A reliable stove enhances life on the trail. With nice, hot meals to look forward to after long days of hiking, trekking, or climbing and a steaming mug of coffee to wake up to before the following day’s adventures, you will enjoy the outdoors more and you will be able to adventure longer. Luckily, you don’t have to lug around bulky stovetops or heavy fuel canisters. The best backpacking stoves are lightweight and pack down so small they aren’t a burden to carry on your back no matter where the trail leads you.
Below are some of the best pack stoves on the market. They are the top favorites among backpackers due to their lightweight convenience, ease of use, reliability, and durability. They range from an ultralight canister and solid fuel stoves to integrated boiling systems. Whether you want the ability to boil water fast or plan to prepare hearty gourmet meals in the wilderness, there is something to match your needs. For information on what to consider when choosing a backpacking stove, check out our buying guide below the reviews.
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How To Choose A Backpacking Stove – Buying Guide
As a backpacker, you want a lightweight and compact stove you can fit in your backpacking pack. It should also be easy to use and reliable in the great outdoors. The above are some of the best stoves for backpacking on the market. Now let’s go through the factors to consider when evaluating your options so you can boil down to the right stove type and model for you.
The right stove for you will depend on a number of factors such as the preferred and available fuel type, your trip destination and duration, the conditions you will be cooking in, the type of meals you will be making, and whether they require boiling or simmering, and your personal preferences.
Making the right choice requires looking into each stove’s features and specifications such as boil time, size, and weight, and choosing the most suitable and convenient stove for your style of backpacking. To pick the best backpack stove, take into consideration the following factors as you assess different options:
Backpack space is precious and the ideal stove would be compact and packable not bulky or awkward to pack and carry. Backpack stoves come in all kinds of sizes. There are ultra-compact models that collapse into fist-size packages and there are larger models that can cook for multiple people. Stoves with foldable and nesting designs take up very little space in a pack.
The ideal size will also depend on whether you’re going on a solo expedition or adventuring as a group. If you’re a solo hiker or embarking on a weekend backpacking trip, a compact and ultralight canister stove will serve you well. For group excursions, everyone can carry their own stove or you may need a liquid fuel stove that can accommodate larger pots and pans.
Don’t forget to take into account the fuel container when evaluating packability and portability. A canister option is good for short trips where one canister will be sufficient. For longer expeditions, a liquid fuel stove and fuel bottle will be more compact and better than lugging multiple canisters.
There are different types of backpack stoves based on the type of fuel they utilize. What type of stove will suit you best will depend on how many people you will be cooking for, the duration of your trip, the weather/climate conditions in your destination, what fuel is readily available, and what kind of fires are allowed where you’re going, the type of meals you will be making, and your personal preference.
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Most backpackers carry canister stoves that utilize pressurized isobutane and propane gases, as they are lightweight, compact, stable, and durable. They are easy to use in the great outdoors – no pumping or priming is required. The ability to control the flame means you can use them to prepare elaborate meals and they are also good at boiling water.
A canister butane/propane stove suits solo backpackers, ultralight backpackers, and short expeditions. The downside is that this fuel type can be hard to find in remote locations or internationally and you have to lug around empty fuel canisters. Unless they have a built-in pressure regulator, they don’t work well in extreme conditions.
Integrated Canister Systems
These are all in one stove system that includes a cooking pot, a lid, and even a windscreen. Their main purpose is to boil water fast and efficiently but some can accommodate other pots and accessories such as camping coffee makers. They are heavier, have a tall profile, and are less stable than standard canister stoves.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves connect to refillable fuel bottles. Most of them run on white gas. Some also burn gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and petrol, which are readily available even in remote locations. This versatility makes them ideal for remote locations and backpacking abroad.
They perform well in below-freezing temperatures and high elevations. Their low profile means greater stability on uneven ground and they can accommodate larger pans and pots when cooking for a group.
They boil water very quickly but simmering ability depends on the model. One refillable bottle of fuel lasts longer than a canister of fuel making liquid fuel stoves the best for longer expeditions.
Their downsides are that they tend to be heavier, require priming and maintenance, produce a roaring flame, and fuel spills can happen easily.
Alternative Fuel Stoves
There are different types of stoves within the alternative fuel stoves classification. They include alcohol backpacking stoves, backpacking wood stoves, and those that use solid fuel tablets.
They are simple, affordable, and lightweight. They are good options for ultralight and thru-hikers who mainly need a stove for boiling. They’re not very fuel-efficient and are wind sensitive so they aren’t ideal for preparing DIY meals.
Related Review: Wood Burning Camp Stove
When backpacking, every ounce counts. As with any other backpacking gear, weight is an important consideration when choosing a backpacking stove. When hiking or trekking long distances with a stove on your backpack, you want your backpack stove and its fuel supply to be as light as possible while still fulfilling your needs. You don’t want to be lugging around a heavy stove or canisters that weigh you down.
Canister stoves are the best lightweight backpacking stoves for solo adventures and short trips. Alternative fuel stoves such as single burner alcohol or fuel tablet stoves are also ultralight and great if your main purpose is to boil water. For longer and group expeditions and trips to remote locations or abroad, a liquid fuel stove that burns a variety of fuels and uses a refillable fuel bottle while heavier is better than lugging along multiple fuel canisters.
