Walking through Caithness, just days away from John O’ Groats, I was running low on gas. I stood outside the shop and shook the little canister. There was barely any liquid remaining and I had possibly one boil left. I sighed and went inside the shop, doubting that such an isolated location would be able to offer much in the way of fuel for my stove. I anticipated a cold meal that night. I was wrong.
I was close to the NC500 and there must have been a steady enough series of visits from motorcyclists and motorhomes for them to carry a limited stock. I was confined to either cold drinks and eating uncooked food for the remainder of my hike, or buying the only remaining lindal-valved canister of gas they had. It was huge and weighed around 670g. This was more than three times the weight of my preferred small canisters. I pushed aside the little bright blue Campingaz CV300 canisters on the shelf, grasped the sole, large and oh-so-heavy canister that lurked behind them and took it to the tiny counter, along with three slabs of Tablet, can’t forget them…
The above happened in 2018. I am sure that similar situations have been experienced by many long distance backpackers. On a walk of a few days, a week, possibly longer, you can pack enough fuel from the outset. On longer hikes however, you need to find fuel locally. Travelling overseas presents similar problems. If relying on a gas stove you are invariably looking for an EN417 canister with a lindal valve. These are compatible with the very great majority of backpacking gas stoves and are a type of canister found across the World. However other types of canister connector do exist.
Common across the UK and Europe are the Campingaz stoves and their respective gas canisters. The old types have pierceable C206 cyclinders that are gradually giving way to the more common Easy Clic CV connectors. It was these little Campingaz canisters that lined the shelf in that small shop in northernmost Scotland. Canisters that I could not connect my MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove to. Almost all standard backpacking stoves will not screw directly onto these, nor will they screw onto the dark green propane canisters found in many outdoor equipment shops and other outlets.
Found in many supermarkets, garden shops and tool outlets are the thin butane cartridges used in table top camping stoves, blow torches, weedburners and the like. These cartridges have a thin bayonet type connector. A lindal connector will not attach to these. Some of these alternative containers can work out a good deal cheaper for their contents than those found in lindal valved canisters. Though this is not of much use if we cannot connect a gas stove to them.
I have often found that many bothies will have the odd gas canister sitting around on a shelf. If it is a lindal valve type, it is invariably empty and some lazy git has declined to pack out his rubbish. Bothies are not exclusively used by backpackers. Day hikers, weekend-warriors and those inspired to try bothy life having read a best seller will also visit. Some will have packed in a Campingaz stove or, less often, something to hook up to a large and heavy dark green propane bottle weighing a kilogram or so. Too often, these are ‘kindly’ left for those following to use. Either because, again, they are empty, or more frequent, deemed too heavy to pack out. None of these are of much use to any backpacker passing through as most stoves will not connect to them and they gather cobwebs for months. Remember, if you empty a gas canister in a bothy, pack it out please, ideally accompanied by some previously abandoned rubbish too.
What follows is not a recommendation. Three Points of the Compass is only commenting on what there is out there, products that some people have used and others do not. Products that seemingly no stove manufacturer other than those in Japan and Kovea countenance.
There are many commercial adapters that will enable some backpacking stoves to be connected to gas canisters that do not have Lindal valve connectors. They can be purchased from a number of places but are most easily located through eBay and Amazon. There are different manufacturers of these adapters and no doubt quality and reliability will vary. I have used just the three different adapters, shown here, and they have worked faultlessly so far.
Especially common in France, but also found across Europe (mostly northern), the UK and Australia, the bright blue Campingaz canisters are most frequently found with the Easy Clic connector, called Campingaz CV canisters. These can be disconnected from a stove after first use and are a vast improvement on the earlier pierceable cans, hence them being named, in full, Easy Clic Plus connectors. It is perfectly possible to buy a backpacking stove to fit these. I have had no experience of Campingaz stoves in the past forty years as they are a bit clunky, heavy and bulky. but they could be an option for some. Alternatively there are adapters that will enable a ‘standard’ backpacking stove with a lindal connector to be used with these canisters. They are simple to use. Push on, hold down and rotate. That’s it. The stove can then be screwed onto the lindal valve at the top of the adaper as normal. These can be used with the CV270 (355g/230g gas, now discontinued), CV300 Plus (330g/240g gas) and CV470 Plus (550g/450g gas) canisters. These are filled with a butane/propane gas mixture at a ratio of 80/20. Campingaz were bought out by Coleman in 1996 and various branding can be seen on Easy Clic canisters but the bright blue Campingaz are the commonest by far.
The Jeebel Camp GO16 adapter weighs 42g and measures 51m x 37mm. One thing to remember is that the additional 22m height of the adapter (when in use) lifts up the cente of gravity of any pot of boiling water atop. Similar adapters are available from other manufacturers online. Obviously quality will vary.
The Easy Clic adapter is made from metal alloy, brass and plastic. There are moving parts, which are mostly plastic and I suspect would break if subjected to too much torque when tightening. This is a simple and efficient adapter that enables often significantly cheaper gas canisters to be used with a ‘standard’ backpacking stove. This does not get a great deal of use from me and I suspect the reliance on plastic parts may result in a failure one day. If I ever find this adapter in an all metal contruction, I’ll buy it, despite the accompanying increase in weight.
