Backpacking is a fun way to spend the weekend, unless you starve or can’t enjoy a hot drink because you don’t have your cooking stove. Fret not because portable stoves can help you enjoy your wilderness adventures in a way that few tools can. But you must get one of the best backpacking stove products available.
Today’s portable burners have gotten increasingly light and convenient that you’ll have to spend less time cooking. This also means that even seasoned hikers and backpackers need to brush up their knowledge in this regard. Luckily for everyone, this is why we’re here: to show you what these products look nowadays, as well as pointing out their most important characteristics.
Please remember that your experience in the field is only useful when it comes to choosing something based on your needs, a beginner can’t really know what to expect and have nothing to compare. It is our hope you’ll find this article interesting and informative enough to help you choose.
|Product||Type of Fuel||Used For||Includes||Price|
|MSR Windburner||Isobutane - propane||Cooking, boiling water||Mug, locking pot||Check price on Amazon|
|MSR Windpro II||Isobutane - propane||Cooking, baking oven||Windscreen, heat reflector, canister stand, instructions, and stuff sack||Check price on Amazon|
|Coleman Sportster II||Coleman® Liquid Fuel||Cooking||Filtering funnel, wind baffles||Check price on Amazon|
|Jetboil Sol||Isobutane - propane||Boiling water||0.8 liter FluxRing cooking cup, stabilizers||Check price on Amazon|
|Solo Stove Lite||Wood, twigs, leaves, pinecones||Cooking, boiling water||Nylon stuff sack||Check price on Amazon|
|Coleman Exponent||Coleman fuel||Cooking, boiling water||Kerosene generator||Check price on Amazon|
|Snow Peak Litemax||Isobutane||Cooking, boiling water||Stove and a tiny pouch||Check price on Amazon|
|MSR Whisperlite||White gas||Cooking, boiling water||Stainless steel legs, fuel pump, small parts kit||Check price on Amazon|
POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A STOVE
There are several things to take into account before buying a mobile stove. These features range from the physical features of the stove, usability, to the nature of your trip.
Weight changes widely among different stove types. Big power burners for snow melting can weigh close to a pound. Meanwhile, ultralight gram saver stoves weigh under an ounce. This post is focused on lightweight stove options because backpacking light makes hiking far more enjoyable.
There are various types of backpacking stoves, which can be a significant source of confusion. Canister stoves, alcohol stoves, liquid fuel stoves, solid fuel stoves, and wood stoves are a few of the most common stove types.
Backpacking stoves are available at a wide range of prices. Some are cheap and straightforward to use. Others cost more than a hundred dollars, but they provide much greater durability and convenience. If you backpack often, it might make more sense to spend a little more for a stove you plan to use for many years.
Winter camping requires stoves for boiling snow for drinking water. This also means you’ll be using your stove more often than in other seasons. You’ll require more fuel and a stove that works well in below freezing conditions.
Cooking by boiling
Most backpackers make very simple meals that only require boiling water for rehydrating food. For that reason, the central design for most backpacking stoves is to boil water quickly, not necessarily to cook. Freeze dried meal packages, soup packets, and rice or pasta meals are some simple trail dinners that don’t require much cooking.
If you want to cook more elaborate trail meals, you’ll want a stove with good simmer control. Some canister stoves and liquefied gas stoves have this feature, but not all of them. The feature will either be mentioned by the manufacturer or other other users.
Some backpacking stove types need priming before they work properly. Priming is primarily preheating. You light a little amount of fuel in the stove then give it some time to warm up. The stove will work as designed after getting hot enough. Liquid fuel and alcohol stoves require priming unlike canister stoves.
If you’re traveling in a group it’s usually a good idea to have at least one small stove for every two people. More stoves mean less waiting for dinner, a good thing to boost group morale, at the end of a long day. When you’re planning on making large one pot meals, you’ll probably want a sturdy stove with a broad base that will handle big pots better.
Even the faintest wind can ruin your meal especially if it able of knocking over your setup, or blow out the flame. Strong winds will blow the heat away before it ever gets to your pot, making your stove less efficient. In these cases, owning and using a windscreen is recommended with most backpacking stoves.
Other stoves perform well in windy conditions, just take a look at the integrated canister stoves. Alcohol and wood stoves perform very poorly, out of all models.
If you’re going to cook larger meals in bigger pots, get a stove with a broader base that properly rests on the ground. Smaller pots cooked on upright canister stoves work fine, but these tend to be a little less stable, so be cautious when cooking.
Now after making up your mind on the qualities you need to look out for in a stove, it’s time to make your pick.
The Top Choices In Backpacking Stoves
This is where the actual list of stoves good for backpacking begins. We present you both their bright side as well as their major upsets, so that your decision will be as informed as possible.
Price: $130 – $160
Weight: 15.5 ounces
Dimensions: 9 x 5 x 5inches
Specific features: Compact, insulated
Best use: Backpacking
The MSR WindBurner Stove System is an extremely convenient integrated stove system. Its main advantage is the excellent wind resistance. Stiff winds significantly reduce stove efficiency, but that’s not an issue with the WindBurner. This stove does an excellent job of retaining heat and cooking fast, even in harsh conditions.
