Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.
Cooking is an essential part of camping, whether you prefer to cook dogs over an open fire or piping-hot coffee with an enamel kettle. Fire pits can be fickle, however, and are often not an option when camping during the peak months of summer or in areas where wood is as scarce as an apology from Donald Trump.
Thankfully, the outdoor realm is chock-full of portable stoves suited for a variety of places and purposes. Whereas some are designed for a family of four who don’t want to stray more than a few yards from the air-conditioned comfort of their SUV, others are specifically built for solo treks in the back-country and areas that are more likely to leave you susceptible to the wind. Below are our current favorites, all of which blend both form and functionality without killing you when it comes to the initial cost investment.
Primus’ Onja Stove looks like nothing else currently on the market, nor does it perform in the same way. It’s the company’s most compact and elegant double-burner, one that runs off 100g, 230g, or 450g gas canisters. The stove’s unique, minimalist construction allows for quick assembly — you merely need to unfold the bottom to create the narrow cooking bed — and it comes with a carrying strap for toting it around. The durable oak lid also doubles as a cutting board, and though it’s not the lightest option at 7 pounds, it’s perfect for those times when you need to accommodate larger pots and your base camp is nearby.
In recent years, Jetboil has done more for camping stoves than Coleman or any other manufacturer on the planet. The lightweight MiniMo — the company’s most compact, upright canister system to date — represents the best of what they do, largely thanks to its enhanced regulator diaphragm and Jetboil’s proprietary regulator technology. The latter components means you can simmer your water instead of boiling it, granting you greater precision. Flip-out metal handles, quick boiling times, and a redesigned cooking cup make it a standout for backpackers and anyone who’s tight on space.
“Glamping” gets a bad rap — after all, it’s far more feasible than backpacking when you have a car and pair of toddlers to contend with. During those times, the Everest Two-Burner Stove is the stove to bring. Not only does the stainless-steel behemoth provide plenty of surface area and manage to quickly pump out 20,000 BTUs, but it comes with a reliable, matchless ignition system that can produce a spark even when the winds are at their worst. The dial is also extremely, well, dialed-in, meaning you can bring your water down to a gentle boil and back up again with the utmost ease.
MSR’s Windburner is a compact, all-in-one option that’s as suitable for overnight campers as it is multi-day hikers. The system includes all the basics — a pot, canister stand, lid, stove, etc. — and neatly fits within the confines of the pot, which also conveniently doubles as an insulated mug for eating and drinking. It lacks a built-in ignition source, yes, but it makes up for it with a lightning-quick burner and an enclosed, windproof design that thwarts Mother Nature at every turn. The stove’s remarkable fuel efficiency is another pro, one that makes the most of single-use isobutane canisters.
The BioLite BaseCamp doesn’t come cheap, but not all the best things in life do. The stove’s intuitive design converts heat into usable electricity, which you can then use to power the built-in fan and charge an assortment of gadgets via USB. Unlike other stoves on our list, the stove runs exclusively on fallen branches and kindling, making for an eco-friendly solution that does away with wasteful fossil fuels. The portable stove is also outfitted with a handle and a foldable set of legs, as well as a flexible USB light that capitalizes on the thermoelectric generator for late-night grilling sessions. And then there’s the optional PizzaDome…