Before you order a packing stove, it is important to check the type of fuel it utilizes and whether it is readily available and allowed in your backpacking destination. The duration of your trip will also determine the amount of fuel you’ll need and what fuel suits you best.
The most popular stove fuel type is isobutane-propane gas pre-pressurized in a canister. Canister butane/propane backpacking stoves are ultralight, compact, easy to use, and perform well in both boiling and simmering. However, this fuel can be hard to find in remote locations and internationally.
Liquid fuel is the best fuel type for backpacking in remote locations and internationally. Liquid fuel stoves are compatible with a variety of liquid fuels such as white gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and petrol. It is easy to find fuel even in remote locations. Liquid fuel stoves perform well in winter and in extremely cold places making liquid fuel ideal for when backpacking in extremely cold places and high elevations. One bottle of fuel usually lasts long making it ideal for long trips and group cooking.
Some backpacking stoves utilize alternative fuels such as wood, alcohol, and solid fuel tablets. They are great for ultralight and long-distance backpackers even though they are less efficient in performance.
Related Post: Camping Stove
Ease Of Use
When you’re really hungry and need refueling after a tiresome day of backpacking or just woke up and badly need the first cup of coffee, the last thing you want is a complicated stove. Ensure you choose a unit that’s easy to get going and that you’re comfortable using.
When it comes to ease of use, canister backpacking stoves are the best. No pumping or priming is required. Just screw the gas canister into the stove and light it up. Solid fuel and alcohol backpacking stoves are also easy to use but perform poorly in windy conditions.
Liquid fuel stoves require priming to preheat the fuel line, pumping of the fuel bottle to increase pressure, and a little more demanding maintenance. Backpacking wood stoves are quite hard to use. You have to find dry wood and then set it up. Starting a fire can be a struggle especially if it is chilly and windy.
Stability is a very important consideration when choosing a backpacking stove. Cooking when backpacking means you will be placing the stove on uneven surfaces and there is the risk of losing your meal or burning yourself. A sturdy backpack stove that’s stable on the ground and won’t easily fall over is essential. This is especially important if you will be making more elaborated meals or cooking using bigger pots and pans.
A low profile backpack stove where the burner sits on its own fuel bottle or canister base is the best when it comes to stability. Remote canister and liquid fuel stoves are lower to the ground and have the stability required to hold large pots. High profile backpacking stoves where the burner sits over the canister tend to be lighter and more compact but less stable.
Q: What Is A Backpack Stove And Why Do I Need It?
A packing stove is a compact and lightweight cooking stove designed to be used in remote locations when backpacking, scouting, biking, picnicking or anywhere a highly portable means of cooking or heating is needed.
If you’re an avid backpacker who often goes away for days at a time, you need a stove if you want to eat and drink well in the great outdoors. Conditions aren’t always conducive for campfires and there are also fire bans. A packing stove works quickly is reliable even in challenging conditions and allows you to leave no trace.
Having a hot meal or much-needed coffee off the grid wouldn’t be possible without a stove. If you only undertake short or no-cook backpacking trips and bring along foods and drinks that can be eaten without cooking, you can do without a backpack stove.
Q: Are Backpacking Stoves Safe?
Yes, backpack stoves are generally safe to use. However, there is some risk in using a stove just like with any other stove. It is important to follow some safety precautions and heed the warning label on your stove to ensure your safety and that of other people and the environment.
Ensure the stove and fuel container are in good condition and all the components are securely attached. Place your stove and gas container on an even surface where they will be stable. Do not use your stove inside your tent. Never forget to turn the stove off when you’re done and let it cool down before you repack it
Q: How Do I Clean My Backpack Stove?
A clean stove looks good, works well and lasts long in good condition. It is important to wipe it clean after every use and to give it a thorough cleaning when there is a buildup of grime. It is also important to clean it before you have to store it for a while.
Before you start cleaning, the first thing to do is to read and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for your stove. You also need to get the extra components out of the way by disconnecting the fuel canister, fuel line, and the burner.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap. You can also use a home cleaner. Dip a cloth or sponge in the soapy water and carefully but firmly wipe down all the components of your stove to remove grease build-up and food particles. Ensure no soapy water leaks into the interior of the stove.
Being the dirtiest part of your stove with the worst grease build-up, the burner will need more attention. Dip a sponge in the soapy water and scrub it firmly. You can also pressure clean it using a power washer.
Rinse all the components and ensure your stove is dry before storing it. Leave it out in the sun to dry or thoroughly dry all of the stove components using dish towels. If you used a power washer to clean the burner, turn it upside down to let all the water drain out.
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Whether you’re exploring the backcountry or crossing borders, having a reliable stove will improve your trips. There’s nothing like the comfort of a warm, hearty meal outdoors or freshly brewed hot coffee to warm you up after a night in a tent.
There are plenty of great backpacking stoves on the market. Whether you want the best lightweight backpacking stoves for hiking long distances, an integrated setup that boils water fast, a stove that will work in extremely cold situations and higher elevations, or the ability to prepare a gourmet meal to enjoy with friends, there’s a stove for you.
Once you’ve found the perfect backpacking stove, practice using it in your backyard before you take it with you on the trail. This way, you’ll figure out its quirks and there will be no surprises. Happy trails!
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Which of the backpacking stoves on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the stoves we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!