Some of the best backpacking memories come from the much appreciated hot chocolate the end of the day.
But only if it wasn’t a huge hassle to make that hot chocolate, right?
There is a huge range of backpacking stoves to choose from and knowing where to start can be a daunting task.
The best camp stove for hiking will be lightweight, compact, easy to use and fuel efficient.
This article will list the 17 best camp stoves for backpacking and then explain a bit about the differences between stove types and what to look for.
- TOP 17 Best Camp Stoves for Backpacking 2020
- MSR WindBurner Stove System
- Jetboil MiniMo Camping Stove Cooking System
- MSR Dragonfly Stove
- MSR WhisperLite Stove
- Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove
- Solo Stove Pro Camping Stove Kit
- Trangia Spirit Burner
- MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Camping Stove
- Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove
- Jet Boil Flash Camping Stove
- Camp Chef Mountain Series Stryker 100 Stove
- Soto WindMaster Stove
- Etekcity Portable Backpacking Stove
- Terra Hiker 3500W Camping Gas Stove
- Toaks Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove
- Coleman Portable Gas Stove
- BRS-3000T Ultra-Light Titanium Stove
- Criteria for Choosing the Best Backpacking Stoves
TOP 17 Best Camp Stoves for Backpacking 2020
MSR WindBurner Stove System
Review: The Windburner is the go-to stove for cold and windy weather. The all-in-one integrated stove includes a secure locking pot and a cozy mug that’s easy to handle while you drink or eat.
It is sturdy and boils water in minutes due to its smart design.
This stove is completely windproof due to its enclosed design, internal pressure regulator and 100% air combustion. It’s a reasonably heavy stove at 15 oz but it outshines most on performance, especially in windy conditions.
The lid features drinking and straining ports which ensure no mess. The compact design makes it easy to pack the stove in your backpack.
- Best stove for windy and cold conditions.
- Has an insulated handle for easy handling.
- Portable design.
- Works fast and retain heat.
- It is sturdy.
- An intact lid ensures no mess.
- It is a bit heavy.
- Only meant for boiling water.
- Lacks a good simmer control.
Jetboil MiniMo Camping Stove Cooking System
Review: The ultimate competitor to the MSR Windburner, this stove is a complete cooking system, as the name suggests, and is reliable and convenient for backcountry trips.
It features an excellent simmer control that allows for preparing delicate meals.
It has a 1-liter cooking pot insulated with a neoprene sleeve for secure handling. Eating from the cup is quite easy due to the lowered spoon angle. Metal coils on the bottom of the stove produce fast and efficient burning.
The Jetboil comes with compatible accessories including a coffee press, pot support and hanging kit. The stove is easy to set up and take down plus the sideways burner storage takes up less space in a backpack.
- Efficient at cooking and boiling water.
- It has a simmer control system.
- Well insulated for handling and eating from.
- It provides convenient storage.
- Easy eating from the pot.
- It is pricey.
- Slightly heavier than most models.
MSR Dragonfly Stove
Review: This stove is a beast in the backcountry especially if you go along with your friends. It has a wide and stable base that takes almost any size pot and it has one of the best simmer controls.
This liquid fuel stove is versatile, being compatible with white spirit, kerosene, diesel and unleaded auto fuel. This makes it a great tool for international travel.
- Unrivalled flame control simmer.
- It can support extra wide pots.
- Multi-fuel burner.
- Quick to set up.
- Great for group hiking.
- Good for preparing elaborate meals.
- Loud and bulky.
MSR WhisperLite Stove
Review: The MSR WhisperLite is much quieter, unlike its predecessor. It is also among the cheapest, lightest and smallest liquid stoves available.
It’s quite simple to operate and will last a long time with proper maintenance. It’s made from stainless steel and brass to encourage durability.
It burns on white gas and other liquid fuel varieties thus it’s great for extended backcountry trips. It is also economical on fuel consumption and it burns cleaner than most liquid fuel stoves.
This stove is compact enough to sneak into any backpack. The WhisperLite is also the easiest model to repair in the field just in case.
- Quiet operation.
- Compact design for portability.
- Easy to maintain in the field.
- It is fuel-efficient.
- Runs on a range of fuels.
- Lacks a simmer control.
Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove
Review: Think of this German-made stove if you opt for a solid fuel backpacking stove. It comes with six smokeless 14 g Esbit tabs to get you started.
Each tab burns for about 12 minutes and can boil 500ml of water within 8 minutes.
This stove features a galvanized steel construction for durability. It folds down to a compact size, weighs only 6.3 oz and can work in two cooking positions for cups and pans.
- It packs up small.
- Comes with six beginner tablets.
