Backpackers need a stove that is lightweight, dependable, and will get the job done quickly after a long day on the trail. Thankfully, the market is full of both time-tested models and newer, more innovative designs. From all-in-one models made exclusively for boiling water fast to those that cook gourmet meals in the most alpine of conditions, there’s a stove to match every need. Below we break down the top backpacking stoves of 2021, including leading canister, liquid gas, alcohol, and wood-burning models. For more background information, see our backpacking stove comparison table and buying advice below the picks.


Best Overall Canister Stove

1. MSR PocketRocket 2 ($45)

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 2.6 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Lightweight, inexpensive, and a surprisingly strong burner.
What we don’t: Integrated systems like the Jetboil Flash below are more stable and windproof.

MSR’s tiny PocketRocket has achieved legendary status in the backpacking community, and the latest “2” trimmed away even more weight and bulk. The net result is a streamlined screw-on stove that attaches directly to the top of an isobutane canister, allows for nice simmer control, weighs just 2.6 ounces, and takes up very little space in your pack. With a surprisingly powerful burner for its size and price tag of less than $50, the PocketRocket 2 is one of the most popular options on the market and a familiar sight in the backcountry. Integrated designs like the Jetboil Flash below offer better wind resistance, are more efficient, and come with a pot, but it speaks volumes that we still find ourselves reaching for the MSR on almost every backpacking trip.

Among the larger backpacking stove market, the PocketRocket 2 hits a highly desirable middle ground: while all-in-one designs like the aforementioned Flash excel at boiling water, they’re considerably heavier, bulkier, and more expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, true ounce-counters might be drawn to a minimalist system like an alcohol stove, but that comes with big compromises in terms of boil time, simmer control, and overall reliability. All in all, the PocketRocket 2 is everything most backpackers need and nothing they don’t, which is why it takes our top spot for 2021. And for a slightly more souped-up version, MSR also offers the $70 Deluxe, which weighs more at 2.9 ounces but includes a push-start igniter and regulator for better performance in the cold.
See the MSR PocketRocket 2

 

Best All-in-One Stove System

2. Jetboil Flash Cooking System ($110)

Jetboil Flash backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 13.1 oz.
Integrated pot: Yes
What we like: Super fast boil time and a great price.
What we don’t: Only excels at boiling water.

With the increased quality and selection of dehydrated meals, many backpackers now use their stove primarily to boil water. If this sounds like you, an integrated canister system like the Jetboil Flash is an excellent option. This all-in-one stove offers fast boiling with an included insulated cozy that attaches directly to the stove via a heat exchanger, making it efficient and weather-resistant (a key point of distinction between the Flash and non-integrated PocketRocket above). The Flash can boil one liter of water in around 3.5 minutes, and considering that you don’t need an additional pot, the total weight of 13.1 ounces is fairly reasonable.

What are the shortcomings of the Jetboil Flash? And as we touched on above, it certainly isn’t ultralight by thru-hiking standards. The inclusion of a pot does help narrow the gap, although the PocketRocket 2 above with MSR’s Titan Kettle still checks in at 6.8 ounces, which is around half the weight of the Flash. And in tough conditions, the burlier MSR’s WindBurner below offers better performance in the wind (for a notable $40 and 2.2 oz. more). Last but not least, Jetboil’s own MiniMo below includes simmer control, but that model boils slower and costs more. All told, it’s tough to beat the boiling speed, price, and ease of use of the Flash, and we think it’s especially enticing for newer backpackers who prioritize convenience over weight.
See the Jetboil Flash Cooking System

 

Best Budget Starter Stove and Cookset

3. Soto Amicus Stove Cookset Combo ($45)

Soto Amicus Stove Cookset Combo backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 11.2 oz. (stove only: 2.9 oz.)
Integrated pot: No (pot included)
What we like: A great starter kit for a competitive price.
What we don’t: Not particularly lightweight and cookset isn’t very high quality.

If you’re starting from scratch and looking for a lightweight, affordable setup, it’s hard to go wrong with the Soto Amicus Stove and Cookset. For the same price as the MSR PocketRocket 2 above, you get a comparable stove and two pots, which is a true steal. And the Soto isn’t far behind the MSR in terms of specs: The PocketRocket 2 wins out in weight (0.3 ounces lighter) and simplicity (less moving parts means less maintenance), while the Amicus features a more compact size, built-in ignitor, and packs a serious punch with 10,200 BTUs. Added up, it’s a great all-around deal and a solid setup for new and budget-minded backpackers alike.

The Soto’s 500- and 1,000-milliliter aluminum pots are nice for boiling water and cooking for up to two people, and the smaller pot plays double duty as a lid and personal mug as well. But while 11.2 ounces for two pots and a stove isn’t heavy perse, the pots themselves aren’t particularly high quality and you could shave a lot of weight by opting for a titanium cookset. If you want to stick with an all-in-one kit, it’s also worth checking out the Optimus Crux Lite System (9.6 oz., $60) and the new Jetboil Stash (7.1 oz., $125), but the Soto is the clear value winner. Finally, keep in mind that you can also purchase the Amicus stove on its own for $45 (or $40 without the ignitor), but for the same price we’ll gladly take the included pots. 
See the Soto Amicus Stove Cookset Combo

 

Best Multi-Fuel Stove for Travel and the Cold

4. MSR WhisperLite Universal ($150)

MSR WhisperLite Universal StoveFuel type: Canister/liquid
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Multi-fuel compatibility and an invertible canister.
What we don’t: Expensive and a bit heavy.

There are many factors that affect the function and efficiency of backpacking stoves, and cold weather is one of the biggest culprits. Without diving into too much detail here, when the mercury drops, standard canister stoves suffer (for more on this, see our buying advice below). But before you decide to forgo your winter plans: there is a solution. In particular, stoves that run on liquid fuel or a remote canister that can be inverted perform best in cold conditions. And our favorite model in this class is the MSR WhisperLite Universal, which puts it all together with multi-fuel capabilities and a remote (read: invertible) canister.

The WhisperLite Universal doesn’t come cheap, but it is the most versatile option here. In mild temperatures, you get a canister stove with excellent flame control in an easy-to-use package. Conditions colder than expected? Simply invert the canister. And in truly frigid weather, liquid fuel is far and away the most reliable choice. It’s worth noting that both the Universal and International below (which lacks the canister hookup but saves you $40) are currently out of stock due to supply chain issues, but we expect availability to improve soon. In the meantime, Optimus offers a similar and proven design in their Polaris, although the price jumps to $180.
See the MSR WhisperLite Universal

 

Best Alternative-Fuel Stove for Backpacking

5. Solo Stove Lite ($70)

Solo Stove Lite stoveFuel type: Wood
Weight: 9 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Simple, efficient, and can double as a windscreen for an alcohol stove.
What we don’t: Some wilderness areas do not permit wood stoves.

