Backpacking Stoves Reviews

Backpacking Stoves Reviews

Top camping stoves choices for your ultralight camping kitchen

Backpacking stoves and camping stoves come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In fact, there are too many choices, so selecting backpacking stoves and camping stoves can be a challenge.

If it seems as if there are more backpacking stoves and camping stoves on store shelves than there are backpackers and hikers, check out our Top Picks below. We’ve searched the online stores to find the best of the best to outfit your camping kitchen.

Camping & Backpacking Stoves Reviews

The backpacking stoves reviewed here are based on actual field use and practical on-the-trail user tests. So, like anything else where human opinions are involved, they’re highly subjective.

You may disagree with our comments. That’s great! If you’ve used one of these backpacking stoves and have another opinion (or if you have something else to recommend), please tell us about it here. We’ll be happy to publish your comments on the site.

A few backpacking stoves and camping stoves stand out for their quality, durability, safety, and ease of use. If that’s what you want in your camping kitchen, here’s our take on the best choices in three different categories.

Multi-Fuel Backpacking Stoves

Emberlit Fireant Stainless Steel Stove- Lightweight, Multi-Fuel stove

A multi-fuel backpacking stove is a good choice if you’re traveling where your fuel options may be limited by what’s available in the nearest village. Most multi-fuel stoves will burn white gas, kerosene, alcohol, gasoline, diesel fuel, and even airplane fuel.

Although multi-fuel backpacking stoves can burn almost anything you pour into them, we’ve had the best results using white gas.

They will burn the other fuels, but it’s been my experience that white gas is by far the hottest and easiest fuel to use.

The only backpacking stoves to carry when your available fuel options may be limited

Multi-fuel backpacking stoves will burn a variety of fuels including white gas, kerosene, diesel fuel, auto gasoline, alcohol, even jet airplane fuel.

They’re especially useful backpacking stoves in undeveloped countries; the only choice when your available fuel options are uncertain and limited to whatever’s on hand in the next village.

Multi-fuel backpacking stoves require more cleaning than other stoves if you burn kerosene, diesel, gasoline or airplane fuel in them. Using white gas, they don’t need any more maintenance than a white-gas-only stove.

The efficiency of multi-fuel backpacking stoves will vary with the fuel you pour into it. We’ve found that white gas is the most efficient, kerosene and diesel fuel the dirtiest, and alcohol the cleanest but least efficient.

Top Multi-Fuel Backpacking Stoves

Brunton Optimus Nova MultiFuel Expedition Stove

Optimus Nova Multifuel Stove w/ Free Separating Chowset
Optimus Nova Multifuel Stove w/ Free Separating Chowset

One of today’s premier backpacking stoves, the Optimus Nova backpacking stove was Outside Magazine’s 2002 Gear of the Year award winner.

Weighing 15.1 ounces, these multi-fuel backpacking stoves burn white gas, kerosene, jet fuel, auto gasoline, and Diesel #1.

They’re quick, too. Optimus Nova backpacking stoves will boil a liter of water in just about four minutes.

MSR DragonFly Stove

I’ve long been a fan of MSR backpacking stoves, and the MSR DragonFly is number two on my list of multi-fuel backpacking stoves.

Msr Dragonfly Stove
Msr Dragonfly Stove

The MSR DragonFly weighs just 17 ounces. They’re the fastest backpacking stoves I’ve used, boiling a liter of water in just over 3-3/4 minutes using white gas. Outstanding in cold weather, too.

Another plus… MSR backpacking stoves are made in the USA.

Single Fuel Backpacking Stoves

Single fuel backpacking stoves come in two varieties: white gas burners and butane burners.

We’ve always had the best results with white gas, although we do own and use a couple of butane burners.

Yeah, there are backpacking stoves that run on other stuff (alcohol, for instance), and I’m sure they have their uses. But none of us has ever found any of those alternative-fuel backpacking stoves we could recommend.

White Gas Backpacking Stoves

Reliable, hot-burning, quick-boiling backpacking stoves

Of all the backpacking and camping stoves we’ve tried, white gas-fueled stoves consistently seem to produce the best results. They are ‘e usually quite reliable. They’re relatively clean-burning. And the good ones put out a lot of heat to boil a liter of water quickly.

Although white gas backpacking stoves do need regular cleaning to keep them burning efficiently, they generally need less maintenance than stoves that burn kerosene, diesel fuel or gasoline.

