Backcountry Hawaii

Transporting Backpacking Stoves

Image of camp fire

Last Update  April 2017

After September 11, 2001 the Transportation Security Agency (U.S. government agency) placed major restrictions on the transport of potentially hazardous material and equipment, including fuels and stoves normally used for backpack trips.

It is no longer permissible to transport:

Gaseous fuel (propane, butane, iso-butane, etc.)

Liquid inflammable fuel (gasoline, kerosene, "Coleman fuel", etc.)

*Matches (one book of paper safety matches allowed in carry-on baggage or on person)

*Lighters (as of 2007, TSA allows one butane lighter as carry on)

** -  Gaseous fuel stove

** - Liquid fuel stove or fuel bottle


Here's a 2014 TSA Blog excerpt from:


Camp Stoves – These can go in either your carry-on or checked bag. There can be no fuel fumes emitting from the stove. The same goes with propane stoves. Propane tanks are prohibited from both checked and carry-on bags. Empty propane or gas cylinders are allowed in checked or carry-on bags as long as our officers can see inside.

Camping Fuel, Burning Paste and Gel Fire Starter - These are prohibited from both carry-on and checked baggage. 



See TSA page for detailed information on lighters and matches at

** See TSA page for detailed information -

Alternative solutions

Open fire - almost always prohibited in National and State parks

Enclosed wood fire - "Sierra"-type metal stoves burning twigs, etc. Good only for 1-3 individuals. May be confiscated  by TSA anyway.

Solid fuel stove - "Esbit"-type stove burning a solid fuel tablet. Good only for 1-2 individuals. Often not recognized  as a "stove".

Alcohol  fuel stove. Not as efficient as gas/gasoline stoves, but may be passed by TSA as it has no odor when dry. Alcohol can easily be purchased in many drug stores (90% Isopropyl "Rubbing" Alcohol ).or Denatured Alcohol at home repair, paint and marine stores. 

See my page on Alcohol Stoves

DIY: Make one of the many alcohol-fueled "soda can, cat food can, etc." stoves as a disposable stove. See the Internet for any of several dozen designs. See especially the simple stove #2 in the Bikepacking URL.

Purchase a stove and fuel upon arrival and discard it upon leaving. An expensive solution. A single burner propane stove ($20.00) and a bottle of propane ($5.00) should last a group for a dozen meals or more. Burner 24 oz, bottle 31 oz, total 55 oz or about 3-1/2 lbs for $25.00.

Purchase "Sterno" burners. Low heat  and slow cooking, but feasible.

Rent or borrow a stove on location. Not many places have rentals. A local hiking organization may have an arrangement to lend a stove to visiting backpackers. (see Loaner below)

Any other suggestions?

Available fuels in Hawaii  As of 2017 (availability not guaranteed)


White gas / Coleman fuel can be purchased at sporting goods stores throughout Hawaii. (1 qt @ $5.00)

, 14.1 and 16.4oz  cylinders can be purchased at hardware stores in Hawaii  (16.4 oz @ $3.00-6.00).
<<NOTE>> The empty steel bottle weight not included; approx. 10 oz so a full 16.4 oz bottle weighs about 27 oz (1.6 lbs).

  butane can
Butane and Iso-butane
canisters (threaded top type) may be found at some Island  stores. 100 g cartridge @ $5.00, 227 G cartridge @ $7.00

* * * * * *   Note - not always available. Phone ahead to check supply  * * * * * *

Oahu -  Walmart (?), Target (?)
Maui -  Ace Hardware
Hawaii <Big Island> - Hilo Surplus, Ace Hardware, Mamo Traders
Kauai - Pedal & Paddle, Kayak Kauai (in Hanalei); Walmart in Lihue area

<<NOTE>>  To calculate how much fuel is left in a partially used cartridge:

Weight for a full cartridge of  8 oz (227 gram) of butane. (approximate)

1. empty cartridge weighs 4.3 oz (139 gram)
2. + 8 oz (227 gram) of butane
3. = a full cartridge weights 12 oz (358 gram).

A full 100 gram (3.3 oz fuel) cartridge weights about 6.6 oz (100 gram).


