Backpacking stoves are a great little invention that allow travelers and backpackers to keep a dependable, lightweight, and fast stove for cooking quick meals or freshly brewing some coffee.
The market of such hiking and backpacking stoves has greatly increased in recent times, with great inventions and tweaks that make the contemporary variants reliable and efficient.
Best Backpacking Stoves Reviewed in 2018
There’s plenty to choose from with lots of fuel choices, which can make it a bit confusing for buyers. We’re here to help you out in your selection. We’ve listed what we feel are the best backpacking stoves in the market.
From more information and help in buying the product, be sure to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of the article as well.
The Best Canister Stove
Jetboil MiniMo combines everything great about canister backpacking stoves into one efficient, durable, and reliable package. It has great simmer control, excellent build quality, and a fine auto-ignition system.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2
Compact and Affordable
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 improves overs its predecessors by bringing an ultra-lightweight backpacking stove that offers the right mix of performance and reliability. It comes with a quality hard shell case and is one of the most popular stoves on the market.
The Jetboil MiniMo is a complete cooking system with just about all the essentials you want. For this reason, it’s one of the most popular backpacking stoves available on the market.
With an almost perfect 5/5 stars rating from over 40 reviewers on Amazon, the Jetboil MiniMo lives up to its reputation on the field due to its great fuel efficiency and the rare ability to simmer. Simmering on any portable hiking stove is very difficult, and most of them perform poorly. The Jetboil is unparalleled in this regard.
This portable stove also has great build quality, which does add to its cost. Its 1 liter cup is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve for safe handling, it comes with a built-in piezo ignition system, and it has metal coils along the bottom to greatly improve efficiency and produce fast boiling times.
The MiniMo performs well in cold conditions, but it’s not as great in the wind as our next product in the lineup. Regardless, it doesn’t change our opinion that the Jetboil MiniMo is the best canister backpacking stove you can buy.
- Great build quality
- Simmer control is excellent
- Built-in igniter makes life easier
- Good efficiency
- Not the best in windy conditions
The integrated and highly compact Windburner is MSR’s flagship hiking and backpacking stove. MSR dominates this niche, and it’s primarily because of quality products like the WindBurner.
The WindBurner has everything you need in backpacking stoves. Its integrated system uses a secure 1L lock pot, coffee press, and a personal mug.
The biggest plus with the Windburner though is what it’s been named for. The combustion and internal pressure regular is designed in such a way that it makes the flame almost completely unaffected by winds. The exterior design is also such that the MSR WindBurner is quite stable, even on somewhat uneven terrain.
This makes boiling time for water incredibly low, making MSR WindBurner, in our opinion, the best cannister based hiking stove you can buy. The price point is definitely a concern though, and we wish it would come with an automatic lighting system.
- Compact design
- Protects against the wind very well
- Good build quality
- Doesn’t have an automatic lighting system
When it comes to affordable hiking and backpacking stoves, it doesn’t get any better than the MSR Pocket Rocket 2. Weighing just 2.6 ounces and costing less than $50, the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 one of MSR’s bestselling products for its reliability at such a low price.
The redesigned Pocket Rocket has a few changes when compared to its predecessor. It is now even lighter and features a redesigned support system that has an even smaller footprint yet comfortably accommodates a good range of pot sizes.
Despite its size, weight, and price, this is still a powerful burner and it has really good temperature control. It also has a built-in wind clip to shield the flame from winds during breezy conditions. All that comes inside a very small yet durable hard shell case, which we absolutely love.
The Pocket Rocket 2 appeals to just about everyone. Not only does it provide great value, it is built to last many trips and is extremely reliable in its performance.
It is certain simpler than some of the other products, and integrated canister stoves generally perform better as far as boil time is considered. However, this is still an excellent product that we highly recommend.
- Affordability makes this a very attractive product
- Incredibly lightweight
- Strong burner with good temperature control
- Case included is fantastic
- Integrated canisters tend to perform better
- Some additional parts need to be bought to optimize experience
The Biolite CampStove 2 is a backpacking stove that utilizes wood as fuel. It is by far the most fuel-efficient hiking stove available on the market.
One of the biggest advantages of the Biolite CampStove is that, because it’s a wood burning stove, it can utilize most items found in hiking environments such as twigs, pine cones, wood chips, and more.
In addition to cooking your meal, this thing also produces electricity and has a USB port that lets you charge your cellphone while cooking. That’s far beyond just a gimmick when you’re backpacking with no electricity source.
For these reasons, it’s quite easy to say that the Biolite CampStove 2 is a fantastic product of mechanical engineering. It stands as a gamechanger in the market as backpackers are often looking for multi-purpose products.
Yet these incredible features do come with their negatives. The two egregious aspects of the CampStove are its hefty price and weightiness. Both are to be expected given the features, performance, and design of this product, but they are a factor in everyone’s buying decision regardless.
- The most fuel efficient product on the market
- Fantastic set of features
- Powerful and reliable
- Fuel type is extremely convenient
- Produces electricity
- Quite heavy for a backpacking stove
Canister stoves provide incredible compactness and lightweight, and wood burning stoves provide great accessibility. Liquid fuel burning stoves have their advantages too. The biggest is how easily available liquid fuel is.
This makes liquid fuel backpacking stoves the ideal choice if you’re going to remote locations. Not only are the canisters of higher capacity, the fuel types (petrol, diesel, alcohol) are ubiquitously available across the glove.
