Our Favorite Backpacking Stoves Reviewed and Compared
In a Hurry? The test winner after 19 hrs of research
Very easy to use and ignite
Lightweight and compact
Comes with protective carrying case
- Solo Lite
- BRS Ultralight
- Primus Classic
- Jetboil MiniMo
- MSR Whisperlite Universal
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Favorite Backpacking Stoves
Very easy to use and ignite
Lightweight and compact
Comes with protective carrying case
Support legs are a little unstable
The Etekcity is an affordable compact little backpacking utensil with overwhelmingly positive user reviews. The reliable little contraption features Piezo ignition and durable construction. The device is backed by a 1-year warranty and follows guidelines for ‘Leave No Trace’ principles since it produces no residue.Read more
The small device is made of aluminum alloy and steel. Both materials are capable of handling exposure to high temperatures and are sturdy enough to withstand outdoor use.
This is extremely small and lightweight and can be folded up so that it fits comfortably in your backpack or bag. It even comes with a case to protect it inside your bag and make transport easy.
Ease of Use
The Etekcity works with fuel canisters for easy heating. There’s also a control function so you can adjust the strength of the flame as you cook food or boil water on the trail. The Piezo Ignition function makes it easy to start, as well. This capable of accommodating pots of us to 7-inches in diameter.
The low price is impressive for such a versatile, quality device. The combination of affordability, quality, and usefulness are what catapulted the Etekcity to the top of our list.
Easy to use
Fuel leaves residue
Sometimes requires more than one fuel tablet to heat up properly
The Esbit is a tiny foldable product that’s used with solid fuel tablets. No need to worry about lugging around canisters or finding wood. You can purchase this with 6 or 30 tablets depending on how long you’ll be adventuring for. It’s also backed by a 2-year warranty.Read more
This made of galvanized steel, so it’s not easily going to break as you’re transporting it. It can handle being roughed around a bit.
Like other options on this list, the Esbit is compact and folds down to an even smaller size for easy packing. If you count the weight of the fuel sold with it, the set weighs only 6.3 ounces.
Ease of Use
You can adjust to accommodate different cooking pots or cups. The fuel tabs are also super easy to use. They each burn for a little under 15 minutes, so keep that number into consideration when calculating how many you’ll need. This small cooker efficiently boils water in as little as eight minutes.
The Esbit device is another affordable option for backpacking. It offers great value since it’s durable and is super easy to use.
Easy to find fuel
Slower to heat than other stove types
Poor choice for wet weather adventures
The Ohuhu Backpacking model offers hikers and backpackers an alternative to liquid fuel. This little unit burns wood and provides a more stable cooking surface than other compact models. It’s incredibly lightweight, and since it uses wood for fuel, there’s no need to bring along your own cumbersome canisters.Read more
The Ohuhu product is made of solid stainless steel that resists corrosion. It’s also a lot more solid than other options on this list, even more so than our top pick (a wood burning model has other disadvantages, however). It’s capable of handling windy weather, too.
This little product is sturdy but can easily collapse in on itself for easy transport. It also comes with a convenient carrying case.
Ease of Use
A wood-burning type of product takes a bit more effort to light since wood is required. Wood is not always readily available and sometimes wet weather can make it tough to find appropriately dry kindling. This makes the Ohuhu version a more appropriate option for those with some experience building fires. Since no fuel is required, however, there’s no need to worry about contaminating your camping or rest area with fossil fuels. You can also use the appliance with alcohol tablets.
The Ohuhu is priced similarly to our top pick and offers a quality, sturdy construction that’s well worth the low price tag.
4. Solo Lite
Reduces smoke production
Fuel readily available in most cases
Easy to add more fuel
Need to find your own fuel
The Solo Stove Lite is another wood burning option that aims to produce a reduced amount of smoke and fumes. It’s small, so it’s easy to transport.Read more
The Solo brand is made of stainless steel and comes with a protective bag to keep it from bouncing around and getting dinged in your pack. This is also backed by a 1-year warranty.
The Solo is lightweight and small, but it should be noted that it doesn’t fold in on itself like other models. The backpacking product instead can fit inside a Solo brand camping pot, but it must be purchased separately. The appliance weighs about 9oz.
Ease of Use
No need to bring along fuel since this little item burns wood. This cooker boils water quickly, a little quicker than our second-place wood burning product (although, this one is less compact).
This is a quite a bit pricier than our previously mentioned wood burning option. But it features a unique smoke-reduction feature that helps to prevent too much smoke product. There’s also an interior tray that catches any residue or ash from burning.
Protects flame from wind
Collapses down flat
Heavier than other options
Some parts have sharp edges
The kampMATE is another wood burning choice that’s affordable and made to last. It’s lightweight and collapses for easy transport. It’s super easy to use, too. The more significant size makes it an excellent choice for building a campfire for heat.Read more
The KampMATE is made of thick stainless steel so it won’t easily bend or warp as you use it. Users really appreciated the sturdy construction of the product.
