Best Backpacking Stoves
For avid outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy spending nights in the great outdoors, having a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a warm meal at the end of a long, adventurous day can be an enjoyable highlight. Few other camping tools offer the relaxing benefits of a good backpacking stove, and must outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy overnight trips can’t imagine living without them.
Most of the best backpacking stoves available on the market today are very lightweight and efficient, meaning they are easy-to-carry and simple to use. However, since there are so many different types of backpacking stoves to pick from nowadays, you’ll need to know which kinds of backpacking stoves on the market will benefit your outdoor adventures.
- MSR Windburner
- MSR Whisperlite
- Easy to maintain
- Hybrid fuel stove
- MSR Dragonfly
- Easy to pack
10 Best Backpacking Stoves
MSR Windburner Stove
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.
- Lightweight and compact
- Fast boiling times
- Many accessories available for purchase
- Propane not included.
- Can seem lopsided.
MSR Whisperlite Universal
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.
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.
- Lightweight and durable
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Hybrid stove that can use a variety of fuels
- Fuel not included with purchase
- Fuel change can be tricky without a clear view.
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 for 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.
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.
The MSR Dragonfly Stove comes with a windscreen, a fuel pump, heat reflector, small-parts kit, stuff stack, and instructions. The fuel bottle is not included with this stove, but is available for separate purchase.
- Can use a variety of fuels
- Easy cooking control
- Easy to pack
- Lightweight and durable
- Noise tends to be louder than other comparable stoves.
- Could use an easier set-up
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.
With a redesigned valve system and a regulator that lets you easily control how the cooking system simmers your foot, 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.
- Quickly boils water
- Versatile cooking.
- Ignitor could be more efficient.
- Could be more durable
Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium
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.
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.
- Boiling isn’t as fast as some other models
- Not as efficient as some other models
Trangia Spirit Burner with Screwcap
This alcohol burner is user friendly and versatile in it's very nature. The simmer ring of the Trangia Spirit ensures that the burner will adjust from full to simmer, and the flame is fully extinguished when the lid is closed. It really doesn't get any more simple than that.
The o-ring with a twist on cap seals the burner, and this means that you don't need to empty unused fuel between uses. It also ensures that the fuel won't be wasted through evaporation. In short, the less fuel that is wasted, the less fuel you need to back pack around with, which will cut down in your carry-on weight.
In total, this set includes a simmer ring, burner, and a cap with an o-ring.
If you want to keep your cooking light, simple, and free of muss and fuss, this is the mini stove to go with.
- No fuel waste
- Great for minimal packers
- Simple to use
- Doesn't offer the bells and whistles of most stoves on this list
MSR Reactor system
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. 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. 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.
- Excellent fuel efficiency, allowing you to pack less.
- Very fast boiling
- Works well no matter what the weather condition might be.
- Keeps out wind.
- Could be more compact
- Pot could be more durable
MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Backpacking Stove
The MSR Pocket Rocket Stove is extremely lightweight, weighing in at about 2.6 ounces (73 g), and is very compact. This stove fits easily inside any MSR Insulated Mug, making it easy to pack with its folding legs and compact design.
The MSR Pocket Rocket Stove also is made to be durable and strong, with a pot that supports the stove and stays stable against wind as you cook. Plus, the stove comes with Wind Clip wind protection and a focused burner that stays consistent each time you cook.
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.
- Durable, lightweight stove.
- Boils water quickly
- Compact design, easy-to-carry.
- Pot supports could be closer together for better pot support.
- Could be easier to light.
Optimus Crux Lite Stove With Terra Cook Set
This ultra light stove weighs in at 200 grams, and it even includes a a saucepan that has a pouring lip and a fry 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.
When it comes to cooking, you can expect that the average boil time of 1 quart of water is three minutes.
All in all, you will not go wrong with this quality stove to heat up, cook, and fry meals while maintaining simplicity.
- Include pot and fry pan
- Simple to use
- Nice design
- Some had troubles with oxidization
MSR xgk ex
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.
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.
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.
- Uses very little fuel
- Works well even when it’s very cold
- Uses several kinds of fuel
- Durable and compact.
- Can be loud
- Could be easier to ignite
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Type of Stove
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 back-up 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 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 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 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 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 knowing 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 simply to use and lightweight, and many also include a USB connection that can charge a mobile phone.
- 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. 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.
Q: What do I need to consider when purchasing my stove?
When determining which type of stove to purchase for your outdoor overnight adventures, there are a few criteria points to look at. These points include:
- Cooking vs. boiling factors
- Simmer control
- Group cooking
- Winter weather
- Wind resistance
- Firing bands
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.