It’s a compact, all in one integrated stove, and cookware system. It includes a secure locking pot and personal mug with cozy primary air combustion, internal pressure regulator, and enclosed design combining to make the WindBurner entirely windproof.
It is designed to use a 4oz IsoPro™ fuel canister that is not included. A folding canister stands to pack everything in the pot, and the extra full sized bowl has a snap closure on the outside. The radiant burner and heat exchanger offer a super fast boiling time and better fuel efficiency than stoves that only use convective heat. 1L or 1.8L pot with a heat exchanger with a secured connection with the stove for safer and easier use.
Pressure regulator helps ensure consistent performance. Included is a folding canister stand which prevents the WindBurner from tipping over in windy conditions, or on uneven terrain. The cons of the WindBurner are that it doesn’t have good simmer control, a push button igniter, or sturdy handles. That said if you often backpack in exposed and windy locations, this stove might be a better fit for your adventures.
- Excellent wind resistance
- Super fast boiling time
- Poor simmer control
Related: If you want to fry something, make sure you use the MSR WindBurner Skillet that is compatible with this system. It adds more versatility to your outdoor cooking.
Price: Approx. $83
Weight: 6.6 ounces
Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 6 inches
Specific features: Inverted liquid feed, remote burner
Best use: Backpacking and camping
The MSR WindPro II Stove runs on liquid fuel fed directly from an upside down canister. Packs relatively small but has a large burner and broad base to accommodate larger pans. The burner is almost 3 inches across and the flame pattern heats the pans evenly with no noticeable hot spots. Finding a way to pack the hose down beside wrapping it around the stove is another problem.
This isn’t the smallest stove out there, but it is the most versatile. The WindPro II is a bit heavier, a little bit bulkier, and a lot more versatile. The burner is separated from the canister which means that you have a more stable base for your pot.
It has good simmer control and a good heat output which works efficiently with a windscreen.Its cons include being a little more tricky to find the spot on the valve to turn it on quickly. The valve spews gas when connecting or disconnecting a canister, so be careful.
- Compatible with bake ovens
- A more stable base
- Not compact
- A bit tricky to pack
Related: A good skillet can make the difference between having something to eat and starving. Get the MSR Quick Skillet to stay on the safe side.
Price: Approx. $68
Weight: 16 ounes
Dimensions: 6.55 x 7.38 x 7.38 inches
Specific features: Compact
Best use: Camping, hiking, hunting, emergency
This fully adjustable Coleman Sportster II Stove is easy to use. It is an essential addition to your outdoor gear. It’s ideal for cooking in any weather regardless of the single burner.
The cooking surface is compacted well to fit inside a pack but large enough to prepare a trail meal. It gives you an option of using Coleman liquid fuel or unleaded gasoline. The simmer function is marginal until it heats up and can sustain low fuel flow and vaporize it efficiently.
It comes with a built in pot support and wind protection. A filter and funnel is included with 1.1 pint fuel capacity. They produce enough heat and have a stable base for large pots. If given reasonable care, they perform well and last a long time. If not packed correctly in packs, the four aluminum vanes in the burner area will bend, and expose the brass generator tube. This leads to fuel leaking.
- Steady flame in strong wind
- Compact cooking surface
- Filter and funnel included
- Fuel sold separately
Related: You’ll want the Coleman Xtreme Cooler if you’re going camping for an extended period of time. It can hold up to 100 cans which is great for long trips.
Price: Approx. $935
Weight: 10.5 ounces
Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 8 inches
Specific features: Lightweight
Best use: Camping & hiking
The Jetboil Sol Cooking System, is not noticeable in your backpack but it will make you feel ready for severe conditions. This system uses the advanced Jetboil Thermo-Regulate™ Burner Technology to deliver consistent heat output down to 20°F. This means you can use this item throughout the year, with little regard to the weather.
It’s a water boiling stove, not for cooking, simmering, or backcountry baking. No other stove can boil water fast for dehydrated or frozen dried foods. Users managed to warm up foods with this stove, but the process requires constant stirring, as all the heat is at the bottom of the pot.
A Jetboil is a hardworking, highly efficient, featherweight and well built piece of backpacking gear. If what you’re looking for is a fast, efficient water boiler, you really can’t go wrong with this product. It combines light weight, compactness, durability, and speed with fuel sipping efficiency.
- For boiling water
- Warming food up
- Not for cooking
- Fuel sold separately
Related: Regardless of the cooking system you’ll use while out there, a Camping Cookware Set of at least 12 pieces might come in handy. This comes in a great, space saving container for the best portability.
