A backpacking stove is used to boil water and cook food. It is mainly used for outdoor activities: camping, hiking, trekking and mountaineering, fishing, hunting...
Table of Contents
- Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System
- What backpacking stove to choose? Gas, multi-fuel, wood or alcohol
- Backpacking Canister Stoves
- Multi-fuel and liquid fuel Backpacking Stove: gasoline, oil, alcohol, kerosene
- Backpacking Wood Stoves
- Hiking alcohol stove
- Comparative table of the best backpacking stoves by category of fuel type
- Best Backpacking Gas Canister Stoves Reviews
- Snow peak gigapower 2.0
- Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System
- MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Backpacking
- MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Ultralight Backpacking
- Jetboil MiniMo Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System
- MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System
- SOTO Amicus Stove
- Best Backpacking Multi Fuel and Liquid Fuel Stoves Reviews
- MSR WhisperLite International Multifuel Backpacking Stove
- MSR XGK EX Extreme-Condition Camping and Mountaineering Stove
- Optimus Polaris Optifuel Stove
- Best Solid Fuel Stoves Reviews
- Esbit Medium Pocket Stove
- Esbit CS585HA 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set
- Best Wood Backpacking Stoves Reviews
- Solo Stove Lite - Portable Camping Hiking and Survival Wood Stove
- Bushcraft Essentials Outdoor Stove Bushbox LF
- FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions on stoves
In a hurry...
Before heading to this in-depth analysis and reviews, let me quickly present you what I consider to be the best backpacking stove for my needs: the stunning JetBoil Flash Stove.
Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System
To test is to adopt it, I love my Jetboil Flash stove !! It incorporates many very practical accessories for use in bivouac (tripod to stabilize, protection and handle for gripping, cover for pouring, bowl for filling, etc.). In addition, it is light and compact, to limit the space in the backpack. And above all, it is super-fast to heat its water in the mountains, which makes it an excellent hiking stove!
What I like: the speed of heating, all in one, ergonomic, lightness.
To improve: nothing to report (yet!).
What backpacking stove to choose? Gas, multi-fuel, wood or alcohol
The choice of the best ultralight backpacking stove for your need depends first on the fuel you will find on site and the fuel type you wish to use.
Technologies available are isobutane or propane, multi-fuel (gasoline), wood and alcohol, each have advantages and disadvantages to take into account before leaving!
Backpacking Canister Stoves
Canister stoves are reliable and easy to use. To operate, they use a mixture of liquid gas under pressure: propane, butane or isobutane.
The efficiency of a canister stove system is high and the flame level is precise. It is, without a doubt, the lightest and most compact heating and cooking tool on the market.
Gas has some disadvantages: depending on the place of destination, it is not always easy to find a gas cartridge suitable for your stove.
It is preferable to purchase a backpacking stove that uses the international standard: threaded valve canister of type Coleman, Primus, MSR, Optimus, Jetboil.
The advantage of the canister with valve (screw thread): it disconnects and reconnects, even when full, and safely traps the gas.
Some canisters are pierceable and with have unthreaded valve cartridges that are not compatible with stove systems using a screw thread (valve).
In this case, an adapter is required. In some countries, these pierceable cartridges are difficult to find. To overcome this problem, some manufacturers offer compatible "Dual" stoves with threaded and threadless gas canisters.
Gas under pressure cannot withstand cold. Butane quickly becomes inoperative at negative temperatures.
In this case, the cartridge must be reheated so that the butane can vaporize again.
To overcome this disadvantage, it is preferable in a cold environment to equip yourself with a gas canister that uses a mixture of propane and isopropane.
For winter use, or at low temperatures, it is preferable to use inverted canister stoves.
There is a new generation of optimized canister stoves. They have high efficiency and can be used in harsh weather conditions.
They are composed of a burner, a heat diffuser, a pot and a lid. These 2 in 1 (stove + pot) combinations save energy consumption by reducing boiling or cooking time.
4 types of canister stoves:
To help you choose from the wide range of canister stoves, I have classified them into 4 categories:
1 - "Traditional" stoves: these are the simplest models. These burners are light, compact and powerful.
2 - "Duo valve" stoves are composed of a valve that allows the connection of threaded and unthreaded valve canisters. This means that they are compatible with all valve cartridges on the market: Primus, MSR, Optimus, Jetboil and also Camping Gaz.
