I've been thinking for some time to buy a multifuel stove for use in cold and high-altitude camping as compressed gas might be unreliable, and, most importantly, difficult to obtain in remote location.
However, I have some doubts from previous experience with petrol / gas stations: they are not happy or outright refuse to fill small containers! I would certainly not want to lug a one-gallon canister of gas for a three-day trip (or even a week-long one, for that matter)!

Are there any tricks / best practices / simple solutions to overcome this potential obstacle?
The main reason I'm ready to cough up $170 on a Primus is the ability to obtain fuel literally everywhere in the world, but if the stations would not want to do it, then there's no point!

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    Depending on how well you can communicate with the locals, and maybe the culture, you might just ask someone fuelling to put some gas into your bottle for cash. Just have a funnel ready. Aug 20, 2019 at 16:10
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    MSR have a couple of designs that run on a ridiculously wide range of fuels - the whisperlite universal will run on gas or liquid fuels. Paraffin can be easier to buy in smaller quantities in some places
    – Chris H
    Aug 22, 2019 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


In the UK many petrol stations (which, BTW have some of the longest opening hours of any retailers, especially on Sundays) say minimum 2 litres, some minimum 5. There are rules about the type of container you can fill; the one your bottle might not meet is simply labeling. Years ago it wasn't unknown to fill a 1 litre bottle and pay for 2 litres, but on short trips its easier to start with a full bottle of fuel and rely on using that. Of course if you fly then hike, you have to buy fuel when you arrive. Much of western Europe is similar to this. They also tend to sell small bottles of expensive liquid lighter fuel, which works in petrol stoves if you can't use a pump. You do actually need permission of sorts at staffed petrol stations - pumps are turned on by the shop staff. Pay at pump stations turn on when a credit card is inserted.

You'd need a funnel to fill most fuel bottles as the nozzle is bigger than the cap.

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    In the US this would not be a problem, there are no similar rules about quantity (but there are rules about containers, that are loosely enforced) in the US you pay at the pump with a credit card, get as little as you want. Clarifying question. in Europe, would it be appropriate/possible to have someone who is putting fuel in their vehicle just put a litre in your container and you give them the value in cash? Aug 20, 2019 at 16:08
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    @James About Europe, I'd say, yes in principle, but Europe is not the same everywhere, and language problems might the main obstacle (or different currencies). Aug 20, 2019 at 16:12
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    @JamesJenkins it would be unusual in the UK, but in an area with lots of outdoorsy people, you'd be OK if you ask nicely. I'm not sure what would happen if you tried to pay at the pump for less than the stated minimum volume. (My van runs on diesel so I run Coleman fuel /white gas in my petrol stove, which I don't use much; I haven't had to deal with decanting petrol for a while)
    – Chris H
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:27
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    The countries that a fussy about container safety or minimum volumes are likely to be developed countries and you can always purchase one to four liter cans of white gas (Colman Fuel) from an outdoor gear provider in these countries. In my experience with third-world travel any roadside stop will have a petrol dealer selling liter soda bottles filled with gasoline. Obtaining fuel will not be a problem.
    – user17013
    Aug 22, 2019 at 16:01
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    @GBG that seems true in the UK, but petrol stations are far more plentiful and have longer opening hours. The only place I know to obtain Coleman fuel overnight or after about 4pm on a Sunday is my house or a friend's; a few campsite shops may be worth a try. I could ask a random person in the street and they'd probably know where to find a petrol station, but not an outdoor shop. However you can often run a petrol stove on zippo fuel from a pound shop (or indeed petrol station), or better still top up Coleman fuel with zippo fuel
    – Chris H
    Aug 22, 2019 at 16:27

It is also worth knowing the pros and cons of using automotive Gasoline / Petrol in stoves:

From MSR's website MSR's website "Liquid Fuel Stoves 101 Choosing the right fuel for your stove

White Gas (Naphtha)

White gas (aka “naphtha,” “100% light hydro treated distillate,” or “Coleman Fuel”) is the first choice for most people in North America whether they’re headed out for a summer weekend or for a month-long winter expedition in the Alaska Range. Almost any pressurized-type liquid fuel stove will run well on white gas. Because this fuel burns cleaner than most others and because it evaporates (vaporizes) at a lower temperature, it makes starting your stove an easier, cleaner, and overall more pleasant experience. It also won’t leave as much of a nasty residue or odor if you have a spill.

You might hear white gas referred to generically as “Coleman Fuel”. Not all brands are identical, but any stove that runs on white gas should burn Coleman fuel without issue. MSR offers a unique blend of white gas called SuperFuel. It is more refined and burns cleaner than almost any other white gas on the market. It is free of additives and so reduces fuel line clogs and other stove maintenance.

Unless you’re going through gallons of fuel, it is best to buy white gas in smaller containers, like MSR SuperFuel. Once you open the container and expose it to air, the fuel starts to degrade. If you don’t get out that often, a gallon container of Coleman fuel will degrade and possibly build up shellac that will clog your stove or stove pump filters.

Although white gas is similar to automotive gasoline, these two fuels are quite different and are not necessarily interchangeable.

Automotive Gasoline (petrol)

Consider this a fuel of last resort. As stated above, most stoves capable of burning white gas can also burn gasoline, but this fuel has some downsides of which you’ll want to beware. Gasoline contains additives designed to make car engines run smoother, but these additives can harm the seals in your stove’s pump and fuel line, making them harder and more prone to leaking. Gasoline will also produce more smoke and fumes than white gas. Further, what you buy at the pump might have upwards of 25% ethanol mixed in. Ethanol is an alcohol; in low percentage mixtures it may not make a big difference in how your stove burns, but it can cause pitting corrosion in aluminum fuel bottles. If you do use gasoline with ethanol, don’t leave it in your fuel bottle for long-term storage.

  • Good point about the container - but most multi fuel stoves are designed w/ ethanol in mind, it is a common enough fuel in itself. I'd add that in most places I have been, you can buy bottles of gasoline meant for lawn mowers and etc. which are perfect (but be careful - some 2-stroke fuels come with oil, you don't want that)
    – Stian
    Aug 25, 2019 at 10:53

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