A New, Easier To Use, Petrol Stove – The Muka OD-1NP

I’d been wondering all winter about getting a new gas stove for cold conditions and before I knew it, it was April and my excuse evaporated along with everything else in the stunningly good weather (the above picture was taken in the Lake District during five days of amazing weather at Easter – trust me – that never happens).

But a comment on an Iceland posting got me thinking, and I remembered a BPL article from the Winter ISPO show (sorry members only link) mentioning a very impressive sounding petrol stove: The Muka OD-1NP.

What’s so great about it?

Well there’s no need for “priming”, with all the fun of occasional, spectacular fireballs that we know and love or the worry about liquid fuel sloshing about the place.

You can simmer, rather than boil things down to a crisp (I know, you can simmer an MSR Whisperlite if you try very hard. I’ve done it, but it really does take some patience!)

It burns really cleanly even running standard unleaded petrol (gasoline), as seen in this video.

It’s not quite arrived in the UK as of the time of writing but apparently Ultralight Outdoor Gear will be stocking it. Sadly the importers price means that the UKP price is about the same as the USD price. Meaning, with the current exchange rate at least, that since REI stock it and ship internationally (for a not too unreasonable price) that might be a cheaper option, even with the import duty. I’ll be thinking about that some more…

Edit 31st July 2011: I managed to get a look at one of these in the excellent Get Out a couple of weeks ago; Great little stove. Very well made by the feel of it. I am very seriously considering buying one now. I resisted at the time since the cost in Krona was far worse than the cost in UKP (something to do with there being quite a few more UKPs available now, and yet the same amount of stuff… I’m sure that’ll work out just fine though).

As I partly said in reply to the comment above; fuel and stove choice is hard.

The easiest thing to cook with, and generally the lightest for the power overall, is gas. However gas can be the hardest to find on long trips (depending where you are – some places it’s easy! The International Fuel FAQ can help with a decision there).

Meths looks light because of the stove weight (the Whitebox is an excellent example) but it gets heavy for anything more than a couple of days of hiking because of the low calorific density of alcohol compared with other fuels. And again it can be tricky to find in some places.

Petrol (or ideally, white gas) is very efficient weight-wise if doing a multi day trip, even with the weight of the stove, and has the distinct advantage that it’s pretty widely available. It also runs fine in the cold, meaning it could take the place of the gas stove I was considering getting for winter trips.

A final point for me, is that for trips involving a flight, I’ve always found the MSR to be the most practical stove since I can fill up from any garage. And if I’m not driving I just offer a random motorist a quid or two for a quarter litre of fuel and everyone’s happy! No hunting around for kit shops when you want to be making the most of your short time away somewhere. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently.

As a caveat; it’s fine on flights assuming that you thoroughly wash, with detergent, and then dry your stove and bottle! So it’s worth taking into consideration what access you will have to washing facilities as you return from a trip. I washed and dried one without using detergent once – and it was sniffed out and confiscated despite presenting no actual danger to anything. I’d also try using a Loksak OP Sack on the off-chance that would help keep it out of sniff detection range…

Using AutoPano Tour – Basic Instructions

GR5 Honeymoon - French Alps - 2009-55

At some point, I will be writing a couple more postings on the GR20 (and maybe even finishing off the GR5… sigh…) but, as I’ve mentioned before , my time is rather pressed by a couple of other things – things that aren’t as much fun as writing this unfortunately!

Although I’ve already posted a set of instructions for this, tacked on to the GR5 Pictures posting, here’s a clearer and easier to follow set.

AutoPano Tour allows you to create Flash based “interactive” versions of your panoramas.

I used it to create the GR5 Panoramas that I’ve mentioned before and I’ll slowly add more to my public gallery.

The instructions for using it are rather… well, pants.

So I wrote out my own set and thought they might be handy for someone else:

First of all, make sure it’s still Registered (you might need to do this every time, seems to be a bug in the current version). A “Register” menu, top-right is visible if not: Browse to the license file and simply open it.

Drag each panorama into the main window area and optionally arrange in whatever pattern is going to be useful if you want to hotspot links directly between them (I don’t generally, since I find the hotspots too visually distracting).

For each panorama:

On the Panorama tab:

  • Set the JPEG quality to 9
  • If you want better quality output, up the Partial Panorama Width – 5000 seems good
  • Pressing the “Calculate Optimal Size” button makes it the best resolution possible (at the expense of size of course)

Adjust the initial Field Of View for each panorama with the 3D Editor (bottom right):

  • Get the FOV how you want it by dragging it around with the mouse
  • Right-click -> set as start position

Optionally, create hotspots in each panorama:

In the Hotspot Editor:

  • Select the image
  • Full screen
  • Use the right and left arrow icon (far left) to move the editable area
  • Drag each hotspot to the image to link to
  • Ctrl+A to select all to see the links at once

Finally, Export to create the Flash panorama(s):

In the Project Properties tab:

  • Don’t embed all files (makes a single, monolithic file to download)
  • Select Embed XML
  • Select simpleWithFullScreen.html
  • Select the starting panorama
  • Set the rest of the settings as you like
  • Export (the Blue “cog” icon at the top)

But for the snazzy dialog box that appears when you follow my link to the GR5 Panoramas, you’ll need a reasonable knowledge of JavaScript and specifically the jQuery library. Feel free to take my code directly from the site. I’ve no time to support it or answer questions on the implementation I’m afraid – but the code is commented so you shouldn’t have too much bother.

Excellent Phone Protection – A6 Ortlieb Document Cases

Although I’ve mentioned these before, I think they’re so good they’re worth their own posting. I always carry my phones in an A6 Ortlieb Document Case. On longer trips I also carry a second one for the iPhone Nano, cash and passport.

As Needle Sports say, they’re so waterproof they’re almost air-tight.

The really big advantage with them is that you can use the phone whilst it’s inside (even iPhones) and it remains dry. So you can use it in an emergency in the pouring rain.

As an even bigger bonus, the wind noise that can utterly obliterate your voice is all-but removed by keeping it in the bag. Meaning that if you record audio notes or an audio diary,  you can do so wherever you like. But more importantly, if you need to make an emergency call, they’ll actually be able to hear you at the other end!

Phones are rather water sensitive. Over the years I’ve seen many die on the hill (more than ten I’d guess) where people had them in the pocket of a waterproof coat. Pockets simply aren’t reliable for keeping things dry if you’re out in really heavy rain for an extended period.

The cases also last a long time. I think the one I’ve just retired is over ten years old and has been out with me for every single trip during that time, including the seven weeks of the GR5 and three weeks of the GR20.

It’s so old that it has a different “Ortlieb” logo, and I’ve had to use a little McNett Seam Grip to stick down the Velcro that had just started to lift after about eight years. But it really is one of the most reliable and essential bits of kit I carry.