3 - Remote and/or inverted canister stoves. The burner is connected to the cartridge by a feed tube. This system allows much more stability and safety when preparing meals. In addition, this system allows the use of large pots. Reverse cartridge models allow the stove to be used at low temperatures. Putting the gas cartridge upside-down promotes better gas mixing.
4 - Integrated stoves: these are integrated models (2 in 1) which are composed of a burner and an optimized pot. The pot is equipped with a heat distributor optimizing the speed of heating and consumption. In this section, we have also integrated the stoves delivered with a pot.
Multi-fuel and liquid fuel Backpacking Stove: gasoline, oil, alcohol, kerosene
The advantage of a liquid fuel stove: petrol, oil or diesel can be found easily and anywhere in the world.
The principle of this type of stove is simple: by operating a pump, the liquid fuel is put under pressure, then passes over the burner which, under the effect of heat, transforms the liquid into a gaseous state.
There are two types of liquid fuel stoves:
- Multi-fuel "petrol" stoves - they run on white petrol (kerosene) or unleaded petrol (95,98), lamp oil, kerosene and diesel.
- Multi-fuel stoves also work with liquid fuel (white gas, unleaded, etc.) and can also be used with threaded valve gas canisters (e.g. Optimus Polaris Optifuel Stove).
The gas or multi-fuel stove can be used at any temperature. It performs very well, even in cold weather.
It is the stove of expeditions in polar regions and high mountains, ideal for long treks.
Using a liquid fuel stove is more complex than using other systems. It requires attention: before it can be used at full power, it must be preheated. It requires regular cleaning and minor maintenance.
The supply of liquid fuel is easy and inexpensive. It is much more economical than gas (but the stove is more expensive to buy).
Fuel must be stored separately from the liquid fuel stove in a dedicated flammable liquid fuel cylinder. Unlike propane or isopropane, liquid fuel is not under pressure when stored.
White gas is the cleanest liquid fuel on the market: it contains no residues. It's the one that clogs the liquid fuel stoves the least. It is the ideal fuel for extremely cold weather and high altitude expeditions. If possible, choose this fuel!
Backpacking Wood Stoves
Wood is a free and abundant natural resource! It does not need to be transported since you can find it directly on the site of the camp. The user is completely autonomous and does not have to carry unnecessary extra load.
Wood stoves require collecting kindling wood and maintaining the fire. Lighting requires method, especially when the wood is wet.
It is unusable in areas without wood: glacial areas, deserts and high mountains.
With wood stoves, it is preferable to use a pot that can be easily cleaned, because wood cooking is dirty: soot settles on the pan or pot.
Some models of stoves are equipped with a double wall to optimize heat transfer and therefore increase efficiency.
Several models of wood-burning stoves are compatible with other fuels. If there is a shortage of wood, it can be replaced with solid or liquid alcohol.
Eg. in the fireplace of the Firebox wood stove, it is possible to place a Trangia or Tatonka alcohol burner. It also works with solid alcohol or fuel tablets of the Esbit type.
The use of wood stoves requires attention. It should not be used in fire sensitive areas.
Hiking alcohol stove
The alcohol stove is probably the easiest system to use. There are 3 types: liquid alcohol stoves (methylated spirit), solid fuel stoves (tablets) or gel.
Easy to handle, it requires no maintenance. Alcohol is a fuel that is easily found anywhere in the world.
These stoves are widely used in Scandinavian countries and have many advantages: they are very light and inexpensive.
Buying an alcohol stove is a more economical system than gasoline or gas. Alcohol does not freeze but requires preheating at negative temperatures.
The boiling time with alcohol stoves is longer than that of other fuels and the flame simmer control is less precise.
But with a system that protects from the wind and can keep the heat, this boiling time can be substantially decreased.
Several models of alcohol stoves are sold in kits including the burner, an integrated windscreen and the pot.
Features of the Caldera Sidewinder Solo stove system:
- Caldera Cone sized to fit the KMart Grease pot perfectly
- 1.1L / 4.5 cup aluminum "Grease" pot with a supporting ridge formed into the pot wall
- Kojin alcohol stove with screw top lid
- Fuel bottle kit with measuring cup included
- Tyvek cone packing sleeve
- Aluminum pot gripper
- Stuff sack to hold it all!