Alternative-fuel stoves have their appeals for thru-hikers or fastpackers looking to keep their pack weight low. By opting for a wood, alcohol, or tablet-burning design (we detail these categories in our buying advice below), you can ditch the heavy and bulky gas canisters used by most stoves here, bringing along smaller containers of fuel or foraging for biomass (wood, pinecones, etc.) instead. The Solo Stove Lite is our favorite alternative-fuel option of the year, with a versatile design that burns wood and also functions as a windscreen/pot support for an alcohol stove (a nice backup to have when you’re venturing above treeline). And with a double-wall construction that recirculates hot air, feeds oxygen directly to the embers, and focuses the flame through a small opening at the top, the Solo beats out most wood-burning stoves in terms of boil times and efficiency.

The Solo Stove Lite is great for hikers who are curious about ultralight gear, but there’s no denying that it’s neither the lightest nor the most packable stove solution. If “8-pound base weight” is part of your vocabulary, chances are you’ll be reaching instead for models like the Trangia Spirit Burner or Vargo Hexagon below (Solo also makes a 3.5-oz. Alcohol Burner that nests inside the Stove Lite here). Of course, alternative-fuel designs can’t hold a candle to liquid or canister stoves in terms of power and boil time, but if you enjoy being leisurely in camp, this shouldn’t be an issue. Finally, keep in mind that wood-burning stoves are often banned in fragile wilderness areas or regions prone to wildfires. But for those wanting something a little different, Solo’s Stove Light is a nice introduction to alternative-fuel stoves, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s very simple and easy-to-maintain.
See the Solo Stove Lite

 

Best of the Rest

6. MSR WindBurner Stove System ($150)

MSR WindBurner backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister 
Weight: 15.3 oz.
Integrated pot: Yes
What we like: An all-in-one stove system with excellent windy weather performance.
What we don't: No built-in igniter and a little heavy.

Similar to the Jetboil Flash above, the MSR WindBurner is a great integrated stove solution if your backcountry cooking routine consists mostly of boiling water. We love the windproof design: after lighting the stove and snapping everything into place, the enclosed burner brings water to a boil quickly, even in gusty conditions (this can be a weakness of Jetboil models, which leave more of the stove exposed). In terms of quality, practically everything about this stove—from the honeycomb burner to the lid—is well-made and has stood up over time. The price of the WindBurner is steep at $150, but it’s a top-notch backpacking stove overall.

So why is the MSR WindBurner ranked here? The added weather protection is overkill for many summer backpackers, and in our opinion is not worth the $40 increase in price from the Jetboil Flash, our top pick. Furthermore, the WindBurner takes longer to boil a liter of water than the Flash at 4 minutes 30 seconds (it outputs 7,000 BTUs vs. the Flash’s 9,000). But for those traveling to windy regions who expect a lot of exposure, the MSR is a premium all-in-one stove with a great track record. MSR has recently added the Duo and Group stove systems to the WindBurner line, which feature larger pots, remote canister attachments (for better cold-weather performance), and the ability to simmer.
See the MSR WindBurner Stove System

 

7. Soto WindMaster Stove ($65)

Soto WindMaster backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 3 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: More wind-resistant and efficient than the PocketRocket 2 above.
What we don’t: Heavier and pricier than the MSR.

As we mentioned above, non-integrated canister stoves like the MSR PocketRocket leave more of the flame exposed, which can impact performance in gusty conditions. To help combat this, Soto came up with an interesting solution in their aptly named WindMaster. The key difference lies in the pot support design: compared to the one-piece MSR, the Soto’s clamp-on arms don’t extend as far upward, allowing the pot to sit closer to the flame. Further, the burner has a concave shape that helps protect it better against strong winds. The Jetboil Flash and MSR WindBurner above still offer improved coverage with their integrated designs, but the WindMaster is considerably cheaper, and many backpackers have reported years of reliability in harsh conditions.

Apart from the improved wind protection, the WindMaster is heavier than the PocketRocket 2 by half an ounce and costs $20 more. However, the Soto has a built-in igniter and offers a more stable, four-prong base for larger pots (Soto sells a lighter-weight TriFlex pot support for $10). All in all, you can definitely go lighter and cheaper in this category, but the WindMaster strikes us a nice middle ground between the PocketRocket and bulky/expensive WindBurner above. If you consistently backpack at altitude or in places notorious for wind (Colorado’s Fourteeners, for instance) but still want a system that’s small and compact, the Soto is an excellent pick.
See the Soto WindMaster Stove

 

8. Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System ($150)

Jetboil MiniMo Backpacking StoveFuel type: Canister 
Weight: 14.6 oz.
Integrated pot: Yes
What we like: Impressive simmer control.
What we don't: Not great in the wind.

Jetboil has become synonymous with all-in-one systems that boil water fast, but the MiniMo has some additional tricks up its sleeve. With an upgraded temperature regulator for impressive simmer control, the MiniMo offers the easy set-up and fast boil times of the Flash above, but with better cooking functionality that many backcountry travelers seek. In terms of features, the 1-liter cooking pot is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve for safe handling, and its short and stout build offers stability over the flame and doubles as a bowl when your meal is ready to eat. If you like to cook and not just boil water, the MiniMo is a great option. 

Why do we have the MiniMo ranked below the Flash? At $150, it costs significantly more than the $110 Flash, which was our biggest consideration. It also boils water slower (4 minutes 30 seconds for one liter vs. the Flash’s 3 minutes 20 seconds) and weighs about an ounce more. Again, if you cook your own meals and want the added stability and simmer control, go with the MiniMo. But for those who just need to heat water for dehydrated or freeze-dried pouch meals, the Flash is the better value. And a final note: the MSR WindBurner above offers better wind protection (but less simmer control) for the same price.
See the Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System

 

9. MSR WhisperLite International ($110)

Backpacking Stoves (MSR Whisperlite International)Fuel type: Liquid
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Compatibility with many fuel types for $40 less than the WhisperLite Universal.
What we don't: No simmer control.

