Best Backpacking Stoves of 2019
A steamy cup of java on a crisp, quiet morning is just about the perfect start to any day in the wilderness. A warm meal at the end of a long day on the trail is pretty tough to beat as well. Backpacking stoves can enhance your wilderness adventures in a way that few other tools can.
The good news is that backpacking stoves have gotten increasingly light and convenient over the past few years. That means you’ll spend a lot less time cooking and your pack will stay light too. The bad news is there are more backpacking stoves to choose from now than ever before, which can make picking the right one very difficult. We created this list to help cut through the clutter and share our favorite backpacking stoves available today.
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Trying to figure out what type of backpacking stove is right for you? And what type of fuel works with your stove? Worried about wind performance? For a detailed description of each type of cooking system as well as other critical buying information, scroll to the bottom of this post where we cover everything you need to know.
10 Best Backpacking Stoves
WEIGHT: 13.1 oz.
While integrated stoves aren’t the lightest backpacking option, they’re by far the most convenient and fastest stoves. Among integrated canister stoves, the Jetboil Flash is one of the most affordable and dependable options. The Flash doesn’t have simmer control, so it’s best used for boiling water quickly, which tends to be all most backpackers need for re-hydrated meals and morning coffee. The handle on the Flash is also less sturdy than some Jetboil models, but we find it to be plenty functional. If you’re looking for simmer control and some other nice upgrades, check out the Jetboil MiniMo listed below. If you're looking for a quick and dependable backcountry stove, the Flash is an excellent option and solid budget buy. Check out our full review of the Flash here.
TOP PICK: The Jetboil Flash is our top pick for integrated canister stoves. For more of our top picks, check out the CleverHiker Top Picks page.
WEIGHT: 2.6 oz
The MSR PocketRocket 2 is a lightweight, compact, and durable stove that won’t break your budget. This stove is a solid upgrade of MSR's popular PocketRocket stove, which has been a favorite in the backpacking community for many years. The PocketRocket 2 has great simmer control, packs down small, and boils water fast. While the Pocket Rocket 2 is not a full cooking system, MSR does offer it in a Pocket Rocket 2 Stove Kit.
Top Pick: The PocketRocket 2 is our top pick for canister stoves. For more of our top picks, check out the CleverHiker Top Picks page.
WEIGHT: 1 oz.
If you’re looking for a super cheap and ultralight stove that’ll work for 1-2 people, the BRS Ultralight Stove is tough to beat. While the BRS stove won’t be nearly as dependable as many of the other stoves on this list, we’ve found that over time it’s worked well for us. The BRS doesn’t feel very sturdy so you have to treat it with care, but for its price and weight, it’s a solid option for thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers. Don’t expect any frills with this stove (no simmer control, push-button ignitor, fuel regulator, etc), but if you just need something cheap and light to get the job done, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the BRS. We pair the BRS stove with the Snow Peak Mini Solo Cookset for a truly ultralight cooking system.
WEIGHT: 2.9 oz.
The MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe is an upgraded version of the popular MSR PocketRocket 2 stove. The Deluxe comes with a push button ignitor, a pressure regulator to help in cold temps and high altitudes, and a recessed burner head for improved wind performance. With excellent simmer control, a small pack size, and the ability to boil water very fast, the Deluxe is the best Pocket Rocket yet. While the Pocket Rocket Deluxe is not a full cooking system, MSR does offer it in a Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove Kit.
WEIGHT: 14 oz (stove + pot)
The Jetboil MiniMo is a complete cooking system that’s just about as convenient and efficient as backcountry stoves get. The MiniMo is loaded with useful features including a sturdy handle, push-button igniter, excellent simmer control, and a stout shape that makes eating out of it easier. The MiniMo is slightly heavier and more expensive than some ultralight stove/pot combinations, but its speed, convenience, and stability make it exceptional for lightweight backpacking. The Jetboil MicroMo is the same stove with a slimmer and slightly smaller pot to reduce weight. The Jetboil Flash is less expensive and also excellent, but it doesn’t have simmer control. Check out our full review of the MiniMo here.
