Going on a backpacking adventure requires a serious amount of planning. There are so many necessities that need to be packed and no one wants to forget something important. One necessity is the backpack stove. There are many features and considerations to make when picking the best backpacking stove. The little item may not seem like a big deal, but it will be when you are hungry for a warm meal while out in the wilderness.
Backpacking Stove Features
When you begin shopping for the best backpacking stove, there are a few features to consider. These first thing to consider is the length of the trip that you plan to take.
If you are traveling for a short amount of time, then you only need a small canister of cooking fuel. You will also be able to travel with a heavier stove, since you aren’t going to be out of civilization for too long of a time.
If you are traveling for a long backpacking trip, you will want a lighter fuel, like a liquid version. It is easier to carry this with you and it is even possible to put emergency fuel in a small bottle.
Types of Backpacking Stoves
Another consideration for the trip is the type of stove you want to use. There are three different types of stoves and they all have pros and cons.
The canister style stove uses isobutane or propane, which is a pre-pressurized gas that makes the canisters lightweight and easy to carry. Some canister stoves do not work well in cold weather because the gas in the canisters become a bit heavier. Canister stoves are one of the smallest types of stoves, so they are not always recommended for heavy cooking since their parts are usually not strong enough to hold a pot of water. One of the benefits of a canister stove is that the flame can be easily adjusted to fit the needs of the cook. Another benefit is that the cooking fuel does not spill, so they are very safe to use. If you do use a canister stove, remember to clean up the canister – never leave it behind in the wilderness.
The canister stove comes in a few different styles. One is the integrated style that has a burner attach to a canister. These are usually small stoves that require the use of a 4-ounce canister. They cook quickly – so they are best for boiling water and not much else. The remote canister style is another popular option that includes a small burner, a hose, and a canister tank. These are easy to pack and carry.
The second type of stove is the liquid fuel model. This type of stove requires gas like kerosene, diesel, or even standard gas used in automobiles. Unlike the canister stoves, liquid fuel stoves work in all weather conditions. While the fuel is more reliable than canister fuel, the stoves are heavier than the stoves that use canister fuel.
Another consideration with a liquid fuel stove is that they do require more maintenance between uses and they also need to be primed to light. The liquid fuel stove is stable and good to use on rough terrain. They do require more safety precautions because the fuel can spill and in some cases, the fuel will clog the hose.
Fortunately, there are other types of stoves that use alternative fuels. Some are designed to burn wood, which is very convenient if you are taking a long trip and you do not want to carry fuel with you. Some alternative fuel stoves use fuel tablets and some function off of alcohol. As more technology is researched and developed, it is likely that stoves will use solar power, too.
How Many People Will Use the Stove?
It is also important to consider the size of the party you are backpacking with. Small stoves are best for one or two people, simply because they cannot heat much food. When evaluating the size that you need, it is important to look into how much water can be boiled. If you are traveling with three or more people, it is best to travel with two stoves or more. Most camping stoves are designed for a pair of people.
What is the Easiest Stove to Use?
The easiest type of stove to use is the canister stove. To use a canister stove, you only need to screw the fuel canister into the hole. The pressurized fuel will enter into the stove, so all you need to do is light the stove and start cooking. There are large stoves that are ideal for camping, but they are too big for backpacking trips. Canister stoves usually do not need any type of maintenance other than basic cleaning.
Liquid stoves are a bit more difficult to use. The fuel needs to be put into the stove and the liquid fuel will need to be primed prior to lighting the stove. These do need to be cleaned more often than the canister stoves and the cleaning needs to be careful, because some fuel could be inside of the stove.
How Heavy is the Stove?
When you are choosing what type of stove to use, it is important to consider how much you want to carry. Of course, using a backpacking stove is a convenience that cannot be replaced, especially if you are traveling in cold weather. But, the efficiency of the fuel needs to be considered as well as the weight you plan to carry. Not using fuel is good for the environment, but many fuel canisters are lightweight and do not add much to the pack. So, if weight is not much of an issue, a canister stove is a good idea for your trip.
However, if you are camping in a cold spot that has serious wind, you will want a stove that can withstand the environment. This means that you might need to carry less fuel, but a heavier stove. Deciding where the weight is most valuable is the key to a successful backpacking trip. Alternative fuel might be a better option when it comes down to weight and the length of the trip. If your stove cannot handle the environment, then you are wasting the space in your pack. Be sure that you always consider where you are going and what the best gear is for that location.
What Accessories are Available?
