Backpacking stoves will give travelers access to a hot meal after a long day without lugging around too much extra weight. Instead of trying to cook food over a massive fire which requires lots of space and fuel, backpacking stoves use a small amount of fuel and cook meals much faster. They are small, lightweight, and relatively easy to use. If you’re in the market to buy your first camping stove or are planning to upgrade your current set-up, there are some things you need to know.
What Is a Backpacking Stove?
Camping stoves saturate the market in summer months. These awkward, bulky stoves prove their usefulness for groups of people over a short period. However, people mostly move these stoves from their homes to the campground or park using a car because they are hefty.
Solo travelers who need to travel light will get the best use from backpacking stoves. While some of them use butane canisters like camping stoves, they are significantly lighter, smaller, and less expensive. These rugged stoves are also made to withstand the trials and tribulations of life on the road including inclement weather and being knocked around by other items in backpacks.
How We Reviewed
We looked near and far to find the best backpacking stoves as reviewed by real consumers. We judged every stove's best features and shortcomings using information available online.
Wood Burning vs. Gas Burning
There are two main kinds of backpacking stoves: wood-burning and gas-burning stoves. Wood-burning backpacking stoves burn biomass readily available on your adventure to generate a flame. Meanwhile, gas-burning stoves rely on butane/gas canisters to cook meals.
Both of these backpacking stoves are excellent ways to cook meals while on the road. Gas-burning stoves may weigh you down more with their bulky canisters but are reliable no matter the weather. This kind of stove may not be what you need if you're looking to stay away from civilization for more than a couple of weeks. Eventually, your canisters will run out, and the stove will be useless.
Contrarily, wood-burning backpacking stoves are lightweight and rely on your surroundings for fuel. But if you're trekking through the woods and it happens to rain, all of your available fuel will be damp, and you won't be able to sustain a flame. The solution to this would be to bring fuel from home; however, that could weigh you down as much as a butane canister. Which kind of stove you bring along your journey depends on optimal weight, length of stay and weather conditions.
Wood Burning Backpack Stoves
Several wood-burning stove makes and models exist to help you not starve while camping. You should note that most wood-burning stoves can also run on alcohol/fuel tablets. You can set these thumb-sized tablets on fire with a regular match or lighter. They will burn when no wood is available.
There are a few versions of the Solo Stove available online (such as the Ultra-Lite, Titan and Campfire); however, we will be focusing on the original. This backpacking stove is 11 centimeters in diameter and it 14.5 centimeters tall once assembled. It is made of 304 stainless steel and weighs a mere 205 grams. It uses biomass around the area to provide a flame and is said to boil one liter of water in 8-10 minutes. The original Solo Stove comes with a pot made of identical materials as well as a “stuff sack.” The Solo Stove fits neatly inside the pot, but even after nested, it is still 9.5 centimeters tall.
The unique feature of this particular backpacking stove is its ability to deliver a “clean burn" achieved thanks to the secondary combustion chamber. The first chamber burns the smoke out of the wood, and the secondary chamber burns that same smoke again. This means less smoke derived from the wood, consequently filling your temporary home with less smoke compared to other backpacking stoves.
Reviews for the Solo Stove are mostly glowing. Customers rate it 4.5 stars out of a possible five on Amazon. Users commend the pot because of its easy to use design and sturdy body. One complaint has been how difficult it is to find dry wood after rainfall, and if there is a fire ban on the site, this stove would not be usable. The only other issue was the black soot that this stove leaves on cookware after use.
The original Solo Stove is not available on the manufacturer’s website. However, you can purchase it using online retailers such as Amazon for $145-$160. The Solo Stove Lite, Titan, Campfire, and Bonfire are available on the manufacturer's website for $65-$300.
Ohuhu camping stove
The Ohuhu camping stove looks and feels similar to the Solo Stove backpacking stove. It is made of stainless steel, including the plate to hold tablets should fuel be unavailable. The base features vents, so the flame does not suffocate while cooking. Not unlike with other cylindrical backpacking stoves, you need to ensure you have enough biomass to sustain a steady flame before placing your pot on top.
