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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Brunton Vapor AF Stove > Test Report by Kevin Hollingsworth

Brunton Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove
Test Series by Kevin Hollingsworth
June 3, 2008

 Vapor

Initial Report (January 31, 2008)
Field Report (April 8, 2008) 
Long Term Report (June 3, 2008)

 Tester Information:

Name: Kevin Hollingsworth
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 1” (1.9 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Email address: kholling55@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Williamsburg, Virginia. USA

I started backpacking and camping when I was in the Scouts. I spent 20 years in the military, which curtailed my personal outdoors adventures. While day-hiking, I normally carry a light load, a waist pack with mostly food and water and a few other things. On three to four day trips, I will carry a pack weighing about 45 to 50 lb (21 to 23 kg). I prefer to hike in the mountains. I have been hiking in Colorado (USA), Korea, Egypt, and most recently the eastern part of the United States.


Initial Report - January 31, 2008

Product Information & Specifications:

Manufacturer:

Brunton

Year of Manufacture:

2007

URL:

http://www.brunton.com/

Listed Specifications:

Weight:

16.0 oz (454 g)

Overall dimensions:

4.1 x 5.2 x 2.3 in (10.4 x 13.2 x 5.8 cm)(folded)

Approximate heat energy rating:

10,000 BTU (10, 551 kJ)(Liquid fuel)  - 12,000 BTU (12,660 kJ)(Butane)

Fuel:

Butane, White gas, Kerosene, Diesel #1, Auto Fuel, and  Jet Fuel

Burn time:

Up to 2.5 hours-high output

Boil time (1 L of water):

3.5 minutes

MSRP:

$180.00 USD

Measured Specifications:

 Note:  All measurements are mine (unless otherwise specified)

Weight (stove):

13.25 oz (375.58 g)

Weight( stove, bottle and pump):

20.45 oz (579.69 g)

Weight (stove, bottle , pump and accessories):

25.15 oz (713.05 g)

Overall dimensions:

4.1 x 5.5 x 2.5 in (10.4 x 14.0 x 6.4 cm)(folded)

Warranty:

Limited Lifetime: Brunton warrants this product to be free of defects in workmanship and materials for the lifetime of the original owner, and is nontransferable.  This warranty does not cover damage caused by accident, misuse, abuse, or tampering.



Product Description:

The Brunton Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove is a multi-fuel stove that uses a single jet for all liquid fuels and butane. The stove is constructed of aluminum, stainless steel and brass. It has precision simmering control and a quick-priming burner. The fuel bottle uses a self-purging Flip-stop pump for ease of use. The Flip-stop pump is designed to prevent fuel spillage and release air pressure from the fuel bottle prior to disconnecting from the stove.

Stove and accesories 

The stove came with the stove assembly, an empty liquid fuel bottle, a plastic pump, a folded aluminum windscreen, a servicing kit, a stuff sack, and two sets of instructions. The instructions are written in English and French, and contain safety warnings, fuel types, operating instructions, cleaning instructions, and a parts list.

The servicing kit consists of a jet cleaning needle, spare O-rings and a maintenance tool. This is all packed in a small plastic zip lock bag.

orange cup 

The stove has of a large, orange aluminum burner cup, with the letter "G" and "L" engraved in it. A brass inner burner cup with the screw-in jet is located on the inside of the large outer cup. Sitting on top of the inner cup is a steel flame spreader cup. This is kept in place by a wire keeper that is connected to one of angled steel legs/pot supports. These legs/supports are attached to the burner cap by a screw and can be rotated from the storage position out to makes the base for the stove. Each of the supports has the name “Brunton” and a few oblongs cut into them. On the top of the supports there is a saw-tooth pattern cut into the metal.

A control valve with a folding wire handle is located at the bottom of the inner burner and extends past the supports. Coming from the side of the control valve is a 11.5 in ( 29.2 cm) braided steel fuel hose that is used to connect the fuel source to the stove.