We all know the difficulty of tracking down specific fuel canisters in far-flung parts of the world—or even at home sometimes—which is why MSR created the WhisperLite International. This one-piece stainless steel stove is tough, simple to use and clean, and can run off of anything from white gas and kerosene to unleaded auto fuel (the latter of which you should be able to find just about anywhere). In terms of weight, the International clocks in at 11.2 ounces, which does not include the required MSR Fuel Bottle sold separately ($22 and 5.9 oz. empty). You certainly can go lighter or cheaper elsewhere on this list, but we love the versatility and toughness of this stove. 

The International is very similar to MSR’s Universal above, with one main distinction: it is not compatible with propane/isobutane canisters. For those who love the convenience and simmering capabilities of canister stoves, this favors the Universal. However, with the International’s simpler build, you get slightly faster boil times and easier maintenance as well as a healthy $40 savings. If adding canister fuel compatibility to the mix is a deal breaker for you, go with the Universal. Otherwise, the International provides a lot of versatility for less money. Finally, as we touched on above, both MSR models currently are out of stock, but MSR expects that to change soon.
See the MSR WhisperLite International

 

10. Snow Peak LiteMax ($60)

Snow Peak Litemax backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 2.0 oz. 
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Very light and well-made.
What we don’t: Price jump for minimal weight savings.

For ultralighters that scoff at the “heavy” MSR PocketRocket 2 and Soto’s WindMaster and Amicus above, the Snow Peak LiteMax is a similar screw-on design but with higher-end and lighter materials. A mix of titanium and aluminum reduces the total weight to an impressive 2 ounces, making the LiteMax one of the lightest canister stoves on the market. You also get great flame adjustability and support arms that offer a pretty wide base, and the LiteMax burns hot for a stove of this type.

What are the downsides of the LiteMax? Japan-based Snow Peak is known for craftsmanship and the LiteMax is beautifully made, but it’s also an extremely slow boiler. We took one on a summer backpacking trip in the North Cascades and could literally boil multiple pots of water with our MSR WindBurner is less time than it took one pot to boil with the LiteMax. Further, stability is compromised by the ultralight design. The MSR PocketRocket 2 isn’t a standout in stability or boil time either, but it still beats out the LiteMax in both categories (and costs $15 less). Snow Peak also makes the popular GigaPower 2.0, which is more than an ounce heavier than the LiteMax but includes four prongs (one more than the LiteMax) for added stability and an integrated igniter.
See the Snow Peak LiteMax

 

11. Trangia Spirit Burner ($15)

Trangia Spirit BurnerFuel type: Denatured alcohol
Weight: 3.8 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: A standout alcohol stove with a thoughtful design.
What we don’t: You’ll have to buy a pot stand and windscreen separately.

In the world of ultralight backpacking, alcohol stoves have gained traction as the ultimate minimalist cooking system, and the Trangia Spirit Burner is a well-rounded option. It stays true to the simple tin-can design, but with some convenient features added to the mix. With a durable brass construction and a “simmer ring” to adjust the flame, the Spirit is tough, burns efficiently, and provides more temperature control than other alcohol stoves. Moreover, a screw-on lid allows you to store excess fuel in the stove rather than pouring it back into your container (and inevitably wasting a few drops in the process).

The Trangia Spirit Burner was the first of its kind, but there’s no shortage of copycat designs— including Soto’s Alcohol Burner mentioned above. Distinguishing between the two models is splitting hairs for most (they’re both high-quality), but the Trangia is considerably cheaper at just $15 (the Soto is $25). Of course, you’ll need to pair your alcohol stove with a windscreen and pot stand, which could be as simple as a piece of foil and a pile of rocks or as refined as the Solo Stove Lite above. Finally, while the Trangia is arguably the go-to alcohol burner for thru-hikers, you can go even lighter with a stove like AntiGravityGear’s Tin Man, which clocks in at just 0.4 ounces. But the Trangia is a better balance of weight and features, and we appreciate its user-friendly and refined build. Finally, remember to do your research before you go, as some wilderness areas have banned alcohol stoves.
See the Trangia Spirit Burner

 

12. Kovea Spider ($63)

Kovea Spider backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 6 oz. 
Integrated pot: No
What we like: 4-season capabilities at a very low weight. 
What we don’t: Unlike the WhisperLite Universal above, the Spider isn’t multi-fuel compatible.

As we mentioned above, remote canister stoves allow you to invert your fuel canister in cold weather, which helps maximize performance when the mercury dips. In this category, Korean camping brand Kovea makes an intriguing design in their Spider. For just $63, you get 4-season versatility in an impressively light and packable design (the support legs are foldable for easy and compact storage), as well as good flame control and a wide, stable base that can support larger pots and pans. All in all, it’s a well-made and thoughtfully designed stove at a very reasonable price.

One key difference separates the Kovea Spider from the MSR WhisperLite Universal above: multi-fuel compatibility. While the MSR can run on liquid fuel like white gas, auto fuel, or diesel, the Spider only works with propane/isobutane canisters, which tend to suffer at high altitudes and in extreme cold (and if you’re traveling internationally, remember that they aren’t always readily available). We wish Kovea offered an upgrade kit like Primus does with their Express Spider stove, although that system is heavier and slightly pricier. In the end, the WhisperLite Universal above is the most versatile of the bunch and our preferred remote canister design, but the Kovea is over 5 ounces lighter and will save you a considerable $87. If you don’t anticipate needing to use other types of fuel, that’s a no brainer.
See the Kovea Spider

 

13. MSR Reactor 1.7L Stove System ($250)

MSR Reactor 1.7L backpacking stove systemFuel type: Canister
Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz.
Integrated pot: Yes
What we like: Efficient burner and fast boil time.
What we don’t: Expensive, heavy, and overkill for most backpacking.

The MSR Reactor is the most expensive model on our list by a wide margin and getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s still a top choice for melting large amounts of snow or boiling water quickly with minimal fuel waste. Along with the WindBurner above, the protective housing, efficient burner, and stable design make it one of the best stoves we’ve tested for cooking in tough conditions. In choosing between the two MSR models, the WindBurner is the more versatile and affordable option for backpackers, but we recommend the Reactor if you need the stronger burner (9,000 BTUs vs. 7,000 BTUs) or larger-capacity pot (up to 2.5 liters).

