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Copyright © 1997
WILDS of Manitoba



2014 December 09


WILDS Of Manitoba

Trip Tips

What is the difference between a Canadian and a canoe?





You get to camp, drop your pack at your tentsite and open it up to find one of your fuel bottles has emptied itself. Explains the vapor following you on the trail your friends thought was from the curried lentil stew last night. Your sleeping bag, clothes, tent and food are damp from naptha fuel (aka white gas aka white spirits aka Coleman campfuel) so you hang them up to dry (in the rain).

Shame on you, first, for not protecting your other gear and food from the fuel (next time, put everything else in a plastic bag separate from the camp fuel bottle which should be in another separate plastic (ziplock) bag and, if possible, a separate pack). Shame on you, second, for not checking the O-ring on the fuel bottle. Shame on you, third, for cozying up to the camp fire or lighting a stove later on while wearing clothes that naptha had dried on (the residue is flammable after it has dried and you could go up in flames in all that synthetic - hey, primed wool ignites nicely, too).

Every metal fuel bottle/container/reservoir has a rubber O-ring under the cap which compresses between the plastic cap/lid and the metal lip of the fuel bottle to keep fuel from leaking out of the bottle. You will find the same type of O-ring on the fitting between your campstove pump and the fuel bottle.

Rubber O-rings have a short lifetime, especially when exposed to various fuels like naptha and compression-stressed by them gorilla hands. If you examine the O-ring under compression you will notice hair-line or larger splits in the rubber, which will permit fuel to leak out of the bottle if it is not standing upright; or fuel can leak out of a bottle when it is connected to your stove; your stove operating instructions warn you to check for leaks before lighting the stove or your cigar.

So you open your stove spare parts kit and, voila, you find a spare O-ring. If you don't find one (more likely) then you better use some electrical rubber tape or duct tape or some other method to keep the fuel in the stove OR transfer the fuel into another vessel that will not leak, such as a 1/2 litre or larger pop bottle that is first rinsed out with the fuel. Remove the old O-ring by rolling it off the bottle cap or stove pump and roll the new one on making sure it does not have any cracks. PACK OUT THE OLD O-RING so it doesn't find itself around some toad's neck.

Before your trip, buy the right O-ring for your fuel bottles at your local/favorite outdoor store. They are different (I think) for MSR and Coleman fuel bottles and stoves. Dealers who sell the stoves SHOULD also stock replacement parts including individual fuel bottle O-rings. I prefer MSR stoves (e.g. Whisperlite International 600 Shakerjet) and have found that the automotive parts section at Canadian Tire (they don't sell MSR stoves) stocks an array of rubber O-rings including exactly the correct size O-ring for MSR fuel bottles (part number 61-9821-6, 7/8 inch I.D. x 1 1/8 inch OD x 1/8 inch thick, 59 cents each; or try part number 93-7100-8). They are also available from Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC); ask for a MSR Fuel Bottle/Pump O-Ring SKU 8093 or Style 1506-260 for 50 cents each. You may also find them in stock at Wilderness Supply or other local outdoor outfitters.

I carry a couple O-rings in my repair kit and stock up because the O-rings don't seem to degrade before you install them on a bottle. I use a few each year (usually on other people's fuel bottles who like to trip with me because I carry everything to prevent such problems) and make a point of checking the O-rings each time I refuel a bottle before each trip.

Haven't had a fuel bottle leak (friends have) nor have any of my stoves blown up yet! Problem is, I have to stop carrying 20 pounds of O-rings with me!



If you own a MSR Whisperlite International 600 Shakerjet stove and can't get the same old heat out of it, check to make sure the shakerjet needle isn't bent over (look in the orifice opening, if you see the pin bent then disassemble and straighten/replace the shakerjet needle).

When you put your stove away don't clip the hose hook into the orifice, clip it onto the stove's legs instead.

Flame on!



So you want to simmer your wild (edible) mushrooms (or omelette or tender whatever) on a Whisperlite or XGK, eh?