Pump 

The fuel bottle is made from aluminum and has a black plastic screw-in plug. The pump is made from orange plastic and fits into the bottle for use with liquid fuels. The pump has the words “ON” and “OFF” on opposite sides of the pump. It also has two plastic tubes extending out of the pump. There is an adjustment valve where the feed line connects to the pump.

The stuff sack is constructed of black nylon-like material. On the inside of the sack there is a zippered compartment that the service kit fits into. The stuff sack is large enough so that all the components that are included can fit inside. The sack is closed by a cord with a plastic tensioner.

gas fuel

To use the stove with gas/butane type fuel, turn the control valve on at the stove slightly, releasing some gas and then light the gas with a match or lighter.  To turn the stove off, just close the control valve.

liquid fuel

To use the stove with liquid type fuel the startup procedure is a little different. The stove needs to be preheated or primed. To prime the stove, air pressure needs to be built up with in the bottle. The control valve is closed and the bottle is “pumped up” until firm resistance is felt. According to the provided manual, this usually occurs in “approximately 20-25 full strokes.” Next turn the control valve allowing fuel into the burner jet and priming wick. Turn of the valve, light the wick, and once the flame has become small, turn the valve slowly on, until there is a controlled, blue flame. According to the Vapor manual, over-pressurizing or insufficiently priming the fuel bottle will result in a “high, surging and yellowish flame.” To turn off the stove, all that needs to be done is to rotate the fuel bottle and pump until off is seen on the pump. This allows for extra fuel to be burnt, and for depressurization of the fuel bottle. Also, the escaping air pressure that is released through the burner jet will help to clean the jet.


Care and Cleaning:

To clean the stove, the flame spreader needs to be removed. Then using the included cleaning needle any debris or waste material is cleaned from the jet hole. If stove output is not improved after cleaning the jet hole, Brunton recommends removing the burner plate and unscrewing the jet to remove additional debris. 

Brunton also recommends to making it a habit of cleaning the burner jet prior to setting it up, and packing out.

Initial Impressions:


My initial impression of the stove was that it was a quality product. The stove seems durable and very well made. Being used to using primarily gas type stoves, I had a concern with the procedure on lighting the stove when using liquid type fuel. But after reading the instructions a few times, I figured it can’t be that difficult. I hopefully will be able to master it after a few tries. Beside the quality of workmanship, what impressed me was the stove's ability to use such a wide variety of fuel, without changing any jets.

Conclusions:

Upon my initial assessment, I like the Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove and Brunton’s quality of workmanship.

I would like to thank both BackpackGearTest and Brunton for the opportunity to test the Vapor stove.  

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Field Report - April 8, 2008

Field Locations and Conditions:

Type of Trip:

Day Hiking

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Location:

Local Hiking Area

Local Hiking Area

Local Hiking Area

Distance :

7 mi (11.2 km)

6 mi (9.7 km)

8 mi (12.9 km)

Total Pack Load:

15 lbs (6.8 kg)

10 lbs (4.5 kg)

15 lbs (6.8 kg)

Elevation:

Sea Level

Sea Level

Sea Level

Weather Conditions:

Clear

Clear

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

60 F (15 C)

55 F (13 C)

65 F (18 C)


Type of Trip:

Ski Trip

Location:

West Virginia

Length of Trip:

2 Day

Total Pack Load:

22 lbs (10.0 kg)

Elevation:

4900 ft (1500 m)

Weather Conditions:

Sunny with a slight breeze

Temperature Range (Day):

28 F (-2 C) increasing to 40 F (4 C)


Performance in the Field:

Timed trails:

I initially conducted some timed trials. The purpose of the timed trials was to see how the stove worked with the different types of fuels in a constant environment and which fuels I would use in a field environment.  Each fuel was timed on how long it took to bring 25.3 oz (750 ml) of water from room temperature to 212 F (100 C). Each fuel was tested at least twice and the times were averaged together.

