The best camping, backpacking, or hiking memories are often associated with food. No matter how beautiful the trail is or how adventurous your outdoor experience is, what every backpacker looks forward to is his/her next meal. Eating a freshly-cooked, hot meal after a tiring day spent hiking or backpacking is absolutely blissful. That’s precisely why investing in the right backpacking stove is non-negotiable.
However, many people on my outdoor group tours tell me that the backpack stoves found in the market leave them confused and overwhelmed. If you feel that way too, don’t worry!
In this article, I am going to give all the information you need about the best backpacking stoves in 2021. Thus, you will find information on how to choose the best hiking stove or backpacking stove, backpacking stove reviews as well as a handy comparison chart to make your decision-making process easier.
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If you do not want to go through backpacking or hiking stove reviews below, no problem! Here’s a quick round-up for you-
Best Backpacking Stove 2021 – Soto Windmaster
Best Woodburning Backpacking Stove – Solo Stove Lite
Before reading the detailed reviews of the best backpacking stoves and the best camping stoves 2021, go through this comparison chart below. It captures all the key details of the top-rated backpacking stoves reviewed below.
Note that the details mentioned below are of the stove only and not of the pot and other accessories associated with the stove.
|Name||Fuel Type||Weight (gms)||Dimensions (inches)||Price|
|MSR WhisperLite |
|Auto, Kerosene, White||309||6*8*8||$$$|
|MSR Pocket Rocket||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||72||5*4*7.25||$$|
|Jetboil Flash||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||371||4.1*4.1*7.1||$$$|
|Jetboil MiniMo||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||340||5*5*5.5||$$$$|
|MSR Windburner||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||590||4.5*8.3*4.5||$$$$|
|Primus Essential Trail Stove||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||114||4.3*4.3*2.4||$|
|Solo Stove Lite||Wood||635||6.2*6*5.1||$$$$|
|Soto Windmaster||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||65||3*1.7*1.9||$$|
|BRS 3000T||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||27||1.18*1.97*0.97||$|
|Soto Amicus Stove and Cookset||Liquefied Petroleum Gas||82||4.33*3.15*2.36||$$|
Best Backpacking Stoves – Reviews 2021
In this section, I will be reviewing the best backpacking stoves found in the market today. Thus, from finding the best lightweight camping stove to small backpacking stove to best backpacking stove set to best backpacking canister stove, the reviews will help you find the most ideal stove for your outdoor activity!
Why is it on this list? This is the best liquid fuel backpacking stove.
As you would see in the buying guide below, the benefits that a liquid stove offers can’t be matched by even the most efficient gas-burning backpacking stove. This is because a liquid stove is versatile. It can sustain harsh weather conditions, cold and high altitudes.
The MSR Whisperlite, in particular, is relatively lightweight when compared to other liquid fuel stoves. It is compatible with white gas, gasoline as well as kerosene. It also stands well on uneven surfaces thanks to its stainless steel legs. And it works well with most standard-sized pots.
If you are backpacking throughout the year in small groups, this stove is an excellent choice for you. However, if you primarily do summer hiking or solo trips, this one is too bulky and another stove would be better for you.
This is the stove I use for all canoe trips. Since I am not as concerned with space / weight, I don’t mind a bulky stove with liquid fuel.
- Compatible with multuple fuel-types
- Ideal for cold and high-altitude regions
- Relatively lightweight and easy to carry
- Too heavy for thru-hiking/one-day trails
- Somewhat complex to operate and troubleshoot if you have issues
Why it is on this list? This is the best portable backpacking stove.
The last few years have seen considerable growth in the backpacking cooker and stove market. However, despite new technology delivering better models, this lightweight backpacking stove continues to be a favourite.
The primary reason for the stove’s popularity is its functionality. It is feature-rich yet compact and lightweight. Its simmer control is enough for moderate-level cooking. Thus, you can use it to cook basic meals as well as to simply boil water. It also comes with a wind protector that performs well in mild wind. Its carry case also makes packing it convenient and hassle-free.
