Best Backpacking Stoves
Criteria Used for Evaluation
A source of confusion for many outdoor enthusiasts looking to purchase a good stove is exactly which type of stove to purchase. For instance, when you’re doing your research, you’ll come across different categories of stoves that include canister stoves, liquid fuel stoves, solid fuel stoves, alcohol stoves, and wood stoves.
Let’s take a look at the three most common—canister stoves, liquid fuel stoves, and alternative fuel stoves to give you some understanding of what each type can do for you.
Canister stoves are great for those of you that prefer something that’s easy-to-use and low-maintenance. Many portable canister stoves are small, fold up, and are lightweight.
You can also easily light these stoves, and you don’t need to prime before lighting it. All that’s required is turning the valve and lighting it with a match or other igniter. Most models include easily-adjustable flames that can simmer and cook just about anything.
Canister stoves also self-seal when you unscrew them, so you’ll decrease any fear you might have about spills and leaks. Also, some of these stoves come with a built-in pressure regulator so that you always get the same level of heat, making them very effective if you’re camping at high elevation points in the mountains, or in the cold weather.
Canister stoves do have their downsides, however. Sometimes, their arms aren’t long enough to securely keep pots in place, and determining how much gas is in the canister can also be tricky, so you’ll probably need a backup canister, just in case.
Also, windscreens don’t work well with canister stoves since they can trap excessive heat and might cause the fuel on the stove to explode. Canister stoves also usually require higher-priced fuels, and sometimes waste from the canister can be difficult to dispose of correctly in the outdoors.
Most canister stoves are either integrated or remote. Below we break down each kind:
Integrated canister systems
Integrated canister systems are typically tall with a burner you can screw onto the fuel canister, an insulated cooking pot with a lid and drain or sip holes, and extra accessories you can purchase. They boil water quickly but don’t typically cook foods as well as other stoves. Some of them also come with a built-in pressure regulator that makes the stove perform more consistently no matter what type of weather you encounter outside. However, these stoves are often heavier and can also tip and spill over.
Remote canister stoves
Remote canister stoves are designed to stay on their own base and use a fuel hose to connect the canister. They are smaller and lightweight, but can also weigh more than a standard canister stove.
If you’re thinking about buying a liquid-fuel stove, know that most of these stoves need white gas to work well. Liquid-fuel stoves typically burn clean and hot, and are made to work well in below-freezing temperatures like canister stoves, but usually cost far less than to a canister stove.
Some liquid-fuel stoves are made to use many different types of fuels, and multi-fuel liquid-fuel stoves can run on all or a few types of fuels, like unleaded gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or jet fuel. The versatility of the gasoline these multi-fuel stoves offer to work well for those planning to travel internationally and aren’t certain which types of gas might be easier to obtain.
With liquid fuel stoves, you can much more easily check fuel levels when compared to a canister stove. You’ll have to purchase a fuel bottle with most of these stoves, but you also won’t have to worry about discarding a canister.
Liquid fuel stoves also tend to be more stable than canister stoves, meaning you’ll experience fewer spills or leaks. But if you are using a multi-fuel stove, you’ll have to make sure you check the stove often when using a fuel besides white gas that doesn’t burn clean.
There are a couple of downsides to liquid-fuel stoves, however. First, unlike canister stoves, most liquid-fuel stoves need to be primed, which can take some time and make lighting the stove efficiently more difficult and time-consuming.
Liquid-fuel stoves also usually need more maintenance than canister stoves. You’ll need to be prepared to clean this type of stove more often, replace parts, and keep a better eye on the performance of the system overall to make sure it works whenever you need it.
Purchasing a multi-fuel stove also means you’ll probably spend a bit more money than if you select a liquid-fuel stove that only burns with one type of fuel. Liquid fuel stoves also tend to weigh more than the usual canister stove.
There are three types of alternative-fuel stoves that tend to be great for people planning long-distance backpacking kits. The three types of alternative-fuel stoves are wood-burning stoves, denatured alcohol stoves, and solid-fuel tablet stoves.
Wood-burning Stoves. These are great for those of you know you’ll be around twigs and leaves since you won’t have to carry fuel and simply need to burn what you can gather to run your stove. These stoves are simple to use and lightweight and may also include a USB connection that can charge a mobile phone.
Denatured Alcohol Stoves
Denatured Alcohol Stoves. These types of stoves are some of the lightest on the market, and only require a small amount of denatured alcohol, a very cheap fuel, to burn. They don’t have many parts so maintenance is easy, and they are also quiet when they burn. One thing to remember, however, is that alcohol won’t burn as hot as other types of fuel, so it takes longer to heat these up, and you often need a windscreen to use these effectively.
