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If you’re packing up your backpack for a couple of nights in the great outdoors, you’ll certainly need a sturdy, reliable stove that you can use to boil water and heat up food. If you want to wake up to a cup of hot coffee, you’ll definitely need a transportable stove. How many nights you’re camping as well as what kind of weather you’re going to encounter will factor into the stove that’s right for your trip.
Kelly McGown, Social Media Manager at Advanced Primate, says, “When it comes to choosing the right stove for your next backpacking trip, you’ll want to consider weight, boil time, burn time, and fuel needs. The most common fuel types include canister, liquid, alcohol, and wood.” Not all backpacking stoves are the same so it’s important to factor in your needs in order to get the right one for your outdoor excursion.
Here are some of the best backpacking stoves.
Best Overall: Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Easy to light
Water boils quickly
Other Jetboil accessories not included
This model falls right in the middle of the range of prices for backpacking stoves and it covers all the bases for a reliable, durable, and highly functional product. Jetboil is known for being a trusted leader in the world of backpacking stoves, and this camper model is one of its most loved versions. Fueled by liquid petroleum gas and made of aluminum, this stove is equipped with a 1-liter, insulated cooking cup that makes it a breeze to boil water and quickly heat food. The push-button igniter makes this super user-friendly and easy to ignite, which is great for novice backpackers.
The apparatus comes with a fuel canister stabilizer, which can double as a measuring cup or bowl. Other Jetboil accessories, such as a skillet, coffee pot, and hanging kit, are not included but would be great buys if you want to get the most use out of your Jetboil. At just 0.82 pounds, this stove is a great lightweight tool for your next outdoor adventure.
Fuel Type: Liquid petroleum gas | Weight: 0.82 Pounds
Best Budget: MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove
Comes with a protective case
Easy to start
Does not include any mugs or cups
If you’re not looking to dole out a ton of money on your stove, there are plenty of readily available, wallet-friendly options that will still have you enjoying warm food and beverages on your backpacking trip. This ultra-light stove (0.16 pounds) is gas-powered and extremely compact. It’s powerful enough to boil an entire liter of water in just 3 ½ minutes. Though it does not come equipped with any pots or mugs, it can accommodate a wide range of sizes and styles. The push ignition is very straightforward and easy to start. The flame strength is also easily adjustable for whatever it is that you’re cooking or gently heating.
This is the perfect stove for the minimalist backpacker who wants something light, reliable, fast, and affordable. Users love how much burn time they’re able to get from each canister, with some saying they were able to use the flame for upwards of 2 hours before they needed to refill.
Fuel Type: Liquefied petroleum gas | Weight: 0.16 pounds
Best Liquid Fuel Type: MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove
Can run on a variety of liquid gases
Boils water quickly
Fuel is sold separately
This liquid fuel-type backpacking stove gives you the flexibility to use a variety of fuels worldwide, such as white gas, kerosene, and gasoline, which is ideal for someone who may be taking this to a variety of different countries. The stove can boil 1 liter of water in just 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The stove includes a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and storage sack, though the required fuel bottle for operation is sold separately.
Fuel Type: Liquid | Weight: 0.68 pounds
Best Wood Fuel Type: Solo Stove Titan
Fuel is easy to source
Flame is strong and efficient
Can use most pots or pans on it
Not as lightweight as others
This wood stove boasts a double-wall construction that produces a fast, efficient flame for all of your outdoor cooking needs. The entire stove can be packed down easily for compact storage. Because of the vent holes near the top of the chamber, preheated oxygen can fuel the flame, which yields a hotter fire with less smoke and ash. There is a convenient ashtray that offers a heat shield, and it’s very easy to clean up once the stove has completely cooled down.
The cooking surface is about 5 inches in diameter, so there are a wide array of pots and pans that would be compatible with this stove. Reviewers love that this stove is fast, efficient, easy to use, cools down quickly, and uses fuel from surrounding wooded areas. Users also note that the flame stays super strong and hot despite windy, difficult conditions.
Fuel Type: Wood | Weight: 1.03 pounds
Best Lightweight: SOTO WindMaster Stove with 4Flex
Flame is strong in windy conditions
Boils water quickly
Doesn’t include TriFlex for smaller pots
If you’re trying to keep your backpack as lightweight as you possibly can, cutting down on the weight of your stove is a great place to start. This Windmaster stove is incredibly light, at just 0.14 pounds. Not only is it lightweight, but it’s quick and efficient. You can boil a liter of water in a mere 2 ½ minutes. Gusty and windy conditions have nothing on the power of this flame. The kit also includes a flex tool that allows the stove to balance large pots easily, while the TriFlex (sold separately) is ideal for smaller pots. Each canister provides about 1 ½ hours of burn time.