Comparative table of the best backpacking stoves by category of fuel type
average boiling time (1l)
Snow Peak Gigapower 2.0
MSR PocketRocket 2
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe
MSR WhisperLite International
MSR XGK EX
Optimus Polaris Optifuel
Esbit Medium Pocket
Esbit CS585HA 3-Piece
Solo Stove Lite
Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox LF
Best Backpacking Gas Canister Stoves Reviews
The snow peak gigapower 2.0 is a tiny stove perfect for people who like to get around quickly and without heavy equipment.
This version features a piezo push button igniter than the original model, but offers the same precise flame control and 10,000 BTUs of fuel efficiency.
Made of steel and aluminum, this sturdy stove features a four-legged pot stand for stability on uneven surfaces.
It is very compact and can be stored in a small pan or coffee mug.
- Made of stainless steel and aluminum
- Adjustable simmer control
- 110g cartridge provides approximately 50 minutes burn time at maximum output; 250g cartridge provides approximately 85 minutes burn time at maximum output (fuel cartridge sold separately)
The Jetboil Flash is a 2-in-1 stove that includes a burner and an optimized pot.
The 1 liter pot fits on the burner and forms a compact and light unit.
The Jetboil Flash stove has a piezoelectric push button igniter, a tripod that can be fixed under the gas cartridge, which offers great stability to the unit.
The lid on the container allows to isolate and not to spill the liquids (with spout and strainer).
Graduation inside the 1 liter pan.
The optimized cooking cup is equipped with the FluxRing heat spreader. The neoprene cover keeps food warm without burning and has an integrated heat indicator.
The simmer control valve on the Jetboil flash allows fine adjustment of the flame and burner power.
The Jetboil Flash cup stove is optimized, versatile, compact: a complete package for boiling water and cooking food outdoors!
The MSR PocketRocket 2 is one of MSR's most popular GPL canister stove, in a revised and improved version.
The MSR Pocket 2 stove is smaller, lighter and just as fast. It stores easily in its own small case.
The built-in Wind Clip windscreen system protects the burner flame from gusty winds (stoves of all types work best out of the wind, though).
The flame control knob is large enough to allow you to adjust the flame even when wearing heavy gloves.
- Made of stainless steel, aluminum and brass
- Redesigned serrated pot stand prevents pots from slipping
- 8 oz (227g) fuel canister can produce 60 minutes of flame at full intensity, depending on temperature and altitude, and can boil approximately 16 litres of water
- Operates with MSR isobutane canister (sold separately)
The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe is the top of the line version of the popular MSR PocketRocket 2 stove.
It stands out by its pressure regulator, its piezoelectric push button igniter and its larger burner head offering better wind resistance and better performance with large pots.
Pressure regulator: thanks to this technology, the power remains stable even at low temperatures and even when the gas level starts to drop. The regulator allows a better adjustment of the flame, allowing to simmer good dishes.
Piezo igniter: makes ignition easier and avoids the need to use a manual system (lighter, match, flint...).
Despite the addition of practical technologies, the Deluxe weighs a total of 83 grams.
The Jetboil Minimo stove brings together all of Jetboil's latest technology and know-how.
It is an optimized gas stove that we call "2-in-1 fast stove". It is an integrated model: it includes a burner and a cup.
Fast because it is very easy to set up and boils 1 liter of water very quickly.
Compared to other Jetboil models, the cup has been redesigned, it is wider and less high.
The whole thing is more stable and makes it easier to eat.
The handle is easier to grip.
The Jetboil Minimo has the same valve as Jetboil's Joule model. It has a regulator that delivers a constant flow down to a temperature of -6°C.
This technology maintains consistent performance regardless of the amount of gas remaining in the fuel canister.
The Jetboil Minimo has everything to please: it is compact, efficient and light for a stove + pot set.
The size of the stove and the flame simmer control valve make it possible to prepare really good meals. It is not only designed to heat water!
The advantages of the Minimo:
- by being less high, it is easier to use the spoon in the cup
- delivered with a plastic bowl that protects the Fluxring reflector during transport
- comes with a lid. To save space, the tripod can be stored in the lid
- comes with a cartridge tripod for extra stability
- optimized cup with a capacity of 1 liter, including the Fluxring optimizer and a removable insulating cover. Graduated cup
- electric piezo push button igniter
- can be expanded with a pot stand to receive bigger pots or skillet (sold separately)
- possibility to store a 100 grams cartridge inside the cooking cup (sold separately).
The Msr Windburner 1 L stove is a cooking system with a powerful burner and a 1 liter capacity pot.
It is the latest 2-in-1 model from the American manufacturer Msr.
It is an extremely efficient stove + optimized pot.
