Backpacking often means carrying everything you need on your back. So keeping your gear lightweight is key.
This includes your backpacking tent sale and cooking gear. Choosing the right backpacking stove can make meal prep fast and easy on the trail.
But with so many types of stoves available, how do you choose?
This guide will walk you through the key factors to help find the best backpacking stove for your next adventure.
The first decision to make is what type of fuel your backpacking stove should use. There are a few main options:
- Canister fuel stoves – These stoves connect directly to a self-sealing fuel canister containing a blend of propane and butane. The integrated canister makes them simple to use. But the canisters are not refillable, adding waste and cost over time.
- Liquid fuel stoves – Designed for fuels like white gas, diesel, kerosene, or jet fuel. Liquid fuel stoves need to be primed and pressurized but are very versatile. The same stove can work with different fuels based on availability. And the fuel bottles can be reused.
- Wood burning stoves – As the name suggests, these stoves burn small pieces of wood as fuel. No need to carry fuel canisters or bottles. But they do require gathering dry wood and produce more soot.
- Alcohol stoves – Simple and lightweight stoves that burn denatured alcohol, a renewable fuel. But they aren’t as stable in wind and don’t regulate heat as well as pressure stoves.
Since every ounce counts when backpacking, stove weight is a key consideration. Canister stoves and alcohol stoves tend to be lighter than liquid fuel stoves.
And integrated canister stoves eliminate the need to carry a separate fuel bottle.
But remember that weight includes fuel too. Small isobutane canisters weigh less than large liquid fuel bottles for the same amount of energy.
Overall, alcohol and canister stoves are the best options for ultralight backpackers. Liquid fuel stoves shine when you need more cooking power for longer trips.
If you’ll be cooking in exposed areas, wind resistance is crucial. Spindly alcohol stove flames get blown out easily.
Canister stoves vary in their wind-blocking capability.
Integrated windscreens help block gusts. And models with wider pot supports do better in wind than those with small supports.
Look for a stove with heat reflectors around the burner to keep wind from blowing out the flame. Liquid fuel stoves tend to perform better than canister stoves in high winds.
How easily a stove allows you to adjust the flame from a boil to a simmer makes a difference in cooking flexibility.
Canister stoves often have less precise flame control compared to liquid fuel stoves. Look for canister models with regulators to allow better simmering.
Liquid fuel and alcohol stoves also vary in simmer ease. The best backpacking stoves have a simple way to finely adjust fuel flow and quickly respond to these changes.
Backcountry cooks need stoves they can count on. Quality materials ensure durability over years of use.
Look for solid stove construction without a lot of small parts to break or lose.
See if the manufacturer offers repair services and replacement parts. That way, a stove is less likely to end up in the landfill after a few seasons.
Careful maintenance like cleaning burner holes and greasing O-rings can also improve reliability. And bringing a stove repair kit with spare parts is wise for longer trips.
To find the right backpacking stove, carefully consider your priorities – weight, fuel type, wind resistance, simmering, and reliability.
Alcohol stoves like the Trangia Mini are perfect for solo fast and light trips. While larger groups burning wood with the Solo Stove Lite may prefer the cheaper energy source.
Integrated canister stoves like the Jetboil Flash excel in wind while providing quick boils for minimal weight.
And time-tested liquid fuel stoves like the MSR Whisperlite Universal give maximum control across different fuels.