Here are several methods for simmering which can be used individually or in combination:

  • maintain the heat and use a flame spreader to spread the heat on the bottom of the pan/pot (the flame spreader comes with the Outback Oven, a wonderful frying pan with lid, heat reflector and thermometer/lid knob, or is available separately at some outfitter stores);

  • remove the wind shield from around the stove to allow some of the heat to escape;

  • do not pump the stove fuel bottle, allowing the fuel pressure to drop over time through use, and turn the fuel control all the way off, note the orientation of the OFF mark, then quickly reopen the fuel control about 1 full turn (relative to the OFF orientation) then adjust it back to 3/4 to 1 full turn until the stove runs quietly without sputtering.
The last method requires babysitting the stove to make sure the stove does not extinguish itself if the pressure drops too much (you will hear it sputtering before this happens); if the stove extinguishes but is still HOT I will relight the stove as long as the fuel is hot enough to hiss (the operating instructions recommend you let the stove cool down to relight it normally, but my wild mushrooms don't usually have the patience).

HINT: Practice at home!

By the way, my 13 year old MSR XGK stove still works great and is as loud and hot as a jet engine (burning petrol gasoline or Grand Marnier, pun) but I hardly use it because my Whisperlites are quieter (only on ultralight trips). I like the controls on the new MSR Dragon Fly and the way it simmers, BUT it is as loud as my XGK and I can make my Whisperlites simmer, so why buy such an expensive stove? If I didn't have an XGK and wanted a light weight stove, the Dragon Fly would be the one. BUT. Why doesn't MSR create a new Whisperlite with the simmering features of the Dragon Fly?



If you own a stove and want some extra wind protection, save the large heavy duty aluminum tray/pan from a Chinese take-out meal or buy the same type of tray used for baking turkeys or roasts in, and flatten it out, then cut it to the dimensions you want. Trays can be pieced together by bending and folding. This is a much cheaper alternative to buying the MSR heat shields, and more readily available. Besides, you get to eat all that food to get the aluminium!



Keep your shiny new MSR fuel bottles from getting nicks in them by carrying them in an old sock (okay you might get a nick or two where the sock has holes). Nicks in the fuel bottle will reduce the pressurization capability of the fuel bottle.

You can also use that sock to clean the soot off your MSR stove if you don't shut it off properly.

Keep your fuel bottle's tootsies cozy!



I hate getting that black soot from the bottom side of a Whisperlite on my hands; it seems to get to my clothes, my nose and other places I won't mention here.

Avoid the soot and having to clean the orifice (of your MSR stove) by blowing the flame out (on the stove) before the fuel pressure drops to a level that lets the flame burn orange instead of blue.

If you happen to get an orange flame when shutting off non-shaker jet stoves you can clean the orifice using the cleaning tool which has a short, straight, stiff wire on it. OR you can clean the orifice by opening the fuel control immediately after the flame has extinguished while the fuel line is still hot then closing the fuel control as soon as you hear vaporized fuel hissing at ya. Make sure no other flame is present and do this away from and downwind from other people so they don't smell/inhale the vaporized fuel. This will purge sooty residue from the orifice so you won't have to use the cleaning tool (as often). It might also purge other people from your general vicinity so if you want to be alone, let that naptha rip!



A few years ago on a cool spring morning I ate a bowl of oatmeal and suffered from naptha burps while paddling all morning.

If I had only used some water to rinse out that bit of clear liquid in the bottom of the pot after taking the Coleman Peak stove out of the pot I would have had oatmeal without the naptha flavoring instead.

Did you hear the recent court case where a military officer was supposedly poisoned by his unit buddies who were regularly spiking his beverages with naptha?


Wonder what happens if you light a cig during a naptha burp? I don't know 'cause I quite smoking 21 years ago; can anyone tell me?

Suggestion - make sure the stoves you carry inside your pots don't have naptha in the fuel reservoir and make sure the fuel line of the MSR stove is emptied of fuel before storing it in a pot.