It combines the Reactor technology and the Windburner stove system. The closed design and the radiant head burner allow the Windburner to work perfectly in windy conditions.
The radiant head combines convection and radiant heating, providing efficiency unmatched by traditional burners.
The main air combustion and built-in heat exchanger allow the Windburner to operate in conditions that make other stoves unusable.
Convenient size: integrated design and compact bowl.
Compact storage: Inside the 1-liter canister, you'll be able to store the burner, a 110g canister (sold separately), and the folding canister holder.
The Msr Windburner comes with a lid with drinking opening and strainer, an insulated protective cover and a large plastic bowl of 0.5 liter capacity.
The SOTO Amicus is a gas stove made in Japan.
Simple to use, it is light and compact. Thanks to its supports that fold up along the burner, it can be easily stored in a pot.
This gas stove has 4 serrated supports to accommodate a casserole, a pot or a frying pan. The foldable and secure system offers a good stability.
The Amicus is equipped with a piezo igniter that generates a spark to light the stove. The simmer control is managed by a large regulator.
The burner surface is concave and the edge is raised for improved performance in windy conditions.
The SOTO Amicus has a Lindal EN417 valve compatible with standard canisters on the market (Primus, Optimus, Jetboil, Msr...)
Amicus, which means "Friend" in Latin, will be your perfect companion for boiling water and preparing good food while camping or hiking.
Best Backpacking Multi Fuel and Liquid Fuel Stoves Reviews
The MSR Whisperlite (classic) works only with C-gasoline (naphtha) while the Universal is MSR's multi-fuel stove.
It works with liquid fuels (gasoline C, unleaded gasoline, kerosene) and gas.
In gas mode, it features a reverse canister system for better performance in cold weather and consistent flow throughout the life of the canister.
The Universal is the most complete stove of the 3 Whisperlites. It comes with 3 jets. There is a Combo version which comes with a fuel bottle.
The Whisperlite International works with C gasoline, unleaded gasoline and kerosene. It is not compatible with gas cartridges and the basic model comes without a fuel cylinder.
It is available in a Combo version (with fuel tank).
The improved version of the MSR XGK EX stove was approved by CSA International in 2005.
This all-weather stove was designed to perform exceptionally well in expeditions and mountain use, and when you need to melt large amounts of snow for drinking water, it's the right choice.
- The flexible fuel hose does not detract from the stove's compact size
- Retractable legs increase the stability of the stove platform
- High-flow element operates on naphtha, kerosene, unleaded gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, JP-8 and Jet A1 fuels
- Boiling time: 1 l in 3.6 min (naphtha operation) or 2.9 min (kerosene operation)
- Windscreen, heat reflector, carry bag, spare parts kit and pump included
- Fuel canister sold separately
The Optimus Polaris Optifuel is the multi-fuel stove from the Swedish manufacturer. This means that it works with both gas canister and liquid fuels:
- Threaded valve gas canisters, EN417 standard of type Optimus, Msr, Jetboil, etc...
- Liquid fuel: white gasoline (C), kerosene, diesel and kerosene.
It is equipped with the Nova burner (used on the Nova and the Nova+). It is a powerful stove dedicated to a versatile and intensive use: travel, mountain and expedition.
Thanks to this duo system, you will be able to switch from gas to petrol and vice versa depending on the place, the altitude and the weather conditions. Depending on the fuel supply, you can choose between gas or liquid fuel combustion.
In terms of performance, the Optimus Polaris generates 14,340 BTUs, or 4200 Watts, allowing you to boil water (1 liter) in 3.4 minutes (with gasoline) and 4 minutes with a gas canister (11,267 BTUs / 3300 Watts).
The Polaris has a flame control valve at the burner (easy to operate with gloves) and a valve at the gas cylinder.
On the technical level, the advantages of the Polaris :
- Unique nozzle: you don't have to change the nozzle depending on the fuel used
- Integrated patented MAGIC cleaning needle for quick and easy nozzle maintenance, even during cooking
- Heavy-duty aluminum pump with automatic purge system that depressurizes the fuel bottle
- 4 seasons mode when used with a gas cartridge. Reverse cartridge system for constant power even in sub-zero temperatures.
The Optimus Polaris Optifuel contains: burner, Flipstop pump, Multitool maintenance tool, windscreen, heat reflector, cover and lubricant. It comes with a 0.4L fuel bottle.