We’ve ranked the Reactor stove very highly on our list in the past, but with models such as the WindBurner and MiniMo being better fits for all but the most discerning alpinists, the Reactor may soon become obsolete. Unlike the MiniMo, it cannot simmer. Further, the Reactor did malfunction during our testing, failing to light at temperatures below 5 degrees Fahrenheit (a backup WindBurner saved the day). That said, as one of the only truly windproof stoves, the Reactor is popular for cold weather and high elevations, and we still see alpine climbers using it more than any other stove.
See the MSR Reactor 1.7L Stove System

 

14. Optimus Crux Stove ($50)

Optimus Crux canister backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 2.9 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Compact design and quiet operation.
What we don’t: Heavier and more expensive than the PocketRocket 2.

There’s no shortage of high-quality canister stoves to choose from (including the MSR PocketRocket 2 and Soto WindMaster above), and Optimus throws their hat into the ring with the Crux here. This stove stands apart from the competition with a compact, foldable design that nests in the bottom of a fuel canister by way of an included neoprene bag. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more packable stove without getting into alternative-fuel designs, making the Crux a nice option for ultralighters who don’t want to compromise on performance. And packed size aside, the Optimus checks all of the boxes for a high-quality canister stove, featuring a competitive 3-minute boil time, good flame control, and simple, user-friendly operation.

With just a minor weight and price difference (the MSR lowers the bar by 0.3 oz. and $5), it might seem like we’re splitting hairs in comparing the PocketRocket 2 and Crux, but a few small discrepancies might make a big difference for the discerning user. First off, the Optimus’ flame is a lot broader (better for cooking), and it’s considerably quieter than the MSR. However, the PocketRocket is arguably the more durable choice, with a hard-sided case and fewer moving parts (no foldable stem). And in terms of weight and wind performance, neither one can measure up to the Soto WindMaster above (the Optimus’ convex burner means the flame is more exposed). In the end, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these canister stoves, but depending on your needs, one might get the job done slightly better than the rest.
See the Optimus Crux Stove

 

15. Jetboil Stash Cooking System ($130)

Jetboil Stash backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 7.1 oz. (stove only: 2.1 oz.)
Integrated pot: No (pot included)
What we like: Jetboil’s lightest and most compact offering yet.
What we don’t: Expensive, doesn’t simmer, and lacks Jetboil’s standard heat exchanger.

The first thing you should know about Jetboil’s new-for-2021 Stash is that it’s their lightest stove system yet. At just 7.1 ounces all-in for the canister stove (2.1 oz.) and 0.8-liter aluminum pot (5 oz.), it’s a whopping 40 percent lighter than the next-in-line Zip. And with a nesting design, you can fit the stove, stand, and a 100-gram fuel canister into the pot for a nice, compact package. Unlike most Jetboil systems, the Stash does not have a heat exchanger on the stove side (read: less efficiency and wind resistance compared to integrated designs), but the pot’s FluxRing is a nice compromise and keeps the boil time decently fast (2.5 min. for 0.5L).

However, we run into some roadblocks when asking, “Who should buy the Stash?” Sure, it’s a nice combo set for those starting from scratch, but at $130, you’ll pay almost triple what you would with the Amicus Stove Cookset Combo above (and unlike the Amicus, the Stash doesn’t simmer). On the other hand, it’s a convenient package for ULers, but true ounce counters can do even better by pairing a stove like the SnowPeak Lite Max (2 oz.) and a titanium pot (or dropping down to an alternative fuel stove). And while dedicated Jetboil fans might love the idea of an ultralight design, the Stash’s output doesn’t quite live up to the brand’s reputation with only 4,500 BTUs (compared to the Flash’s 9,500). It’s admittedly a harsh critique of an exciting new design, but we recommend saving your cash and sticking with some of the options higher on the list. 
See the Jetboil Stash Cooking System

 

16. Primus Essential Trail ($25)

Primus Essential Trail backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 4 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: A cheaper alternative to the PocketRocket and WindMaster above.
What we don’t: Doesn’t fold down for storage and weighs more than both those stoves.

Stoves like the MSR PocketRocket 2 and Soto WindMaster above are undeniably lightweight and powerful, but you can get similar performance for less with the Primus Essential Trail. For only $25 (a considerable $20 cheaper than the PocketRocket 2), the Essential Trail boasts an identical boil time of 3 minutes 30 seconds, good flame adjustment via a wire control valve, and a durable build to withstand regular use and abuse. We also like the wider pot platform on the Primus, which translates to more stability and better protection against strong gusts (although it still falls well short of an integrated model like the MSR WindBurner).

What do you sacrifice by saving with the Primus Essential Trail? To start, weight goes up to 4 ounces, which makes it the heaviest screw-on model on our list by around an ounce and much less of an ultralight standout than the competition. And at this price point, you don’t get push-start ignition (that will require stepping up to the $65 Soto WindMaster). Finally, unlike similar designs above, the Essential Trail doesn’t fold down, which is good from a durability standpoint (read: fewer breakable parts) but will take up more space in a pack. These reasons are enough to push the Essential Trail down our list, but it’s still a reliable and well-made PocketRocket alternative at a good price.
See the Primus Essential Trail

 

17. MSR XGK EX ($170)

MSR XGK EX backpacking stoveFuel type: Liquid
Weight: 13.2 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Fast and powerful; multi-fuel compatibility.
What we don’t: Not ideal for precision cooking.

For high-altitude basecamping and expedition scenarios—think places like the Himalayas—trekkers and mountaineers don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with many of the models above. Instead, they simply need a stove that melts snow and cooks a lot of food fast, and the MSR XGK EX is one of the most proven and capable options in this category. Like MSR’s own International above, the XGK EX burns multiple kinds of liquid fuel including white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto fuel, diesel, and even jet fuel. Additionally, the retractable legs and pot supports provide a stable and effective cooking platform, even for larger pots.

Keep in mind that the MSR XGK EX is a one-trick pony and doesn’t offer great temperature regulation, meaning it’s not an ideal tool for cooking elaborate meals or simmering—dehydrated pouch meals are about the most gourmet you’ll get here. It’s also known to be quite noisy (third-party sound-dampeners actually are available, which says something). But it’s reliable, powerful, and easy to troubleshoot should something go wrong, which is an excellent combination for far-off adventures. MSR’s own DragonFly is another option in this category with better flame control and at a slightly cheaper price, but it’s heavier than the XGK and not as efficient overall.
See the MSR XGK EX

 

18. Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove ($60)

Backpacking Stoves (Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood)Fuel type: Wood
Weight: 4.1 oz. 
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Very light and packable for a wood-burning stove. 
What we don’t: Unstable and requires a lot of attention to maintain flame.