WEIGHT: 15.5 oz (stove + pot)
The MSR WindBurner is another extremely convenient integrated stove system. The main advantage it has over the MiniMo is its excellent wind resistance. Stiff winds can greatly reduce stove efficiency, but that’s not an issue with the WindBurner. The downsides with the WindBurner are that it doesn’t have great simmer control, a push-button igniter, or sturdy handles like the MiniMo. We also prefer the stout body shape of the MiniMo, which makes eating out of it easier. That said, if you often backpack in exposed and windy locations, this stove might be a better fit for your adventures. Pick up the WindBurner Coffee Press Kit to elevate your backcountry brewing game. For more information on the WindBurner, check out our full review here.
WEIGHT: 9 OZ
The Solo Stove Lite is a double-wall natural convection inverted downgas gasifier stove. And what do all those fancy words mean? Who knows!?! What we can tell you is the Solo Stove is incredibly efficient and effective. Air intake holes in the bottom of the stove feed the fire from below and above. The end result is a hot and less smoky burn that doesn’t require a windscreen and won’t scorch the ground under your stove. At 9oz, this stove isn't winning any weight prizes, but not having to carry fuel does help. Combine the Solo Stove with the Solo Stove Pot 900 for a completely nested cooking system and more space in your pack.
RELATED: Solo Stove isn’t the first to use this design. The lighter (5.1oz), but more expensive Bushbuddy has been around for years. The Solo Lite is a good size for 1-2 people. For 2-4 people, bump up to the Solo Titan. For 4+ people check out the Solo Campfire.
WEIGHT: 11.5 oz
The MSR WhisperLite is one of the most popular liquid fuel stoves ever made, and with good reason. It’s among the lightest, smallest, and least expensive liquid fuel stoves on the market. It’s also much quieter than many other roaring liquid fuel stoves. It’s simple to use and it will last for a long time with regular maintenance. The biggest downside of the whisperlite is that it doesn’t have simmer control.
RELATED: If you’re looking to backpack internationally, consider the WhisperLite International or WhisperLite Universal. They cost more but have the ability to burn multiple fuel sources. A WhisperLite service kit will come in handy down the line with this stove.
WEIGHT: 2.7 oz.
Soto is a trusted name in the world of backpacking stoves and the Atticus Stove delivers high quality performance at an affordable price. The Soto Atticus has four spring-loaded support legs which provide more pot support than your average stove system. It also features a recessed burner head for increased wind performance and a push-button ignitor. We found the Soto Atticus is similar in performance and design to the Pocket Rocket Deluxe, but at a more affordable price. For a full cook system, you can pick up the Soto Amicus Stove Cookset. Soto also offers the OD-1RX WindMaster, which is slightly more expensive but offers better wind protection.
WEIGHT: 1.9 oz
The Snow Peak LiteMax is an ultralight, durable, and compact canister stove that packs down very small. The LiteMax is built with titanium to keep weight to an absolute minimum. It's main strength is its highly collapsible folding design, which makes it easy to pack away in any cookpot. It also has good simer control, fast boiling times, and does a decent job in the wind too (though integrated canister stoves will always do better in windy conditions). The main downside with the LiteMax is that it's pricier than similar models like the PocketRocket 2.
WEIGHT: 4 oz.
If you're a beginner or a backpacker on a tight budget, the Etekcity Orange Stove could be a solid place to start. Similar to the BRS stove listed above, the Etekcity Orange is incredibly affordable, but also comes with the benefits of a push-button ignitor and increased durability. Weighing in at 4 ounces, it isn’t the lightest option for stoves of its kind and it’s not great in the wind either. Also, don’t expect the same type of dependability with this stove that you would get from an MSR or name brand product. But for a dirt cheap backpacking stove that will get the job done, the Etekcity Orange is a great option.
