WG15 – Stoves and Fuel

By far, the stoves of choice for Philmont crews are the Coleman Exponent Feather and the MSR Whisperlite.  They are inexpensive, reliable, reasonably light, efficient, rugged, safe, and above all SCOUT FRIENDLY.  The Feather 442 is a top choice of many.  Even though it is a dual-fuel stove, most only use it with Coleman fuel (also known as “white gas.”)  It has an attached tank which carries about 11 ounces of fuel.  The MSR Whisperlite has a detached fuel tank with a pump inserted into it.  These two types are demonstrated in the Stoves and Fuel video in the Equipment section on the Training Videos page of the Watchu Experience Web site (www.watchu.org).  You are free to choose whatever stove works best for your crew.  See the Equipment section on the Favorite Links page for retailers that carry a wide range of backpacking stoves.

You will need two stoves, two stove stuff sacks, a funnel with a filter, a repair kit, fuel bottles, and a total of about 65 ounces of fuel capacity if using white gas.  With the Coleman, that would be two 22-ounce fuel bottles in addition to the tanks on the stoves.  For stoves like the Whisperlite, that would be three 22-ounce fuel bottles.  You will purchase the fuel at Philmont.  Since you will have an opportunity to pick up fuel on the trail every three or four days, you will find 65 ounces is plenty, provided you are careful with fuel consumption.  Never let the stoves burn unattended or when not in use, and at each fuel station re-fill your fuel containers.  All Philmont backcountry Trading Posts carry white gas and varieties of isobutane/propane fuel canisters.  However, since the availability of fuels other than white gas can be limited and empty fuel containers must be carried to the end of the trek (note this may be changing, staff camps were accepting empty canisters in the summer of 2014), stoves using fuels other than white gas are not recommended.

The Coleman and MSR stoves are easy to keep in top-notch condition and easy to repair.  Take two of the same type of stove so you only need learn how to maintain one and only need to carry one repair kit.  It is a good idea to select a Scout and an advisor to learn the “ins and outs” of stove maintenance and repair.  In addition, since these stoves are so common at Philmont, there will be plenty of experts, including staff, around to help in the event you have a problem you can’t fix.  Some crews carry an extra stove in case of emergency, but many do not.  In an emergency, while waiting at most a day or two to get help, one stove is adequate.  And such an emergency will be very rare indeed.

If you feel you must carry a backup stove, a good choice is the Coleman Apex ll, the MSR Whisperlite, or a similar one of another brand.  Since these stoves do not have an attached fuel tank, the only extra weight is the light-weight stove itself without a fuel container.


Advisor Question:  Our Venturing Crew’s uniform is not the National recommended green uniform shirt and charcoal pants.  Must we purchase an “official” uniform just for travel with the Patriots’ Path Philmont contingent?

Answer:  No, it is not necessary for a Venturing crew that does not use the green shirt and charcoal pants uniform to purchase an official uniform “just” for travel (or for use during the Watchu Mountain Adventure).  However, your Venturing crew must be uniformed – all crew members wearing identical clothes.  Creating a Philmont uniform for your Venturing crew is an option – for instance a crew-designed golf shirt with Venturing Switchback pants.


Watchu Experience Web site:  Yes, there is a tremendous amount of information posted on the Watchu Experience Web site (www.watchu.org), and we know that it is not always easy to find what you are looking for (even Chief Watchu can’t always remember where things are!).  Quick Links is great for the most frequently accessed items, but check out the Site Map page, especially the Alphabetical section – if you know what you are looking for, you should be able to go directly to it.  Feedback encouraged! – if what you are looking for is not listed, we want to know about it.


Contingent / Crew Number:  Even if your entire crew is from one unit, you should be referring to your crew by your Philmont contingent / crew number – the date of your arrival at Philmont followed by an assigned letter and a number 1 through 4 – not your unit number.  Your crew number is used to identify your crew for all Watchu and Philmont administrative purposes.  For 2015, Patriots’ Path’s contingents are 628R, 630L, 712L, 714U, and 716O (yes, that last character is a confusing “o”, not a zero…).  If you do not know your correct crew number, please contact Debbie Wickham.


Phil Fact:  Henri (later Henry) Lambert, a native of Bordeaux, France, was a chef for both General Ulysses S. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War before heading west in 1863.  He moved to Cimarron in 1872 and built the Lambert’s Inn, a saloon that by 1880 evolved into the St. James Hotel.  The establishment had a violent reputation – it is said 26 men were shot and killed inside.  Reportedly it hosts a number of ghosts, including Henry’s second wife, Elizabeth.  The spiritual activity of the hotel has been featured on the popular television shows Unsolved Mysteries and A Current Affair.  In 2009 the St. James underwent an extensive renovation to restore the interior to its historical roots, as well as to add spectacular spaces like the new outdoor patio.


I want to wake up in the morning at Lamberts Mine camp!

Henry Lambert
Lambert’s Inn (now the St. James Hotel), Cimarron, New Mexico Territory