At 4.1 ounces, the Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove is the lightest wood-burning backpacking stove we’ve tested. And because it eliminates the need to carry the added weight of fuel, it’s in the running for the lightest stove system on this list. With a unique collapsible design, the Hexagon packs down flat and set-up is a breeze. With the right fuel—small branches, sticks, twigs—it makes a great ultralight solution to heating water or food. And although we list the titanium version here, you also have the option of purchasing the stainless-steel Hexagon for only $40. At 7.5 ounces all-in, the stainless steel is still a lighter-weight option than most. 

Keep in mind that the build of the Vargo Hexagon feels considerably less sturdy than the Solo Stove Light above. Specifically, the metal side panels snap together loosely enough to be somewhat concerning when boiling a pot of water on top. In addition, given the small compartment for debris, it’s more difficult to build a sizable flame and keep airflow going in order to boil water quickly (when we tested the stove, it took 9.5 minutes to boil a half liter of water). But if you’ve got time on your hands to tend to your stove, the Vargo can be worth the hassle for its streamlined weight and build. 
See the Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove

 

19. BRS 3000T ($17)

BRS 3000T backpacking stoveFuel type: Canister
Weight: 0.9 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Really, really cheap and still works.
What we don’t: Inferior performance compared to the PocketRocket and similar models above.

At a double-take-worthy price of $17, the BRS 3000T doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but its performance stacks up surprisingly well to standalone stoves from MSR, Snow Peak, Primus, and others. The generic design—we’ve seen very similar models under the name Icetek Sports—doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it does offer decent flame control and performance for casual backpackers. The stove functions in a similar way to the MSR PocketRocket above, running on isobutane/propane canisters, and includes folding pot supports and an easy-to-use control valve (note: you don’t get push-button ignition).

At such a low cost, there are a few letdowns in the build. For one, the stove doesn’t burn nearly as efficiently as the PocketRocket, WindMaster, Essential Trail, or LiteMax, so you will go through a fuel canister in a shorter amount of time (this can add up, particularly on longer trips.) Moreover, the stove doesn’t do well in the wind and will take longer to boil at full power, and it’s noticeably flimsier and less durable than the pricier canister options on our list (including the $25 Primus Essential Trail). But if you set reasonable expectations, the BRS 3000T is an intriguing budget option nevertheless. 
See the BRS 3000T

 

20. Esbit Pocket Stove ($13)

Esbit Folding Pocket StoveFuel type: Tablets
Weight: 3.25 oz.
Integrated pot: No
What we like: Cheap and ultralight.
What we don’t: Cooks slowly, messy and stinky, and no flame control.

For those going ultralight and who don’t use their stove often, the Esbit is a true test of your minimalist loyalties. Powered by solid fuel tablets, this system is lightweight and bucks the need for canister or liquid fuel systems altogether. Its best uses are as a backup or emergency stove, not a primary stove, and some people even use the Esbit for day hiking to heat up beverages and small meals. For the weight and price, it’s a pretty decent option for these purposes.

Each fuel tablet weighs 0.5 ounces and offers about 12 minutes of burn time, but cooking is much less efficient than canister or liquid fuel systems and you have little control over the intensity. You also may find a sticky residue on the bottom of pots and pans from burned up tablets. As a final note, there may be restrictions on using Esbit or alcohol stoves in at least one U.S. national park due to the potential fire danger (see our buying considerations below for more information).
See the Esbit Pocket Stove

 

Backpacking Stove Comparison Table

Stove Price Fuel Type Weight Integrated Pot Auto Ignition Boil Time
MSR PocketRocket 2 $45 Canister 2.6 oz. No No 3.5 min (1L)
Jetboil Flash Cooking System $110 Canister 13.1 oz. Yes Yes 3.3 min (1L)
Soto Amicus Stove Cookset $45 Canister 11.2 oz. No (included) Yes Unavail.
MSR WhisperLite Universal $150 Canister/liquid 11.2 oz. No No 3.5 min (1L)
Solo Stove Lite $70 Wood 9 oz. No No 8-10 min (1L)
MSR WindBurner System $150 Canister 15.3 oz. Yes Yes 4.5 min (1L)
Soto WindMaster Stove $65 Canister 3 oz. No Yes 2.5 min (.5L)
Jetboil MiniMo System $150 Canister 14.6 oz. Yes Yes 4.5 min (1L)
MSR WhisperLite International $110 Liquid 11.2 oz. No No 3.5 min (1L)
Snow Peak LiteMax $60 Canister 2 oz. No No 4.4 min (1L)
Trangia Spirit Burner $15 Alcohol 3.8 oz. No No 10 min (1L)
Kovea Spider $63 Canister 6 oz. No No Unavail.
MSR Reactor 1.7L System $250 Canister 1 lb. 2 oz. Yes No 3 min (1L)
Optimus Crux Stove $50 Canister 2.9 oz. No No 3 min (1L)
Jetboil Stash Cooking System $130 Canister 7.1 oz. No (included) No 2.5 min (.5L)
Primus Essential Trail $25 Canister 4 oz. No No 3.5 min (1L)
MSR XGK EX $170 Liquid 13.2 oz. No No 3.5 min (1L)
Vargo Titanium Hexagon $60 Wood 4.1 oz. No No 8-12 min (.5L)
BRS 3000T $17 Canister 0.9 oz. No No Unavail.
Esbit Pocket Stove $13 Tablets 3.25 oz. No No 8 min (.5L)

 

Backpacking Stove Buying Advice

Backcountry Stove Types

Canister and Remote Canister Stoves
Canister stoves, which run on a mix of primarily isobutane and propane, dominate the backpacking market. What makes them so popular is the user-friendly design: you simply connect the 4- or 8-ounce fuel canister to the stove, light it, and you’re good to go. Further, the mixture burns very clean, can be set to either simmer or boil quickly (especially with an advanced design like the Jetboil MiniMo), and heats very efficiently. Canister stove models vary widely, ranging from small and light (MSR’s PocketRocket 2) to all-in-one systems that boil water efficiently (Jetboil’s Flash). You also have remote canister designs like the MSR WhisperLite Universal and Kovea Spider, which sit directly on the ground and feature a hose that connects to the canister remotely and allows you to invert it for better performance in the cold.

