. Considering a piezo ignitor requires no flint stick, users will find this to be the most reliable option when you’re deep in the back country.  

Pros

  • Reliable in wet, windy and cold conditions
  • Easy to light
  • Compatible with most stoves
  • Attached to backpacking stove for increased portability

Cons

  • Best practice to keep a back-up
  • Not fixable if broken

The Piezo Igniter is the #1 recommended method to light your backpacking stove due to it's user-friendly design and it's remarkable reliability. I always keep a BIC lighter in a water proof container as a back up to my Piezo Push Button Igniter to date have never had to use it (fingers crossed!)

Is isobutane right for you?
Check out the camping stove system.   

5. Piezo Push Button Igniter 

Believe it or not, you have more than likely used a piezo igniter before. Your push button grill at home is one of the many machines to use a piezo igniter. In today’s market, piezo igniters are commonly sold attached to the canister stove. Out of all options mentioned above, the piezo igniter is by far the easiest to use. All it takes is a push of a button to spark a flame. With the advancement in technology, piezo igniters are growing in popularity within the backpacking community. Considering a piezo igniter requires no flint stick, users will find this to be the most reliable option when you’re deep in the back country.

Pros

  • Reliable in wet, windy and cold conditions 
  • Easy to light 
  • Compatible with most stoves 
  • Attached to  stove for increased portability 

Cons

  • Best practice to keep a back-up in case of failure
  • Not fixable if broken 

The Piezo Igniter is the #1 recommended method to light your backpacking stove due to it's user-friendly design and it's remarkable reliability. I always keep a BIC lighter in a water proof container as a back up to my Piezo Push Button Igniter to date have never had to use it (fingers crossed!)

1. Match

ISOBUTANE

Old reliable — easy to light and easy to use. Matches have been used for centuries as a quick, reliable source of fire. To light your canister stove, turn the dial to release gas. Once the stove is on, light your match and hold it close to the gas. Wait a few seconds until the burner ignites then quickly remove your hand to prevent getting burned.

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable (when dry)
  • Cheap & readily available 

Cons

  • Not usable when wet / damp
  • Preform poorly in windy conditions
  • Difficult to light in very cold environment

I always keep a box matches in a waterproof container as a backup to my piezo igniter.

Two items you’ll see at every outdoor store:
Isobutane fuel and Propane fuel

In Conclusion...

The fuel cans stacked next to each other in various sizes, shapes and bright colors -- it can be, shall we say overwhelming. When you’re staring at the shelf many questions come to mind; What is the best fuel can? Is my camping stove compatible with every can? What is isobutane? What is propane? Does it really matter? Let’s dive into it... 

YOU LEARNED 5 different ways to light your backpacking stove varying in cost, functionality and usability.

YOU LEARNED it's best practice to always carry, at minimum, 2 different ignition methods -- protecting you from an inevitable failure.

YOU LEARNED that wet conditions make it very difficult to light a backpacking stove -- and what igniters should be kept in a water proof container.

YOU LEARNED  most recommended method to light your backpacking stove is the Piezo Push Button Igniter but always to carry a back up!

In Conclusion...

In Conclusion...

YOU LEARNED 5 different ways to light your backpacking stove varying in cost, functionality and usability.

YOU LEARNED it's best practice to always carry, at minimum, 2 different ignition methods -- protecting you from an inevitable failure.

YOU LEARNED that wet conditions make it very difficult to light a backpacking stove -- and what igniters should be kept in a water proof container.

YOU LEARNED most recommended method to light your backpacking stove is the Piezo Push Button Igniter but always to carry a back up!

Deciding on a canister stove certainly isn’t easy…You have probably spent an overwhelming amount of time researching the best models on the market — Believe me, we all have been there. Now flash forward to your camping trip. You just stumbled into your campsite after a full day of hiking the back country and you’re in need of a hot meal. You pull out your newly purchased canister stove but spent so much time researching the different models, you forgot to look at the variety of ways to ignite it.

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