WEIGHT: 3.2 oz
The Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 is a compact canister stove that’s big on convenience. It has a push-button igniter, great simmer control, and fast boil times. The GigaPower also has four flat pot supports, which makes it slightly more stable than most three-prong stoves. The main downsides with the GigaPower are that it’s slightly heavier than our other canister stove picks and it's not quite as good in windy conditions. Snow Peak makes a GigaPower Manual version as well, which doesn’t have a push-button igniter, but is slightly lighter and less expensive.
WEIGHT: 14.1 oz
The MSR Dragonfly is a liquid fuel stove with a great blend between convenience and functionality. One of its strongest qualities is its excellent simmer control, but it can also pump out heat, which is nice for fast boil times and melting snow. It has a wide and stable base, making it good for one-pot meals to feed large groups. It can also be used with a variety of different fuels when traveling internationally. The biggest downside with the Dragonfly (other than its weight) is that it’s really loud. Like, harrier jet takeoff loud. Okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s noise output may be annoying to some.
RELATED: A Dragonfly service kit will come in handy down the line with this stove.
WEIGHT: 13.5 oz
If you’re looking for a high-powered burner that can melt snow fast in extreme conditions, the MSR XGK-EX is your guy. This stove is a favorite among climbers and mountaineers that often venture into the harshest and most exposed terrain on the planet. It works fast, burns several fuel types, and is built to last for the long haul. The biggest downsides with the XGK-EX are that it’s heavy, bulky, and it doesn't have simmer control. It's also very loud, so don’t expect any quiet conversation around the dinner table. For the vast majority of backpackers this stove will be too heavy and specialized, but if you’re heading into really extreme climates, this stove is for you.
RELATED: An XGK service kit will come in handy down the line with this stove.
WEIGHT: 3.5 oz.
There was a time in the past where alcohol stoves were a very popular option for thru-hikers and long distance backpackers, but times have changed. The availability of canister stove fuel and the convenience of canister stoves has essentially wiped out the use of the alcohol stove. That said, some hikers still swear by them. If this is you, then the Solo Stove Alcohol Burner is a great option. It’s lightweight, compact, and inexpensive. This stove doesn’t come with a windscreen, so you’ll want to pick one up or be strategic with where you cook. Many backpackers also use the Alcohol Burner as a backup fuel source for their Solo Stove Lite.
WEIGHT: 1.5 - 3.25 oz
The Trail Designs Caldera Cone is all about efficient use of energy. This system creates a way to block wind and hold every bit of heat against the cooking surface of your pot. This is especially helpful when using alcohol as a fuel source, because it has a low heat output which leads to slower cook times. This package comes with a cone specifically sized to fit your pot to provide stability and wind protection. Although it’s an efficient system for an alcohol stove, we find that packing it can be bulky and a bit awkward.
WEIGHT: 3.3 oz
If you're looking to try out Esbit affordably, the Esbit Folding Pocket Stove is a great place to start. It's a simple and durable stove that packs up small and comes with six Esbit tabs to get you started. The main downside with this stove is that it's on the heavy side for Esbit stoves and you'll need to add or make a simple windscreen. For more information on Esbit stoves, see our Types of Stoves section below.
What Type Of Stove Is Right For Me?
In our opinion, no other stove type comes anywhere close to beating canister stoves. Canister stoves are the clear frontrunner for 3-season backpacking, and with good reason. They’re light, compact, easy to use, and they work fast. With a canister stove there’s no priming, pumping, or maintenance of any kind. Simply screw in your stove and light it up for a quick meal.
In addition, when you get down to analyzing which backpacking stoves are the lightest, small canister stoves are right on par. You won't need to carry a pot stand or windscreen with a canister stove and their fuel is more efficient than Esbit and alcohol. An empty 100g isobutane fuel canister weighs about 3.3oz, which is a small penalty to pay for a huge increase in convenience, speed, and temperature control.
