Imagine waking up to a beautiful mountain view with the rising sun and flowing clouds, having a hot cup of coffee and a warm tasty meal. This kind of splendor is available only to those who bring a quality backpacking stove with them. Being able to provide for oneself is not the only advantage of having a camp stove. In addition to this, by cooking your own meals and traveling with a backpacking stove, you will save a fortune in the long run.
We can call it luck or bad luck, but your choice of stove is important. However, before we recommend you some of the best backpacking stoves for hiking and camping, let’s look at the different types of stoves so that you understand which one is best for you.
The 5 Types Of Backpacking Stoves
This is a great option for 3-season backpacking and one of the most popular types of stoves. Canister stoves work fast, are lightweight and compact, fuel-efficient, and they don’t need pumping and maintenance. However, the main challenge of owning a canister stove is to find a compatible fuel canister. Also, its main disadvantage is that they don’t work well when it’s below 20℉ (-7℃).
Liquid Fuel Stoves
This type of stove is the best option for those backpackers who like harsher and colder weather conditions, plan to cook a lot, or go hiking with a big group. Another advantage is that it’s easier to find fuel for liquid fuel stoves than for canister ones. The downside, however, is that they’re much heavier than canister stoves. They require more maintenance, are more difficult to use, the fuel is more expensive, and they are much noisier.
Before canister stoves took over the leadership, alcohol stoves were the most popular type of backpacking stoves. This was because of their price, weight, and ease of use. You can even make an alcohol stove yourself! Alcohol stoves are very cheap, they weigh almost nothing, and their fuel is very easy to find. The main disadvantages of the alcohol stoves are the slow speed of cooking, poor performance during windy days and cold temperatures, and lower fuel-efficiency. Sometimes it’s hard to see the fuel burning and it’s absolutely impossible to control the flame.
Solid Fuel Stoves
Very simple, compact, and light stoves that use Esbit fuel tabs. Just put several fuel tabs on the stove, light it up, and place the pot over the flame. You can also make a solid fuel stove yourself. Their disadvantages are the same as alcohol stoves — it takes a lot of patience to cook food. Also, there’s no way to control the flame, and it doesn’t work well during cold temperatures and windy days. Additionally, they leave an unpleasant odor and the fuel is pricy. These factors make solid fuel stoves economically unreasonable in the long run.
That’s your backpacking stove if you’re used to the old-fashioned ways of cooking food. Using a wood stove is pretty much like cooking food over a campfire but it’s much better and faster. The drawbacks, however, are that you need a lot more skill to make it work and it can be difficult to find wood after it rains. Needless to say, they’re not for winter trips. Anyway, they’re a good option for those who feel nostalgic and can’t imagine their hike without cooking food over the fire.
And there are also multi-fuel stoves that can run on different types of fuel.
The Most Important Things To Consider When Choosing A Camp Stove
Now you know the 5 types of backpacking stoves. But before making a decision on which stove to choose, there are several factors you need to consider. In addition to the price, weight, cost, and availability of the fuel required to use the stove, consider the following parameters:
There are very hot and dry areas where stove usage is prohibited altogether. So, you have to check the regulations for the area where you want to go hiking or camping. Usually, the canister and solid fuel stoves are considered the safest, while alcohol and wood stoves are considered the most dangerous.
Cold Temperature & Wind Performance
Only liquid fuel stoves are a proper option for melting snow and it performs well in extremely cold conditions. If you go camping on windy days, choose a canister stove. For other types of stoves, a windscreen is a must-have.
If you’re going to cook for a group, you need at least one little stove per two people or a liquid fuel stove with a stable base to handle large pots.
Priming is basically pre-heating a stove. A process in which you light up a small amount of fuel to warm up the stove. It’s a necessary thing to do for liquid fuel stoves and, in some cases, for alcohol stoves. There’s no need to prime a canister stove.
Cooking something more sophisticated requires a stove with excellent simmer control. If it’s an important feature for you, then you should definitely look it up when choosing a stove.