White gas also burns very well in cold weather and at any altitude. And white gas is readily available in most of the world’s developed countries.

Top White Gas Backpacking Stoves

MSR SimmerLite Stove

This is probably the slickest stove we’ve tried, mainly because it works so well at low heat settings. You really can adjust it down to a low simmer — or all the way to a roaring boil. We timed it with a liter of water from room temperature to full boil in 3.5 minutes.

MSR Whisperlite Stove and Cook Set Package

MSR WhisperLite Universal Canister and Liquid Fuel Stove
MSR WhisperLite Universal Canister and Liquid Fuel Stove

Another classic, the WhisperLite is probably the biggest selling stove around, judging from the number of folks we know who carries it. Not quite as slick as the SimmerLite, but it’s still a great, ultra-light cooker to pack.

Butane Canister Backpacking Stoves

Butane canister (cartridge) backpacking stoves can be great for short trips in warm or moderate weather at elevations near sea level.

The biggest advantage of butane backpacking stoves is their lightweight. The biggest drawback is butane doesn’t perform as well as other fuels in cold weather or at high altitude. Yet some people find them more convenient than other backpacking stoves.

Clean burning, moderately efficient backpacking stoves

Butane fueled backpacking stoves are a good choice for short trips in moderate or warm climates near sea level. They don’t perform as well in cold weather or at high altitudes.

In spite of their limitations, we have a couple of butane fueled backpacking stoves that have given us terrific service and actually prefer them in some situations.

The biggest disadvantage these backpacking stoves exhibit occurs in cold weather. When it’s cold, the temperature of the butane liquid inside the canister begins to approach that of the outside air. Consequently, it doesn’t evaporate as quickly as in warm weather, so the volume of gas that can burn is reduced and the stove doesn’t get as hot.

High altitude also affects butane backpacking stoves because lower air pressure at altitude allows the gas to expand too quickly. When that occurs, you must turn down the release valve to make the fuel last longer, but doing so means less fuel to feed the combustion process and that means less heat.

And finally, butane fueled backpacking stoves can be inconvenient to carry if you need to take several fuel canisters along. You not only have to carry them in, you’ve got to pack them out with you, too.

In spite of those three impediments, butane fueled backpacking stoves can be great when conditions favor them. They adjust more smoothly over their heat range than other stoves and are often more convenient to operate.

I don’t want to give you the impression that you should avoid butane fueled stoves. Just the opposite. We actually prefer them in some situations because they are more convenient than other backpacking stoves. Just remember to use them where they’re built-in limitations won’t matter.

Top Butane Backpacking Stoves

Brunton Crux Foldable Butane Canister Stove

Optimus Crux Stove
Optimus Crux Stove

These 8-ounce backpacking stoves are so compact their carrying case is designed to fit into the concave bottom of a butane fuel cartridge. The spring-loaded design quickly snaps the stove into the operating position.

These spiffy Optimus Crux backpacking stoves grabbed the 2003 Gear of the Year award from Outside magazine.

Snow Peak GigaPower Stove, Titanium Manual Ignition

Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove
Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove

Insanely light and compact, but be sure to get the windscreen that goes with it for best efficiency. Heat output seems to be the closest thing to a white-gas burner we’ve found, judging from the speed with which it boiled a liter of water.

Backpacking Stoves Top Picks

MSR DragonFly Multi-Fuel Stove

I’ve long been a fan of MSR backpacking stoves, and the MSR DragonFly is number two on my list of multi-fuel backpacking stoves.

At just 17 ounces, the MSR DragonFly is lightweight in your pack only. They’re the fastest backpacking stoves I’ve used, boiling a liter of water in just over 3-3/4 minutes using white gas. Outstanding in cold weather, too.

Another plus… MSR backpacking stoves are made in the USA.

MSR SimmerLite Stove

This is one of the slickest stoves we own, mainly because of its wide adjustment range. You really can set it low enough to simmer. And it boils a liter of water in about 3.5 minutes.

Brunton Crux Foldable Butane Canister Stove

These 3-ounce backpacking stoves are so compact their carrying case fits into the concave bottom of a butane fuel cartridge. Their spring-loaded design quickly snaps the stove into the operating position.

The Brunton Crux is good in all but the coldest conditions. Winner of the 2003 ‘Gear of the Year Award’ for backpacking stoves from Outside magazine.

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