The main downside with canister stoves is that you’ll need to use a compatible isobutane fuel canister. These fuel canisters are very easy to find in outdoor stores and online, but if you’re backpacking internationally or in remote locations, you might have a harder time finding them. Also, fuel for canister stoves is slightly more expensive and they don't work well in extreme cold (usually below 20F).
For the vast majority of backpackers, canister stoves will be the best choice for 3-season adventures. Their convenience, speed, weight, and ease of use is tough to beat. Pick up a crunch tool for the ability to properly recycle spent fuel canisters.
Canister Stove Summary
Light & compact
Rapid boil times
Easy to use
Clean burn - no smell or pot residue
Slightly more expensive fuel
Can be harder to find fuel internationally
Not as good as liquid fuel stoves in extreme cold
LIQUID FUEL STOVES
If you’re planning to do a lot of cooking (or melting snow), a liquid fuel stove may be your best bet. Liquid fuel stoves are much heavier and bulkier than other backpacking stoves, so they’re not nearly as common these days as they used to be. They also require much more maintenance over time than canister stoves, which can be annoying. That said, they're still good for winter trips, international trekking, and big group outings.
Liquid fuel stoves work well in below-freezing conditions and their fuel (white gas) is cheaper than canister stove fuel. Some liquid fuel stoves can be used with different fuel types (like kerosene and unleaded auto fuel), which makes them a good fit for international trips where isobutane canisters and white gas will be harder to find. Also, if you’re planning to make big group meals in large pots (like boy scouts or guiding services), a liquid fuel stove could be a better fit because they have stable bases and more cost effective fuel.
All that said, we almost never bring liquid fuel stoves on our 3-season backpacking trips anymore. They’re heavier, more expensive, and more complicated to use than other lightweight stoves. Also, some of them are noisy and will require much more maintenance over time.
Liquid Fuel Stove Summary
Fuel is less expensive
Fuel bottles are refillable and easier to gauge usage
Good for melting snow on winter treks in extreme cold
Can be better for international travel
Heavy and bulky
More expensive - need to buy fuel bottle too
More complicated to use - priming required
Can be dangerous - fuel can spill when priming
More maintenance necessary
Some are noisy
Alcohol stoves are very light and simple. In the past they were the dominant choice for thru-hikers because of their weight, affordability, and readily available fuel in small towns. That’s not so much the case anymore. Over the past few years canister stoves have become much more common among thru-hikers because of their convenience, quickness, weight, and safety. Also, it’s getting much easier to find isobutane canister fuel in small trail towns.
Alcohol stoves are cheap to buy or make, they weigh close to nothing, and their fuel is easy to find. Heet (in the yellow bottle) is a gas-line antifreeze made for cars that is commonly used as fuel for alcohol stoves. You can find Heet at most gas stations and almost anywhere with a small auto department.
The main downsides with alcohol stoves are they have slow cook times, perform poorly in wind, burn less efficient fuel, and they don’t work well in the cold. Cooking times for alcohol stoves can be decreased with a system like the Caldera Cone, which will help block wind and hold heat against your pot to increase efficiency. But even with a good windscreen, cooking with an alcohol stove will require more patience.
Also, be careful when using alcohol stoves because their fuel burns clean blue and can be very hard to see. Always make sure your stove has fully burned out before handling it or attempting to re-fuel. Never use an alcohol stove in a fire ban area. A small amount of spilled fuel can easily ignite dry brush.
Reliable alcohol stoves can be purchased from the retailers listed below. You can also try making one on your own. Check out these websites or do a quick search on YouTube for directions: thesodacanstove.com, andrewskurka.com.
