Backpacking stoves can make a huge difference after a long day of trekking, especially if you’ve trudged through rain or the temperature has dropped off. Those are the moments when a pot of boiling water to make a hot camping meal or even a cup of steaming coffee becomes invaluable. If you value warm cooked meals while on the trail, then a backpacking stove is an essential item on your camping cooking gear list. The primary components to consider when choosing a backpacking stove include the weight of the stove, the fuel type and efficiency, and its ability to operate under strenuous conditions (read: wind) should you need that capability.
If you plan to use the stove on long thru-hikes, saving weight on a stove is well worth the higher price tag. Those who hope to backpack in different countries will likely appreciate a universal or international stove that doesn’t require a very specific fuel canister. Finally, a stove that can hold up to wind and cold and function without wasting a lot of fuel are also key characteristics to keep in mind, though not everyone will be camping in colder climates. The following stoves run the gamut in price, efficiency, weight, and functionality in a range of climates. From the do-it-all stove to the entry-level stove, you should easily find one that suits your needs well.
MSR makes some of the best backpacking stoves out there and offers tons of different models. The MSR PocketRocket 2 is one of the best stoves for general backpacking during mild conditions to pick up for the price. The stove is only 2.6 ounces, making it very lightweight and easy to pack thanks to its small size. You’ll also get more burner power than you might expect. It’s a great middle-of-the-road lightweight option with all of the essentials to suit most backpackers’ needs at a great price. You will, however, have to bring a separate pot as it isn’t integrated into this system. The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe might sound tempting, but the only advantage you’ll get for nearly twice the price is a slightly heavier (2.9 ounces), steadier stove.
Another good option those who are not looking for an ultralight stove can turn to is the Soto Amicus Stove. It’s a great value that will stretch your dollar much farther than most stove sets. The set includes the stove and two pots for the same price as the MSR PocketRocket 2, but you won’t be giving up on much apart from weight. Made from aluminum, the set is 11.2 ounces but it is more compact than other stoves. When set up and ready to run, the stove has surprisingly more energy output, too. It’s definitely a close runner up to the PocketRocket 2, and could easily win out over it depending on your priorities.
For those who are not as concerned about weight and only backpack shorter distances or a few days at a time will likely appreciate the Jetboil Flash. At 13.1 ounces, it isn’t an ultralight option, but it does have an integrated pot. Those looking for something that can just boil water really quickly will love this option. An added bonus is the insulating layer that can be attached to the stove and the legs that keeps the fuel canister steady. That makes this a good wind-resistant option for cold-weather backpacking, too. The Jetboil MiniMo is also enticing, but for the lower price, lighter weight, and faster boiling time, it’s hard to pass up the Jetboil Flash for the MiniMo.
Backpackers looking for everything that the MSR PocketRock 2 offers but with a more wind-resistant build should be a fan of the Soto WindMaster. The three-ounce stove is slightly heavier than the former, but it is also more stable and has the ability to stand up to the wind. No pot is integrated into the stove, so you’ll have to pack it separately. However, for the slight price increase, it’s a sold choice for those living in colder climates who want to get outside despite the weather. This stove has a longstanding history of being reliable in tougher conditions, making it well worth the upgrade from the PocketRocket 2 without moving all the way up to an integrated stove system.
If you plan to backpack in more than one or two countries as an outdoorsman, then you should really consider picking up a backpacking stove that can be paired with different fuel sources available in other countries. That’s why the MSR WhispherLite International is an optimal choice. For $40 less than the MSR WhispherLite Universal stove, you get a similar stove that can use a number of fuel sources. The only downside to this stove is that you won’t be able to control the level of the heat on the stove to range the water from a boil to a simmer. Though it’s a drawback, it’s a relatively small one when you consider the benefits and stability of the stove. It is on the heavier side at 11.2 ounces, but it has close to 20 years of proven field use, according to MSR.
There’s a lot to love about the Snow Peak LiteMax stove, especially for long-distance or thru-hike backpackers. Though the stove is a slightly more expensive system than other comparable stoves, it’s worth investing in for many backpackers. The reason it’s worth the extra $10 or $15 dollars is its weight. The Snow Peak LiteMax only weighs 1.9 ounces because it is made with ultralight titanium. The stove has wide stance legs to ensure its stability, and it’s a very durable option, too. Though the stove cannot handle high winds, it holds its own in mild conditions to some wind. The LiteMax collapses down to almost nothing and features a flame control valve that allows you to do anything from a simmer to a full rolling boil. So go ahead and spring for it.
The MSR WindBurner stove system is pricier and heavier than most; however, if you need something that can hold its own in really tough, windy conditions, there’s nothing better. Though it does weigh a whopping 15.5 ounces, the stove system manages to pack down conveniently. The integrated pot can hold both the canister stand and the fuel canister so packing and unpacking the stove is a breeze. The stove can boil water quickly and is well insulated from poor weather. The only negative apart from the heavier weight is the lack of an integrated igniter.
If you are new to backpacking and are not sure if it’s a pastime that will take, you probably don’t want to invest too much into a stove. Besides, backpacking gear can get really price very quickly and add up even faster. That’s why the Primus Essential Trail is a good option for those just dipping their toe in the water. The stove isn’t a bad weight at just four ounces, though it is heavier than the PocketRocket 2, which is a comparable stove. The system doesn’t include a pot and it doesn’t pack down from its size, so you’ll have to work around its shape when packing. However, it will provide you with all of the functionality you need for half the price of the RocketPocket 2. For the price, you’ll also give up the little luxury of a push-start ignition. Again, it isn’t a perfect backpacking stove, but it’s a great one for the price.
This stove is only a good option if you live or backpack in areas that are not prone to wildfires because it is a wood-burning stove. Some areas would not allow you to use such a stove, but if you are in an area where it is acceptable and safe, the Solo Stove Lite is a trooper. At nine ounces, the sleek and simple stove is so easy to use. Plus, the design makes for a stove that’s easy to clean and maintain well. The stove doesn’t include a pot, but it burns efficiently and even includes a wind guard.
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