Another consideration to make before buying a stove is the type of accessories that can be used with it. For example, some lightweight canister stoves do not do well in windy conditions, but some brands have wind-blocker accessories that make it easy to cook in the wind. The size of the fuel bottle is also a consideration, especially when you have to limit the gear you bring. There are some backpacking stoves that have accessories you can use to capture heat so none of it goes to waste in the atmosphere. The affordability of fuel cubes is also a consideration, as it the type of hoses you use for a propane tank.
The 9 Best Backpacking Stove to Buy in 2017 – Reviews and Comparison
There are some of the best backpacking stoves for all types of backpacking trips. They have been tested and used by backpackers on the trails.
1. Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System
This little cooking system uses a special design that will boil two cups of water in two minutes flat. The Jetboil Flash includes a one-liter insulated cup that fits right onto a small burner and uses an exclusive Jetboil FluxRing technology that makes sure all heat is directed to the small cup. The windscreen keeps the cup hot. The system includes an ignition that works quickly, too. The FluxRing cooking cup has a neoprene lining that keeps food warm after the heating session has been completed. The cup also changes color when it has reached a hot temperature. The FluxRing cooking cup holds the entire cooking system in a 4.1” x 7.1” space. There are several other accessories that can be attached to the system, too.
- Minimalist cooking that works
- Easy to use
- Works in all environments
- Igniter can jam
- Silicone cover of the cup can warp
- Need to be safe around any product that uses compressed fuel
2. Coleman Sportster II Dual Fuel 1-Burner Stove
Coleman is a respected name in camping gear. The Dual Fuel stove uses the Coleman brand fuel as well as unleaded gasoline. The fuel used in this stove lasts a long time. The burner provides cooking power that works and it is designed to function in all weather conditions, even in windy and cold weather. The cooking power is the equivalent of 10,000 BTUs, making it strong and reliable. The stove holds a six-inch pan safely and securely. A small 1.1 pint of Coleman Liquid Fuel will last for two hours and the wind baffles keep the flame going. This stove comes with a five-year warranty and is made in the USA. The stove and fuel tank measures 7.38″ x 7.8″ x 6.55″ and weighs two pounds.
- Workhorse burner uses a variety of different fuels
- Fuel tank lasts for a long time
- A lot of heat comes from the small stove
- Fuel line can clog
- Some only run on full blast, not simmer
- Fuel can spill
- Too heavy to carry in a backpack
3. MSR PocketRocket Stove
This is one small stove that works like it is much bigger than it really is. The little PocketRocket stove fits in a small hardshell case that makes it perfect for backpacking trips. It is efficient to use and to carry. The flame can be precisely controlled and the stove includes a Wind Clip shield to prevent any heat loss in windy conditions. This little stove is not only ideal for backpacking and camping, but for emergencies in the car and at home. The stove measures 4” x 2” x 2” and it weighs .26 pounds when taken out of the box. It is made of stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. It will boil water in less than four minutes and it requires at least four ounces of fuel per person.
- Tiny and efficient
- Ideal for one or two people
- Use a one or two ounce pot
- Not for use in extremely cold weather
- Tipsy center of gravity
- Best for people who want extremely lightweight packs
4. MSR Reactor Stove System
This is not the least expensive stove available, but it does the job extremely well. This is one of the best backpacking stoves available because it is lightweight and works quickly and efficiently. The stove includes high-performance cookware and the burner is designed to work in the windiest conditions. The regulator maximizes the fuel efficiency so canisters last longer than they do in other types of stoves. This stove works for one to three people by quickly heating up a one liter pot of water in three minutes. The included pot has a see-through lid and collapsible handles. The stove is made in the USA and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The stove uses isobutane or propane. It measures 7” x 8” x 8” and weighs 1.09 pounds. It is made of steel and aluminum.
- Quickly boils water
- Large stove, but easy to carry
- Too big for just one person
- A bit bulky to pack
5. MSR Dragonfly Stove
The MSR Dragonfly Stove uses the MSR CoolFuel Valve system that includes a dual valve that allows for a full range of flame control. You can simmer or boil with a quick adjustment of the flame adjuster. The pot supports hold an extra wide pot so you can actually cook a real meal with this stove – not just boil a cup of water. The stove uses a variety of different fuels, from white gas, unleaded automobile fuel, or kerosene. Unlike most liquid fuel stoves, this one is easy to clean with the self-cleaning “Shaker Jet” system. It comes with a lifetime warranty, but is does not come with a fuel bottle. This little stove weighs one pound and measure 7” x 7” x 7”. It is made of stainless steel.