Alcohol Stove Summary
Light and compact
Easy to make
Easy to find fuel
Slow cooking times
Less efficient fuel
Poor performance in wind
No temperature control
Can be dangerous - Hard to see flame, easy to spill fuel
Can’t use during most fire bans
Not good for winter trips
SOLID FUEL STOVES (ESBIT)
Solid fuel stoves are just about as light and simple as stoves get. They use Esbit fuel tabs, which burn a low-medium flame for about twelve minutes. All you need to do is open up a fuel tab, light it on fire, and place your pot on a stand over the flame until your water boils. Solid fuel stoves are compact, easy to make, and they’re very quiet too.
It’s not all rosy for solid fuel stoves though. Like alcohol stoves, solid fuel stoves have much slower cooking times, so patience is required. They’re also very susceptible to wind, making a good windscreen critical. The fuel tabs are pricy when compared to other fuel sources, so over the long haul, they don’t make as much economic sense. The tabs also give off an unpleasant odor and will leave a sticky residue on the bottom of your cook pot. In addition, fuel tabs can be hard to find in small trail towns, which makes them a tougher fit for thru-hikers.
Reliable solid fuel stoves can be purchased from the retailers listed below. If you're the do-it-yourself type, you might consider building one. For alcohol stove users, simply flip over your alcohol stove and use the bottom for cooking with solid fuel tablets.
Solid Fuel Stove Summary
Light and compact
Easy to make and use
No fuel spilling
Slow cooking times
Poor performance in wind
No temperature control
Residue left on pot
Can be tough to resupply fuel
Not good for winter trips
Wood stoves are a popular option among lightweight backpackers that like doing things the old-fashioned way. Using a wood stove is very similar to cooking over a campfire, it's just quicker and more efficient. With a wood stove you won't have to carry any fuel, you'll be able to cook longer, you'll be burning a renewable resource, and you'll get to enjoy the comforts of a fire nearly every night.
Wood stoves do have some significant downsides as well though. They require much more time, effort, and practice than most backpacking stoves, which can be frustrating when you’re tired and hungry after a long day of hiking. It can be also be tough to find good fuel on rainy trips and when camping above treeline (most wood stove users carry backup Esbit fuel just in case). Wood stoves will blacken the bottom of your pot with soot, so you’ll want a carrying case for your pot as well. And lastly, wood stoves are susceptible to wind and can't be used during most fire bans.
While they’re far from the most convenient or speedy stove option, cooking over a fire can be a nice treat if you’re willing to put in the extra effort. Check out our wood stove recommendations below if you think a wood stove would be a good fit for your backpacking style.
Wood Stove Summary
Minimal fuel weight
Minimal fuel cost
Renewable fuel resource
Nostalgic and pleasant
More time, effort, and practice required
Slower cook times
Hard to find fuel when wet or above treeline
Blackens the bottom of your pot - messy
Can’t use during most fire bans
Not good for winter trips
It’s important to note that bringing a stove backpacking is completely optional. Some thru-hikers cut out the added weight, cost, and complexity of cooking and hardly miss it at all. Going stoveless is easy to do: just bring more food that doesn’t require cooking. The downside is that some of the weight savings of going stoveless will be canceled out by heavier (non-dehydrated) food choices. Also, you won’t be sipping any morning java or enjoying warm dinners, which can be great morale boosters. But for some, the upside to going stoveless is worth sacrificing a few camp comforts. Personally, we enjoy morning coffee and warm dinners a little too much to leave our stove at home. We just try to keep our cooking setup as light as possible.
No Stove Summary
No effort and hassle
No weight or expense
No warm meals or drinks
Fewer meal options
Heavier food choices
CRITICAL STOVE CONSIDERATIONS
STOVE TYPE - There are many different types of backpacking stoves, which can be a big source of confusion. Canister stoves, liquid fuel stoves, solid fuel stoves, alcohol stoves, and wood stoves are a few of the most common options. In this guide we'll discuss the pros and cons of each category and explain their best uses.
PRICE - Backpacking stoves come in a wide range of prices. Some are cheap and easy to make yourself. Others may cost more than a hundred dollars, but they usually provide much greater convenience and durability. We recommend a wide variety of exceptional stoves below and pay close attention to value. If you backpack a lot, it might make sense to spend a little more for a stove you plan to use for many years.