- It has a durable construction.
- It is lightweight.
- Tablets may have an unpleasant odor and leave a sticky residue on pots.
- They are slow at boiling water.
- They lack temperature control.
Solo Stove Pro Camping Stove Kit
Review: This burner uses natural fuel like leaves, twigs and small pieces of wood to burn and prepare meals.
What makes this one especially great is the alcohol burner that comes as a supplementary fuel. It is also compact and lightweight enough for lengthy hikes.
The patented design is made in a way that creates smokeless combustion. It takes about 8-10 minutes to boil water which tells you how efficient it is.
This stove weighs only 9 oz. This isn’t the best lightweight backpacking stove but the fact of not carrying any fuel is a big advantage.
- No need to carry fuel.
- It is easy to pack.
- Burns with no smoke.
- Slower cook times.
- Hard to find fuel during wet weather.
- It’s messy – blackens pots bottoms.
Trangia Spirit Burner
Review: This alcohol burner is a reliable stove and it’s more durable than most stoves in the same category.
It features a simmer ring that allows for temperature control. Cooking those tricky meals is quite fun as far as you having this burner on your campsite.
It comes with a screw cap that helps to save unused fuel. The Trangia burns extremely quiet, clean and heats well to prepare a decent meal.
This burner is also cheap and is a great choice for thru-hiking.
- It allows for temperature control.
- It is light and compact.
- Quiet operation.
- Not great for windy conditions.
- Slow cooking times.
- It is slightly heavier than other models.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Camping Stove
Review: The MSR Pocket Rocket is one of the most popular backpacking stoves on the market so you can’t really go wrong with it if you choose this one.
It’s a lightweight canister stove that weighs just 2.6 oz. and brings 1 liter of water to the boil in 2.5 minutes.
It is easy to use, has good simmer control and folds down into a compact package. The serrated arms are actually quite widely spaced to making it relative stable for most pots.
- Small and lightweight.
- Easy to use.
- Simmer control.
- Very efficient with fuel.
- A little more expensive than some comparable stoves.
Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove
Review: This is basically an ultralight titanium version of the MSR Pocket Rocket. It is made of titanium so weighs just 1.0 oz. and it collapses down to a very conveniently sized package that will fit inside of most cooking pots.
Snow Peak actually make some of the best titanium pots on the market so if you want an ultralight cooking set, pair a Snow Peak pot with this stove.
- Weighs just 1.9 oz.
- Boils water in 4 minutes.
- Copes pretty well with windy conditions.
- Collapses down conveniently.
- Good simmer control.
- Also a little pricier than most canister stoves.
Jet Boil Flash Camping Stove
Review: This is a highly popular integrated stove from Jet Boil. It includes a 1-liter cooking cup that comes equipped with a neoprene sleeve to help the keep the heat in and speeds up boiling time.
It boils water in just over a minute and a half which is one of the fastest on this list.
However, it is only designed for boiling water, not cooking other types of food. So, if you’re happy to stick to instant meals and pour the boiled water into another vessel then this is a fantastic stove.
If you want more cooking options you’ll need to head back up to the Jet Boil Minimo further up the list.
- Extremely fast at boiling water.
- Very efficient fuel usage and completely unaffected by wind.
- Comes with stability legs for the gas canister.
- Affordable for what you get.
- No simmer ability and not suitable for cooking other than water.
Camp Chef Mountain Series Stryker 100 Stove
Review: This is an integrated stove similar in design to the MSR Windburner and Jet Boil above. This means it copes well with windy conditions, preserving fuel efficiency and cooking quickly.
The 1.4 L pot is attached to the stove and the whole package weighs 18.3 oz. which is definitely on the heavy side, but the pot is included so you forgive a little of the weight.
- Efficient with fuel as it traps all of the heat.
- Includes stability legs for the gas canister.
- Includes a 1.4 L pot with lid and foldable handle.
- Matchless ignition.
Soto WindMaster Stove
Review: This is a non-integrated canister stove that is designed to still cope well with windy conditions. It directs the flames straight upwards so that minimal heat is lost from the sides.
The only downside to this is that larger pots won’t be heated evenly across the bottom but rather with a hot spot in the middle.
But, for a non-integrated stove, this stove is impressively effective in the wind and definitely one of the high performers on this list.
- 4 arms instead of 3 gives extra pot stability.
- Copes very well with wind.
- Lightweight (5.0 oz.) and compact.
- Very good simmer control.
- A little pricey.
Etekcity Portable Backpacking Stove
Review: This is a budget stove and yet surprisingly durable. It is made of aluminum and stainless steel for lightweight and durability.
