Best Backpacking Stove

Best Backpacking Stove of 2018 (Reviews & Comparison)

There’s a lot of thought that goes into buying the best backpacking stove. Location, size, weight, and output are all factors to consider. That being said, with a bit of research it’s not hard to find the best fit for your needs.

If you’re unfamiliar with the pros and cons of carrying a camping stove with you as part of your backpacking gear, this guide should help you understand when and where it’s appropriate or recommended to use one.

Through the miracle of modern technology the stoves you can find today can weigh less than a bottle of water.

Here’s a look at some of the best backpacking stoves that are guaranteed to meet your camping requirements in the New Year.

The Quick Answer

Unless you want to squeeze every inch and every ounce you can from a backpacking stove, the BioLiteCampStove 2 is incredible.

Not only does it burn wood which is easy to come by on camping trips, but it also produces enough electricity to provide you with some light and power for your phone or tablet.

Our Backpacking Stove Comparison

Here is a quick comparison made for a couple of metrics which are important in backpacking stoves.

Jetboil Zip Cooking System (Black)
Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, 1.0-Liter, Red
Jetboil Zip Cooking System
Etekcity Ultralight Camp Stove
MSR WindBurner Stove
Fuel Type
Gas
Gas
Gas
Special Feature
Pack all accessories + fuel canister inside the pot
Collapsible pocket-sized design
Pack all accessories + fuel canister inside the pot
Weight
340g
136g
432g
Boil Speed/Heat Output
Medium
Fast
Fast
Jetboil Zip Cooking System (Black)
Jetboil Zip Cooking System
Fuel Type
Gas
Special Feature
Pack all accessories + fuel canister inside the pot
Weight
340g
Boil Speed/Heat Output
Medium
Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
Etekcity Ultralight Camp Stove
Fuel Type
Gas
Special Feature
Collapsible pocket-sized design
Weight
136g
Boil Speed/Heat Output
Fast
MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, 1.0-Liter, Red
MSR WindBurner Stove
Fuel Type
Gas
Special Feature
Pack all accessories + fuel canister inside the pot
Weight
432g
Boil Speed/Heat Output
Fast

Backpacking Stove Reviews

Of course, you can only get so much from a chart. If you want to become more familiar with the most important features, the following reviews will surely help.

Be sure to also check out the buyer’s guide for even more tips on how to pick the best backpacking stove for your needs.

1. BioLiteCampStove 2 (Best Wood Burning)

BioLite CampStove 2 Wood Burning and USB Charging Bundle

What’s not to love about having electricity when you go on a camping trip? Not everyone likes to rough it, and if you’re one of those people you’ll really enjoy the BioLiteCampStove 2. This new release comes with some significant quality of life improvements as well as a better power output.

Having access to a phone charger in remote locations is always great especially if something unexpected happens and you may need to call for help. Being able to charge your phone with the same heat source that’s grilling your meat or brewing your coffee is a sweet deal.

All the improvements made on the CampStove 2 are done without sacrificing weight when compared to this stove’s predecessor. You get 50% more power output, a USB light, LED indicators, and a bigger battery for just 24 grams of extra weight.

The construction of the CampStove 2 also makes a strong argument for the title of best stove. Certainly, in the wood-burning category, it is one of the smallest and most durable ones you can find.

If you decide to get the bundle which includes the kettle and the small grill attachment, you already have everything you need for a small camping party.

Who It’s Best For

As interesting as the BioLiteCampStove 2 is, it’s not really for everyone. Where it adds the most value is small camping parties. The grill can’t cook too much food at once but there’s enough space for three meals.

It gets quite hot so if you don’t like waiting too long for your meat to cook or water to boil, you might have just found yourself the stove that will also keep your iPhone battery from dying.

