One essential piece of gear is a backing stove. There are several types of stoves to choose from and within each type, there are even more options. Most backpackers go for canister stoves but sometimes situations call for other types of stoves as well. Here is our guide to choosing the best stoves for backpacking.
Canister Backpacking Stoves
Canister stoves are the most popular type of stoves among backpackers because they are very compact, ultralight, and convenient to use.
As the name implies, a canister stove needs a canister of fuel to work. They are usually made of three to four collapsible arms and a gas furnace which the canister fuel is attached. Most canister backpacking stoves are made of light, durable materials such as stainless steel and aluminum alloys. There are also ones that work only with a specific type of canister fuel, so make sure to check the specifications before deciding to buy.
- Takes up very little space inside a backpack
- Convenient and easy to use
- Needs a separate canister of fuel in order to work
- Arms may not be good for larger pots or pans
Who is it best for?
This is best for people who don’t mind the extra bulk of a canister fuel and whose priority is convenience since it doesn’t leave too much soot to clean up later unlike other types of backpacking stoves.
Our Top Canister Backpacking Stoves
Snow Peak Giga Power Stove
This stove works great even in cold and high areas. It works with isobutane blend canister fuels instead of propane. It has four collapsible arms and a valve to control the fire so you can use it not only for boiling but also for simmering.
MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System
This MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System is an all-in-one stove system composed of three parts: a stove burner, 1-liter detachable cookware that can be used as a pot or a mug, and an IsoPro canister fuel (sold separately). The burner and the canister fuel can fit inside the cookware so it is easy to fit and carry around. It is a reliable stove that works even on strong winds, thanks to its enclosed design, internal pressure regulator, and 100% primary air combustion.
MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Backpacking, Camping, and Travel Stove
The MSR PocketRocket works on an isobutane-propane fuel canister and can boil a liter of water in just 3.5 minutes. It features an adjustable valve so the heat can be turned up to a full fire or turned down to a simmer.
Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System
This cooking system from Jetboil features a 1-liter detachable FluxRing cooking cup with metal handles for a more convenient cooking and eating experience. Its valve and regulator are redesigned for an unbeatable simmer control and consistent performance of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it has a reliable igniter so no need for matches.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System – Original Flash 2012-2018, Carbon, One Size
The Flash cooking system is designed to be very safe and user-friendly. It features a 1-liter cooking cup that can be securely attached to the burner, thus preventing accidental spills. This cup also has a strainer and a small spout so the user can drink straight from it that’s perfect for quick coffee breaks, thanks also to its push-button igniter. It also has a fuel canister tripod included ensuring stability and its insulating cozy changes color depending on the heat to let the user know how hot the contents are.
Jetboil Zip Cooking System
The Zip is one of the reliable classics loved by many backpackers. It has a 0.8-liter FluxRing cooking cup with an insulating cozy and is ignited by a match. Like the Flash, a user can also drink straight from it, thanks to its spout and strainer. It is known for its reliability and easy set-up/pack-up. This is also best for fuel efficiency and is compatible with most Jetboil accessories so it can be upgraded to suit more diverse cooking needs.
Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
This backpacking stove from Etekcity is known for its Piezo ignition, a reliable built-in electric spark ignition system for a faster start. It can accommodate up to 7-inches diameter pot and has an adjustable valve to control the flame. It is compatible with any 7/16 thread single butane or butane-propane mixed fuel canisters. Most importantly, it adheres to the “Leave No Trace” principle as it leaves no soot and burns clean.
Snow Peak Giga Power Stove with Auto Start
This backpacking stove is similar to the Snow Peak Giga Power Stove mentioned above, but with a built-in Piezo ignition so it lights the burner instantly.
Liquid Fuel Backpacking Stoves
Liquid fuel stoves are similar to canister stoves but instead of using fuel canisters, these stoves use liquid fuel to work and are heavier to carry around.
This type of backpacking stove can work with a variety of liquid fuel or “multifuel” as more commonly known, such as white gas, unleaded petrol, gasoline, or even kerosene. They can be heavier to carry around, but they are more fuel-efficient and are more reliable under cold weather conditions.
- More fuel-efficient
- More reliable in colder places
- Requires higher maintenance
Who is it best for?
This type of stove is perfect for backpackers who plan to spend a week or two on a trip without resupply or those who are going with a larger group of backpackers. It is also best to use when backpacking during winter or in places with high altitudes.
MSR WhisperLite Portable Camping and Backpacking Stove
The Whisperlite by MSR is one of the most famous liquid fuel stoves among backpackers. It is a classic, reliable, and durable stove highly-known for its superior performance under cold weather. It is maintained using Jet Shaker Technology and runs on white gas only.