Additionally, the fuel is also efficient. One bottle of fuel is equivalent to seven canisters. The WhisperLite provides that experience in a great product that is reliable and efficient. We believe it is the best liquid fuel backpacking stove in the market right now.
However, it isn’t without its flaws. Igniting liquid fuel safely and correctly has a learning curve to it, and the MSR Whisperlite doesn’t make it any easier for the user. Moreover, liquid burners are not as compact as canister stoves or wood burning stoves.
The canisters of the liquid stoves are often bulkier, taking up more space in your hiking backpacks than other types of stoves. However, they do produce a hotter flame that can boil water faster and cook more advanced meals, which is why they are preferred by many individuals going to remote locations.
of this product, but they are a factor in everyone’s buying decision regardless.
- Liquid fuel is easily available
- Very quiet operation
- Canister is sturdy and leak proof
- Can cook advanced meals
- Takes up more space
- Igniting it can be tricky and has a learning curve
There are a wide variety of fuel sources available for backpacking stoves. It is the single most important factor in the entire design of each product revolves around the fuel type.
Not all fuel types are equal though. Some outperform others due to efficiency, design limitations, environmental limitations, safety, and various other factors. Stoves are generally categorized based on the fuel they burn.
These are the most common types of stoves, and the preferred choice for most hikers. They are low maintenance stoves that use two pre-pressurized gases as fuel: isobutane and propane. They have the advantage of being incredibly compact, lightweight, and efficient.
However, canister stoves aren’t as powerful nor do that last too long. Refueling often requires swapping entire canisters as the pressurized gases obviously can’t be carried around.
Liquid Fuel Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves are popular for remote locations and can utilize one or more types of liquid fuels such as petrol, diesel, alcohol, and others. They have a huge advantage due to the availability of these fuels. They also burn at a higher temperature, which allows for cooking of more advanced meals.
Liquid fuel stoves are a very popular choice for hikers and travelers who are planning to go to remote places. Carrying additional liquid fuel is also easy and the amount you can carry is highly beneficial.
Such stoves however are bulky and take up more space because the canisters are usually much larger than what you’d get in isobutane/propane fueled stoves. Additionally, most liquid fuels stoves require priming, which beginners might find difficult and dangerous. They are generally harder to operate than fuel stoves utilizing other fuels.
Alternative Fuel Stoves
Alternative fuel includes wood and solid fuel pellets. Solid fuel pellets are small and don’t offer adequate heat to cook proper meals, and the boiling is generally very slow.
Stoves utilizing wood are on the other hand highly efficient and the fuel source is easily available in the environment. Some of the more advanced wood burning stoves can even generate electricity.
However, wood burning stoves are at the extreme ends of the price points, and the environmental impact they leave is a concern.
Most of the features of a stove will depend on what type of fuel is utilized. There are other important things to look at though when buying stove.
The two most important are weight and size. Backpacking stoves need to be light and maneuverable. More importantly, they need to take less space in your backpacks, so you can store other essentials including the food you’ll cook with them.
Another important feature to inspect closely are the stabilizers. These are little legs that attach to the bottom of fuel canisters to keep the entire assembly from tipping over. You want stabilizers that work on uneven terrain and would be able to bear the weight easily.
Finally, we have piezo-igniters. Though not available on every backpacking stove, a piezo ignition button will greatly save time and effort, Additionally, they offer better safety than matches and manual lighters. However, make sure you investigate and research a given product’s lighter, as many tend to break down rather easily.
Not all backpacking stoves work equally well in different environments. It’s important to choose a stove that will fit the needs of wherever you are planning to travel.
Certain variables such as altitude, weather, and terrain can greatly affect the performance of a stove. Higher altitude regions have less oxygen, so most stoves don’t burn too well. In such situations you want a more powerful liquid fuel stove.
Many stoves come with wind protection, but some are inherently better than others at resisting a strong breeze. You will need to assess which stove suits your trip’s conditions best and base your purchase on that
Wherever there is fire, there is risk involved. Backpacking stoves are no different, and because they’re small, they’re prone to being accidentally tipped over.
The first and most basic rule of a backpacking stove is to never use it in enclosed spaces. Not only does this create high fire risk, but can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. You should also check all fuel lines, valves, and connections for leaks or damage before lighting your stove. Do not ignite a stove with a damaged fuel line or leak.
Other safety features are also important to consider. Before buying a liquid fuel stove, make you know how to prime it and have enough practice doing it at home or in a comfortable environment before you use it anywhere else.
It’s also a good idea to invest in storm proof matches even if you have a storm-proof jacket. Piezo igniters, while extremely safe, are flimsy and break down easily.
Is a backpacking stove even necessary?
No, it’s not. In fact, you could save a lot of space by not taking one. If you’re going into almost exclusively urban environment, then you shouldn’t even be reading this article. Even for the more adventurous, a backpacking stove isn’t necessary.
However, many people like freshly prepared coffee or warm food (especially in winters), and those are the individuals who will want a backpacking stove.
Which fuel type would you recommend the most?
We’d recommend isobutane and propane canister stoves the most because of their ease of use, compact design, affordability, and availability.
What regulations do I need to be aware of?
You need to see the regulations of the specific location you’ll be traveling to. Rocky Mountain National Park banned alcohol and Esbit stoves a few years ago because they lack a shutoff valve. If you are traveling internationally, you should not be packing any kind of fuel and only buy from the local shops there.
How much extra fuel should I pack?
That depends on how long you’ll be going and how many will be joining you. Normally, a single canister is sufficient to cook basic travel food for two individuals for a night.