Best Solid Fuel Stoves Reviews
The medium Esbit solid fuel stove contains the steel stove and 2 smokeless solid fuel tablets of 27 g.
This Esbit stove is simple and effective. It is easy to set up: just unfold it and place a tablet in the middle of the holder.
The tablets are delivered in a waterproof package.
A 4 gram alcohol tablet has a burning time of 12 minutes for 0.5 liter of water in about 5 minutes.
Opening in 2 positions to accommodate small and bigger pots.
The Esbit cooking set includes a 585 ml capacity pot, a lid and a solid alcohol stove stand.
The pot holder holds a tablet of Esbit solid fuel and acts as a wind screen. When transporting, it can be stored inside the pan.
The set is extremely light and compact. The Esbit cooking set comes with a storage mesh bag.
Hard anodized aluminum stove/pot ideal for solo trips.
Best Wood Backpacking Stoves Reviews
Bushcraft wood stove, the Solo Stove, Lite all in stainless steel, is ultra compact and light, but above all very powerful thanks to its innovative combustion system.
Composed of two walls with integrated ventilation system, the Solo Stove wood stove with double combustion allows to obtain a very high calorific output for a minimum consumption of fuel (wood...)
The operation and design of the Solo Stove Lite are very innovative and at the same time robust, light and powerful.
The Solo Stove will be very useful during your ultralight hikes, camping, survival, while being "ecological" and inexpensive, the fuel, wood being omnipresent in nature.
You can use an alcohol burner as a backup, which can be easily integrated into the combustion chamber of the Solo Stove.
The Bushbox LF stove from Bushcraft Essentials is an intermediate size between the Bushbox and the BushBox XL, practical for outings that require a powerful stove, without increasing the weight of your backpack too much.
A stove for hiking, trekking and bushcraft.
Fully collapsible and relatively light (470 g), this BushBox LF wood stove is the answer for hikers and preppers.
The LF (Large Foldable) version can be easily disassembled and reassembled by folding and disassembling its components.
Ultra robust stainless steel material.
The BushBox stove, multi-fuel, from Bushcraft Essentials is compatible with :
- a liquid alcohol burner that will fit perfectly into the body of the Bushbox LF Bushcraft Essentials stove,
- Dragon Fire BCB ethanol gel (liquid or solid, you will have to provide a suitable receptacle)
- wood and twigs to transform it into a Bushcraft wood stove
- hexamine tablets (Esbit) and solid fuel
- a candle.
FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions on stoves
To choose a backpacking stove that meets your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- How easy will it be to find fuel in the parts of the world I want to visit?
- Is the size of the stove suitable for the number of people who will use it?
- what are the weight and dimensions I can carry?
- Can the flame intensity be easily adjusted?
- Is the stove stable enough for safe use?
- Is the model easy to use?
- What type of ignition does it have (piezo igniter, etc.)?
Some stoves have useful accessories to consider: piezoelectric ignition, integrated windscreen and reflector, heat diffuser, saucepan or pot supplied, remote or optimized stove...
Where can I find a refill of gas or liquid fuel?
Gas under pressure, petrol and alcohol cannot be transported by air. For this reason, if you plan to travel, find out what fuel type you will find on site.
Notions and information provided on stove data sheets
The British Thermal Unit is a measure of the energy efficiency of a stove. This unit of value corresponds to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature by 0.56°C (1 degree Fahrenheit) of 1 pound of water (0.45 kg).
Most stove manufacturers indicate BTU energy efficiency per hour. The higher this measurement, the more intense the heat.
The BTU is calculated under optimal climatic conditions that are rarely encountered in the field. Altitude, low temperature, clogging of a stove and pressure level of a gas canister can reduce the BTU.
It is the power (heating capacity output of the gas) expressed in watt (W).
This corresponds to the time needed to boil water (1 liter).
The higher the BTU of a stove, the faster the water boils. However, wind, weather conditions or pressure inside a gas cartridge may affect the performance announced by the manufacturer.
Boiling time varies depending on the technology and fuel used. It will be faster to boil 1 liter of water with a gas or petrol stove than with a wood or alcohol stove.
Similarly, this time will be shorter if a gas stove is effectively protected from the wind while an alcohol stove will only perform well if it has an air inlet...
This figure corresponds to the average total consumption time of a fuel. It is indicated in minutes in relation to the weight or volume of fuel (e.g.: autonomy of the Pocket Rocket 2 stove: 60 minutes per 220 g gas canister).
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