PROS

  • Turns residual heat into electricity
  • Small and very light design
  • Doesn’t require special fuel pellets
  • Comes with a good instruction manual
  • Include USB FlexLight
  • Auto on/off fan 

CONS

  • Takes a long time to cool off for safe packing
  • You only get its maximum potential if you shell out for all those extra BioLite accessories 

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2. JetBoil MiniMo

Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System - Carbon w/ Line Art

A tiny gas-powered backpacking stove is probably not everyone’s first choice. Luckily the MiniMo from Jetboil aims to change the misconceptions people have about such products while also overcoming some obvious limitations.

First and foremost, the MiniMo is an award-winning backpacking stove. If that’s not enough to persuade you, here are some interesting features to take in. The stove weighs 14 ounces.

It can be fueled by even the smallest canister (100g) and it will still burn for one hour at maximum temperature. You can boil one liter of water, tea, stew, coffee, in about four and a half minutes.

All packed up and ready to strap to your trusty backpack the MiniMo measures 5 by 6 inches. It truly is as compact as it can be. The ignition is sparked by a push piezo igniter and you can fuel the MiniMo with isobutene-propane.

It also comes equipped with rubber-coated handles, a regulator for simmer control, a measuring cup and a drink-through lid. That’s plenty of quality of life features to have on such a tiny backpacking stove.

Who It’s Best For

If all you need is constant access to boiled water, then the MiniMo is the best backpacking stove for you. It takes up almost no pack space and works with the tiniest of fuel canisters at maximum efficiency.

You can use it to pour into a cup or bowl or you can eat and drink straight from the canister. Talk about traveling light!

PROS

  • Rubber-coated handles
  • Low spoon angle design
  • Measuring cup included
  • Fast boiling time
  • 1L capacity
  • Piezo igniter
  • Weighs 14 ounces empty 

CONS

  • You can’t grill meat on it
  • You might be limited by what fuel canister you can buy 

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3. MSR WindBurner Stove

MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, 1.0-Liter, Red

For some people, the best backpacking stove first and foremost needs to be a fast burner. The WindBurner doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

The insulation is so well designed that even if you turn off the heat before the water reaches its boiling point, it will still heat up and eventually reach boiling temperature. You don’t see that every day, do you?

The flame on the WindBurner is spread over its entire surface area. This is quite a different design when compared to 90% of everything else on the market. From an engineering standpoint, MSR is quite innovative.

One minor drawback of the WindBurner is that it doesn’t have a built-in ignition system. In all honesty, this shouldn’t be too big a deal especially since a classic piezo lighter would probably fail to spark the diffused flame anyway.

The canister capacity is 800ml although it’s not recommended that you fill it up all the way while boiling. It’s just easier and safer to handle if you leave some room to work with. The design and capacity of the pot allow you to store everything you need inside it for the road.

A 100ml gas canister, measuring cup and all other accessories needed for the WindBurner can be packed inside it to take up as little backpack space as possible. At 432 grams, it is not the lightest model but it’s not the heaviest of the lot either.

Who It’s Best For

If you don’t have a problem with traveling with gas canisters and you don’t mind manual ignition, the WindBurner might just be the way to go. Everything you need for its assembly can be stored inside the canister for the road.

What’s even better is that MSR also made a skillet attachment, so this little water boiler can be turned into a nice outdoor grill too.

PROS

  • Medium-weight design
  • Superior flame and heat distribution
  • Fast burner
  • Great space-saving design
  • Quality materials
  • Has option to attach skillet 

CONS

  • The custom skillet attachment is sold separately
  • No ignition 

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4. Etekcity Ultralight Camp Stove (Best Ultralight)

Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition

What makes a stove great? Sure, for most people it’s how fuel efficient it is but others prefer the smallest of designs.

If you’re all about pack space, then you might just appreciate the pocket-sized ultralight camp stove from Etekcity the most.

It weighs 136 grams and measures 3.5×1.8.2×3 inches. You don’t even need to put it in your backpack which means it’s hard to find something else as space-saving as this model.

It also comes with a small carry case should you want to feel that it’s better protected on long trips.