It is impressively functional, with a huge heat output, good simmer control and good fuel efficiency. All in all, for this price, you can’t really go wrong with this stove.
- Very affordable.
- Good flame control.
- Easy to use.
- Has a built-in ignition.
- Fuel efficient.
- Flame concentrates in the middle and may create a hot spot depending on the pot you use.
Terra Hiker 3500W Camping Gas Stove
Review: This is a canister stove that keeps the stove component separate from the gas canister via a hose, making for a very stable set up on windy conditions, where the ground isn’t flat or you want to use larger pots.
This stove is efficient and effective but not quite as lightweight or compact as some of the others available.
- Very stable set up supports large pots.
- Automatic ignition.
- Reasonably lightweight at 9.08 oz.
- Affordable while remaining high quality.
- Easily adjustable flame.
- There’s not much to fault with this stove for its price point.
Toaks Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove
Review: This wood burning stove is as lightweight as some of the lightest gas canister stoves but you (hopefully) don’t need to carry the fuel which makes this one of the lightest cooking options available.
It comes in 3 parts which slot together easily and the well-placed ventilation holes provide just the right amount of oxygen to fuel a good hot flame.
- Weighs just 5.4 oz.
- Easy to put together.
- 3 parts nest inside one another and inside a Toaks cooking pot for convenient packing.
- Engineered to be clean burning and produce no smoke.
- Requires dry wood and a little time and patience to get a good burn going.
Coleman Portable Gas Stove
Review: This is a canister stove but a heavier and bulkier version to the others on this list. If you’re Coleman fan then this could be your stove.
It’s designed to cope with extreme temperatures and high altitudes and provides a more stable, sturdy cooking base than some of smaller stoves.
- Has an adjustable burner.
- Durable circular pot stands instead of individual folding arms.
- Compatible with Coleman 16.4 oz. propane cylinder.
- Takes about 3 minutes to boil 500ml of water.
- Not as light or compact as other portable canister stoves.
BRS-3000T Ultra-Light Titanium Stove
Review: This gas canister stove is probably the lightest you’ll get at this price point. It weighs just 2.5 oz. and yet comes in under $20 make it one of the best value stoves on this list.
You do sacrifice some durability, fuel efficiency and simmer control, but if you’re willing to compromise a little, this is an impressive stove for its price.
- Lightweight and compact.
- Easy to use.
- Not as durable as some of the better quality stoves.
- Minimal simmer control.
- Less efficient with fuel.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Backpacking Stoves
The following considerations will help you pick the best backpacking stove out of the several models in the market.
Type of Stove
Backpacking stoves come in various types depending on the fuel they use. Canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves are the most popular.
Alternative fuel stoves such as solid fuel stoves, wood stoves and alcohol stoves are also available but less convenient and less common.
Canister stoves are the toughest to beat stoves for obvious reasons. They’re easy to use, lightweight, compact, low-maintenance and fast to cook with.
You simply screw the stove onto the canister and light it up for a quick meal. They use isobutane or propane gas for burning are compatible with all aluminum, titanium or stainless steel pots.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves connect to refillable fuel containers. Their strength is fuel versatility.
Most liquid fuel stoves use white spirit, but options like unleaded auto fuel and kerosene can also work especially for international backpacking trips where a white spirit might be hard to find.
Wood Burning Stoves
Wood burning stoves run on dry leaves, twigs and gradually large sticks that you find in the backcountry.
As much as you don’t need to bring fuel with you, it might be difficult to find dry fuel during wet weather or places with minimal forest.
Alcohol stoves are cheap, simple and light.
Alcohol fuel such as Heet is also easy to find at several gas stations, but there are other types of alcohol fuel as well.
If you want to know more about alcohol fuel types, check out this video.
The downsides with alcohol stoves are that they are slower to cook with, use more fuel and perform poorly in the wind and cold conditions.
Solid Fuel Stoves
Solid fuel stoves are super light and can even fold up to fit your pocket. They are also quiet and inexpensive to buy.
Solid fuel stoves use fuel tabs to burn but you’ll have to be patient with one of these babies while boiling water.
The Weight Question
This is a tricky one because it’s not just the weight of the stove itself that you have to consider, but the weight of the fuel that the stove uses.
This is where you need to know a bit about the kind of trips you’ll be going on.
The length of your trip and the remoteness of your location is important because you’ll need enough fuel for the duration of your trip unless you can easily resupply en route.
Propane or isobutene canisters are perfect for shorter trips or longer trips where you can resupply easily.
Longer trips with limited options for resupply may be better suited to liquid fuel stoves.
Ultimately though, the lighter the stove the better.
Weather conditions such as wind and temperatures below freezing can create challenges for backpacking stoves.