Cooking and Boiling
You’ll also need to consider how you’ll be cooking with your stove. If you want something that’s capable of preparing a meal you bring along, then you’ll probably wind up with a heavier stove that can also cook. However, many campers opt to create simple meals while they are outside, and only need to get a stove that can boil water to hydrate food. If you plan on using freeze-dried meals when outside, you want to opt for a stove that boils well rather than cooks. However, if you do plan to make meals while camping, then you’ll want a stove that can do both.
If you are planning to cook meals rather than simply use freeze-dried meals you can boil up, then you’ll want to get a stove that has good simmer control. There are some canister stoves that have good simmer control features, but not all of them come with this option. With simmer control, you won’t have as many problems with your pot boiling over, but if you aren’t planning on doing much cooking and only want to use rehydrated meals, then simmer control isn’t a feature you’ll need.
If you know you’re packing your stove and need to cook for a group of people, you either want a stove that can cook for a group, or a stove for every two people on the trip. Most portable camping stoves are so light that campers usually carry their own stoves. However, if you only want one stove for your group and need to make larger meals, then look for a good stove with a wide base so you know it can handle larger pots.
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.
It’s never fun to knock over a pot that includes an already cooked dinner within, so you’ll want to get a stove that has a wide base and can rest easily on the ground, especially if you are cooking large meals in big pots. However, for smaller meals, you can use smaller pots on an upright canister stove, although you won’t get as much stability, it should still be enough.
If you are just fine with having to prime your stove before it works, then you can save a bit of money on your stove. Priming a stove is equivalent to preheating it. When you prime, you need to light a small amount of fuel in the stove, and allow the stove to warm up. Then, once the stove is hot, it works just fine. Priming isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but some beginners do struggle with it. Liquid fuel stoves typically need priming each time you use them, and some alcohol stoves also require priming. However, canister stoves usually don’t need to be primed. Again, whether you feel priming is something you don’t mind performing when you cook or not is entirely up to you.
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, wind is another factor to consider before you purchase your stove.
If you know you might be camping outside when the weather is warm and dry, then you’ll need to consider how fire bans in the forest you might be adventuring through can affect your ability to cook and use a stove. In some strict fire ban areas, you won’t be able to use any stove, but strict fire bans are typically not the norm. Canister stoves are usually the safest type of stove and can be used outside even when the weather is warm and dry. Occasionally, solid fuel stoves might also be allowed but you will need to be extra careful when priming them. However, in fire ban areas, you most likely won’t be able to use a wood or alcohol stove at all. So, make sure you know when and where you plan to camp, ands how that might restrict your stove usage so you know what type of stove to buy.
Q: What Are Some Tips for Using a Canister Stove?
When you first purchase your canister stove, you’ll have a small amount of air near the top to bleed off which then allows the fuel to move through the system and ignite. When your stove is lit, though, be careful about tips, because you might experience a large flame-up if that happens.
If you are using a canister stove in colder temperatures, you can keep the stove warmer by keeping it in your sleeping bag at night, or backpack during the day. That way, you’ll need less pressure when you start the stove.
If your canister stove comes with a pressure regulator, you should be able to burn less fuel at higher elevations, saving fuel. If you wind up cooking with this type of stove in the snow, you can use some foam at the bottom of the canister so that ice doesn’t freeze to the bottom of the stove.
If your canister stove comes with a Lindal valve, then you can use different types of fuel brands, even if the stove’s manufacturer recommends their brand of fuel. Also, most spent fuel canisters can be recycled.
Q: What Are Some Tips for Using a Liquid-Fuel Stove?
Alcohol can really be beneficial when priming a liquid-fuel stove, since you’ll be able to keep the stove free from soot this way. Also, make sure you don’t fill the fuel tank completely since these stoves need room for air in order to pump well, and you don’t want pressure building up inside the stove.
With a liquid-fuel stove, you should consider purchasing and using a wind screen if you’ll be camping on windy days. Also, heat exchangers work well with these stoves if you plan to be outside when it’s colder or on a longer trip.
Also, many liquid fuel stoves use white gas, which can perform poorly as it ages, so it’s best to avoid aged white gas. Also, you’ll want to empty the fuel tank on the stove if you plan on storing it for longer periods of time.
When you’re planning to stay overnight while exploring the great outdoors, you will want to purchase an effective, efficient, and durable camping stove that can meet your needs. Most campers prefer lightweight stoves that are easy-to-use, but you’ll need to think about things like weather conditions (meaning snow and wind factors) as well as the type of food you plan to cook while camping outside.
The list of products we’ve provided to you outlines some of the best types of portable outdoor stores available on the market today. Once you’ve considered exactly where you’ll be when you use the stove and what you’ll be cooking, you should be able to make a great purchase.