How to Choose a Backpacking Stove?

Hey there, fellow adventurers! If you’re anything like me, you love the thrill of trekking through stunning landscapes, setting up camp under twinkling stars, and sharing a hearty meal with friends by the campfire. And when it comes to those mouthwatering meals, having the right backpacking stove is an absolute game-changer. But with so many options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry, though! Today, we’ll break down the essential features you need to consider when choosing your ultimate backpacking stove. Also, feel free to look through our stove suggestions! Let’s dive in!

Fuel Type: Keep It Simple and Convenient

First things first – think about the fuel that’ll keep your stove roaring. There are three common types: canister, liquid fuel, and alternative fuel (wood, alcohol, etc.). Canister stoves are like those reliable friends – easy to use and lightweight. Liquid fuel stoves are champs in extreme conditions and won’t let you down. And then there’s the eco-friendly wood-burning stove, perfect for long trips with plenty of natural fuel around. Our in-depth article on different types of backpacking stoves can help you make an informed decision.

  • Canister Stoves: Easiest to use and usually very lightweight. Most of them weigh under 100 grams. Canister stoves operate on pre-pressurized gas canisters, often filled with propane or butane. They’re reliable, quick to ignite, and well-suited for solo adventurers or small groups. Just connect the canister and off you go. There are also integrated canister stove systems available, which is an all-in-one set boiling water, but it limits you to boiling water and you won’t be able to cook more elaborate meals.
  • Liquid Fuel Stoves: Versatility is the name of the game with liquid fuel stoves, as they can run on a variety of fuels. Liquid fuel stoves are designed to hold up well even in extreme conditions – high altitudes, and cold weather, where canister stoves might fall short. There are a couple more steps to set up the stove but after getting used to the process it’s a breeze as well. They look similar to canister stoves, but there are some distinct differences.
  • Wood-Burning Stoves: Embrace the minimalist spirit with wood-burning stoves, fueled by twigs, branches, and dried leaves found along the trail. Eco-friendly and cost-effective, they’re an excellent choice for eco-conscious backpackers and those seeking a genuine back-to-nature experience. You won’t have to lug around the canisters while backpacking but you’ll have to collect the fuel for burning before you can start your stove.

Weight: Light as a Feather

When choosing a backpacking stove, weight and packability are crucial factors to think about. Figuring out the best stove for your camp kitchen can be a bit more complicated than other gear, as there are many moving parts to consider. While looking at stove weight, don’t forget to consider the kind of meals you’ll cook, how much fuel you’ll need for the trip, and if you’ll need a cook set (and its weight).

Generally, alternative fuel stoves are the lightest because of their unique designs and their use of natural fuel found in the field. Canister stoves are lightweight, but if you include the fuel, it might add up if you’re out in the wild for a longer period. When you’re carrying your home on your back, every ounce counts! Go for the lightweight option that won’t weigh you down on the trail. Your back will thank you later!

Cost: Find the Sweet Spot for Your Budget

We all know how adventures can put a dent in our wallets, but don’t fret! Backpacking stoves come in various price ranges, and there’s something for everyone. Keep in mind that sometimes spending a little extra can get you a stove that lasts longer and performs better. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can still find reliable options that won’t break the bank. We have included options for different budgets in our backpacking stove suggestions.

Boil Time: Swift and Efficient

We’ve all been there – hungry and waiting for water to boil seems to take forever. Manufacturers usually write down the stove’s boil time on the packaging. Check the boil time, measured in minutes, to see how fast it can heat up your meals and drinks. Faster boil times mean less time waiting and more time enjoying. More efficient stoves also require less fuel which contributes to less weight you’ll have to carry.

Simmer Control: Master the Art of Gourmet Cooking

Attention foodies and outdoor cooks! A backpacking stove with simmering capability is essential. Look for stoves that let you control the flame precisely, so you can cook delicate dishes without burning them. It’s perfect for making gourmet meals with a view. But if you’re only boiling water, you can skip the simmering feature. Keep it simple and get the stove that suits your cooking needs best!

Performance in Wind and Cold: Conquer Nature’s Challenges

Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but a good stove can handle it all. Look for stoves that perform well in windy conditions, so you’re not left hungry on a gusty day. Also, consider how the stove handles cold temperatures, especially if you’re planning winter trips. Liquid fuel stoves have been the go-to for seasoned hikers for years. You can also use the inverted canister trick to make the best of canister stoves in tough conditions as well. Opt for using a windscreen in really windy conditions to improve the performance of the stove so you’ll need to use less fuel. For some canister stoves, you’ll need a special windscreen that covers only the burner and not the canister itself.

Cooking Capacity: A Feast for All

Consider the number of mouths to feed on your journey. If you plan to cook for a large group, opt for a stove with bigger pot support and higher heat output, and look for a larger support base on the stove itself so larger pots and pans wouldn’t tip over. On the other hand, solo hikers or couples may find compact and very lightweight stoves more suitable for their needs. Remember, a well-fed camp is a happy camp!


And there you have it, fellow adventurers – a quick and easy guide to choosing your perfect backpacking stove. Remember to consider fuel types, cost, weight, simmering capability, boil time, and performance in challenging weather. With these tips in your backpack, you’ll find a stove that perfectly complements your outdoor escapades. The best stove depends on the situation and location. As you take on different trails and environments you might need to have a couple of different stoves in your arsenal. Feel free to hop back and go through the list again! Happy trails and bon appétit!

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