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.
Best Backpacking Stoves: Top Picks
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)
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.
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.
2. JetBoil MiniMo
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.
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!
3. MSR WindBurner Stove
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.
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.
4. MSR Pocket Rocket
This 2.6 pound compact stove is durable, lightweight, and affordable enough to meet the needs of most budgets. It’s a great upgrade to the original Pocket Rocket which has been a popular option amongst backpackers for many years. It offers exceptional simmer control, it boils water quickly, and it’s lightweight design makes it a great choice for long-distance backpacking.
It does not come in a full cooking set as some of the other products have in the past and it’s a bit bulky with the wide bottomed canister design.
One of the primary upsides to this camping stove is the fact that it doesn’t burn a lot of fuel. Many backpackers are more concerned about the amount of fuel they’re going through versus losing a few seconds on the boil time. It also gives you a solid runtime of as long as two hours when wide open.
- Priced right
- Lacking durability
- No simmer control
5. Jetboil Zip Cooking System
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.
If you’re looking for a budget option from Jetboil, this is the one for you.
6. Jetboil Flash Cooking System
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.
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.
7. Emberlit Stainless Steel Stove (Best Compact)
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.
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.
8. BRS Ultralight Camping Gas Stove
This lightweight backpacking stove weighs less than 25 grams and boils water in about three minutes. It consumes approximately 140 grams of gas per hour and it’s priced affordably to meet the needs of many different budgets.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers to save a little bit of money and isn’t worried about fancy frills and little details, this gas camping stove will do the trick. It’s workable for two or three people and while it’s not as dependable and functional as some of the other options, it’s light, easy to transport, and a great choice for backpacking.
Keep in mind that you’re not getting simmer control, a push button igniter, or a fuel regulator on this one either. What it lacks in fancy features it makes up for in price. So, if you’re bootstrapping your next backpacking trip and you need the best backpacking stove, this might be the right pick.
- Ultra light
- Priced Right
- Lacking durability
- No simmer control
9. Solo Stove Lite
If you’re in a small group or by yourself, this wood stove should be good enough for a couple of people. You may want to upgrade to the Solo Titan for more people. This wood stove is a double-walled convection gasifier stove which has holes on the bottom to take in air without charring the ground beneath you.
It also features a smokeless design that doesn’t require a windscreen. The overall design of this stove is incredible and it works very well regardless of the conditions. It weighs nine ounces which isn’t terrible but it does have a bulky feel to it and it’s not the easiest or cleanest stove to carry around.
I think my favorite part about this twig stove is how the design limits the amount of wood necessary to keep it running. It takes only a few minutes to build up a nice fire and it lasts for a while and burns hot enough to even cook raw food instead of heating dehydrated meals and boiling water. It’s a great wilderness companion.
- No fuel required
- Works great in the wind
- No flame control
- A little heavy
10. SOTO Windmaster with Micro Regulator
The first and most prominent feature that stands out about this pick for best backpacking stove is the four flexible pot supports which allow you a lot more flexibility in terms of what types of pots you use with this. If you’re the kind of person that likes to cook a lot in the woods and you’re not okay with simply boiling whatever you can in a pot of water, this is worth a further look.
It’s lightweight, easy to use, and has optimal wind resistance as well. You won’t have to set up shop behind a large tree because the wind won’t get to it.
That said, it doesn’t boil very fast and it’s not that fuel efficient. Most of you should be able to get this up to a rolling boil in about three minutes. So again, we’re splitting hairs here when we say it takes long but all-in-all, you likely wouldn’t even notice the small time difference.
- Wind resistant
- Supports large pots
- Low fuel efficiency
- Subpar boil time
11. Esbit Ultralight Folding Camp Stove
If you’re looking for something a little different you might want to look at this folding camping stove. It’s a great choice if you don’t use the stove too often and you’re the kind of person that is used to “roughing” it.
The Esbit uses solid fuel tablets so it eliminates the need for a canister. The tablets burn for a total of 12 minutes and you have no control over the intensity because onces you light it, it will burn until it burns out. Many people say that it requires more than one tablet to accomplish anything and that they leave a sticky residue on the bottom of your pans which is a problem if you’re backpacking long distances and trying to keep everything neat and tidy.
- Super light
- Slow to cook
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.
Types of Camping Stoves
One of the first things you’ll need to understand are the different types of camping stoves and how they’ll impact your experience. Some are easier to operate, some require more effort, and others are very affordable. Let’s take a look.
These stoves run on propane and isobutane. They’re the most popular types of camping stoves and they’re similar to a propane grill that you would have at your home. You’ll hook up a fuel canister to a fuel line and that will be how you power the stove. They’re generally lightweight, easy to use, and simple to light. That’s the reason why most people turn to these.
There’s no question about whether or not you’ll be able to get a fire going in the woods as long as you make sure the canister is full.
The downside is that they don’t work as well in cold weather and they’re a bit heavier than some of the other options. What a lot of people neglect to realize is that you’ll have to carry a number of small canisters with you on long camping trips if you’re completely relying on your backpacking stove.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
These stoves run on white gas or liquid fuel as some call it. It could be kerosene or unleaded gasoline but either way, they come with refillable bottles that you’ll have to constantly fill with fuel as you’re running the stove. This could become a problem if you run out and need to locate a place to fill it.
The good news is that white gas always burns hotter than propane so you’ll get better performance from liquid gas in cold weather and high altitude backpacking.
One thing you should keep in mind is that it takes a lot longer to set these stoves up because you need to pump and maintain pressure and they’re generally heavier than the canister stoves.
When it comes to ultralight backpacking and hiking, denatured alcohol stoves are the most popular because they’re lightweight, affordable, and simple to operate. You can even make these yourself with alcohol and a tuna can. This method isn’t as reliable and efficient as any of the other options but getting fuel and setting these up is the main upside.
Wood burning backpacking stoves can use twigs, sticks, pinecones, and whatever else you find on the forest floor. The best thing about these is that you have an unlimited amount of resources but they require a lot more attention and work to get them to burn for a long period of time.
I personally prefer wood burning stoves for casual use because there’s something to be said about harvesting your own fuel and burning it to make food and drinks. But, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re seriously relying on the stove for survival.
Solid Fuel Stoves
The solid fuel stove refers to the Esbit folding stove option outlined above. These are lightweight, easy to transport, simple to use, and relatively efficient in small doses. If you’re relying heavily on the stove, needing to cook a bunch of things, or require flame control; these are not the best option for you.
In fact, some areas won’t even allow them because they don’t contain a shutoff valve. The Rocky Mountain National Park actually banned them.
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. We stress the importance of this for our hikers and backpackers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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