It’s a bit bigger than some of the others on this list, and it weighs just over a pound. The thick construction means it’s durable, sturdy, and won’t wobble as you cook. Another advantage of the larger size is that you can fit larger pieces of wood or kindling inside. This means you’ll likely need to feed the fire less often. Some reviewers found the stove a bit heavy for light packing, though.
Ease of Use
It’s a cinch to set this up and collapse it down for storage. You can flatten it, so it takes up less space. It’s compatible with various fuel types including alcohol tablets, charcoal, etc. Wood is the easiest to source if you’re in a pinch, but for some conditions, it may be tough to find dry kindling to light a fire.
The kampMATE isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s still sold at an affordable price point.
Easy to use
Comes with a convenient storage case
Doesn’t burn as efficiently as other models
Another great product for campers, hikers, and backpackers who prefer to use fuel. You can purchase this Reehut model on its own or in a pack of two.Read more
The Reehut product is made of a combination of aluminum alloy and stainless steel. It can withstand high heat, is sturdy enough to hold heavy items, and won’t rust.
The Reehut weighs just over half a pound and folds up so you can easily take it anywhere. It’s compact enough to fit in your pocket if your backpack is full to the brim. It also comes with a little case to protect and store it. Remember, you need to bring along fuel, so take into consideration the amount of space and weight this will take up.
Ease of Use
An electronic ignitor makes it easy to switch this on, and users also have control over the flame strength. Users will need to purchase a canister separately to fuel the unit.
The Reehut is another budget option for beginner backpackers or adventurers on a budget. There’s no need to spend big bucks This reliable equipment.
7. BRS Ultralight
Heats quickly and efficiently
Let’s users control heat
Not appropriate for more than 2 people
Easily affected by wind
This fits in the palm of your hand when it’s all folded up. Of course, you still need to consider the fuel canister when packing, but a product that’s the size of your palm is perfect for those wanting to pack extremely light. It’s not just small. It also works well.Read more
This is made of titanium alloy, copper, and stainless steel, so it’s not a flimsy device that will crack and break if it’s bumped around in your backpack. You can load a maximum of 3 kgs before it becomes unstable.
The BRS weighs a mere 25g, though you shouldn’t forget that you’ll also need to transport a fuel canister to use it. It also comes with a small bag to carry it.
Ease of Use
It burns hot but folds up to the size of a chapstick tube. The sturdy BRS is small but has sturdy support legs. It uses propane-butane canisters for fuel.
A budget price for a tool that takes up minimal space and produces the same kind of heat as comparable items.
8. Primus Classic
Durable, solid construction
Simple to use
Comes with a storage bag
A little heavier than other models
Takes a while to cool down after use
The Primus Classic Trail requires a gas canister to use, is easy to light and is lightweight enough to carry with ease. It’s an excellent choice for those who aren’t interested in dealing with wood.Read more
It’s a bit heavier than other models, but that translates to it being a sturdy device. It features quality parts for an overall durable build. It should not corrode or break easily.
This model has a weight of 8 ounces, which is a bit heavier than some other models featured on this list but it’s still a nice light option for camping or outdoor trekking.
Ease of Use
This uses a gas canister for fuel that must be purchased separately. Remember to consider the size and weight of the canister when you’re deciding on a particular model. Thi is easy to ignite and with a canister can provide a flame for just over an hour. It’s easy to ignite manually and even features a windshield to protect its flame from blowing out quickly. The flame is also easily adjusted. Users liked that it was able to boil water very quickly.
For a low price, you get a reliable, compact option that will likely last you for years.
9. Jetboil MiniMo
Can cook for two
Comes with insulated pot
Not compatible with other brands/equipment
The Jetboil MiniMo is one of the best performing on this list. This perfect combination of tiny and mighty will keep you cooking while on the trail. Its performance is only matched by the versatility of functionality that the MiniMo comes equipped with.Read more
Jetboil is a brand that produces versatile as well as durable products. This has no noted durability issues. The MiniMo does have noteworthy stability, its legs not bending or wobbling during normal use or under duress.
Hikers who use the Jetboil MiniMo praise its size as well as it easy compatibility. This is a solid choice if you are looking for a smaller piece of cooking equipment.
Ease of Use
The MiniMo heats easily and has some pretty useful controls in terms of controlling heat and flame. The pot that it comes with is insulated for your ease of use as well as safety; it gets extremely hot so Jetboil wants to ensure that they take the proper precautionary steps. The small note against the Minimo's general ease of use is that it is only compatible with Jetboil fuel sources, so it isn’t very versatile in terms of fuel accessibility.