The XGK EX by MSR is another popular classic for extreme weather conditions. Unlike the Whisperlite, this can be powered not only by white gas (which may not be available in some countries) but also by kerosene, aviation gas, unleaded auto fuel, jet fuel, and diesel. This is perfect for international travel.
MSR Dragonfly Portable Camping and Backpacking Stove
The Dragonfly is the most convenient choice for backpackers whose priority is precise flame control, thanks to its dual valve design, and ability to take larger pots of up to ten inches. These versatile features make the Dragonfly best for backpackers who are planning to make a wide range of meals.
Wood Burning Backpacking Stove
Wood-burning stoves are gaining popularity among backpackers who are leaning towards a more environment-friendly approach to their hobby.
What is it?
Instead of fuel canisters or liquid fuel, wood-burning stoves require wood or dried leaves and twigs in order to start a fire. Some backpackers also bring along wood pellets as an emergency stash in case the place gets rained on and there would be no dry wood or leaves to use. Most stoves of this type have wide openings at the side where wood can be placed or removed to control the flame.
- No need to bring fuel canisters or alcohol
- No need to worry about using up fuel
- Gives a more “traditional” experience of collecting firewood
- Creates so much soot and ashes/embers to clean up after
- Some places prohibit its use due to burn bans
- Flame control can be tricky
Who is it best for?
This type of stove is best for backpackers who are environmental advocates and whose priority is carrying lightweight gear. This is also perfect for those who don’t mind the inconvenience of looking for firewood or dry leaves and those who may need longer cooking times as they won’t have to worry about using up fuel or alcohol.
The Freehawk wood-burning stove includes one pot and one pan that can be securely nested inside a portable mesh bag. It is easy to install and has cross-bar supporting arms for a more stable cooking experience.
Solo Stove Lite – Compact Wood Burning Backpacking Stove
This stove is known for its patented double wall design with unique airflow properties that allows wood or dry leaves to burn more fully with less smoke. It can boil water in eight to ten minutes.
The Canway wood-burning stove features secondary combustion that helps keep the stove burning for up to about 20 minutes. It has a three-arm pot support and can be used either for cooking or grilling.
Alcohol Burning Backpacking Stove
There are many myths and rumors surrounding the unreliability and dangerous effects of using an alcohol-burning stove but these are among the lightest and cheapest types of stoves a backpacker can own.
Alcohol-burning stoves uses alcohol as fuel, such as denatured alcohol and methylated spirits.
- Easy to use
- The additional weight of alcohol bottles
- Slower cooking time
Who is it best for?
This type of stove is best for ultralight backpackers who are planning on a short hike and don’t mind the longer cooking time.
The Trangia boasts its two-part windshield making it ideal for use even on windy areas. It works with methylated spirits and Tenol and even with multifuel and gel burners. It also has an included simmer ring for flame control and a twist-on screw cap with an O-ring to seal the burner. This prevents evaporation of unused fuel which can be used for next use.
Solid Fuel Backpacking Stoves
Solid fuel stoves are gaining popularity not only among backpackers but also with families who are looking to save on their heating bills due to their cost-effectiveness and convenience. Solid fuel stove is a general term used for those types of stoves that run on solid fuel such as wood, charcoal, or grains. So essentially, a wood-burning stove is a type of solid fuel stove. However, in the backpacking world, when one says solid fuel stove, it would usually mean a type of stove that uses a specific solid fuel tablet. It can also run on other types of solid fuel, but the essence of using solid fuel tablets is to keep everything as minimal and convenient as possible.
- Very compact and convenient
- Produces less smoke (or none) than wood-burning stoves
- Solid fuel tablets can be stored up to 10+ years if kept dry
- No need to worry about leaks inside your bag
- Not great for longer cooking times
- The solid fuel tablets smell fishy when burning
Who is it best for?
Solid fuel stoves have been used by the military for years. This is perfect for minimalist backpackers and those who know how much cooking they will need so they can bring just the right number of solid fuel tablets. The long shelf life of solid fuel tablets also makes them ideal for longer trips or as a backup stash.
This is made of ultralight titanium which features collapsible three-leg supports and a small tray at the center to hold solid fuel tablets (not included).
The Esbit Pocket Stove is made of galvanized steel designed to resist corrosion and survive many years of use. It also features two cooking positions that can support either smaller or larger pots. The six 14g smokeless solid fuel tablets that are included burn in around 12 minutes and can boil 500 ml of water in about eight minutes. It weighs 180g total including the six tablets.