Moreover, using this stove involves no learning curve as it can be quickly assembled with any standard MSR pot on top while cooking at impressive fuel efficiency levels.
This is the stove I used for most of my backpacking trips between 2018 and 2019. It was great, I prefer an integrated system so I don’t have to carry a pot.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Compatible with a wide-range of pot sizes
- Easy to use
- Comes with simmer control
- Not reliable in windy, cold conditions
Why is it on this list? This is the best portable hiking stove (integrated).
The Jetboil Flash is a fantastic integrated canister stove for those that want a hassle-free cooking experience. The integrated one-piece design works well in most outdoor conditions and the in-built pot cuts down the assembly time considerably. It can also be packed up quickly.
However, the real highlight of this stove is its super-low boiling time. It is the best fast boil camping stove in the market today. It works well for boiling water for dehydrated food, coffee and tea. It also comes in a variant that includes a french press attachment for coffee. One drawback is that it doesn’t have a simmer control, so it can be difficult to heat things up gradually if that’s what your meal calls for.
The only downside of this compact backpacking stove is that its weight (with the integrated pot & cooking system) is not friendly for thru-hikers. However, for backpackers that want a compact hiking stove with an integrated pot, adequate wind resistance, and super-fast performance, there is no better stove than the Jetboil Flash.
I haven’t owned this stove, but I did have the chance to try it out when camping with friends. It was awesome, boiled water super fast and packed very conveniently.
- Integrated pot/one-piece design
- Super-fast boil time
- Compact and easy-to-carry
- No simmer control
Why is it on this list? This is the best Jetboil for backpacking.
The Jetboil MiniMo is popular among hardcore backpackers as being the most reliable all-around integrated stove. This backpacking cooking system packs useful features found in few other stoves.
To begin with, it features a smooth simmer control mechanism to add versatility to your meal options. The simmer control keeps the flame burning even in cold weather conditions. The cooking cup together with a FluxRing makes pot-handling convenient. The stove can also be ignited using a push button.
Thus, if you want the functionality, compactness, and handling convenience of the Jetboil Flash with the added efficiency on account of simmer control, regulation, and push ignition, the Jetboil Minimo is the perfect upgrade for you. But if you simply want a handy stove that boils water quickly, the less expensive Jetboil Flash will work well for you.
I haven’t used this one personally, but it’s on the list because it’s the next backpacking stove I will be purchasing. I love how small it packs (especially because most of my trips are solo now).
- Best all-round integrated backpacking stove
- Easy to carry
- Comes with simmer control
- A bit expensive
Why is it on this list? It is one of the best backpacking stove systems (very comparable to the JetBoil Flash).
The MSR Windburner, true to its name, burns even in windy conditions and that is its biggest selling point. This all-in-one stove is comparable with Jetboil Flash given that it is an integrated system that comes with a pot and can be easily folded up into a compact unit.
However, Jetboil Flash offers little wind resistance and therefore its fast boiling capacity is rendered meaningless when used in windy conditions. Thus, for outdoor adventures in windy areas and open parks, the MSR Windburner feels much more reliable. Plus, the MSR Windburner uses a heat exchanger between the pot and the stand that maximizes heat transfer to deliver steady boiling even during weather fluctuations and cold weather.
Overall, the MSR Windburner impresses with its sturdy design, compactness, wind resistance and even heat distribution.
- Excellent wind-protection
- High fuel efficiency
- Compact and convenient to carry
- A bit heavy
- No simmer control / push ignition
Why is it on this list? It is the best budget backpacking stove (comparable to MSR Pocket Rocket).
The Primus Essential Trail Stove is a cheap backpacking stove with great power and functionality. This sit-on-top stove comes with a flame control valve that makes it adaptable for basic cooking, boiling water, cooking dehydrated meals as well simmering.