Solid-fuel Tablet Stoves
Solid-fuel Tablet Stoves. These stoves are usually ultralight and many models are so compact when you fold them up, you can put them in your pocket. They are inexpensive and easy to reuse, but also are slow when boiling water. Some of these tablet stoves also give off an odor and leave a greasy residue on the pot, which can be difficult to clean.
Most outdoor portable stoves vary dramatically in pricing. Some are very affordable, while others can cost over a hundred dollars. When considering the price of a stove, remember that some of the higher-priced models will be much easier to use and last longer. If you plan on using your stove often and will be camping a lot with it, you’ll probably save yourself money in the long run by buying something that is made to last longer, even if it initially costs you a bit more. Chances are, the more you spend, the more you’ll get out of the stove, and most higher-priced models are designed to last for years.
Different stove types vary dramatically with weight. When trying to figure out what you can carry, think about what you need in a stove. If you need something that will burn snow, you might be carrying something a bit heavier since stoves with good power burners often weigh more. However, most hikers want something that’s light and easy-to-carry, so you’ll need to consider some give and take when selecting your stove. If you know you won’t outside often in the cold weather, then you can probably buy a stove that is lighter in weight and doesn’t have a heavy burner.
When selecting your stove, you also need to consider what types of weather conditions you’ll be expecting to encounter when you camp. If you know you’ll be staying overnight during the winter, then you want to purchase a stove that can melt snow for drinking water. Also, campers that plan to be out during the winter weather will most likely be using their stoves often, so if you fall into that group, you’ll want to make sure you purchase a stove that can perform well even if the temperatures fall below freezing. Most liquid stoves perform better during the winter weather and are designed to melt snow. However, if you won’t be outside when the weather is cold, you can probably opt out of this concern.
Many backpacking stoves can be difficult to use in windy conditions unless they are made to withstand that type of weather. If the stove isn’t made to work well when it’s windy, you’ll find the heat you create might never reach your pot, making your stove far less efficient when you are trying to preserve fuel. If you know you will be camping often during windy weather, then you want to consider getting a stove that’s made to handle this type of weather. Integrated canister stoves often work well in the wind, while some other stoves, like alternative-burning fuel stoves, don’t perform as well. Some of these stoves, however, that don’t perform well in windy conditions work just fine when you use a windscreen to protect the stove. Most regular canister stoves, however, shouldn’t be used with a windscreen or the fuel can explode. So again, the wind is another factor to consider before you purchase your stove.
Top Ten Backpacking Stoves
Not only does this backpacking stove come from a great brand and connects easily to a propane cylinder, but you also get two stoves in this set so you can have a backup stove or if you are backpacking with a friend, they will have their own stove.Read more
This backpacking stove has a simple design and screws on to the top of your propane cylinder for easy connectivity. They are made from stainless steel and also fold up compactly for easy storage and transport.
This stove from Etekcity comes to you at a price of around $22 which is not only a steal for a backpacking stove but this backpacking stove comes in a set of 2. So you are getting two backpacking stoves for $22. You can not get a better deal than that.
Not only do these backpacking stoves fold up compactly for easy transportation but they together weigh less than a pound. When you pack these in your backpack for your next backpacking trip, not only will you be able to cook some quality meals but you will not even feel the stoves in your backpack which is great.
These stoves are made from stainless steel which means they will not rust if left in the rain and if they are caught in some nasty weather will work fine once dried.
2. MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight
For outdoor enthusiasts looking for a very lightweight system, the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove is one of MSR’s smallest and lightest stoves that still provides excellent cooking efficiency and quality. While it’s a small stove, it still can pack a big punch when it cooks, so it offers you the best of both worlds.Read more
This stove fits easily inside an MSR Insulated Mug, making it easy to pack with its folding legs and compact design.
Also, the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove heats water quickly and efficiently and can boil a liter of water in about three and a half minutes. Plus, you’ll get a hand-held Piezo igniter with this stove purchase, making it easy to light the stove system.
This stove from MSR comes to you at a price of around $45 which is an excellent price for a quality stove manufactured by a trusted brand.
The MSR Pocket Rocket Stove is extremely lightweight, weighing in at about 2.6 ounces (73 g), and is very compact.
The MSR Pocket Rocket Stove also is made to be durable and strong, with a pot that supports the stove and stays stable against the wind as you cook. Plus, the stove comes with Wind Clip wind protection and a focused burner that stays consistent each time you cook.
