Bringing a stove on your backpacking trip can make your life much easier and the trip more enjoyable. A stove will make you coffee in the morning, boil your water to make it safe for consumption, get you eating a hot meal after a long hike, and keep you warm.
While there are campers and backpackers who can live off snacks and bars, for most outdoor enthusiasts and especially when going on an overnight trip, a backpacking or camping stove is a must have.
How To Buy A Backpacking Stove
The type of backpacking stove you choose will solely depend on what you intend to heat up. You see, nowadays, there are different options to satisfy everyone. Whether you will simply be melting snow or cooking wilderness-bund foodies, there is something for everybody.
Here, we discuss 5 foolproof tips on how to buy a backpacking stove to help you make the right choice, so that your campsite cuisine, backcountry breakfast, or mountain top meal becomes a memorable experience.
1. Identify Your Cooking Style
The first step in landing a good backpacking stove is to think about your cooking style. Identify the meals you plan on cooking and work it out from there. The most common backcountry cooking styles include:
Boling in bags: Here, you prepare your meals by just adding some hot water and the food will cook inside the bag. All you need is a stove that can boil water excellently and you are good to go. Many backpackers prefer boil-in-pouch meals to traditional cooking because there are no plates and cups to clean afterward.
A mix of boil in bags and traditional meals: If you will be eating half boil in bags and half DIY meals, then you will require a stove that can boil water rapidly and at the same time versatile enough for cooking. The amount of time it takes for the stove system to get everything ready is important too but not necessarily the ruling factor in the selection process.
Traditional meals a.k.a DIYs: If you plan on cooking everything from scratch, then you will need to consider a stove with an excellent simmer control and a burner profile broad enough to keep heat spots and soot at bay.
2. Think About Your Cookware
The type of backpacking cookware you decide to use on this trip will also play a major role in determining what kind of stove you invest in. Whether you will be cooking in titanium, anodized aluminum, or ceramic-coated aluminum, make sure your stove choice is not going to leave these in ruins.
Titanium cookware is great for weight-conscious backpackers because it is lightweight and durable. However, it has poor heat conductivity and scorches easily, which makes it vulnerable to heat spots. Titanium pots will therefore be excellent for making soupy meals or boiling water – not for making scrambled eggs.
Anodized aluminum cookware is a fairly versatile option. It is semi non-stick, lightweight, and superconductive, which makes it perfect for DIYs.
Ceramic-coated aluminum cookware is relatively new in the market but still a great option for many backpackers. Though it is super-duper non-stick, superconductive, and lightweight, the ceramic coating can’t hold out against sautéing so you must get a stove that has a good simmer control.
3. Consider The Type
There are many types of backpacking stoves based on how you intend to cook your meals, the cookware sets you plan on bringing, and probably the amount of time it will take the food to be ready. Here are the common four:
Canister stoves usually operate on canisters of butane. They burn fast and hot and can boil two cups of water in about three minutes. They will burn in almost any weather except when it is cold. So they might not be the best option when preparing for cold weather backpacking or a winter camping trip. The fuel canisters need to be kept above 40˚F to pressurize/vaporize the fuel.
The best thing about a canister stove is that it is plug and play (literally) – just hook the canister up, light your stove and you are good to go. Also, if you will be bringing a few friends with you, this will be the perfect stove because it supplies enough power and heat for group cooking.
The only downside is that canister stoves are bulky, so there will be a lot of unnecessary weight in your backpack. It is also difficult to know how much fuel you have used and how much is left in the canister so you will have to bring extra canisters.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
These are quite similar to their canister counterparts except that they burn white gas and may not be as expensive. They produce a lot of energy and will boil two cups of water in two and a half minutes. A liquid fuel stove will typically produce enough heat to cater to all your boiling and cooking needs and would be a good pick for group cooking.
Liquid fuel is cheap and has plenty of energy but you will have to pump the fuel bottle up in order to add pressure in it before you start cooking. And when it comes to packing, don’t forget to screw its lid tight. Otherwise, you will end up with spills that will result in stained gear and a pack stinking like a gas station.
Among the different types of backpacking stoves we have in the market today, alcohol-operated are the most preferred. They are reliable, ultra-light and inexpensive.
An alcohol stove will require too little fuel to have an average backpacking meal fully cooked, which means you will carry less weight than when using a canister or liquid fuel stoves. Two cups of water will boil in about four and a half minutes. An alcohol stove will be perfect for both solo and group cooking. It is also much safer to carry, as any spills will typically evaporate leaving no smell or stains behind.
We can’t really categorize these as stoves as most of them are just metal fire pits. They are the most lightweight cooking system you will ever carry on a backpacking trip because you won’t have to bring your source of fuel (wood) with you.
You will have to deal with one problem though – inconvenience. If you are backpacking in the rain and the wood is all wet, trust us, you are going to sleep hungry if you don’t know how to start a fire with soaked wood. And even if you succeed, there will be too much cleaning afterward because all your pots will be covered in soot!
4. Get The Accessories
Now that you know the available options and what suits you the best, get some add-ons. The most important accessory you should think of when buying backpacking stove is wind protection. If you will be visiting an area that is prone to windy conditions, you may want to have a windscreen handy, as even breezy conditions will dramatically reduce your stove’s performance.
Some canister stoves will have a built-in windbreaker to avoid overheating the fuel canister. In liquid fuel stoves however, a windbreaker can be erected without burning the fuel canister because there is a fuel line between the burner and the stove. Alcohol and wood stoves can also work with wind protection but their performance in breezy and windy conditions will highly depend on their design.
5. Test Your Stove
Once you have acquired your stove and the right add-ons, take the time to learn how it operates. The last thing you want is to get out there with everything set only to realize that you don’t know how to light you stove up.
You can test your backpacking stove at home or make a day trip to the nearby woodland just to be sure you have familiarized yourself with all the parts, know how to add the fuel, and can put it on and off without much struggle.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Backpacking Stoves
- Do not cook inside a tent or enclosed space that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Check all valves, fuel lines and connections for damages or leaks before lighting up your stove.
- Make sure the surface on which you operate your stove is as level as possible.
- Always have your repair kit and toolbox with you just in case you need to fix something in your stove.
Globo Surf Overview
After a long day on the trail, you want to lounge with a good meal and a hot cup of coffee as you watch the hues of the sunset. But this will only be possible if you bring the right outdoor stove with you. The above guide points out the different types of backpacking stoves we have in the market today and tips on how to find the perfect one.
If you are on budget, a wood or alcohol stove will be a good option. An alcohol stove is better though because you won’t have to deal with soot later. Canister and liquid fuel stoves will be a little bulky but will be perfect for group cooking.
- How To Choose A Backpacking Stove, wikihow.com