The Jetboil MiniMo is one of the higher costs on this list, but it is very compact and very efficient. Taking its price into consideration, this is a still a high-value piece of hiking equipment and is recommended to the trail running enthusiast.
10. MSR Whisperlite Universal
Use with multiple fuels
Easy to clean in the field
Some don't like the fuel pump system
For many experienced backpackers, the MSR Whisperlite is THE classic and best stove out there and for good reason. It's durable, reliable, and can put out some serious heat. When you're 10,000 feet up, it's snowing, and you need to cook, this one won't let you down.Read more
Durability and Weight
This option has been on the market for a long time just as it is, because the design is a classic and has been proven effective time and time again. For many experienced backpackers this is their go to stove. At 14.9 ounces it won't weigh you down either.
Ease of Use and Adjustability
This option is simple to set up and operate. The Universal in the name comes from the fact that it can be used with just about any fuel: white gas, canister, or even kerosene. Unlike a lot of other products, you can easily get the flame down to a low simmer.
The classic backpacking stove. Reliable, relatively lightweight, easy to use with almost any type of fuel you can find, and you can actually adjust the flame to different levels, a big plus for the backcountry gourmands out there.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you've been hiking all day, you're 10,000 feet up in the mountains, it's cold and you're hungry, your stove has to work, it just has to.
This is the first factor we look at and probably the most important. When you're backpacking your stove is your best friend in many ways. It not only cooks your meals, but it can boil water making it safe to drink as well. And there are few things better than a nice hot meal at the end of a long day of difficult hiking in the backcountry. Even if it's just freeze-dried mac and cheese, meals cooked outside in beautiful surroundings after intense activity always taste the best.
But in order to get you there, your stove has to be able to stand up to the pounding it can sometimes take while packed in your backpack or hanging from its daisy chain. If a stove isn't built for the long haul, if it doesn't use quality components and solid construction methods it's probably going to break down sooner than later, and when this happens you can't just order pizza instead of cooking.
Some of the things to look at before making your purchase are the quality of the materials, especially the hose and any attachment points. These places, where one material or component connects with another are typically the weak points, or potential weak points at least, in a stove, so you want to make sure these areas have been paid attention to with good design and craftsmanship by the manufacturer.
When you're carrying everything you need for a few days in the backcountry every ounce counts. Trust us, your knees and back will thank you.
Space and weight are precious to runners and backpackers as well. We only have so much room for the necessities and staying hydrated and fueled up is incredibly important. A good stove is going to be foldable and compact enough to carry along with other items. It shouldn’t be bulky or awkward, and it shouldn’t take up more space than necessary. Keep in mind the smaller the product the fewer people it’s going to be able to serve. So, if you plan an excursion with friends, make sure that they bring their own if you don't want to carry a heavy and bulky stove. If you do have multiple people on a backpacking trip and you only want to bring one stove it will need to be larger and therefore heavier. In this case, a good option is to have one person carry the stove, one person carry the tent, and another person carry the food. This way the load is split up evenly and fairly and no one person is overburdened.
You've been hiking all day, it's starting to snow, and your hands are cold and not working well. Right about now is when you'll appreciate this important factor.
If you aren’t a camping aficionado, then you want to make sure that the one you choose is simple enough to set up and use from the get-go. The last thing you want is to not be able to quickly and easily get your dinner or lunch going when you've been hiking all day, it's getting cold, and you're super hungry. No one wants their running trip to turn into an episode of National Lampoon’s, so find something that you’re comfortable using and that has a fairly simple design. You’ll have to choose between options that require some type of oil or gas and wood-burning models. If you’re going for the wood-burning type, you want to either carry your own kindling or make sure the running in an area where you have access to plenty of fuel. Either way, remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Pro tip: most backpacking stoves really only have two heat settings, off and jet burner.
A lot of stoves made for backpacking are designed to boil water quickly, which is actually a big metric used when comparing stoves. And it's good and helpful when comparing stoves to look at how quickly they can boil a liter of water.
But if you want to cook and eat something other than freeze-dried and reconstituted meals on your trip, be sure to pick a stove that can be set to medium heat and simmer as well as full boil. This will give you the option to make a nice sauce, maybe make some toast, and plenty of other delicious things that can make your trip a lot more enjoyable. By testing the stoves, reading through over a thousand reviews, and evaluating the design of each product we were able to determine which stoves give you the option of different heat settings and assigned each one a score based on this important criterion.
Especially if you're going deep in the backcountry, we encourage you to choose a stove that has a well-rounded set of features.
