How to Choose the Best Backpacking Stove for You

In order to find the best backpacking stove on the market, you’ll need to do some homework. More importantly, you need to be aware of your personal needs as a backpacker.

Not every backpacking stove is the same, you see, because not all backpackers are the same.

There are ultra-light hikers who generally don’t want to carry more than 10-15 pounds, and then there are Everest hikers who lug up to 50 pounds on their backs. Obviously, they require very different equipment.

Knowing what you need is the first step, then the task becomes choosing which model is right for you. This can be a difficult task, since there are so many products to choose from. That’s why we’re here!

We’ll show you how to choose a model and then take a look at three of the absolute best stoves on the shelves today.

How to Choose the Best Backpacking Stove For Your NEeds

There are plenty of factors and considerations to keep in mind when looking at different backpacking stove models. Everything from price to heat production needs to be scrutinized.

But there are three factors which generally determine which stove is right for you. When shopping for a new backpacking stove, definitely keep these in mind:

  • Specifications – This includes burn time, average boil time, liters of water boiled, product dimensions, and weight. The backpacking stove you buy needs to have a design that works with your backpacking style. For instance, if you like to hike light, you’ll want something that is smaller and lighter.
  • Stability – The stove’s ability to stand tall on uneven ground is important. Some models are made with legs that can adjust to terrain, while others must only be used on flat surfaces, like a campground picnic table. Depending on where you plan on camping, you’ll need to choose a model that you can use easily and safely.
  • Style — Backpacking stoves come in a variety of styles. Generally speaking, these styles are in reference to the fuel source they use for production. Some fuel sources are easier to find than others, some are cheaper, and some are lighter. You have to explore the different stove styles to discover which one is right for you.

Among the different backpacking stove styles available are:

  • Canister – super simple devices that operate with pressurized gas canisters
  • Integrated Systems – a combination of stove and pots/cups that work in tandem with each other
  • Alcohol – these can be very small, very simple stoves that fit in your back pocket, but they don’t offer any flame adjustability
  • Multi Fuel – stoves that can operate with a number of different fuel sources, including: white gas, kerosene, and car gas
  • Wood – not so much a stove as a portable metal fire pit
jetboil flash cooking system

Each type of backpacking stove has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, integrated systems like the Jetboil Flash Cooking System offer faster boil times, but are more expensive.

Likewise, canister stoves are light and compact, but you have to dispose of the fuel canister when it’s empty. There are pros and cons for every style.

The decision about which style of backpacking stove is right for you is dependent on what kind of backpacker you are and what you need in terms of weight, versatility, stability, speed, and volume.

Top 3 Backpacking Stoves

The best way to gauge a model’s suitability is to see what other consumers have said about its design and performance.

To that end, here’s a brief overview of three of the best-rated backpacking stoves for sale today. Each of these stoves has received hundreds of positive reviews from consumers just like you.

Jetboil Flash Cooking System – $99

Jetboil stove products are certainly attention-grabbing with their colorful designs and dynamic constructions, but they’re also some of the best and most proficient integrated cooking systems available.

The Flash Cooking System is the winner of Backcountry Magazine’s 2010 Editor’s Choice Award, and for good reason. This is a powerful product that uses a FluxRing heat exchanger on the bottom of the stove for the best fuel efficiency.

Price-wise, this stove is midrange, and it saves you money on future fuel. Some of the Jetboil Flash Cooking System’s better features include:

  • Integrated thermochromic temperature indicator lets you know when cup contents are hot
  • Windscreen-blocked adjustable-flame burner
  • Reliable and easy-to-use Piezo stove igniter
msr pocket rocket bacpacking stove tent

MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove – $39.95

The first of MSR’s two entries on this list is the Pocket Rocket, a highly affordable and ultra-lightweight backpacking stove that you can take anywhere.

At just 3 ounces, the Pocket Rocket is one of the lightest models on the shelves today, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful.

This MSR backpacking stove boils water in less than 4 minutes and is capable of running at maximum heat for nearly 30 minutes.

The Pocket Rocket is a canister stove, one of the easiest styles to operate. Canister stoves like this one offer excellent flame control and instant output of maximum heat.

A tiny product with gigantic power, the MSR Pocket Rocket is perfect for backpackers who want to hike light but also have the ability to cook up their meals quickly, safely, and easily. Here’s a look at some of the Pocket Rocket’s best features:

  • Serrated pot supports to prevent sliding
  • Includes a protective travel case
  • Compatible with a variety of fuel canisters

MSR DragonFly Backpacking Stove – $129.95

The DragonFly may be a little heavier than the Pocket Rocket, but it offers an unparalleled amount of culinary versatility.

It features the most adjustable flame of any liquid fuel stove in the world. At just 14 ounces, it’s also incredibly portable, allowing you to cook up true gourmet meals no matter whether you are on the mountainside or in the forest.

The DragonFly is also versatile in terms of fuel source. Being a liquid fuel stove, it’s able to utilize white gas, kerosene, diesel, car gas, aviation gas, naphtha, and Stoddard solvent.

The MSR DragonFly features two separate control valves, one that regulates the flow of gas and the other for precision flame adjustability.

Some of this model’s best features include:

  • Spring-open legs for compact storage and excellent stability
  • Included with the stove: wind screen, heat reflector, fuel pump, and stuff sack
  • Self-cleaning jet prevents clogging

Learn more about these backpacking stoves.

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