- Versatile and stable
- Allows for full flame control
- Burner holds actual pots and pans
- Quick to heat water
- Noisy to use
- Fuel bottle needs to be purchased separately
- Plastic pump handle can melt
6. Snow Peak LiteMax Stove Stoves
This is another top choice for camping. The Snow Peak Stove is made of tough and lightweight titanium and aluminum, so the stove itself actually weighs less than two ounces. It will function in temperatures as cold as 17 degrees. The stove comes with a small carrying bag. The stove measures 10” x 8” x 3”. The actual stove is so small that it fits in the palm of the hand. It does not come with fuel, but it attaches to a wide variety of fuel canisters. It does not come with a windscreen, but one will certainly help its efficiency in windy conditions.
- Moderately priced
- Works with several fuel canister brands
- Some pots might wobble on it
- No fuel canister
- No windscreen
7. Ohuhu Portable Stainless Steel Wood Burning Camping Stove
If you prefer to use alternative fuel sources for your backpacking trips, this Ohuhu stove is a great choice. It is made of stainless steel and has three arms designed to hold a pot and distribute heat. You can use any type of easy-to-find fuel, like pinecones, leaves, and small pieces of wood. The stove measures 5.3″ x 5.3″ x 3″ and weighs 14.2 ounces. If you do choose this stove, you will add weight with the stove, but you will not have to carry any fuel. It comes with a carrying bag and the entire system is environmentally friendly because it does not release any emissions from gas or other types of fuel.
- Several different fuel sources
- Clean burning stove
- No harmful emissions
- It burns hot to boil water quickly
- Heavier than other backpacking stoves
- Fire basket can get clogged
- The alternative fuel can damage the bottom of pots
8. Solo Stove & Pot 900 Combo
This is an award-winning camping stove that was featured in several magazines and survivalist shows. The design of the stove burns the fuel more efficiently so less smoke is released. The Solo Stove does not require the use of any gas or canister fuel. It works solely on fuel that can be found on the ground, like twigs, wood, and leaves. This means that you do not have to carry fuel with you while backpacking. The stove will boil water in about 8 minutes. The stove measures 4.25″ x 3.8″ x 5.7” and weighs 9 ounces. It is made of stainless steel, and nichrome wire. It comes with a carrying sack. All of the pieces of this small stove fit inside each other so it maximizes the space it occupies in your pack.
- Water boils quickly
- Efficiently uses space
- Conveniently uses natural items for fuel
- Not the fastest stove
- Can be inefficient at high altitudes
- Blackens the bottom of pots
9. Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove
This little backpacking stove is extremely lightweight and folds into an even smaller space to maximize space in your backpack. The stove is made of galvanized steel and measures 3.9” x 3” x 0.9” and it weights (with fuel included) 6.3 ounces. The stove is made in Germany and has a two-year manufacturer’s warranty. It has two different cooking positions, so you can heat up cups or pots and pans. This stove uses solid fuel tablets and each one burns for about 12 minutes. A small pot of water will boil on the stove in 8 minutes. The fuel tablets can be stored inside of the stove when it is folded up and put in your pack.
- Compact and efficient
- Tablets are inexpensive
- Can add twigs or leaves to increase burning time
- Good to use as a backup
- Not useful in cold weather
- Tablets do not smell good
Safety Considerations When Using a Backpacking Stove
No matter what type of backpacking stove you decide to use, there are a few safety considerations to make. The first is that you never cook in an enclosed space – especially inside of a tent. You run the risk of fire and of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is also vitally important to check for any gas leaks before you light the stove. Every stove should be used on the flattest ground available for safety purposes. It is also recommended to bring waterproof matches and a base for the stove – an expired license plate for a car is a good choice. Any, wise backpackers bring a multitool with them, because you never know when your stove might require minor repair work.
Frequently Asked Questions about Backpacking Stove
1. What is the best type of fuel to use?
That depends on what you want to carry with you. Most fuels are lightweight, but there are some stoves that do not require anything but twigs and leaves. The canister stoves work quickly, but you have to carry the fuel with you.
2. How many people can eat from one stove?
Usually only one or two.
3. What brand is the best?
There are several good brands, like Coleman, MSR, and Jetboil. But, do not disregard lesser known brands, like the award-winning Solo Stove.
Overall, the most convenient stove for backpacking is the award-winning Solo Stove. This little stove is sturdy and uses fuel like twigs, pinecones, and leaves. This means you can carry the stove with you, but you do not have to carry fuel. The only time this stove might be an inconvenience is if you are backpacking in an area that is covered by several feet of snow, but you can always find twigs and pinecones on trees. The Solo Stove heats up quickly and it tears down into a small canister so it fits snuggly into a backpack without taking up too much room.