But that is where the similarities end. This stove weighs 14.2 ounces and completely collapses into itself to fit into a mesh bag for easy transportation. It also boasts three serrated metal arms to hold your pot safely without fear of it tipping over. Customers rave about the Ohuhu's stability and ventilation. While the response is overwhelmingly positive, there are two notable cons. Reviewers have complained that feeding the fire is difficult once you have already started cooking - a complaint which is not unique food wood-burning backpacking stoves. The second complaint is that after multiple uses, smaller parts (such as the serrated arms) lose their strength or break off.
This backpacking stove has a whopping 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon with close to 900 reviews. One of its most attractive properties is its price point: online retailers sell the Ohuhu for $15-$25. Although it probably won't last as long as some of its competitors, its cost-effective price point enables buyers to keep buying the Ohuhu every time it becomes unusable. You can also pick it up on the manufacturer's website as well as from other online retailers. Like most backpacking stoves, it is not available in store.
Lixada Folding Pocket Wood Burning Stove
Lixada’s primary group of products revolves around lighting and lighting accessories. However they also manufacturer sports- and outdoor-related items including a unique backpacking stove which resembles a stepstool.
Its unconventional design makes it a very sturdy stove which is very easy to fold up. Just fold it flat and tuck the stove away when not in use. Plus, this backpacking stove features a wide mouth so adding more wood to sustain a flame is much easier. It also has a small plate in the middle to accept fuel tablets should biomass not be available.
The Lixada backpacking stove is 11 centimeters tall once assembled and weights 157 grams. This backpacking stove is made of hardened stainless steel which some reviewers complain blackens and may rust after a few uses. The manufacture’s website refers buyers to purchase this stove at Amazon, which means it is more than likely unavailable to buy in-store.
While its price point is appealing ($12-$15), there are plenty of flaws. Besides the stainless steel blackening, there are complaints that this stove does not protect the flame adequately. This means that a subtle wind could wipe your flame out completely. The company clearly did not design it for longevity, as some customers complain that they only got 10-20 uses out of it. Buyers have stated that they had to make some minor adjustments to make the alcohol plate fit correctly. Despite its downfalls, it is a cost-effective option for backpackers who need a cooking solution for a few days.
TomShoo Camping Stove
Concerning pricing, the Tomshoo backpacking stove is the middle ground between the cost-effective Ohuhu and the pricey Solo Stove. You can only find it at retails such as Amazon for $25-$30. However, there are a few key differences between the three that should be noted to select which one would be best for you.
Built similarly to the Ohuhu, this camping stove is fully collapsible and comes in a mesh bag. It also has ventilation holes at its base to avoid starving the fire of oxygen. It is made of stainless steel, weighs approximately one pound, and is 17.5 centimeters when fully assembled.
There are two main differences. This particular backpacking stove features an opening at the top to allow the fire to be re-fed while you cook. This set also comes with two unique items: a cross-shaped pot stand and a grill. The pot stand keeps your pots from tipping while the grill allows customers to barbecue their items without bringing an external attachment.
This backpacking stove only has seven reviews on Amazon and two on the manufacturer’s website and both state the item is rated 5/5 stars. While highly regarded, one can assume that the pot stand will begin to blacken and break after multiple uses just like other models.
Gas/Butane Backpacking Stoves
If you’re hiking or backpacking where biomass is not readily available, a gas/butane backpacking stove (or canister stove) is your best option. These stoves are small, lightweight and work very quickly. Below are a few of the best canister stoves available for purchase.
Etekcity backpacking stove
The Etekcity backpacking stove is made of a combination of aluminum alloy and stainless steel, which can withstand high temperatures. It weighs 4.02 ounces (without the canister) and comes with its very own carrying case. Its arms outstretch to hold any pot or pan and the bottom screws into standard 7/16 thread single fuel canister. Once the canister is in, turn the valve to begin gas flow. Users can adjust the flame strength depending on their food which may require a slow simmer or rapid boil.
The integrated Piezo ignition system will also light the gas which means you won’t have to carry matches or a lighter. This system is particularly useful when the wind is roaring because you won’t have to spend countless precious minutes trying to strike a match.