3. MSR Windburner
Campers looking for a compact stove that offers the all-in-one features of an integrated cooking system will enjoy the benefits provided by the MSR Windburner Stove. The stove comes with a secure locking pot and an insulated mug with an easy-to-hold handle, so you can both cook with the stove and make your morning coffee.Read more
The MSR Windburner Stove brings you an integrated cooking system that works with 100% primary air combustion, an internal pressure regulator, and a design that encloses the stove and makes the cooking system totally windproof. Plus, the stove comes with an extra bowl with a lid that works for both drinking and straining, keeping potential messes away from your overnight camping spot.
The MSR Windburner Stove is also compact, lightweight and easy-to-carry. You can pack the stove burner and folding canister inside the pot itself, making it a small system to carry.
Plus, this small system packs a punch with its radiant burner and heat exchanger, a combination that decreases your boil time and help saves more fuel then stoves using only convective heat. With the folding canister stand that is also included with this stove, you won’t have to worry about anything tipping over.
This stove from MSR comes to you at a price of around $150. The reason for the higher price is due to the fact that it is built to be windproof and also will allow you to make a meal no matter the weather conditions.
This stove weighs a little over a pound which is still quite lightweight but it is a bit bulkier than other stoves on our list, so you may need to find a sport for it in your backpack.
This stovetop as stated above is windproof so you can make a meal no matter the wind conditions.
4. Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium
For those outdoor enthusiasts looking for something that’s a bit more lightweight and affordable, and who don’t necessarily need an all-in-one cooking system, the Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove offers several benefits for campers. This cooking stove is both lightweight and durable and comes designed with high-quality materials.Read more
The flame adjustability on the Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove also adjusts well so that you can control your cooking easily. This stove boils water in about four minutes, with an output of 11,200 BTUs.
While the Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove doesn’t heat up as quickly as some other stoves on the market, it does offer a strong, lightweight option for campers that want something that is both durable and easy-to-carry. It can cook a wide variety of foods on your camping trips, and it provides a lightweight option for campers.
This stove comes to you at a price of around $45, which is quite affordable but this stove is a simple design.
The Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove uses a screw-on design structure and a mix of titanium and aluminum materials, so the stove weighs in at only 1.9 ounces, and yet it’s still a durable stove that withstands wind with the stable support arm structure. This stove is far lighter than many other camping stoves on the market, which makes it a great option for those that want to pack less.
This stove is not the best when battling the weather as it has no protection against the wind and if you are caught in the rain, will not be able to work. If this stove is left out in the rain as well, you may find that it will start to rust.
5. MSR Reactor system
The MSR Reactor Stove System is designed to be both fast and fuel-efficient, made to perform well even when you’re stuck outside on those cold, windy days. Made to burn less fuel so you can carry less, you’ll get a high-quality and durable stove that will perform well whenever you need the heat on your outdoor adventures.Read more
The MSR Reactor Stove System boils a half liter of water in about a minute and a half, making it one of the fastest boil time stove options on the market today.
This stove has a price tag of around $240. This is a bit steeping than other models on our list but this stove blocks the wind to allow you to use it in any weather condition.
You’ll also get a compact stove system with this product since the stove and fuel fit inside your pot so you can easily back and carry the stove.
It also has excellent wind protection, with a heat exchanger that fully encloses the radiant burner head, keeping the wind out of the burner’s area and also helping you save fuel.
The MSR Reactor Stove System is made to be an all-around fuel-efficient stove, with a heat exchanger and internal pressure regular that keeps the fuel efficiency level on the stove low no matter what weather condition you might encounter.
6. Optimus Crux Lite Stove With Terra Cook Set
When you want a little backpacking stove that is small and lightweight, the Optimus Crux Lite Stove with Terra Cook Set is a great fit. And aside from the size and weight of this fantastic stove, you can also rely on the brand Optimus to provide you with quality.Read more
Optimus has been manufacturing outdoor stoves for over a century, and it's origins begin in Sweden. This company is known for creating stoves that are safe and easy to use. And the Optimus Crux Lite Stove is definitely both safe, lightweight, and simple to manage.
This stove comes to you at a price tag of around $60, which is a fair price for a quality product such as this.
This ultra-light stove weighs in at 200 grams, and it even includes a saucepan that has a pouring lip and a frying pan that doubles as a lid. In total, this kit is a three-piece system to keep your cooking both light to carry and delicious. In order to store your stove and pieces, you simply place everything neatly in the carrying case that comes with it.
This stove is a basic design and does not have the best coverage from the wind or other weather conditions.
