Buying A Backpacking Stove: Which One Is Right For Me
A backpacking stove is a must-have for any long-distance hiker or overnight camper. If you’re looking at backpacking stoves, you’ve probably realized that there are many different options out there.
What kind of stove system do you need? Do you need a stove for ultralight backpacking?
After this guide, you’ll be able to confidently choose the stove that’s best for you.
Picking A Backpacking Stove
Are you going on a long expedition? Will you be traveling in the snow? Will there be a burn ban in effect during your trip? These are all things to consider before purchasing a stove system.
There are different fuel types, specs, and nuances with each stove, and it can seem a little overwhelming.
Backpacking Fuel Types
You can classify the different backpacking stoves by three main fuel types: alternative-fuel, canister, and liquid fuel.
1. Alternative-fuel Stoves:
Alternative-fuel encompasses wood-burning, fuel tablets, and alcohol. These stoves are an excellent choice for extended backpacking or camping trips because they can be very lightweight and compact. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re hiking an area with a large amount of brush or excess burn material lying around, a wood-burning stove is excellent. Your source of fuel can be found all around you!
Word of caution, check the weather forecast before starting your trek. You need dry fuel for your stove to work correctly. If you’re going on a wet expedition, then this probably isn’t the best option. Be sure there are no burn bans where you’re planning on using your stove.
Fuel Tablet Stoves
These are great if you’re an ultralight backpacker. Stoves that run on fuel tablets are often inexpensive, compact, and incredibly lightweight. However, they tend to have slow boil times, and some tablets can give off an odor.
Denatured Alcohol Stoves
Alcohol backpacking stoves often have fewer parts that require maintenance, and the fuel is reasonably cheap. If you’re a hunter, the upside is the fuel burns quietly. On the flip side, a windscreen is a must-have, and since the alcohol doesn’t burn as hot as other fuel sources, it can take a while to boil water.
2. Canister Stoves:
These stoves are relatively low-maintenance and easy to use. You can find canister stoves that are small, compact, and ultralight.
If you’re planning on using this type of stove, make sure to have extra fuel canisters. It can be challenging to tell if you have any gas left in your canister, and no one wants to be stuck out on a hike and find out they have no fuel.
Remote Canister Stoves Systems:
Picture your BBQ at home. It has a hose that connects to the fuel. The same idea applies here. The fuel canister is on its own base connected by a hose leading to the stove.
Integrated Canister Stove Systems:
For these systems, the burner twists onto the canister easily. The key point of their design is to boil water quickly and efficiently. These stoves perform great if they have a pressure regulator installed. The downside to the integrated canister stoves is that they are heavier and top-heavy, making them prone to tipping over, so find a level spot to set yours up.
3. Liquid Fuel Stove Systems:
A liquid fuel stove runs on white gas. This type of fuel burns hot, making these stoves work very well in cold temperatures to below freezing temperatures.
While these stoves are excellent for cold weather expeditions, they do require occasional maintenance and priming.
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Features To Look At Before Purchase
Some sources of fuel are more affordable or lighter weight than others. Consider what works best for your needs. Are you able to source wood quickly? Do you need something lightweight and compact?
Weight & Size
If you’re going on a long expedition and you need to pack very light, weight and size are big selling points. Several types of stoves fold up and fit in your hand.
There may be a push-button spark for some canister stoves to help ignite the fuel called a piezo-igniter. It’s a great feature if you don’t want to carry matches with you or if the matches get wet.
Boil Time Average
If fuel efficiency is an essential factor for you, this spec can help you decide which model best suits your needs.
Be sure to look at how long your camp stove will burn, given its fuel type. If you need to ration your fuel for a long trip, this will help ensure you have enough.
If you’re planning on doing more than boiling water, be sure to check your backpacking stove for how long it takes to reach boiling and if there is a simmering ability. If you’re looking for a camp stove system that can offer this feature, I recommend looking at canister stoves.
Our Most Popular Backpacking Stoves
We’ve seen many different backpacking stoves throughout the years, but certain brands remain while others come on to the scene with great new features.
Here are our top-selling backpacking stoves we’ve seen dominate the backpacking community recently.
The Jetboil Zip is our most popular stove. It’s a fast boil personal cook system. Here’s the breakdown:
4.1 in. x 6.5 in.
Average Boil Time
Our second most popular stove would be the Jetboil MightyMo. It is ultra-lightweight and compact with a simmer control.
Average Boil Time
2 min. 40 sec.
The Jetboil MiniMo is a precision cooking fast boil system, and it’s only the third most popular stove because it is a little larger than the rest, but don’t let that fool you; it has a lot of great features!
Average Boil Time
4 min. 30 sec.
Buying Your Backpacking Stove
Congratulations, you now know what to look for when purchasing a backpacking stove. Now the final question is: which one is the best for you and your needs?