You can purchase the Etekcity ultralight using online retailers such as Amazon as well as the manufacturer’s website for $11- $18. Some users complain that the ignition system is a little faulty and the spark end needs to be pushed a little bit closer to the gas flow. Others have stated that the flame blows out when its windy because the burner is too open at the top. Despite these complaints, this backpacking stove is rated 4.5 stars out of five and has a remarkable 3,500+ reviews on Amazon (most of them overwhelmingly positive).
Primus Camping Stove
Primus has several gas camping stoves available; however, for now, we’ll be honing in on one of their most popular stoves: the classic trail. This portable gas camping stove weighs eight ounces (227 grams) and is approximately 55 mm high. The crossfire pot support not only keeps pots and pans upright but it also acts as a built-in windscreen. This backpacking stove also features an adjustable control valve to adjust the flame to whatever is cooking.
This backpacking stove claims it is perfect for the solo traveler or groups up to three people. It comes with two parts: the burner top and the valve. Just screw the two together and then attach it to a Primus fuel tank. Reviewers claim that it is very straightforward. However, buyers need to be aware of some issues. Dirt or grime may come between the two separate stove parts when assembling/disassembling. Secondly, when you unscrew the stove from the fuel tank, some fuel may escape from the container. Considering this tank is half the size of a traditional fuel tank, this could potentially pose a problem if you are traveling for long periods of time.
MSR PocketRocket 2 Backpacking Stove
The MSR PocketRocket is often compared to other backpacking stoves because of its super lightweight and straightforward design. It weighs 2.6 ounces and folds into a 2x2x3 inch package — perfect for hikers and travelers who need to pack light. This USA-made product works with most isobutane-propane fuel canisters which are available at most hardware and outdoor stores.
This backpacking stove promises to boil one liter of water in just 3.5 minutes, although its flame is also adjustable to gently simmer dishes. It does not come with a built-in ignition, which means travelers must bring along their own matches or lighter. The MSR stove does also not include an integrated windshield however this does not seem to have affected online reviews, as it is rated 4.5 stars out of five on Amazon.
Reviewers praise this backpacking stove with being one of the lightest available on the market. It is also proven to deliver a stronger flame, therefore cutting down on cooking time and fuel usage. A few buyers have complained that the price ($40-$45) is a little on the high end considering its small size, but the reviews are mostly positive.
The Jetboil MiniMo is seen as the Rolls Royce of gas backpacking stoves because of its versatility and engineering. While it is on the expensive end of the spectrum ($130- $140 without the canister), it offers a lot more than just the stove. The Jetboil MiniMo comes with the regulator, a gas canister stabilizer, a measuring cup, a strainer, and a deep cooking cup complete with an insulating cozy. Weighing in at 14.6 ounces, the Jetboil is much heavier compared to other models, but it includes many more items. This stove is also available in several color schemes/themes including sunset orange/yellow, adventure grey, jetcam camouflage, and a few others.
When the Jetboil’s stove is correctly attached to the cup, it has a built-in windscreen so the flame will not quickly go out. This backpacking stove also boasts a push-button ignition and a redesigned valve which is said to be unmatched regarding its simmer control. Handling the cup is easy thanks to its built-in insulating cozy and rubber-wrapped metal handles. The best part about this stove is the fact that everything, including the 3.53-ounce canister, nests inside the cup for easy transportation.
Over 150 reviewers have rated this backpacking stove to average 4.5 out of a possible five stars on Amazon. This backpacking stove receives plenty of compliments on its all-in-one design (minus the canister) and quick boil time — under 2.5 minutes per two cups of water. However, some customers complain that the starter is faulty. Nevertheless, buyers seem to be mostly content with their purchase.
Choosing between a fuel canister and a wood-burning backpacking stove depends on many factors including length of stay and weather conditions.
If you’re looking to purchase an all-in-one package that uses a fuel canister, the Jetboil MiniMo should be your top choice. It offers everything that you could need along your journey and it all nests together in one convenient package.
Those who like the idea of a stove using available biomass should consider the Solo Stove. There are plenty of sized available and burns smoke twice to make the most of your fuel. You'll find it to be more expensive than many competitors' products. But it features durable construction and will probably outlast them.
What backpacking stove is in your pack? If you have a favorite, or chose one on this list, let us know down in the comments!