Ideally, the stove you choose will have it all: light weight, be tough as nails, be simple to use, and give you multiple heat settings. However, based on what you're looking for and what's most important to you, you may choose to sacrifice one or more of these qualities for the thing that truly matters to you most, and that's ok. For example, if you're a solo backpacker going deep into the backcountry, you may choose to sacrifice a stove's adjustability for one that's super lightweight and reliable since you're carrying everything yourself and there's no one else to rely on for help to figure something out if your stove breaks or doesn't work for some reason. We looked at the total package of features each option on our list has to offer and assigned it a cumulative score to help you make the best possible decision.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're out on a long hike or camping, boiling water or eating a tasty meal may be necessary. These pack so easily, why wouldn't you bring one? Some experienced ultralight backpackers may choose to rely on foods that don't require cooking, but being without a stove can leave you vulnerable to dirty water sources if you don't have the ability to boil water to purify it. It can also be dangerous, making you susceptible to hypothermia if you don't have the ability to make hot beverages to help get your core temperature up.
There really isn't anything better than marshmallows, but perhaps you'll also need your stove for emergency warmth.
Other Factors to Consider
We evaluated ten of the best options according to how well they can stand up to repeated outdoor use, whether they are compact enough to be suitable for trekking, how simple they are to use, and whether they offer decent value. We also looked at the way that they impact your running experience. Too much weight on your back can slow you down and actually cause long-term injuries. It’s important to understand the size and shape of what you’re trying to carry, and how it fits into your routine.
When deciding on the best option, there are some other elements to think about. Before settling on a particular model, it’s important to think about your needs as a backpacker, what conditions you’ll be using your product in, how many people you’ll be cooking or boiling water for, and, of course, how you can stay safe while burning fuel in the outdoors.
There are various types available and you’ll find a few different types on our top ten list. Models to be used with gas canisters are fairly simple to use. They are quick to ignite, don’t require you to find your own fuel, and get hot quick. The disadvantage? You need to budget room in your pack for fuel. You’ll also need to calculate how much fuel you’ll need on your trip beforehand. You should also consider the cost associated with fuel. They may be very inexpensive but if it requires gas canisters, you’ll need to spend extra money. Gas canisters cannot be refilled either.
Liquid fuel models are another option. This type of fuel is less expensive, and bottles can be refilled if needed. Models that burn liquid fuel are usually larger, and easier to cook on but this also means that they’re heavier. These also tend to produce quite a bit of noise.
Some utilize alcohol as fuel. They’re an excellent option for survival packs since they’re incredibly lightweight. They don’t produce as much heat as other types though. But they’re basically indestructible.
You’ll also see several wood-burning options on our list. These are lightweight, collapsible, and easy to set up. You also don’t need to bring along your own fuel since wood should be abundant in most areas. They won’t do you any good if the weather is wet or rainy, however. The advantage? You don’t have to calculate your fuel needs beforehand or pack heavy gas canisters. There’s also the option of using solid fuel tablets with this type.
While these are a convenient option for outdoor camping, hiking, or trekking, it’s important to stay safe when using them. Never try to cook inside a confined space with any model you choose. It’s a fire hazard and some fuel types can produce hazardous fumes. Make sure you’re using a product that’s in good condition. Make sure that when you’re cooking or boiling water, it’s stable to avoid spills and burns. Pay attention to burn bans in the area that you’re hiking, camping or trekking long distance. Neglecting these types of warnings can cause a forest fire.
Unless it’s very windy or you’re dealing with very frigid temperatures, most types have an average boil time that you can rely on. If you’re looking for one that can get you a hot cup of instant coffee the fastest, that would be a gas canister type. To no surprise, wood style products take the longest to reach boiling temperatures.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re heading outdoors and need one of these products for wintertime trekking, your best bet is one that uses liquid fuel. Gas canisters don’t do well in colder temperatures, and compact models that burn wood or solid fuel just can’t get hot enough to be of much use when it’s cold outside.
Finding fuel in some areas may be difficult. If it’s raining, you’ll likely have a tough time finding dry wood or kindling. Some places may also have regulations on wood burning that must be adhered to.
Most models are unable to heat a large amount of water because their designs are too small to be able to properly distribute the heat. You may find smaller products that are able to perform adequately for a larger group, but you will have an easier time meeting your needs boiling small amounts of water at a time. Having said that, if boiling water quickly is the single most important thing to you, check out the models from JetBoil.
A trail runner or hiker can easily see the advantages of having one that can be condensed down, is ultra light, and is great for heating up a cup of coffee or soup. Just stick it in your backpack and go. What’s not to love?
People who purchase compact option sometimes forget to plan space in their pack for extra fuel, which is especially necessary with liquid fuel models. Liquid fuel takes up the most space of the fuel types. So make sure if you are planning a longer trip to plan out the extra room you will need.
No. While some models come equipped with a spark igniter, not all do. Even those that have a Piezo-igniter may not always produce a reliable spark. Make sure to have a backup option just in case. Pack a lighter or a set of matches for peace of mind, and keep these in a waterproof bag or case.
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