The other advantage that you enjoy when using Primus Essential is its wide pot base. This added base enhances stability while cooking and distributes heat evenly and boils water very quickly. The wind-blocking further delivers high-quality all-weather performance.
The quality of material used in the construction and the sturdy design make this stove super durable as well when compared with the more compact models on this list. However, the only drawback is that this stove does not fold small.
- Budget-friendly stove
- Works well in rough weather conditions
- Comes with a flame control for efficient cooking
- Slightly heavier than other comparable stoves
Why is it on this list? This is the best wood camp stove/best backpacking wood stove
The Solo Stove Lite is one of the best wood-burning stoves in the market. The fuss and smoke associated with a basic wood-burning stove often repel backpackers from using them. However, this award-winning stove makes the experience pleasurable.
The Solo Stove features a unique double wall that promotes clean smoke-free gasification. The design cleverly creates a steady oxygen supply mechanism that keeps the stove burning at all times. The boil-time and fuel efficiency are also impressive when compared with other similar stoves.
However, the primary reason why this stove makes it to this list is that when used properly in the right conditions, it can save a ton of space in your backpack that would otherwise be used to carry fuel. In fact, the stove sits inside the pot for a compact fit. The stove also cuts fuel costs tremendously.
Thus, if you are interested in trying out traditional cooking methods upgraded for better user experience using smart design, this is a worthy lightweight backpacking wood stove.
- It is the best wood burning backpacking stove
- Compact and easy to carry
- Smoke-free cooking
- Saves effort and space of carrying fuel along
- Doubles up as a windscreen for those using an alcohol stove
- performance is not comparable with cannister, liquid stoves
Why is it on this list? This is the best backpacking stove of 2021.
The Soto Windmaster shines among non-integrated stoves for two reasons. Firstly, it comes with a push ignitor, and secondly, it offers incredible wind resistance. For a stove-only design, the Soto has used a concave burner head which does not leave the flame exposed.
This simple design tweak makes it a perfect lightweight, compact alternative for regular backpackers that regularly step out in the windy outdoors. Moreover, the pot that sits closer to the flame also delivers fast boiling.
What further makes this stove one of my favourite stoves on this list is that it is compatible with varying pot sizes. The 4Flex Pot support keeps the pot steady, aligns perfectly with wider pots, and thus delivers incredible versatility. Its rich features definitely compensate for the slightly extra weight.
- Most value-for-money canister stove
- Compact, lightweight
- Comes with push igniter button
- Great performance in windy condition
- Compatible with various pot sizes
- Slightly heavier than comparable stoves
Why is it on this list? Best ultralight stove and the best cheap backpacking stove
I haven’t used this stove personally, but I was so impressed with the specs and reviews that I wanted to include it in the list anyway. This stove seriously over-delivers for its price. For a stove that costs as little as the BRS 3000T and weighs less than half the average weight of its competitors, I did not expect the performance to live up to even the basic expectations of a regular backpacker.
According to the reviews, the stove takes hardly any space in the backpack and weighs less than an ounce. This in itself makes carrying the stove super comfortable. Now, if you are backpacking in summer conditions with little wind, the stove’s flame holds up nicely. You can place a 1.5-liter pot on its unique legs that feel remarkably stable.
The boil time, of course, varies depending on the climatic conditions but if you don’t mind a little fuel wastage and an uneven boiling time, this stove definitely proves to be the best lightweight backpacking stove.
- Cheapest backpacking stove in the market
- Extremely lightweight and compact
- Works well in non-windy conditions
- Basic model with no extra features
Why is it on this list? It is the best backpacking cooking system (not integrated).
To clarify, this is a review of the full cooking system (i.e. the one with the pot, ignitor, and stove). This is because the stove-only Soto Amicus does not fare as well as the Soto Windmaster. However, when bought as a full cooking set it delivers incredible value for money.
The stove itself uses a four-leg support system that holds the pot securely. It also employs the same concave burner design as the one used in the Soto Windmaster which guarantees excellent wind resistance and faster boiling times.