WEIGHT - Weight will vary greatly among different stove types. Big power burners used for snow melting can weigh close to a pound and ultralight gram-saver stoves can weigh under an ounce. We recommend a wide range of useful stoves below. This post is mostly focused on lightweight stove options because backpacking light makes hiking far more enjoyable.
COOKING VS BOILING - Most backpackers these days make very simple meals that only require boiling water for rehydrating food. For that reason, the main design for most backpacking stoves is to boil water quickly, not necessarily to cook. Check out our lightweight backpacking food guide for some recommendations on trail nutrition and our favorite backpacking meals.
SIMMER CONTROL - If you want the ability to cook more complex trail meals, you’ll definitely want a stove with good simmer control. Some canister stoves and liquified gas stoves have this feature, but not all of them. Simmer control can be a handy feature even if you only plan on making simple backcountry meals. It’s a lot easier to keep a pot from boiling over when you have a choice between off and turbo.
GROUP COOKING - If you’re going to be traveling in a group, it’s usually a good idea to have at least one small stove for every two people. Stoves are so light these days that it’s not even uncommon for every hiker to carry their own cooking setup. More stoves means less waiting for dinner, which is generally good for group morale, especially at the end of a long day. If you plan on making large one-pot meals (like boy scouts or guiding services), you’ll probably want a sturdy stove with a wide base that will handle big pots better.
WINTER USE - Winter camping presents a different challenge for backpacking stoves: melting snow for drinking water. This means you’ll be using your stove a lot, so you’ll need more fuel and a stove that will perform well in below-freezing conditions. Of the groups of stoves listed below, only the liquid fuel stoves are really built for this task. The other stove groups may perform well in limited winter use, but extreme cold is not really what they’re designed for.
STABILITY - Knocking a fully cooked dinner onto the ground is the pits. Unless you enjoy eating dirt, you’re going to want to avoid that move at all costs. If you plan to cook large meals in big pots, get a stove with a wide base that will rest securely on the ground. Smaller pots cooked on upright canister stoves will work just fine, but they do tend to be a little less stable, so cook with care.
PRIMING - Some backpacking stoves require "priming" to work properly. Priming is essentially preheating. You light a small amount of fuel in the stove and give it time to warm up. When the stove gets hot enough it will work as designed. Priming is generally easy to do, but it can be a source of confusion (and danger) for beginners. Most liquid fuel stoves require priming with every use. Some alcohol stoves require priming as well. Canister stoves do not require priming.
WIND PERFORMANCE - Backpacking stoves don’t like wind. Strong winds will whip away heat before it ever gets to your pot, which will make your stove far less efficient. Some stoves perform better in windy conditions (integrated canister stoves) and others perform very poorly (alcohol stoves, wood stoves, and solid fuel stoves). For that reason, a windscreen is recommended with most backpacking stoves. The one exception to this would be canister stoves because it can be dangerous to heat up a fuel canister. If using a canister stove in exposed conditions, seek wind shelter to boost efficiency. That’s usually pretty easy to do.
FIRE BANS - Forest fire danger is an important consideration for any stove user any time of year, but especially when conditions are hot and dry. Fire ban rules differ from place to place, so check the specific regulations in your area. In some strict fire ban areas, all stove usage is prohibited, but that’s not common. In general, canister stoves are usually viewed as the safest option. Solid fuel stoves may be permitted as well. Wood stoves and alcohol stoves are usually not permitted. Liquid fuel stoves may be allowed, but exercise extreme caution when priming. Spilling highly flammable fuel while priming is easy to do and could quickly start a fire.
If you enjoyed this review you'll probably like our other gear lists as well. Here are some popular resources from the CleverHiker Backpacking Gear Guide.
We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best backpacking stove to fit your needs. Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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