How to choose the right fuel can: Isobutane Vs Propane

How to choose the right fuel can: Isobutane Vs Propane

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

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

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... 

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... 

Which is better: Isobutane or Propane?

Which is better: Isobutane or Propane?

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. 

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. 

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. 

ISOBUTANE

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. 

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

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

PROPANE

Propane is one the most widely used fuel cans in the outdoor recreation community and for good reason. Propane works exceptionally well even in the harshest conditions -- performing well even in cold temperatures and at high altitudes -- makes propane a top choice for the most ardent adventures.

Best environments for propane?

All Climates. Propane has a boiling point of -44 F/ -42 C which means you can use propane pretty much wherever you plan on going, unless it’s an excursion to Antarctica.

Any Altitude. Due to its high vapor pressure and low boiling point propane will work even at high altitudes. While it burns more efficiently in lower altitudes the difference is marginal.

Is it compatible with my backpacking stove?

Propane Adapter / Converter Needed. Due to the high vapor pressure or propane and unlike an isobutane can, there is not Lindal valve on a propane tank -- meaning you cannot simply screw on your backpacking stove. In order to decrease the pressure to a level your standard Lindal valve can tolerate you will need to buy an adapter that attaches to your propane tank and converts it to the Lindal valve standard.

Compatible backpacking stoves: Remote Canister Burner

Best outdoor activities for propane?

Camping trips, group backpacking, cold weather or high altitude excursions. Reliable in cold conditions and at high altitude propane is the best cold weather preforming fuel can out there. While great in any climate, the additional weight of propane makes it burdensome on long backpacking trips, an easy solution is to bring friends along. 

PROPANE

Propane is one the most widely used fuel cans in the outdoor recreation community and for good reason. Propane works exceptionally well even in the harshest conditions -- performing well even in cold temperatures and at high altitudes -- makes propane a top choice for the most ardent adventures.

Best environments for propane?

All Climates. Propane has a boiling point of -44 F/ -42 C which means you can use propane pretty much wherever you plan on going, unless it’s an excursion to Antarctica.

Any Altitude. Due to its high vapor pressure and low boiling point propane will work even at high altitudes. While it burns more efficiently in lower altitudes the difference is marginal.

Is it compatible with my backpacking stove?

Propane Adapter / Converter Needed. Due to the high vapor pressure or propane and unlike an isobutane can, there is not Lindal valve on a propane tank -- meaning you cannot simply screw on your backpacking stove. In order to decrease the pressure to a level your standard Lindal valve can tolerate you will need to buy an adapter that attaches to your propane tank and converts it to the Lindal valve standard.

Compatible backpacking stoves: Remote Canister Burner

Best outdoor activities for propane?

Camping trips, group backpacking, cold weather or high altitude excursions. Reliable in cold conditions and at high altitude propane is the best cold weather preforming fuel can out there. While great in any climate, the additional weight of propane makes it burdensome on long backpacking trips, an easy solution is to bring friends along. 

Is propane right for you?
Check out the remote canister burner stove.  

Is propane right for you?
Check out the remote canister burner stove.  

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