Moreover, the stove sits well inside the pot and together with the pot keeps the overall weight quite light. The ignition feature allows quicker setup and the flame control adds versatility to cooking.
- Budget-friendly cookset
- Excellent choice for novices
- Compact and easy-to-carry
- Stable pot-holding surface
- Not too durable
Backpacking stoves come in various types, sizes, and fuel compatibilities. The features offered also vary to a great extent. Understanding how backpacking stoves work is therefore critical in order to a choice that’s right for your outing requirements.
Canister backpacking stoves are the most commonly used stoves for backpacking. These types of stoves enjoy the following advantages over other types of stoves:
- They are easy to assemble – simply attach the fuel canister to the stove.
- They do not emit smoke/soot
- They are comparitively lighter than liquid stoves or wood stoves.
Most of the stoves reviewed in this article are canister stoves. As you would see, canister stoves come in a variety of features such as push ignition, valve to control the flame, simmer control, etc.
So what are the downsides of using a canister stove?
- You need to carry fuel along with you which adds weight to the backpack
- Isobutane/propane as a fuel is weaker than liquid gas
- Travelling overseas with fuel canisters is mostly not allowed
Liquid stoves, once, used to be one of the most popular types of backpacking stoves. However, over a period of time the ease of convenience of canister stoves has reduced the use of liquid stoves only for specific outdoor adventures.
To begin with, liquid stoves use liquid fuel or white gas to burn. Liquid fuel enjoys certain unique advantages such as
- It is less bulky than canister
- It burns faster and stays relatively much hotter than isobutane/propane, thus resulting in better cooking.
- It works better in cold conditions or at high altitudes
- It is more suitable when cooking for large groups
- It can be carried overseas (please check country-specific regulations though!)
However, the reason why liquid stoves are losing their popularity is that-
- the stove, itself, is bulkier
- assembling a liquid stove and igniting it involves a small learning curve.
That said, if you learn to use a liquid stove and are willing to carry the extra pounds of the stove itself, it will hardly disappoint you. Check out the impressive MSR Whisperlite.
Alcohol stoves are the most basic, DIYish stoves used by backpackers. In all honesty, you can’t rely entirely on an alcohol stove unless you’re traveling solo with enough dry food.
Alcohol stoves can be made using any empty metal barrel or a soda can. Alternatively, you could even buy the more feature-rich variants available online. The reason why some outdoor enthusiasts still opt for alcohol stoves is that
- they are incredibly lightweight
- they employ an easily available form of fuel
- they can be assembled using easily available material
However, as I stated earlier, alcohol stoves do not offer flame control, simmer control and do not burn in windy or cold conditions. Therefore, if you are a regular backpacker, it is best to opt for a canister stove or a liquid stove.
Wood stoves are the most traditional type of stoves. Those who like to experience the real rawness of outdoor life prefer a wood stove.
The biggest advantage of a wood stove is that it uses wood, dry leaves, etc. as fuel. This means that you can save yourself the trouble of carrying heavy fuel canisters. In addition to this, food cooked using natural wood is popular for its rustic authentic taste.
However, unfortunately, a wood stove does not offer much ease of use and convenience. Finding enough wood, twigs, and leaves, setting the stove up to burn consistently in rough weather and cold conditions, and waiting patiently for the food to cook often spoils the overall backpacking experience. Hence, wood stoves too, are gradually losing popularity.
That said, the wood stove that I absolutely love for its clean-burning capacity and excellent wind-resistance is the Solo Stove Lite.
Weight is a huge factor when it comes to choosing outdoor gear. Any extra weight on the back can cause fatigue and make backpacking feel like drudgery.
Thus, as a standard rule, it is best to opt for lightweight stoves. The only factors that you should consider when buying a lightweight backpacking stove are
- whether the stove feels stable
- whether the stove is compatible with cold weather/high altitude regions
- whether the stove comes equipped with useful features needed to meet your cooking objectives.