Backpacking stove (in hand)
Modern canister stoves can weigh 3 ounces or less

But canister stoves do have their downsides. For one, they often suffer in cold weather, especially when compared to white gas models. Remote canister designs are a step up, but liquid gas is far and away the most reliable option. Second, the metal canister itself is fairly heavy and bulky, which can become an issue if you need to carry a lot of fuel for extended backcountry travel. If you’re cooking two meals a day for a week or two—not just boiling water, but cooking meals—a liquid-fuel stove is a better option. Third, isobutane/propane canisters don’t refill easily, which results in a great deal of waste (recycling is an option but can be difficult to find). And finally, isobutane/propane canisters aren’t always easy to track down overseas, and you certainly can’t fly with them (more in “Traveling Internationally” below).

Backpacking stove (simmering with the GSI Pinnacle)
With a remote canister stove you can invert the canister for better performance in the cold

Liquid and Multi-Fuel Stoves
Stoves that are set up to run on liquid fuel, like the ubiquitous MSR WhisperLite, have a fuel line that connects to a separate refillable bottle. Most liquid-fuel stoves run on white gas, although there are a number of models that can use multiple fuel types, including kerosene and unleaded gas (the MSR WhisperLite Universal and XGK EX are two examples). If you’re traveling overseas, these versatile designs are your best bet. Liquid gas (namely white gas) burns hotter than isobutane/propane, so the stoves offer better performance in cold weather and at altitude. Furthermore, white gas is a far better fuel choice for longer trips, as you can bring more with less bulk, and even store your backup supply in a lightweight plastic bottle (just don’t mistake it for water!). But perhaps our favorite thing about liquid fuel is the way that it cuts down on waste—you can purchase it in bulk and reuse the same fuel bottle over and over again.

Liquid fuel backpacking stove (MSR WhisperLite)
Cooking with the MSR WhisperLite at high elevation

For short trips, we still prefer stoves that run on isobutane/propane over liquid fuel models for their lightweight, compact builds and remarkable convenience. Liquid fuel stoves are slower to set up and use, and you’ll need to pump the bottle every few minutes to maintain pressure (especially when it’s less than full). These stoves are also usually bulkier, heavier, and more expensive than their canister alternatives. All in all, if your trips extend past the length of a week (without resupply), are outside of the United States, or venture into cold or high-altitude environments, we recommend a liquid fuel stove. For all other backpacking needs, a canister stove is still our cook set-up of choice.

Alcohol Stoves
Stoves that run on denatured alcohol are popular among ultralight and thru-hiking communities, preferred for their affordable price, lightweight construction, and simplicity. The most basic design can be made by punching holes along the rim of a tuna fish or cut-off soda can, and more complex stoves offer features such as simmer control, an integrated windscreen, or a pot stand. Alcohol stoves can’t compete with the liquid or canister stoves above in terms of efficiency, heat output, or flame control, but they do take the cake for simplicity and overall weight. And perhaps one of the biggest selling points of an alcohol stove is the ease of acquiring fuel, especially at hardware stores or gas stations in small resupply towns.

Backpacking stove (AntiGravityGear Tin Man alcohol stove)
Alcohol stoves are light, simple, and easy to refuel

Wood-Burning Stoves
Wood-burning stoves use sticks, pinecones, leaves, and other dead and downed forest items for fuel, resulting in an extremely lightweight stove that doesn’t require you to pack any additional fuel weight or bulk. Logically, these stoves make a good option for those heading out for long-term sojourns in the woods—you can collect your fuel as you go. However, wood-burning stoves take a great deal of care, and don’t hold a candle to the ease of use or output of a more traditional canister or liquid-fuel stove. Because of this, we recommend them for backcountry travelers who enjoy the novelty of an actual fire and don’t mind a slower meal prep process. And take note: wood is not a clean-burning fuel and will leave your stove and cookware covered in soot. You will also need to check for local fire and twig collection regulations before you use a wood-burning stove, and consider the fact that your potential fuel may be wet.

Backpacking stove (Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove)
With a wood-burning stove, you collect your fuel as you go

Solid Fuel Tablet Stoves
We include one tablet stove on our list: the Esbit Pocket Stove. This ultralight, fringe piece runs off of solid fuel tablets, and clocks in at just over 3 ounces. We wouldn’t want to cook or boil water consistently with such a stove—the small cubes don’t burn as hot as other fuel and are known to leave a sticky mess on the bottom of pots. But the Esbit—and other tablet stoves—is a great backup option to bring along just-in-case. And as with wood stoves, you’ll want to check on regulations before you use your tablet stove in the field; notably, a couple of years ago Rocky Mountain National Park banned alcohol and Esbit stoves because they lack a shutoff switch or valve. 
 

Integrated Stoves vs. Non-Integrated Stoves

Integrated Stoves
An integrated system—like the Jetboil Flash—is unique to canister stoves, and consists of a burner, heat exchanger, and pot that all secure to the top of a fuel canister in one streamlined package. The all-in-one set-up has the clear advantage of efficient heating: when everything is so tightly connected, the design allows faster heating with less fuel. As a result, these stoves are the clear winners in terms of quickest boil times. And it doesn’t hurt that integrated stoves are simple purchases: you get everything you need in one fell swoop, rather than having to make multiple decisions about pots, fuel bottles, and windscreens.

Backpacking stove (Jetboil Flash boiling water)
Boiling water with the Jetboil Flash

However, the tall and skinny pot size, small diameter burner (making it difficult to substitute a different pot), and lack of simmering capabilities mean that integrated stove systems are often one-trick ponies, used primarily as a means to boil water for dehydrated meals and hot drinks. Jetboil's MiniMo is a notable exception here, with the ability to simmer and a short and stout pot for convenient cooking. If you want to make gourmet feasts, look below at the non-integrated stove systems. But for the trend toward dehydrated meals over backcountry cooking, all-in-one systems offer the best in stability, convenience, and wind resistance. Plus, with a built-in handle and insulated cozy that easily turn the pot into a mug, they are the most streamlined and user-friendly systems available.

Backpacking stove (pouring water from Jetboil MiniMo)
An all-in-one set-up works really well with dehydrated meals

Non-Integrated Stoves
On the other hand, a non-integrated stove functions as two separate units: the fuel source and stove are at the bottom and a pot or frying pan is then perched on top. These stoves don’t include the heat exchanger of an all-in-one system and are generally less stable and less efficient. Further, the flame is more exposed to the wind, so it’s a good idea to use a windscreen in most cases to keep the stove functioning effectively (this is particularly true for fuel types like alcohol, wood, and tablets that don’t burn as hot). These set-ups also lack the convenience of the systems above, and you’ll need to purchase your cookset separately.