Beside the Easy Clic type Campingaz connector, thin bayonet type connector gas cartridges are also available from Campingaz, as well as from a large number of other manufacturers and suppliers. They can be identified by the notch in their collar next to the bayonet valve. These can be filled with 100% butane or a mixture of gases. Because of the nature of the gas, butane is more suited to use in the warmer months. Found across the globe, some of these gas cartridges can be very cheap when compared to the price of a lindal connector canister aimed at the ‘affluent’ backpacking community. The connector is known as a MSF-1A type in some quarters, or as Campingaz CP cartridges.
It is always sensible to keep a dust cap connected to a gas canister when not in use. This prevents grit adhering to the threads and preventing a good seal. A cap must be used to protect the bayonet fittings as these will leak gas if depressed.
Most of the tall thin gas cartidges do not have a screw connector. Instead, a connector is pushed on and rotated to lock it in place. These are more quickly connected or disconnected than screw type connectors.
These taller butane canisters are narrow and unstable if they are used with a canister top stove rather than a remote stove. It may be possible to dig a small hole and bury the canister half deep in this, filling in the sides of the hole around the canister. This will improve stability immensely. These cartridges lend themselves best to a remote stove such as the Kovea Spider. That stove has a pre-heat tube (not all remote stoves do) so can be used with either a gas or liquid feed. I use a Kovea butane gas adapter converter – model Tka-9504 to connect my Kovea Spider remote stove to these. Like the previous adapter, these adapters are manufactured from brass, various alloys and plastic, with little in the way of moving parts. It weighs 32g and is 29mm high, 37mm diameter, or 41mm across it’s maximum width.
Note that these thin cartridge type canisters may have either lindal valve or the thin bayonet type valve for use with blow torches, portable table top camping stoves etc. If it has a screw-type lindal connector then it can be connected to a remote stove with no need for an adapter.
In addition to the butane cartridge adapter I have and show here, there are other curious types of adapter for use with the bayonet connectors. Some simply fix to the top, others have supporting legs combined. Mine is the simplest. It has less to go wrong and less bulk and weight.
Another canister adapter does not particularly lend itself to lightweight backpacking. This is for using a stove with propane bottles. It is not the adapter that is the issue. It is the propane container. Propane performs really well at extreme low temperatures, which is why you will find ‘winter-mix’ canisters that hold up to 20% propane. However propane works at greater pressure. Higher ratio mixes or pure propane requires stronger and therefore heavier canisters. These are usually made from steel.
The most common of the smaller propane containers are the familiar large dark-green 453g / 1lb canisters. Full, these weigh almost a kilogram. These have a threaded CGA600 connector. My G-Works propane adapter is an all metal aluminium/copper construction with a wide rubber (nitrile) gasket. It weighs 31g and measures 34mm in height (including protruding brass nipple) with a 29mm diameter. Alternative adapters for these bottles are quite easily located as they are sold for those brazing and soldering with propane.
It would be possible to use a standard lindal valve connector gas stove with the G-Works adapter however I prefer to use my Kovea Spider. The fuel lead to the Spider is quite long so will reach the extended height of a propane canister with adapter attached. My canister top Soto Windmaster stove has a gas regulator but the design of that stove means it will not fit the adapter. Which is just as well as Hikin’ Jim at Adventures in Stoving (great site), advises strongly against using such a stove with this adapter.
A backpacking stove being used with propane has to be very carefully opened with the burner valve control due to the higher pressure that propane exerts. The propane canister must be kept upright. A liquid feed is neither possible nor required.
Should I have carried Easy Clic or MSF-1A bayonet type canister adapters on a 2000 mile hike across Britain a few years back? Should I consider them for longer hikes now? In 2018 I was never actually without fuel and ‘found a way’. Even with hindsight, looking at gram contents of my pack I would probably have excluded an adapter then and I continue to exclude them now.
These adapters do open up purchase choices for canisters and across the length of Scotland they can potentially enable abandoned part-used or full canisters in bunkhouses and bothies to be used. While a connector adapter opens up possibilities I remain unconvinced about adding one to my pack, at least in the UK. Where perhaps a slightly increased or heavier load is carried- cycle, motorcycle, canoe and especially by car, take an adapter, or two, or three! Why not? That said I continue to use adapters, but only where I am deliberately incorporating a different type of gas canister into my cookset from the outset. For example, the cheap and slim bayonet type butane cartridges are readily available and perfectly suited for three-season use.
I mentioned above that I use my Kovea Spider with an adapter to connect to the thin butane cartridges. Handily, it is possible to buy that excellent stove in a ‘Prepper Pack’ bundle with various adapter connectors making it a truly international consideration for circling the globe with. That bundle includes an adapter that I haven’t got or covered here, one to be used with earlier pierceable type Campingaz canisters.
To finish, do remember that it is extremely volatile gas in pressurised liquid form we are dealing with here. These are aftermarket adapters being discussed and quality will obviously vary across what is available. Not all stoves will actually fit all adapters either. By utilising an adapter with a stove for which such use is not recommended this could potentially adversely affect the performance of a stove, or worse.