Flame

I conducted the test in my garage, utilizing a 29 oz (.85 l) titanium kettle and a cooking thermometer. The flames for each of the fuels were kept to approximately the same level, a medium flame. Between each timing session, I allowed the components to cool enough so I could touch them. Of all the fuels tested, diesel was the hardest to light and I was unable to maintain a constant flame setting during the test.  The isobutane/propane was the easiest to light and to control. The average times are below:

Testing Conditions

Location

Indoors

Atmosphere Temperature

62 F (17 C)

Altitude

64 ft (20 m)

Amount of Water Used

25.3 oz (750 ml)

Water Starting Temperature

68 F (20 C)

Boiling Temperature

212 F (100 C)

Fuel

Average Boil Time (m:s)

Gasoline

14:37

Isobutane/Propane (80/20 )

12:44

Kerosene

11:45

Coleman® Fuel

14:32

Diesel

--

Field Use:

During the ski trip and day hikes, I used the Vapor to cook up lunch, which consisted of either instant noodles or some form of pasta. I also used the stove to make a hot drink, either coffee or tea, during snack breaks.

Based on the timed trials and fuel availability, the primary fuels used in the field were isobutane/propane (80/20), Coleman® Fuel, and kerosene.  I used one type of fuel during each of the day hikes and the isobutane/propane mix during the ski trip. Based on the day hikes, I found that each of the fuels overall seem to have about the same heating ability.  But during the ski trip, I found that the performance of isobutane/propane dropped in cold weather. To achieve approximately the same cooking ability in cold weather, I needed to increase the flame setting from what I would normally use in warmer weather. I also found that while the fuel can would freeze up with prolong use in the cold weather, the fuel line seemed unaffected by the cold.

When using a gas type fuel, I had no problem lighting the stove. The difficulty was with lighting the liquid fuel. I found that lighting the stove was a little difficult when using liquid fuel. I always had a hard time getting the primer fuel inside the cup to ignite. This was harder when lighter instead of matches.

The Vapor’s control was very easy to use and it responds well when turning, making it easy to adjust the flame. There is +/- etched on the brass portion of the valve to show which way to turn the valve to increase or decrease the flame.  The isobutane/propane mix was the easiest to adjust, while when using liquid fuel, I needed to initially increase/decrease the fuel flow to get a good flame. After getting the initial fuel setting, I could increase or decrease the easily as long as I did it slowly.

I found that changing the type of fuel used was extremely easy to do. I found no special instruction for changing liquid fuels; just fill the bottle up to the full line. When changing between liquid and gas fuel, I just needed to rotate the aluminum burner cup to the proper fuel setting. I found this step to be very important. During one trip, I inadvertently left the fuel setting in the liquid mode when I was using gas. This caused the stove to perform poorly. Once I realized what the problem was, I just rotated the cup to the proper setting, and the stove performance increased.

I have yet to physically clean the jets of the stove. Most of fuel burned pretty clean, although kerosene did leaving a carbon on the stove. I believe this to be because of the shut down procedure. While using liquid fuel, I needed to flip the fuel canister to turn off, allowing the excess fuel to burn of. During the depressurization of the canister, the escaping air cleaned any carbon from the jet.  The time needed to depressurize the canister varied with the amount of air left in the canister.  To reduce the need time, I would not pump the bottle toward the end of the cooking process and increase the fuel valve setting after I flipped the bottle.  

Packing the stove was easy. Once the stove had cooled, I just wiped off any of the carbon left on the inside of the burner cup and the steel flame spreader cup, folded the stoves legs/support and put it into the stuff sack. There was plenty of room in the sack for the stove, wind screen, pump and servicing kit.  

I found the stove to be very stable. It was used on a variety of terrain to include soft, flat ground, snow and rocky landscape. The wide angled legs kept the stove stable. During the field test, I used a 29 oz (.85 l) kettle and a 2 qt (1.5 l) boiler.  The pot supports support them firmly, without any chance of the pots tipping over.