They are typically not efficient in windy conditions as the wind whips away heat before it gets to the pot, using up fuel and taking longer to cook the food.
A windscreen can be a good solution to this, but if you know you’re going to be regularly facing windy conditions, a stove like the MSR Windburner is the best option.
Similarly, extremely cold weather can cause problems for certain types of stoves. Gas canisters don’t tend to work well in really cold temperatures (especially ones contain butane) unless you sleep with it in your sleeping bag to keep it warm!
Look for a gas canister rated for cold temperatures that don’t contain butane and focus on propane and isobutene instead.
A stove with good simmer control comes is more important than you might think. Every meal aside from boiling straight water benefits from having a simmer option on your stove.
It saves gas, it saves losing excess water from evaporation, it saves a full pot from overflowing when it is boiling too furiously, and it stops food from burning which can happen easily in thin backpacking pots that conduct heat quickly.
Trust me on this, simmer control is a huge bonus to your backpacking stove if you’re going to be doing anything besides boiling water.
Knocking over a fully prepared meal would be a big disappointment to a hungry stomach, and trust me, this happens!
Models that have the burner sitting on top of the canister are light and compact but are prone to tipping and aren’t stable with larger pots.
If you plan to cook for more than 2 people in one pot, choose a low-profile stove with a large base.
A model that sits the burner on the ground while the fuel tube connects to a gas canister is a safer option when cooking with larger pots.
If you haven’t decided what kind of pots you’d like, check out my article on the best backpacking cookware sets!
Ease of Operation
This is an important consideration when looking for the best hiking stove, especially for backpacking beginners.
Canister stoves are the easiest to operate. Even the best backpacking wood stove won’t come close to a canister stove for ease of use on the trail.
Liquid stoves and some alcohol stoves require priming before use and might take a while to learn but once you get used to it they can be a reliable option.
They do however require maintenance after a few uses.
Alcohol vs Propane Backpacking Stove?
Alcohol stoves and their fuel are much lighter and more compact than gas canisters and their stoves to carry, but only to a point!
If you’re going for longer than a week, the alcohol volume you need ends up being heavier than the gas equivalent.
You also don’t have the same simmer control for heating things other than water with alcohol stoves, and they smell bad!
Propane vs Butane Backpacking Stove?
Propane and butane are types of gas used in gas canisters for canister stoves.
The stove itself doesn’t change, it’s compatible with both types of fuel and the gas canisters actually quite often come with a mix of fuel as opposed to one or the other.
The main thing to think about is that butane is less effective in colder temperatures as it turns to liquid at a higher temperature than propane.
Backpacking Stove vs Campfire?
Aside from open fire bans which may put a swift end to any campfire dreams you may have, campfires are less efficient, a lot more time consuming and take quite a bit of practice to actually cook well over.
When you’re backpacking and often tired, hungry and cold at the end of a hiking day, a backpacking stove wins hands down.
I have never once felt inclined to bother with a campfire at the end of a full 8-hour hike when I could just light my gas canister and have a hot chocolate in 2 minutes flat.
How to Cook on a Backpacking Stove?
Cooking on a backpacking stove can be very similar to cooking at home, it just helps to simplify things and cook very easy meals.
Pasta is always a great option!
What you cook is going to be less governed by the stove and more by what you’re happy to carry when you’re hiking.
Also, you’ll have fewer tools and utensils on hand. Most backpackers just have one backpacking knife for everything and then one spork for eating.
How Much Fuel for Backpacking Stove?
Backpacking stoves typically come in approximately 100g, 230g and 450g canisters.
Depending on how much you use when you’re cooking, a 230g canister can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week.
How to Make a Backpacking Stove (DIY Options)?
DIY Alcohol stoves can be easily made of soda cans or a can from food like tuna. This video demonstrates how easy it is to make an alcohol stove out of a tuna can.
What to Cook on Backpacking Stove?
The easiest thing to cook on a backpacking stove is anything that just requires boiling water. Couscous or packet soup is a great example.
Pasta is also really popular, but at the end of the day, the sky is your limit, it just comes down to how creative you want to be and how much fuel you’re willing to use.
What to Look for in Backpacking Stove?
The factors listed above are the most important things to look for: fuel type, weight, size, simmer-ability, ease of use, and how well the stove type matches the length of time you’ll be away and the weather conditions you’ll face.
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a regular backpacker, a stove that will warm water or cook meals for you is necessary.
The guidelines in this article are just what you need to find the best backpacking stoves for your backcountry adventures.
Feel free to share any of your backcountry cooking experiences below and be sure to download my free travel safety ebook if you haven’t already.
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