But non-integrated stoves are not without their benefits. Most notably, they offer a great deal of versatility. You can swap out your pot for one of a different size (or even a frying pan), simmer a meal over the flame, and use white gas for better functionality in the cold or at higher elevations. Additionally, non-integrated stoves are often lighter and more affordable than those of the integrated variety (provided you choose a lightweight cookset). We think of these stove systems as an excellent choice for backpackers who like to cook over the flame and don’t need a particularly windproof set-up. Those of the ultralight persuasion can cut weight by combining a screw-on canister stove (like the MSR PocketRocket) or alternative-fuel stove with a lightweight pot.

Boiling water with Soto WindMaster canister backpacking stove
Non-integrated systems get the clear edge in versatility

Weight and Packability

Like most backpacking gear, weight is an important consideration when choosing a stove. Before we start in on the specifics, it’s important to note that weight is rather difficult to compare among backpacking stoves, as you need to consider your type of fuel and amount needed, in addition to whether or not you’ll be adding the weight of a cookset. For each stove on our list, we’ve listed the bare bones weight, which does not include the isobutane/propane canister or liquid-fuel bottle, fuel pump (if required), or additional pots. One exception is an integrated system like the Jetboil Flash, which factors its pot into the weight.

In general, you can expect alternative-fuel stoves to be the lightest options, and liquid-fuel stoves to be the heaviest. Canister stoves—especially non-integrated canisters models like the 2-ounce Snow Peak LiteMax—are truly a happy medium in terms of weight. In choosing the right system for you, it comes down to priorities: you’ll nearly always be sacrificing something—convenience, speed, durability, cold-weather performance, etc.—when you shave ounces. That said, every model here on our list is what we consider light and packable enough for backpacking. Even a relatively heavy design like the 1-pound-2-ounce MSR Reactor is still reasonable and well worth its weight at high elevations or in the extreme cold.

Backpacking stove (Trail Designs Caldera Cone)
Alcohol stoves are generally very packable and lightweight

Boil Time and Stove Efficiency

From a quick glance at our table above, you’ll see that boil times vary dramatically between models, ranging from around 2-3 minutes per liter of water to 10+ for wood-burning and alcohol stoves. In general, the numbers correlate very closely with the type of fuel: as we mentioned, integrated canister stoves are very efficient heaters with their all-in-one designs, while non-integrated canister models leave more of the flame exposed but still typically hover in the 3- to 5-minute range. Multi-fuel options like the MSR WhisperLites and XGK EX are also pretty efficient, although boil time varies depending on which type of fuel you’re using (for example, kerosene takes considerably longer to boil than white gas). And at the extremely slow end of the spectrum are designs like the wood-burning Vargo Titanium Hexagon and Solo Stove Lite, Trangia Spirit Burner alcohol stove, and Esbit Pocket Stove tablets.

All that said, these times were measured in laboratory settings with no wind or adverse conditions, both of which can significantly impact boiling speed. In other words, while the MSR WindBurner has a fairly middling advertised boil time of 4.5 minutes, it may beat the Jetboil Flash—which boasts a boil time of around 3.5 minutes per liter but has more of the stove exposed—in blustery weather. And again, at high altitudes or in extreme cold, propane/isobutane canisters can stop working entirely. Other factors to consider are pot support height, the amount of flame protection, windscreen coverage, etc. In the end, it’s important to consider your objectives and what kind of performance you need. If you backpack exclusively in fair weather, a non-integrated canister stove or alternative-fuel option is a viable choice. If you get out year-round and especially at altitude, a remote canister stove (especially a multi-fuel option) will be more reliable, regardless of the advertised times.

Backpacking stove (Jetboil integrated design)
Flame coverage and wind protection can have a major impact on boil time

Finally, it’s important to point out that performance isn’t solely dependent on how fast your stove is able to boil water, but also how much fuel it takes to do so. For most backpackers, boil time and efficiency are equally important considerations. After all, if your stove can boil water in 2 minutes but blows through an entire canister very quickly, it’s not all that impressive. Thru-hikers in particular can save considerable weight by carrying less fuel, so efficiency can majorly impact a final decision. In general, manufacturers publish this number alongside boil times (often referred to as burn time), which indicates how long the stove will go through a given amount of fuel. But again, remember that these tests were done in a lab and will likely vary in the field. For a more in-depth breakdown, MSR has an excellent article on boil times and stove performance here


Burner Power: BTUs

BTUs, or British Thermal Units, measure heat output and help indicate how powerful a stove is. More specifically, it’s the amount of energy required to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. To be clear, this isn’t the sole indicator of power (factors like burner size can also have an impact), but it a helpful spec in comparing models. In general, more BTUs will produce a stronger flame, which will allow you to cook more food faster. For example, the difference between MSR’s Reactor (9,000 BTUs) and WindBurner (7,000 BTUs) will be noticeable (as we mentioned, the Reactor is a great option for melting large amounts of snow quickly). On the flipside, that extra output comes with greater fuel consumption, meaning that the Reactor will burn through fuel quicker than the WindBurner. Most stove manufacturers publish BTUs alongside boil time, weight, and other specifications, but again, this number is just one part of the performance equation.

Backpacking stove (MSR Reactor boiling water)
The MSR Reactor is known for its strong burner and excellent output

Simmering Capabilities

Those that plan to do more than just boil water will want a stove with quality flame control. Most canister and liquid fuel models have a twist valve to adjust the height of the flame, but a built-in regulator or advanced valve system is what truly improves a stove’s ability to simmer. Some stoves that simmer well include MSR’s WhisperLite Universal and PocketRocket 2, as well as the Jetboil MiniMo. On the other hand, basic liquid-fuel stoves (like the standard WhisperLite) and all-in-one systems like the Jetboil Flash typically don’t have the ability to run smoothly at low heat, although you can usually keep a small flame going with skillful regulation of the fuel valve (i.e., a whole lot of babysitting).