Fuel Type: Liquefied petroleum gas | Weight: 0.14 pounds
Best for Large Groups: Jetboil Sumo Cooking System
High cup-to-fuel cooking ratio
Easy flame adjustments
Extra attachments sold separately
Heading out on a trip with a larger group of people? Most backpacking stoves are best for one to two people because of their small, compact size, but this Jetboil Sumo stove is perfect for a larger group of campers. The 1.8-liter cooking cup can accommodate more people without needing to bring any additional heavy setup. This stove has a higher-capacity cup-to-fuel cooking ratio, which is great news for any hungry campers on your trip. The easy flame adjustments allow you to simmer, lightly heat, or strongly cook just about anything over the stove.
While attachments are not included, you can always opt to purchase the Jetboil coffee press, skillet, and FluxRing 1.5-liter cooking pot to give you more cooking options on your next camping adventure. Reviewers love this stove for their groups of four to six, stating that it was easy and attainable to heat enough food for everyone using one canister and the 1.8-liter pot.
Fuel Type: Liquefied petroleum gas | Weight: 1.65 pounds
Best Alcohol: Keweis Portable Outdoor Mini Alcohol Stove Burner
Easy temperature control
Alcohol not included
This compact, lightweight stove is a minimalist backpacker’s best friend. The aluminum alloy stove is durable, efficient, and can keep a strong flame in tough, windy conditions. That said, if you are able to set up a small windscreen, this will allow your stove to burn more efficiently and use less fuel. The foldable flame regulator makes it easy to increase and decrease the intensity of the flame. The stove is designed with a rubber seal, which prevents any alcohol leaks or evaporation. The combustion holes also increase the air ventilation for an efficient, strong flame.
This kit includes the stove, stand, and storage bag, which means you’ll need to provide alcohol as well as pots and pans. Users report that the stove offers about 90 minutes of strong burn time. For such an affordable price and user-friendly setup, this is a great option for a novice backpacker who wants something cheap and simple for their first few trips.
Fuel Type: Alcohol | Weight: 0.4 pounds
The Jetboil Flash Cooking System (view at Amazon) is a great option for beginner backpackers and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts alike because it's user-friendly, lightweight, and comes from a trusted brand. If you don't want to spend a lot, we recommend the budget-friendly MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Backpacking Stove
The most common types of fuel for a backpacking stove are canister, liquid, alcohol, and wood/pellets. Canister (isobutane or propane) models screw onto the threaded tops of closed fuel canisters. They are extremely low maintenance and easy to use, making them great for beginners. On the other hand, liquid fuel stoves connect to bottles of white gas that need to be refilled. Wood-burning and pellet stoves are ultra-light, which makes them great for hiking, though they can prove to be difficult in cold weather conditions or for larger groups. When it comes to cold weather conditions, liquid fuel is ideal, though most canister stoves will also work.
The size and weight of your backpacking stove can be crucial to the success of your trip. Too heavy or large, the stove will be difficult to pack and transport. Too small or lightweight, and it may not be able to accomplish your cooking/boiling needs efficiently and effectively. It’s always a good idea to double-check the dimensions of your backpack and ensure that you have the space for the stove you plan to bring. Canister stoves give you the perk of being extremely compact and lightweight, whereas liquid fuel stoves take up a bit more space. Keep in mind that the smaller the stove, the fewer people it can cook for and the smaller pans you’ll need to use.
Because of the different fuel sources and sizes, you’ll need to consider how many hours of burn your specific stove can give you. Different sized canisters and fuel types burn for a different amount of time. It’s easy to know when you’re almost out of fuel with liquid fuel, but in the case of canister stoves, it’s hard to know if you’re close to needing a refill.
How do you use a backpacking stove?
The specific way to use and operate a backpacking stove will depend on its fuel type, which is either canister, liquid fuel, or alternative fuel. Generally speaking, backpacking stoves have a fuel source that is attached to a lighting mechanism that will serve as a heat source for your camping pots. You can use the stove to heat food or boil water. Most stoves are equipped so that you can adjust the size and strength of the flame.
How long does backpacking stove fuel last?
Different sized canisters and types of fuel will vary in how many hours of heat they can provide, but for the most part, backpacking stoves can provide anywhere from 2 to 6 hours of heat. It’s always a good idea to pack extra fuel if you have space to ensure that you can use your stove.
How do you clean a backpacking stove?
Clean the exterior of your backpacking stove with warm, soapy water once it has completely cooled down. Rinse with clean water and allow to air dry before using the stove again. Wipe any greasy grates or valves with a warm cloth.
How do you light a backpacking stove?
Most backpacking stoves are equipped with a valve for lighting that you can create a steady flame with by using matches or a lighter. You need to ensure that the fuel is tightly screwed on and attached. You can also use the valve to adjust the strength of the flame. Some stove models require priming before lighting, which basically involves igniting a few drops of fuel in a separate cup below the burner, which in turn creates a small flame that will preheat the fuel line.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sara Tane has written dozens of buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef in addition to a camping and outdoor cooking enthusiast. With many weekends of cooking elaborate, delicious meals out in the great outdoors, she is no stranger to what it takes to have a successful bout of outdoor cooking. After researching different backpacking stoves and their materials, she can help you find the best backpacking stove for your next adventure. She also interviewed Kelly McGown, Social Media Manager at Advanced Primate, as part of her research for this roundup.