As tiny as it is, the camp stove from Etekcity can be used with an 18cm diameter pot or skillet. The heat level is adjustable and with an output of over 1.9kW, boiling and grilling shouldn’t be an issue. It also has a piezo ignition system for even more convenience.

You wouldn’t think that such a small stove can be very durable. The use of aluminum and stainless steel is yet another reason why the camp stove from Etekcity is the best in the ultra-light category.

Who It’s Best For

If you really want to travel light and invest as little as possible, this is the stove for you. Sure, it doesn’t come with a grill, skillet or pot but the collapsible design stove with heat control fits inside your front pocket.

That alone gives you plenty of room to pack other accessories inside your backpack. As long as you don’t plan on using a pot or skillet bigger than 18cm diameter you won’t have anything to worry about.

PROS

  • Adjustable flame control
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • High-quality aluminum and stainless steel construction
  • Collapsible design
  • Comes with case
  • Built-in spark ignition
  • Very budget friendly 

CONS

  • Not easy to setup without reading the manual 

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5. Jetboil Zip Cooking System

Jetboil Zip Cooking System (Black)

If you liked the MiniMo from Jetboil then there’s no reason you wouldn’t also enjoy the Zip cooking system. The two products are fairly similar and while the Zip is lacking some features it makes up for them in price.

It may not be the best when compared with its younger brother but it’s definitely more budget friendly.

The Zip has an 800ml capacity and puts out enough heat to boil and simmer water or stews. It’s recommended that you don’t cook anything that can stick such as rice. There is no protective coating on the interior of the canister.

While the Zip doesn’t come with a built-in ignition system, the lack of one makes this product very affordable. It’s built of the same materials as the MiniMo which means you pay less for the same high durability construction.

The bottom will double as your measuring cup. The canister also has a strainer and a pouring spout which you can easily drink from. If you’re camping alone, you won’t need to carry extra cups or bowls with you.

Who It’s Best For

Anyone who wants a small gas-powered backpacking stove will enjoy using the Zip from Jetboil. It has a great heat output and distribution which lets it function with the smallest of fuel containers.

If you’re looking for a budget option from Jetboil, this is the one for you.

PROS

  • Cheaper than the Jetboil MiniMo
  • Adjustable burner
  • Drinking spout and strainer
  • Good canister capacity 

CONS

  • No ignition system
  • Pot support sold separately 

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6. Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Jetboil Flash Cooking System - Original Flash 2012-2018, Carbon, One Size

The Flash cooking system weighs around 1.2 pounds. It’s certainly heavier than other Jetboil products but it doesn’t take up too much pack space, as it measures only 10 x 6 x 5 inches.

That leaves plenty of room for clothes, food and other accessories you want to stuff in your backpack. As an alternative you can always strap it to the bottom or the side of your backpack.

As with all other Jetboil products, the Flash has an adjustable flame controller. Because it is a very powerful gas stove the controller comes in handy and helps you avoid using too much fuel.

The slightly larger capacity of 1L is also a nice improvement especially since it doesn’t come at the cost of a higher price tag.

The Flash also has a piezo ignition system and unlike other models, it has better insulation. Some reviews say that the ignition system is not high-end but that’s hardly a reason to turn down a product.

Who It’s Best For

The Flash from Jetboil can be your best backpacking stove if you don’t mind the extra bit of weight. It also falls into the mid-range price category of Jetboil stoves.

If you want more heat output and more capacity this is the one for you. But if you want better fuel management then you might be better off with other Jetboil stoves.

PROS

  • 1L capacity
  • Color heat indicator
  • Adjustable burner
  • Drink-through spout and strainer 

CONS

  • Heavier than other Jetboil models 

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7. Emberlit Stainless Steel Stove (Best Compact)

Emberlit Stainless Steel stove,Compact Design Perfect for Survival, Camping, Hunting & Emergency Preparation

It’s not the most complete stove out there but it does fit inside a pocket. The fully collapsible flat design makes it very easy to take it with you on any trip. It also comes with a nice little carry bag.