Price: Approx. $70
Weight: 8.9 ounces
Dimensions: 3.8 x 3.8 x 4.25 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, compact, less smoke
Best use: Camping, backpacking & hiking
The patented, Solo Stove Lite Backpacking Stove is a unique wood burner as it incorporates a secondary combustion to become more efficient and produce a cleaner burn. The device has vents on the bottom to enable airflow to the bottom of the grate feeding the primary combustion.
In this process, a secondary combustion will occur at the top of the stove. The design of this stove allows for little smoke to form, however your pans will still be covered in soot. This is due to the type of fuel used: twigs, pinecones, leaves, meaning you’ll save money in this regard. You will also carry less thanks to this aspect.
To avoid your pots and pans having that charred look simply cover them in aluminum foil. This product nests inside most pots leaving you with increased space in your backpack. It boils water just as fast as any other travel stove, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect.
- Helps save money on fuel
- Survivalists can also use it successfully
- Good boiling time
- You must let it cool before packing it
Related: If you like this product, you can also check out the Solo Stove Campfire & 2 Pot Set, which is bigger. It’s a high rated wood burning camping stove.
Price: Approx. $124
Weight: 21.6 ounces
Dimensions: 5.2 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
Specific features: Fold out legs, precise flame control
Best use: Camping, hiking, and emergency
The Coleman Exponent Stove gives you a sturdy, compact design and versatile, powerful performance. The integrated fuel tank operates on your choice of Coleman fuel, unleaded gasoline or kerosene.
The legs fold out and help keep the stove stable, while the burner bowl and pot supports protect the flame even in windy conditions. The precise flame control allows you to go from simmer to boil in manner of minutes. You will fill up the integrated tank once and then use the stove all weekend.
Thanks to Coleman’s PerfectFlow feature, it’s regulated for a consistent fire without flaring or flickering. You can adjust the heat for various styles of cooking, including simmering. Highly reliable and the only camp stove that truly does this well. Maybe its main disadvantage is Coleman’s advice to use a ‘paste,’ when priming kerosene but such material is not readily found everywhere. This is messy for your boots.
- Good flame control
- Flame protection in windy environments
- Produces large amounts of carbon monoxide
- Need to use a hard to find ‘paste’
Related: The fuel canister needs refuelling, and to help you with the task, the Coleman Fuel Filler was created. It has a no spill design for hassle free refueling of your stove.
Price: Approx. $55
Weight: 1.92 ounces
Dimensions: 3.0 x 4.9 x 4.9 inches
Specific features: Ultra lightweight, fanned legs
Best use: Backpacking and hunting
The Snow Peak LiteMax Stove designed for the most adventurous of backpackers. Ultra lightweight, small and compact, this stove packs a hefty punch.
It has a less conical burn shape, unlike other stoves. The stowed height is 3″ and that would fit in the 3.75 inches diameter pot. The Litemax has a broader flame when burning. It deals with the wind very well. Secure attachment to isobutane canisters and packs up in its little pouch.
Some mobile burners are compatible with just a type of fuel canister, but according to more users, this is not the case with this model. You will have to buy the fuel separately. To light up your stove you need either a set of matches or a lighter. Most users applaud just how easy to use this stove is, and their only disappointment is the lack of an included fuel canister upon purchase.
- The price
- Broad flame
- Good wind resistance
- Fuel canister not included
Related: You’ll probably want some cooking ware that fits the both the stove and the trip. The Snow Peak Trek 1400 is a pan and pot with flat folding handles, for a more compact storage.
Price: Approx. $100
Weight: 10.9 ounces
Dimensions: 3 x 4.9 x 4.9 inches
Specific features: Self cleaning Shaker Jet, One piece stainless steel leg
Best use: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
The MSR WhisperLite Stove is a multi fuel stove with an one piece stamped stainless steel leg assembly improves stability and simplifies maintenance while reducing weight. Its advantages include being lightweight and compact. Water will start boiling in 3.5 minutes. Folds to a smaller and compact form that fits inside most MSR pots.
Some backpackers complained that at times it’s challenging and time consuming to get the stove up to an efficient burn even when using the metal wind ring it comes with, regardless of the intensity of the wind. They added that once you have it up to the right temperature, it will burn well in a hurricane.
Most people recommend using white gas as fuel source as it is more efficient and less messy. You’ll also like that it comes with a maintenance kit for minor issues you might have on the road. According to others, this product can last for a few decades, so the money is put to good use.
- Can use more types of fuel
- The price
- Burns well
- Challenging to turn on
- Fuel bottle not included
Related: Since you’ll have to buy the fuel bottle separately, we recommend this MSR Fuel Bottle because they really go well together. It has a great leak proof design.
And this is where our list of backpacking stoves ends. Beginner hikers surely learned something new, including some of the most important features to remember before buying.
Remember that hiking or camping is not the same if you have nothing to eat. Hopefully this list will be helpful to everyone regardless of how new they are to adventuring in the wild. Our piece of advice is to get a product that is as close as possible to one you already used before and to test it out before your depart, to minimize the chances of a mishap.
Do you have a camping stove that you take with you everywhere? What do you look for to find the ideal stove?