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There’s not a lot that can compare to heating up a hot cup of coffee on a backpacking stove during an early morning out in the wilderness. Breathing in the fresh air, looking out at the rising sun, with a mug of your favorite brew still warm in your hand. Sounds dreamy? It’s definitely worth getting up early for. 

Not a fan of coffee? Having a hearty, delicious meal at the end of a long day of backpacking is a close second. Backpacking means you’re out on the trail for hours on end, exploring new sights and subjecting yourself to all types of weather. You need to recuperate when the sun begins to set. 

While a campfire with marshmallows is always a favorite for camping enthusiasts, it cannot possibly replace a proper meal. However, that’s not easy to prepare by the fire. Sure that it’s fun to try it for the experience, but for most campers the novelty wears off after a couple of days without a decent dinner. That’s where backpacking stoves come in.

Backpacking stoves come in several types. Small canister stoves are the most popular due to their weight — they’re fairly easy to carry. Some other popular types include integrated canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves. These stoves vary by weight and capability, but they all serve their purpose in keeping you well-fed on your adventures.

Don’t resort to living on bottled water and crackers when you’re out on a trip. To keep up with your nutritional needs and enrich your camping experience, look into getting a backpacking stove. To help you start your journey, we’ve compiled a list of five of our favorites.

pros
  • Very quick to boil
  • Wide range of heat adjustments
  • Light and easy to carry
cons
  • Cleaning it takes a little effort

Jetboil is a reputable brand that has consistently produced some of the best stoves on the market. It’s no wonder that their MiniMo model is our first pick for a number of reasons, the chief of them being its cooking speed and versatility. 

This is an integrated canister stove, which means that it will, by design, boil faster than some of its smaller counterparts. If you wake up on a chilly morning in an urgent need of a piping hot cup of joe, you will only have to wait a bit over two minutes for this stove to boil.

Coffee is, of course, not the only thing that can be prepared using MiniMo. The sky is the limit, or in this case, your preference is. Are you going with a simple bowl of Ramen or a healthy stew? Both are made possible while camping if you bring the right type of stove.

Jetboil makes use of a regulator technology system that lets you adjust the heat levels with surprising precision. Need a light simmer instead of the promised two-minute boiling point? No problem! As long as you’re careful, the risk of burning your meal is minimal. 

As far as the build goes, MiniMo is sturdy but lightweight. It’s not going to be the lightest option for backpacking, but it’s certainly not a burden to carry around, weighing in at only 14.6 ounces. It comes with a fuel canister stabilizer and pot support already included. 

The handles and the pot support are made of durable metal. Jetboil’s cooking cup can carry up to 1 liter of water or food and is optimized for a low spoon angle, allowing you to stir as you cook. It’s also is covered by an insulating cozy that comes in a variety of eye-catching designs.

Are you a fan of camping out in the cold? Jetboil took that into consideration during the manufacturing process and optimized this integrated canister stove to offer consistent performance even in cold weather, with temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overall, this is a versatile backpacking stove that is suited for all kinds of trips — short and long. It allows you to quickly cook lots of meals. We recommend it to those that want to eat well while on the trail.

pros
  • Ultra-light – only 3.1 oz
  • Suited for windy days
  • Supports large pots
cons
  • Does not come with a fuel canister

This SOTO Windmaster pressurized gas canister stove differs from our #1 pick both in size and stove type. It may not have the same number of uses as Jetboil’s MiniMo, however, it still manages to come out victorious in quite a few categories. Let’s take a closer look.

First of all: this backpacking stove is nearly feather-light. It weighs a mere 3.1 ounces and is very compact (it packs down to 1.34 x 1.8 x 2.5 inches). As such, you should have no issues at all bringing it with you wherever you go. Of course, in the case of SOTO’s Windmaster, you still need to bring your own pot — but that’s fairly easy to pack.

The entirety of it is made of metal and it has a simple, industrial look about it that is not unlike most backpacking stoves. It has a 4Flex Support system, which means that its four arms were manufactured with the purpose of carrying large pots.

It’s called the Windmaster for a reason — this little guy is surprisingly resistant to all kinds of bad weather. The reason for this lies in its flame expulsion point. As opposed to other models that often have a dome or convex cone shape, this one as a wall all around the edge. This helps keep your flame sheltered as you cook, even on stormy days.

While the flames remain firmly locked beneath the pot, this also creates a heat point right above the stove. On especially windy days, it’s best to position yourself in a way that won’t blow hot air in your direction. The flames are quite strong and generate a lot of heat! You may also consider picking up a folding outdoor stove screen.

Given its small size, this may be rather surprising, but SOTO actually packs a bit of a punch within its frame. It boils two full cups of water in just 2 and a half minutes. It also has a remarkable simmer control system that allows you to prepare simple meals such as pasta, soup, or a quick stew.

For those campers that like to travel light and don’t want to carry around a whole arsenal on their back, SOTO’s Windmaster is a solid compromise between efficient cooking and lightweight packing.

pros
  • Enclosed design – windproof
  • All-in-one – combines a stove and cookware
  • Customizable
cons
  • Does not include a fuel canister

The second integrated canister stove on our list, MSR’s Windburner, is somewhat of a middle-ground between Jetboil and SOTO in that it’s efficient, but also windproof. It’s renowned as one of the most weather-resistant backpacking stoves on the market, so it’s invaluable if you like to camp throughout the entire year.

Seasons aside, if you like to travel light and don’t want a backpacking stove that takes up too much room, you might especially enjoy this model. It sports a compact design that fully nests inside its 1-liter pot. You can pack up the stove burner, fuel canister, and the canister stand, and then forget they’re even there until it’s time to use them.

