The Best BackPacking Stove

The Backpacking stove right for you.

What is the best backpacking stove?  It would be nice to tell you there is one stove that is the best backpacking stove and in a short paragraph; tell you the name and where to find it. You have probably already guessed that such a stove has not been made yet, but the backpacking stove best for your needs can still be found.  This article will help you find the backpacking stove best for you and your activity.  No matter if you have many different outdoor actives or just one specific one, there is a stove for you. These two simple steps will help you fine your stove.

STEP 1

Read the characteristics of the three general stove groups shown below and select the group that best matches your planed activities.

STEP 2

Go into your selected group and review the models.  We have selected models within each of the general stove groups that have enhancements that make them better adapted for your particular outdoor activity.

THE THREE STOVE GROUPS ARE:

  1. Liquid-fuel
  2. Canister  (Pressurized Gas)
  3. Alcohol*

*While alcohol could also be considered liquid-fuel, in this group we are focused on what is commonly called the Alcohol Stove where no fuel is pressurized in a heating tube.  

 

 BACKPACKING LIQUID-FUEL STOVES

Liquid-fuel stoves have been around a long time and have a good heat to weight ratio.

MSR XGK EX

MSR XGK EX

Today’s models are durable and work well even at high elevations or in extreme cold.  If you are going to be in temperatures that hover around zero degrees Fahrenheit, this stove group may be for you. Although recently canister stoves have made great improvements for use in extreme cold and cranking out heat to melt snow, at this point liquid-fuel stoves are still preferred with their proven track record.  Large groups also find this type of stove a good choice because of the amount of heat that can be produced.

These stoves typical have a separate fuel container making them bigger and slightly heavier than comparable canister stoves but this configuration is typically lower to the ground and present a stable cooking base.



To use this type of stove, most must be primed by placing a small amount of fuel on an outside fuel bowl located under the fuel tube and igniting it.  The resulting flame warms fuel within the stove’s burner system and vaporizes the fuel.  The vaporized fuel is forced out the burner and provides the flame for cooking. stove 1 This process could be considered a fault since the priming fuel is ignited in the open and the danger of catching something on fire or spilling fuel is possible.  Additionally, this vaporizing method pressurizes the fuel to the extent that as it exits the burner’s orifice it is noisy.  Some say it sounds like a small jet but the majority of the users find the noise acceptable. The type of liquid fuel used varies between models.  Some burn exclusively naphtha, commonly called white gas, while others are multifuel stoves that can burn almost any liquid fuel available.  The ability to burn different types of fuels can be very useful for backpackers doing long treks or traveling in remote countries where only certain fuels are available. Maintenance is also a consideration for liquid-fuel stoves while not extensive or difficult, these stoves will require more maintenance than canister type stoves.   Time between services depends upon the fuel type used, its age and how often it is used.  Most users don’t consider this necessary cleaning and maintenance as too big of an issue but it is an addition step that is not required as often with the canister type stoves.

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BACKPACKING CANISTER STOVES

Canister stoves use pressurized gas for fuel.  They are considered easier to use than the CANISTERliquid-fuel stoves since no priming is needed and cooking can begin instantly.  Its operation is similar to that of gas stoves found in homes with most having the ability to easily adjust the flame for cooking different foods.  Some models are very compact and  lightweight.  This stove group may be for you if you plan to do most of your hiking in the summer or like simplicity in your equipment. The pressurized fuel canister can contain a blend of propane, butane or isobutane.  These fuels burn clean and minimize cleaning and maintenance.  A higher blend of propane works best in cold-weather conditions but still has diminished performance in cold weather since gas pressure decreases proportionally with temperature.   In temperatures below freezing some models of canister stove will not function correctly while other models, which use modifications like separating and inverting their canister or using a regulator, can still function. The integrated stove is another modified canister stove.  It incorporates a high efficiency heat exchanger with specially designed cookware to increase fuel efficiency and reduce boil times.  Its parts fit into the cookware to allow for efficient packing. The canisters themselves are difficult to determine remaining fuel levels and can lead to taking an extra canister since they cannot be topped off before leaving.  These empty canisters become waste and are considered hazardous by some municipalities.

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