7. JetBoil MiniMo
The JetBoil MiniMo Personal Cooking System brings you the opportunity to purchase an easy-to-use, reliable compact backpack stove that’s capable of doing anything you need it to do, including boiling water, cooking pasta, or making sautéed vegetables. The cooking stove is designed to effectively filter outwind, providing users with a flame guard that helps heat water up quickly, usually in just under two minutes depending on the amount of food you plan to cook.Read more
With a redesigned valve system and a regulator that lets you easily control how the cooking system simmers your food, you’ll get an effective combination to help you both cook and eat. Plus, with the easy-to-use push-button igniter and low spoon angle, you’ll get an insulated drink-through lid and a measuring cup so you can eat easily out of the cooking system’s cup.
This stove comes to you at a price tag of around $150 which is a great price from a quality and heavy duty stove.
The JetBoil MiniMo Personal Cooking System comes with a sideways burner storage pack to help decrease the packing space required to place the stove in your backpack. Plus, with the JetBoil MiniMo Personal Cooking System, you’ll get the opportunity to purchase other compatible accessories like the coffee press, hanging press, and pot support.
This stove will protect itself against the weather elements including the wind and rain. If you are going into some rough weather, you may want to take a closer look at this stove.
8. MSR XGK EX
The MSR XGK EX Stove is made to be both reliable and durable for campers that like braving the outdoors even during the most extreme conditions. The MSR XGK EX Stove is made to endure even the most adverse weather conditions, while still being lightweight and efficient.Read more
The MSR XGK EX Stove brings you the benefits of a multi-fuel stove, and it can burn well off of just about any fuel you can utilize. It’s also very easy to maintain and simple to clean since it comes with a Shaker Jet that cleans out the stove’s fuel jet with a simple shape.
The MSR XGK EX Stove can boil one liter of water in under three minutes, creating a powerful flame that melts snow easily. Its flexible fuel line also makes it easier to use and pack than most other stoves on the market today.
This stove comes to you at a price tag of around $160. This is a great price as it is a durable and heavy duty stove and it is easy to carry with you.
You’ll also get a compact, lightweight stove with this model since you can fold down the MSR XGK EX Stove into a 1.5-liter MSR Pot. Also, the legs fold down to make it compact but also perform with excellent support to stabilize your pot easily from the wind.
This stove does a good job at working in the wind without issue to do the fold-up legs.
9. MSR Whisperlite Universal
Another option for campers looking for a universal stove that brings users a variety of benefits is the MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove. With its hybrid-fuel performance, this stove uses MSR Whisperlite’s latest AirControl technology, which brings you the benefit of an optimal mix of both fuel and air each time you cook.Read more
The MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove comes with a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, instructions, stuff sack, and small parts kit. Fuel is not included with the purchase of this stove, but you can use either white gas, kerosene, canister fuel, or unleaded gasoline to cook on this stove.
This stove comes to you at a price tag of $140.
Made to be both lightweight and durable, the MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove’s mixer tube is made from aluminum, and the legs on the stove are designed from extra-stable stainless-steel material to prevent the stove from tipping. The combination of materials makes the stove both long-lasting and lightweight.
Built with an effective canister liquid feed, the MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove works well even when the weather is cold, or when your fuel is at a minimum. Also, since the MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove is designed with self-cleaning Shaker Jet technology, it’s very easy to clean and simple to maintain.
10. MSR Dragonfly
The MSR Dragonfly Stove is another excellent overnight camping stove option for the outdoor enthusiast looking for an all-in-one cooking system. This stove can cook with several different types of fuels while offering a lightweight and still durable option for portable outdoor cooking.Read more
The MSR Dragonfly Stove can use several different types of gases, including jet fuel, diesel, kerosene, white gas, and unleaded auto fuel. Plus, it’s dual-valve design helps you control your cooking better, allowing you to make a wide variety of meals easily.
The MSR Dragonfly Stove can handle cooking pots of up to 10’’ in diameter, and also excels in institutional and guide service settings. The stove also heats up and cools down quickly, making it easy to cook your items or melt snow.
This stove comes to you at a price of $130, which is great from a trusted brand and this quality stove.
Also, the MSR Dragonfly Stove is very compact and can fold down to about a third of its full working size, making it easy to fit into a two-liter MSR pot when you either store or pack it. Plus, this stove comes with MSR’s Shaker Jet technology, which makes it both easy-to-clean and maintain the stove.
This stove is great for backpacking but does not have the best protection against the wind or rain, so if you get caught in some nasty weather, you may have to wait it out to use this stove.