This is an all-in-one stove and cookware solution, so you can use it both for hot drinks and proper meals. The pot has a secure lock on it and doubles as a personal mug with a cozy that you can drink or eat out of without a hassle. Having to carry extra containers only adds to the weight you’re carrying upon your back, so most campers will enjoy this. We all know that less is more when you’re out in the wild.

Together with all of its components, MSR Windburner weighs in at around 15 oz (minus the fuel canister). While that does make it heavier than some other models, you end up saving quite a bit of weight by not needing to pick up a windscreen. How come? Because this is a backpacking stove that manages to remain windproof without blowing hot air in your direction.

Even when the elements are against you and the wind is really strong, you can still rely on this stove. The boiling times seem almost unaffected by bad weather — you can boil the full 1-liter of water in a bit over two minutes. This applies even on a cold day when the temperature drops under 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

MSR likes to deck their gear out to the fullest and thus, this model is highly customizable. As an example, they also offer things like a 1.8-liter accessory pot or a skillet. Those are sold separately, but they do have the benefit of enhancing your meal options and will serve you well on longer trips.

If you enjoy camping during every season as opposed to just the summer, early fall, and late spring, MSR Windburner is an excellent addition to your backpack. Light and remarkably windproof, this is a stove that does not give in to the elements easily.

pros
  • Wood-burning stove – cost-efficient
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Has a smoke-reduction design
cons
  • Wood-burning stoves are not suitable for every area

A wood-burning stove is probably the closest thing to a so-called real camping experience… with the added benefit of not sacrificing comfort.

Want to boil some water? Prepare a hearty meal? Roast marshmallows while exchanging ghost stories by the warmth of the fire? No problem! Wood-burning stoves offer a vast array of cooking options, more so than some of their counterparts.

That is not to say they are perfect — you can’t use a wood-burning stove in every area. Make sure you take that into consideration before heading out onto the trail. However, this stove will work just fine in most places, provided you clear out the debris and place it on even ground.

One of the biggest benefits of Solo Stove Lite is the fact that fuel comes from nature. It’s eco-friendly, free, and easy to obtain in pretty much any area that has at least a few trees. All you need are some dry sticks and tinder. For many people, gathering supplies for the fire is actually fun. It makes for a very realistic camping experience and makes you feel more connected to nature.

This backpacking stove is also lightweight and compact. It safely packs up within its companion pot (not included) and weighs only 9 oz. on its own. It’s made out of super-durable stainless steel and chrome wire, so you never have to worry about damage if you drop it. There’s also a nylon sack included in the set for easy transportation.

If you’re worried about smoke, you don’t have to be — at least not with this particular stove. Its design includes a double wall that helps the fuel burn completely, creating less smoke as a result.

The boiling times are fast for a wood-burning stove. You can expect to boil water in 8-10 minutes. Depending on the pot or skillet you use with this product, you’ll also be able to prepare food in many ways. Some options include roasting, boiling, cooking, heating, grilling are all available.

If you’re looking for something that saves you money in the long run and makes for a fun if slightly more time-consuming, cooking experience — Solo Stove Lite is a great pick. With the added benefits of being lightweight and versatile, this is a strong contender on our list.

pros
  • Includes a windscreen and heat reflector
  • Works with canister fuel, kerosene, white gas, and unleaded gasoline
  • Performs well in cold weather
cons
  • Simmering takes a bit of work

This is the second MSR product on our list of favorite backpacking stoves, but it’s the first liquid fuel stove. It also comes with a range of accessories that will make your life easier. Is it the right choice for you?

It connects to refillable fuel canisters (not included) and is a strong pick if you’re looking to travel internationally. You won’t have to worry about being stranded without the right type of fuel for your stove, as this one runs on a few different options: canister fuel, kerosene, unleaded gasoline, and white gas.

This stove does its job excellently in cold, windy weather — in fact, it comes well prepared for it. You won’t have to splurge on additional accessories, as this stove includes a windscreen, fuel pump, small-parts kit, heat reflector, and a stuff sack. The extra protection from the heat and the wind is especially nice. Any camper who has ever had to endure bursts of hot air in their face will tell you that.

It’s not the lightest option out there, weighing in at nearly 15 oz, but it’s a standard for this type of backpacking stove. It packs up neatly and doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack. The extra weight is made up for by the fact that depending on the fuel, you’ll be able to use this anywhere in the world without issues.

The ability to switch fuel types might come in handy even on trips that take you closer to home. This model creates the optimal mix of air and fuel to ensure good performance regardless of fuel type.

MSR Whisperlite has good flame control and can go between boiling and a very low simmer. If you’re headed out on a longer trip and want to do more than just boil water, you can rely on this stove to adjust to your cooking needs.

This backpacking stove, while not the lightest of all, has a lot of versatility to it that other models may not. Whether you’re headed right out of town or to a different continent, MSR WhisperLite is capable of satisfying even a seasoned camper.

EAT WELL WHILE ON THE ROAD

Backpacking is a fantastic way to explore nature — by yourself, with family or with friends. There may be days when you trek for miles and miles before setting up camp. Nothing quite beats the serene feeling of watching the sunset after a pleasantly exhausting day of backpacking.

While it may seem like a breeze sometimes, backpacking can also be quite the workout. Snacks like beef jerky or protein bars will sustain you while on the road. However, at the end of the day, it’s important to reward yourself with a delicious dinner. 

Don’t go hungry while out on the trail — nutrition is important. Consider picking up a top-notch backpacking stove and explore the world of cooking on the go!

Rocco Bambace