What’s the one downside of this Emberlit stove? The boiling time is quite slow. It can take up to 10 minutes to boil water.

The good news is that you are not limited by fuel type. You can use it as a wood stove or pair it with a fuel canister.

The stove weighs around 320 grams which don’t make it the lightest one available. The price you pay is for high quality stainless steel parts and a flat design.

It’s not that big of an issue considering how durable the panels are and how long it takes for them to deteriorate from heat.

Who It’s Best For

If you don’t like carrying fuel canisters with you then you will enjoy using the Emberlit stove. It can be used with any fuel source you want.

It also fits in your pockets due to its multiple detachable panels design. What some perceive as limitations this tiny stove actually turns into strong suits, which is why it’s the blue ribbon pick for space-saving purposes.

PROS

  • Best space-saving design
  • Medium weight class
  • High-quality stainless steel
  • Less fuel restrictive 

CONS

  • Slow boil time 

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Buying Guide: What to Look for in Your Backpacking Stove

Now that you’ve seen the top picks maybe you still have some unanswered questions about what features will benefit you the most. After all, different stoves offer different benefits. Here’s a quick list of features that you should pay the most attention to.

Fuel Type

What separates most stoves is what they use as a fuel source. Wood burners are probably the most convenient to carry since they don’t require you to also carry a fuel canister.

However, gas-fueled burners have higher heat output and will boil your water or cook your meat much faster.

Weight and Size

Carrying a 300-gram stove with you is nothing when it comes to weight. However, if that stove takes up 12 x 12 inches in your backpack, you’ve got a serious problem.

Sometimes it’s better to get a stove that’s heavier if it doesn’t take up too much space. Of course, this ultimately depends on what other gear you are carrying and also your personal preference.

Heat Output

The heat output of your stove determines how fast you can get things done. However, higher output means higher fuel consumption, so you want to find a correct balance or at least a stove with adjustable flame feature.

This should be present on almost any gas stove.

Budget

It always comes down to this, doesn’t it? A good way to manage your budget when shopping for your stove is to check what type of accessories it comes with or is compatible with.

If a stove is a bit more expensive than other models with similar features but doesn’t need custom grills, skillets, canisters or pots, then it might be worth it. Accessories can cost a lot too.

Summary

More often than not, your purchase will be based on your personal preference. Nonetheless, you should remember that some features are essential.

It’s always best to get a little bit of everything than paying top dollar for just one feature.

Backpacking Stoves FAQ

How do you use a backpacking stove?

Each stove will come with an instruction manual. The actual system may differ significantly from a gas burner to a wood burner. As a general rule, when handling fuel canisters for the first time, always check the manual before making any valve connections.

What backpacking stove Is best?

There’s no best overall stove. Each one has its pros and cons for different situations. The best one for you is the one that fits your budget and takes care of your particular needs.

If you’re particular about what food you eat while camping and how many people come with you, pick the stove that can handle heating up food for that number of people.

What is a backpacking stove?

A backpacking stove is a portable stove. Unlike the ones you typically find in trailers, these are designed to be carried with ease by everyday campers. Some designs can be so small that they even fit inside a jacket pocket.

What backpacking stove fuel should you use?

What fuel you’ll end up using depends on the type of burner you buy. If you get a gas burner, you’ll have to carry around a fuel canister too.

If you go for more traditional backpacking stoves you can use wood and other fuels. Some stoves are so simplistic in design that they can be paired with any type of fuel and ignition system.

Conclusion

Whether it’s the best backpacking stove in the world or not, a camping stove won’t benefit everyone the same. Even the best may have its drawbacks as far as the user is concerned.

Choosing the stove for your needs should always imply finding one that’s easy to carry, doesn’t have a price tag far outside your budget, and has the fuel source and heat output that can help you the most.

Want more backpacking gear? Check out our other reviews on:

Backpacking Tents

Backpacking Pillows

Sleeping Pads

Backpacking Knives

Rain Ponchos

Fire Starters