The Two Types of Gas Canisters for Camping in Japan

Whether it be solo camping or family camping, the number of campers in Japan is increasing rapidly. Gas canisters, both CB cans and OD cans, are a must-have item when it comes to cooking while camping. In this article, we'll focus on the advantages of CB cans for beginners who aren't familiar with the differences between Japan's different gas canisters.

Video Introduction: CB Cans - Readily Available at 100-Yen Shops All Across Japan

This video, titled "[Gas] The Difference Between CB and OD Cans (Which is Better for Camping? Explaining the Key Differences Between the Two)" (【ガス】CB缶とOD缶の違いについて(キャンプでは結局どっちがいいのか? 使い分けのポイントについて解説)), was uploaded by "sugita outdoor channel" (杉田アウトドアch / sugita outdoor channel). Sugita, the camper in the video, enjoys solo camping and auto-camping in small groups. He explains the advantages of CB cans, which are cheap and easily obtainable in Japan, and how they're different from OD cans.

CB Cans

Image of a gas stove
Photo:A gas stove

A CB can, short for "Cassette Gas Bombe," is a gas canister often used in household stoves in Japan. It has the following characteristics:

The advantage of choosing CB cans is that they are inexpensive, costing only about 100 yen per canister. Their thin and compact shape makes them easy to store, and they can be easily purchased at convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan. Furthermore, in the past, there were not many burners that could be used with CB cans, but the number of burners compatible with CB cans has increased dramatically in recent years, making them more accessible.

When the temperature of the canister drops below 5°C, a pressure drop occurs that causes the output of the can to decrease. In severe conditions, such as below freezing temperatures, CB cans may become unusable. Those planning to camp in winter should be especially careful.
[Video] 0:42 - CB Cans

OD Cans

Image of an OD can
Photo:An OD can

An OD can, short for "Outdoor can," is a gas canister designed for outdoor use. Compared to CB cans, which are long and narrow, OD cans are characterized by their sturdier shape.

OD cans can be used in colder conditions, such as during the winter or when climbing high-altitude mountains. Those camping in the dead of winter or climbing mountains at high altitudes will want to bring OD cans with them.

OD cans are more expensive than CB cans, costing about 500 yen per can, and they are larger than CB cans, making them difficult to store. Another disadvantage is that they are difficult to obtain, being purchasable only at outdoor specialty stores or online.

Useful Items to Have With CB Cans

Image of solid fuel
Photo:Solid fuel

Sugita, the video creator, says that he has never experienced any trouble using CB cans when camping. However, he mentions that he actively prepares so that he can avoid problems when using CB cans. In order to prepare for situations where you can't use a CB can, such as on a cold morning, here are some useful items you can take with you.

・A Heater
To keep the CB cans in usable condition, they should be kept from the cold as much as possible. To aid in this, a heater is a useful item to have. Even in the worst-case situation where a CB can is not available, you can still boil water on the top of the heater. It's also a good idea to protect the gas canister by wrapping a cloth around it to prevent it from getting cold in the open air.

・Solid Fuel
You can also bring solid fuel just in case you need to boil water for making hot beverages. They're quite compact, so be sure to bring several.

・OD Cans
It is a good idea to have at least one OD can with you in case of an emergency. It will also be useful in the early morning when the temperature is lower.

・Fire Starter
It's hard to keep warm when it's cold. We recommend bringing items that can easily start a fire.

Gas Canisters and Expiration Dates

When storing CB and OD cans, care should be taken to avoid gas leaks and you should also be weary of expiration dates. Gas canisters deteriorate over time. While they have a long shelf life (approximately 7 years from the date of manufacture), you should be sure to check the manufacture date on the bottom of the can. Also, if there are any deformities or rusting on the lid or the cylinder, it's possible the cans are deteriorating at a faster rate than normal.

Storing Gas Canisters

Image of a gas canister
Photo:A gas canister

Gas canisters should be stored away from fire and direct sunlight, and in a dry place below 40°C (104°F). It's also dangerous to place them near cooking areas where fire is present, on the ground under the scorching sun, or in a car, even if you're camping or do other outdoor activities.

Properly Disposing of Gas Canisters

When disposing of CB or OD cans, be sure to use them up before discarding them. Whether or not to puncture the gas cans after they are used up depends on the local government. Check the disposal method of the local government in advance and dispose of the cans accordingly.

Summary of Japan's CB Cans, a Convenient Piece of Camping Equipment

CB cans are cheap, available at most supermarkets in Japan, and are very useful! However, if you purchase them without knowing how they work, you might find yourself in an undesirable or possibly even dangerous situation.

Be especially careful when camping in winter. Don't forget to prepare other items to keep the gas canisters from getting too cold and also backup items in case it does happen. OD cans are another great item to have in case it gets colder than you were expecting.
There are many awesome campgrounds in Japan. Enjoying hot meals and warm drinks while camping in the crisp, clean air of winter is truly a unique experience as well. Be sure to check the weather conditions on the day of your camping trip so you can be well equipped and ready to go!

Written By
Last Updated : Jun. 9, 2022
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels

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CB Cans - A Cheap, Easy-To-Use, and Convenient Alternative to OD Cans When Camping IF You Know Their Limitations…
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