Backpacking stove (adjusting the Soto WindMaster's flame)
Soto's WindMaster has great flame control

Wind Resistance and Windscreens

As we’ve touched on throughout this article, backpacking stoves and wind don’t get along. Strong winds can quickly put out your flame, and re-igniting your stove can be a major hassle in gusty conditions. For the best performance in blustery weather, all-in-one systems are far and away the best choice. The MSR WindBurner, for example, leaves very little of the stove exposed to the elements. Non-integrated stoves, on the other hand, typically will require the purchase of a separate windscreen or set-up in a well-protected area at camp. Alcohol and wood-burning stoves fall at the bottom of the pack in terms of wind resistance, and it might take some practice and patience to get an even and consistent flame. If you backpack in consistently windy conditions—think above-treeline locations like Fourteeners in Colorado or the High Sierra—consider whether or not you need added protection before heading out.

If you have a screw-on or other detached stove and want to invest in a windscreen, we love this MSR model. At $15 and 2 ounces all in (to make it even lighter, we leave the bottom portion behind and only bring the wraparound sleeve), this simple piece of lightweight aluminum protects your otherwise exposed flame from the wind. In practice, the metal reflects heat to help warm your pot quicker, and less wind keeps the flame centered under the pot for better efficiency. The metal is thin and malleable so that it’s easy to get into place, and we think it’s worth carrying even when backpacking in moderate wind.

Backpacking stove (MSR PocketRocket lighting stove)
Screw-on stoves typically leave more of the flame exposed to wind

Cooking at Altitude and in the Cold

Interestingly, fuel reacts similarly to both cold weather and altitude. For traveling in these conditions, we’ll always recommend a liquid-fuel stove over a stove run on isobutane/propane—white gas and other liquid fuels simply operate better in the cold, and you can regulate the dropping pressure with the fuel pump too. On the other hand, canisters have the tendency to depressurize in the cold or at elevation, and freezing temperatures can keep liquid gas from vaporizing (a necessary process for moving gas from canister to stove). At best, the result is inefficient cooking and a weak flame (at worst, you get a non-operational stove). If you don’t want to give up the convenience of a canister stove, we recommend one with a remote connection that allows you to invert the canister, such as the MSR WhisperLite Universal. And if you’re in a pickle in cold weather with a standard canister stove, you can keep your fuel warm by putting it in your jacket pocket or sleeping bag, or wrapping it in a layer during use. But for the best results, leave your canister stove at home for cold or high-altitude trips, and bring a liquid-fuel stove instead.

Backpacking stove (fuel)
Isobutane/propane canisters struggle in the cold and at elevation

Even with a liquid-fuel stove, there’s not much you can do to speed up cook times at high altitudes. Here, you’re dealing with two contributing factors: first, water evaporates faster at higher elevations, and second, water has a lower boiling point. This means that you’ll need to boil more water, and importantly for dehydrated food eaters: your meals will take longer to cook because of the lower water temperature. In general, you’ll start to notice this slowing down around 5,000 feet, with the boiling point dropping roughly 5˚F every 2,500 feet.
 

Auto Ignition: What is a Piezo Igniter?

You’ll often see canister-style stoves with a built-in starter, referred to as a push-button or Piezo igniter. With a simple push of a button (after loosening the fuel control valve), an electric spark lights your stove. This handy tool does add a tiny bit of weight and can have a small impact on a stove’s packed size, but the convenience factor is significant for some backpackers.

Backpacking stove (Jetboil MiniMo piezo igniter)
Many of Jetboil's systems include an integrated igniter

What are the pros and cons of a built-in igniter? Piezo lighters save time and are particularly helpful in windy conditions when a match could easily be blown out. On the downside, if they do fail (and many have been known to stop working over time), you have a useless protrusion stuck to the side of your otherwise fully functioning stove. Should this happen, however, you can continue to light the stove the old-fashioned way. No matter what, we always suggest bringing some backup matches or a lighter for the just-in-case.
 

Completing your Backcountry Cookset

A stove is just one part of your backcountry cookset, and unless you get an all-in-one design like the Jetboil models above or MSR WindBurner, you’ll likely need to purchase a pot separately. Stainless steel and titanium are the two most common materials, and each has their benefits. The former is considerably cheaper and typically holds up better over time, but titanium is much lighter and has a higher strength rating (although it will form hot spots if you cook with it, which can result in burned food and a difficult-to-clean pot). Two of our favorites are GSI’s aluminum Halulite Boiler Pot ($32 and 8.6 oz.) and MSR’s titanium Titan Kettle ($60 and 4.2 oz.). Another option is purchasing a pre-packaged cookset like the Soto Amicus Stove and Cookset combo, which costs just $45 for the stove and two pots. But if your main goal is cutting weight, a canister stove like the PocketRocket or alternative-fuel option and titanium pot may be the best way to go.

Backpacking stove (night)
A superlight pot and canister stove make for a great minimalist set-up

In addition to a pot, there are a few other components to think about. One is cutlery, with options ranging from a set with a spoon, fork, and knife to a lightweight spork like the Humangear GoBites Uno ($3 and 0.5 oz.) that gets the job done for pretty much any meal. There are also a wide range of plates and bowl options, ranging from titanium to aluminum, silicone, and more. A choice here will ultimately come down to preferences on weight, packability, and price. Finally, there are a number of add-ons like coffee presses, tea filters, and other accessories for backpackers who like to enjoy a beverage with breakfast. We’ve used the WindBurner Coffee Press Kit with our stove for years and like how well it integrates with the rest of the system.


Traveling Internationally with a Stove

Whether it’s backpacking across Europe or cycling through South America, a reliable stove that can run on fuel that’s readily available locally is an absolute must. White gas and isobutane/propane canisters are not sold everywhere, but multi-fuel stoves can run on almost every type of fuel you might find throughout the world, including kerosene and unleaded gasoline. Our favorites include a few proven options from MSR: the WhisperLite International and Universal, and the XGK EX.

Backpacking stove (MSR WhisperLite abroad)
Bikepacking in Peru with the MSR WhisperLite

It’s always a good idea to research what types of fuel are most common at your destination. Due to airline restrictions, you cannot carry any fuel on the plane with you, whether in your checked bags or your carry-ons. Some travelers have even run into issues with dirty or used fuel lines creating some security delays at the airport. It’s our recommendation when researching to dig a little deeper than a basic country guidebook. Don’t be satisfied knowing that the destination country has the fuel available, but get to know (as best you can) how readily available it is and how often can you refill during your travels. And as a final recommendation, make sure to be familiar with the quirks of your stove before heading out. Unleaded fuel will burn a lot dirtier than white gas or a canister, so make sure you’re savvy in how to quickly clean the fuel lines.
Back to Our Top Backpacking Stove Picks  Back to Our Backpacking Stove Comparison Table

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