Conclusions: 

So far, I am very pleased with the performance of the Brunton Vapor.  So far, the things I like most like about the stove are its ability to easily switch between the different fuel types and its stability with the different terrain and pot sizes. The only thing that I found about the stove that I really don’t like is the difficulty that I have in lighting the liquid fuel.


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Long Term Report - June 3, 2008

Type of Trip:

Back Country Camping

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

6.0 mi (9.7 km)

8 mi (12.9 km)

4.5 mi (6.4 km)

Total Pack Load:

45 lb (20.4 kg)

25 lb (11.3 kg)

45 lb (20.4 kg)

Elevation:

3000 to 3700 ft (900 to 1128 m)

Weather Conditions:

Cloudy, with drizzle

Partly cloudy

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

45 F (7 C)

60 F (15 C)

60 F (15 C)

Temperature Range (Night):

30 F (-1 C)

40 F (4 C)

 


Type of Trip:

Back Country Camping

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance:

6.5 mi (10.4 km)

7 mi (11.3 km)

5.0 mi (8.0 km)

Total Pack Load:

45 lb (20.4 kg)

45 lb (20.4 kg)

45 lb (20.4 kg)

Elevation:

3400 to 3700 ft (1036 to 1128 m)

Weather Conditions:

Clear

Clear

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

75 F (24 C)

80 F (27 C)

80 F (27 C)

Temperature Range (Night):

65 F (18 C)

65 F (18 C)

 


Performance in the Field:

The Vapor stove continued to perform well in the field.  During the recent two trips, I used an isobutane/propane mixture and kerosene. Both worked equally well, although I still had problems getting the stove to light with the liquid type fuel. It was mostly a hit and miss type situation, sometimes I was able to light the stoves easily, but more often than not, it gave me a lot of trouble. I had no problem lighting the isobutane/propane mix.

I found that when using the liquid fuel, the amount of pumping required depends on the amount of full in the fuel bottle. I found that the more fuel, the less amount of pumping is required to maintain a good flame.

I really liked the stability of the stove. On mixed type, semi-level terrain, I never had any problems with the stove trying to tip over. The stove worked well on all types of cookware, which easily fit on the pot support. My cookware that I used included a 0.9 qt (0.85 L) personal kettle, a 2 qt (1.5 L) boiler, and a 7 in (18 cm) aluminum frying pan.  Again, I never had any problems with the cookware tipping over.

During the first day of one trip, I brought some frozen meat strips. By dinner time, the meat was semi-thawed. Using my aluminum frying pan, I cooked the meat without any problem. The heat seemed to be evenly distributed around the center of the pan. The flame spreader cup did a good job at evenly distributing the flame, resulting in a more even heat distribution. The stove also did well in cooking up different types of pasta dishes.

The provided wind screen did a great job of protecting the flame from the elements. The screen was long and pliable enough to bend around the complete stove. The cutout portion of the screen gave ample space for access to the stove control valve. The screen is high enough to protect the flame, while at the same time low enough to not so that it did not interfere with the cookware or its stability.

While I didn't have to clean the stove because the jet of air that occurs when turning off the stove and depressurizing the liquid fuel bottle keeps the single jet cleans enough, I did clean the stove to see how hard the disassembly and cleaning would be. All the parts are easily to remove, clean and reinstall using the provided tools.

The stove and wind screen is easily packed in the stuff sack.  I kept the maintenance kit in the zipped pocket of the stuff sack whenever I used the stove. The loaded stuff sack fit into my 2 qt (1.5 L) boiler without a problem, although it took up most the space. This allowed only enough space for me to pack additional small items, such as matches, tea bag, etc. 

Summary:

Overall, I really like the Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove and am extremely pleased with its performance.  The Vapor is now my number one choice when I need an outdoor stove of this size.

Things I like:

  • Multi fuel capabilities
  • Stability

Things I don't like:

  • Difficulties in lighting liquid fuel

 I would like to thank both BackpackGearTest.org and Brunton for the opportunity to test the Vapor AF All Fuel Expedition Stove.


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