After we looked at the types of stoves and important things to consider when buying one, you have enough information to understand what kind of stove is best for you. Now, let’s take a look at the list of top 10 best backpacking stoves in 2019.
The Top 10 Best Backpacking Stoves In 2019
MSR Pocket Rocket 2; $45; Stove Type: Canister
It’s an upgraded version of one of the most popular stoves among backpackers. It’s not expensive, has excellent simmer control, boils water fast, and it won’t take much space in your backpack. This is the best choice if you want to get a great, lightweight stove for a fraction of a cost. Its main drawback is that it is inferior to integrated systems in terms of performance, but you can’t get everything for such a price.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System; $100; Stove Type: Canister
Now that’s a sophisticated piece of cookware for a backpacker! Just imagine — you can boil water in just 100 seconds! It’s hard to beat that combination of price, ease of use and speed. This is the best choice for backpackers who can’t imagine their trips without hot beverages and pouch meals.
Solo Stove Lite; $63; Stove Type: Wood
Of course, this list won’t consist only of canister stoves. The solo stove lite is one of the best wood-burning backpacking stoves on the market. It uses small pieces of wood and creates a powerful flame that provides fast heating. In addition to this, it’s compact and has a base that protects the ground underneath. Its main disadvantages are slower boiling time and inability to use it in areas with fire bans.
AntiGravityGear Tin Man Alcohol Stove; $15; Stove Type: Denatured Alcohol
And here’s a nice representative of the alcohol stoves. Due to its size and weight, it’s one of the most desirable things in the world of ultralight backpacking. This minimalist piece of backpacking cookware is one of the lightest you can find. It’s rather fuel-efficient because 1 ounce of denatured alcohol can last up to 20 minutes. Its main drawbacks are durability, extended water-boiling time (it takes six minutes to boil half a liter of water), and the absence of an on/off valve.
Esbit Pocket Stove; $13; Stove Type: Solid Fuel
And here’s a cheap and ultralight representative of solid fuel stoves. It’s a great choice for those who like their stoves light and don’t plan to cook often. It has the same drawback as every other solid fuel stove — bad odor, no flame control, slow cooking speed, and restriction on usage in certain areas.
Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove; $18; Stove Type: Canister
It’s a very cheap canister stove, but it works! Of course, it has inferior performance compared to more expensive stoves (slower boil speed, low fuel-efficiency, bad performance in windy weather), but for such a price, it performs quite well, has decent flame control, and can be a good choice for backpackers on a budget. Definitely an option to consider for the first-timers.
Lixada Titanium Stove; $16; Stove Type: Multi-fuel
The most remarkable feature of this stove is that it can burn alcohol, wood, twigs, pine-cones, solid fuels, and petrol, which makes it very versatile. It’s durable because it’s made from titanium and it has a fantastic value for the price. Lixada is perfect for weekend trips and short walks but you need to look for something else for long term trips.
Biolite CampStove 2; $130; Stove Type: Wood
Now, let’s take a look at more expensive options. Being a wood stove, this device uses heat to produce electricity, which means that you can charge your iPhone while making some coffee. The most serious issues of this stove are the price and weight.
MSR WindBurner Stove System; $150; Stove Type: Canister
Tired of wind spoiling your backpacking cooking experience? The MSR Stove System is for you! Even though it’s a little heavy, its windproof design has few rivals and its quality is top-notch. This is a viable option for those who mostly use stoves to boil water (it has no simmer) and need serious wind-protection.
MSR WhisperLite International; $100; Stove Type: Multi-fuel
Being one of the most popular liquid fuel stoves in existence, The MSR WhisperLite beats its analogs in weight, price, size, and noise levels. The peculiarity of the international version of this stove is that it can run off of unleaded auto fuel, isobutane canisters, white gas, and kerosene, which makes it one of the most flexible options on the list.
As you see, there’s a stove for every type of backpacker and every kind of budget. And now you can choose one for yourself, too.