Butane cans (spray can shaped) typically used for table top stoves.

Butane Can

<<NOTE>>  To calculate how much fuel is left in a partially used can:

Weight for a full cartridge of  7.6 oz (220 gram) of butane. (approximate)

1. empty cartridge weighs 3.8 oz (128 gram)
2. + 7.6 oz (220 gram) of butane
3. = a full cartridge weights 11.6 oz (348 gram).

328 gram / 11.6 oz


See my page on  Butane Stove Adapter

An interesting web page on how to refill butane cannisters from low-cost butane cans (spray can type) typically used in Japanese-type portable table stoves.


- Methyl, Isopropyl or denatured:

 - Denatured alcohol available at hardware, paint and marine supply stores (*) approx. $9.00 /  32 oz can

 - HEET - yellow (Methyl) approx. $3.00 / 12 oz.; or red (Isopropyl) approx. $4.00 / 12 oz in many auto supply stores (*) . Yellow HEET is preferred for fuel.

 - 90%  Isopropyl alcohol available in drug stores  (*) approx. $2.00 - $3.00 / 16 oz bottle

Denatured is hottest, followed by Methenol with Isopropyl the least hot.

In general, alcohol is hazardous, both in liquid , vapor and fumes form. Do not breathe or get on skin.

Oahu - West Marine, Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hardware, True Value Hardware, City Mill
Maui -  see (*) above
Hawaii <Big Island> - see (*) above
Kauai - see (*) above

Solid fuel (Esbit) - sporting goods stores (erratic supply)

Sterno (and others) - 7 oz can - $4 - many stores, including Safeway, Longs Drugs, etc.

How much fuel do I need?

Here are some guidelines / average numbers.

Assume 2 cups (1/2 quart) of  boiling water per person / per meal

One person backpack eating 3 meals / day =  1-1/2 quarts of boiling water

fuel typical model fuel capacity (oz)  burn (mins) boil 1 qt water (mins) nbr boils  1 person/day
Gas Coleman Peak 1 12 75  4.5
16.7 2.2 oz
Butane MSR Rocket 7.5 (227 gm can) 60  4.0
15 1.5 oz
Propane Coleman single burner 16.4 53  3.0
17.6 2.8 oz
Alcohol Trangia 16 oz bottle 45  9.0
5 4.5 oz
Solid* Esbit 1 tablet 13  8.0 for 1/2 qt water . 6 tablets

* Most solid fuel tablets can be extinguished and re-used.

Minimum fuel required = number of persons X number of days

All estimates are at minimum (optimistic) levels. Weather, altitiude and wind can drastically increase fuel usage. 

More lavish meals or colder weather will increase fuel usage.

Purifying water by boiling will increase fuel usage.

Loaner Program

In Hawaii, almost all inter-island travel is by air, making transporting stoves a major headache, especially with the TSA rules forbidding a used stove in carry-on or checked luggage.. (** see TSA note above)

I have  "loaner" stoves cached on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii <Big Island>.  These backpack stoves use butane cartridges..


Examples of small butane stoves for loan

Rules to borrow a stove are:
  • Contact me TWO WEEKs in advance so I can check on availability.
  • Arrange for stove pick-up and return at a REASONABLE time. Hosts work 9-5 and are typically available only in the early evening before 9 pm.
  • Arrange for stove return (drop-off) no earlier than 7 am or later than 9 pm.
  • Leave a $20 deposit. It will be refunded to you when return the stove in good, clean condition.
  • We DO NOT provide pots, pans, etc. or fuel. That is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
  • You need to buy your own fuel cartridges. (see above for stores on various islands). Hosts do not have fuel cartridges. 
  • The volunteers host these stoves on their own time and expense. They do it purely as a courtesy to fellow backpackers. BE NICE TO THEM.
  • If you cannot meet these requirements then we WILL NOT lend you a stove.
Big Island: Jackson B, (alt) Cathy L
Maui: Chad N, (alt) Kuhea A
Oahu: Jim Yuen
Kauai:  Judy D

Contact me at :  jim @

Jim Yuen, 2006
revised 2017
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