Also, you should note that liquid stoves are heavier than canister stoves, but the fuel is lighter than canisters. Wood stoves are usually the heaviest but do not require you to carry fuel along and can thus cut down on the overall weight.
An integrated stove is one that comes with a pot attached to the burner. An integrated pot often delivers carrying comfort, lowers boil time, and provides better wind resistance when compared with a stand-alone, basic non-integrated canister stove. This is exactly why I tend to prefer the Jetboil Flash or the Jetboil Minimo to the MSR Pocket Rocket.
However, non-integrated stoves, help those that like to experiment with various pot sizes or like to add a wind-protector to the stove. Also, with ultralight stoves like the BRS 3000T, the weight of the stove together with the pot also tends to be lighter as a whole.
Simmer control is a feature that is a must when you need to add versatility to your cooking. It is not an important feature for those that only plan to use the stove for making coffee or boiling water to cook dehydrated food. For basic boiling requirements, it is best to consider stoves with fast boil times like the Jetboil Flash or the MSR Windburner.
Some of my favorite stoves that come with simmer control are Jetboil Minimo and the MSR Pocket Rocket. You should, however, note that stoves with simmer control require greater care and also tend to cost a bit more than regular stoves.
When I refer to the width of the stove, I am referring to both the width of its base as well as its legs. A wider base provides far greater stability when cooking, especially for larger groups using large pots.
Even if you are not cooking for big groups, a wider base to hold the pot lets the pot sit much closer to the flame. This helps in cutting down both the cooking time as well as keeps the flame steady in windy conditions. One excellent backpacking stove that integrates this feature in its design is the Soto Windmaster.
In my opinion, the lack of one feature that can render even the best stoves useless is wind protection. As outdoor enthusiasts, you will often be backpacking in rough weather conditions.
To ensure that your stove delivers and that the flame doesn’t fan out, you must buy a stove with excellent wind resistance or one that allows you to attach a wind protector to it.
Integrated stoves, like the MSR Windburner, inherently, on account of their design offer better wind resistance than non-integrated stoves. However, some non-integrated stoves the Soto Windmaster with their wide base do an excellent job of resisting wind.
However, you can always attach a separate wind protector to the stove, taking into consideration that it will add some extra bulk to your pack.
Reading through a lengthy article like this can often result in overwhelm. To help you fight that, in this section, I am going to quickly recommend factors that must be given utmost priority based on your specific end-use.
In this case, the factor that you must give the most consideration to is weight. Ultralight stoves like the BRS 3000T or an alcohol stove are best for you.
International travel often involves taking into consideration fuel-carrying regulations. For this reason, liquid stoves like the MSR Whisperlite are often safe bets.
You should also note that in some countries or regions burning wood or setting up a fire is illegal. In such cases, carrying a wood stove may backfire.
High Altitude / Cold Conditions
Canister stoves rarely burn well in cold conditions or in high-altitude regions. The ease of use and the functionality offered by canister stoves go for a toss the moment temperatures drop. This is where white gas or liquid stoves to the rescue with their excellent burning capacity and versatility. The MSR Whisperlite is a great liquid stove for backpacking in such conditions.
Group cooking requires a stove that can hold wider pots or multiple stoves with quick boil times and great wind resistance. The MSR Windburner or the Soto Windmaster are great choices for this requirement.
If you are primarily going to use a stove to boil water, you must opt for a relatively feature-less stove with great wind resistance and super fast boil time. The Jetboil Flash or the MSR Windburner ace in this department.
If you plan to employ your stove for cooking and not just boiling water, buying a stove with advanced features like simmer control, push ignition, and regulator to control the flame are non-negotiables. Controlling the flame without these features in outdoor conditions is impossible and will result in uneven cooking. The Jetboil Minimo is one such all-around stove that impresses with its features.
So which backpacking stove are you opting for? Do let me know your favorite in the comments below!