Do You Need a Fuel Canister Stabilizer?

Do You Need a Fuel Canister Stabilizer?

When you boil water with a canister stove, it’s very easy to tip a top-heavy pot full of scalding hot water all over yourself or the ground. It’s dangerous because you can get seriously burned and it uses up precious stove fuel if you’re running short. It’s even worse if your dinner was in the pot and ends up on the ground.

You can minimize the chances of this happening by carrying a folding tripod-like contraption called a fuel canister stabilizer, which is usually bundled with complete stove systems such as the Jetboil Flash and the MSR Windburner. These are both top-heavy cookpots when full of water and prone to tipping over.

Fuel canister stabilizer help prevent tip-overs if you have to cook on uneven ground.
A fuel canister stabilizer helps prevent tip-overs if you have to cook on uneven ground or rocks.

When expanded, the canister stabilizer forms a tripod that is wider than the diameter of your fuel canister and makes pots stacked on your stove less likely to tip over. They’re particularly useful if you set your stove up on uneven or rocky ground, which is the norm at most backpacking campsites.

These stabilizers have slots that fit 4 oz, 8 oz, or 16 oz isobutane canisters from most manufacturers. Because they’re folding and weigh less than an ounce, they’re easy to pack in most cookpots.

The last place you want a tip-over is inside a tent if you need to boil water or cook food when it’s raining.
The last place you want a tip-over is inside a tent if you need to boil water or cook food when it’s raining.

However, if you use a standalone canister stove like the tiny BRS3000T, the Soto Windmaster, or an MSR Pocket Rocket 2 that isn’t sold as part of a complete canister stove kit, they usually don’t come with a fuel canister stabilizer, so you might want to purchase one to add to your cooking kit. Fuel canister stabilizers only cost $6, they weigh virtually nothing, and they can really save you a lot of grief.

There was a time when I would leave the fuel canister stabilizer that came with my canister stove system at home rather than bringing it along on trips. I figured I could save weight by carrying one less thing. In hindsight, that was pretty idiotic and I now make a point to carry a fuel can stabilizer on backpacking trips when I’m using a canister stove.

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About the author

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 7500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 2500 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its backpacking gear reviews and hiking FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip is the 36th person to hike all 650 of the hiking trails in the White Mountain Guide, a distance of approximately 2500 miles, completing a second round in 2021. Philip is the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire.

20 comments

  1. Yup, these are like cell phones: before I ever had one I thought they were superfluous and kinda stupid. Now I wonder what I ever did without one.

  2. Got back last week from a 5 day canoeing trip to the Sylvania Wilderness with our boy scout troop. We required the stabilizers for both the youth and adults. We had groups of 2-3 cooking together with some rather large pots.

    They worked just fine especially on, as you noted, the mostly uneven ground we encountered at campsites.

  3. Fully agree. They are certainly worth the small amount of extra weight. Besides what you mentioned, it is much easier to find a spot to cook knowing that the stabilizer can provide the extra stability without having to find an absolutely flat, stable platform to place the stove.

  4. It is unnecessary. Don’t use it.

  5. I recently purchased a Jetboil Mighty MO and it came with the orange stabilizer that had 4 legs, not 3.
    If you want a stabilizer that is even larger, MSR makes a tripod style made of metal where the legs much longer than the orange plastic ones.

    https://www.ems.com/msr-universal-canister-stand/19831800012.html
    https://www.rei.com/product/814692/msr-universal-fuel-canister-stand

  6. Stabilizers are a boon for safety. I have had Brunton, MSR, And Jet Boil. Jet Boil wins the grams race and simplest. The only thing JB I own and I think it is the current best. They can also make nice stocking stuffers.

  7. Yeah, I finally broke down and started carrying one after I dumped two dinners in one hiking season. Guess I’m getting kluzty.

    HJ

  8. One note is they also keep your fuel canister clean. The entire forest duff seems to cling to the bottom and sides of a canister placed on bare ground. Especially since you often have to twist the canister into the ground for a stable setup. Unessential weight? Sure, if one is counting grams. Otherwise, likely one of my favorite components of a canister setup.

  9. I like the Optimus over the Jetboil because it folds to a straight line instead of a triangle, but definitely need one. Another great item is the 2QZQ tree table (although it’s been out of stock a while).

  10. I started carrying one a few years ago after a tip over. They weigh next to nothing and it adds an extra margin of safety when cooking in high fire areas.

  11. I guess I am gifted. I have never managed to tip over any of my canister stoves in the last thirty or so years. Boil overr, sure ?

  12. I vote for the MSR tripod.
    The orange JetBoil was lighter but was ornery
    to get on standard MSR canister, and broke trying
    to get off.
    Even accounting for user error , broken is still
    broken. Miles from home and useless weight.
    MSR has never failed, easy on, easy off.
    I’ve never carried a broken one home.

  13. I agree.
    I have a jetboil that is pretty tall.
    Even thought the pot attaches to the best it is much more stable with the canister legs.
    My jetboil came with the stand.
    thank you
    Phillip
    I really enjoy your articles.
    Just did a weekend section hike in mass.

  14. It’s called a stabilizer. I’m confused how people are saying it helps overcome uneven ground. Unless the legs are adjustable for height, wouldn’t it amplify uneven ground? I’ll admit to never having used them. I can certainly understand how it would provide a more stable platform against being bumped over.

  15. Have a couple of these stabilizers, one steel and two plastic.

    BUT… I bought the best fuel can “stabilizer” for my two grandsons. It is a Fire Maple BLADE 2 remote canister stove. Its legs/pot supports are made of titanium and the braided fuel line is light but strong. A remote canister is FAR safer than a canister top stove for teenagers, widely known as the most careless beings on the planet.

    BLADE 2 (as opposed to the original BLADE) has a fuel can attachment fixture that can be fully rotated for INVERTED CANISTER use in colder weather. Aside from this rotation feature what makes the BLADE 2 suitable for cold weather use is the vaporization tube beside the burner. I also like that the burner has a fairly wide diameter (about 2″). This avoids hot spots of other burners like the Pocket Rockets.

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