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10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2018

10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2018

Backpackers and campers have a wide range of stoves available to them ranging from all-in-one stove systems to general purpose units that can be used across a wide range of temperatures and locales. Backpacking stoves fall into three categories: isobutane canister stoves which are best for solo cooking and short trips, alcohol stoves which are best for ultralight backpacking and thru-hiking, and liquid fuel stoves which are best for group cooking, cold weather use, and international travel. Below are our picks for the best backpacking stoves of 2018.

1. MSR Pocket Rocket 2

MSR Pocket Rocket 2
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is compatible with all screw-type isobutane canisters. Compact and lightweight, it weighs 2.6 ounces and includes a built-in pot stand that’s compatible with a wide range of pots. When not in use, the arms of the pot stand fold down and fit into a small protective plastic case. The adjustable flame control is easy to use while wearing gloves and provides fine-grained control from a rolling boil to a slow simmer. The nice thing about buying a standalone stove like the Pocket Rocket 2 is that you can use it with several different best-of-breed pots and pans, instead of being locked into a single all-in-one stove and pot combination.  View at REI for $44.95.

Read SectionHiker’s MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Review.

2. Jetboil Flash

Jetboil Flash Canister Stove
The Jetboil Flash is a fully integrated personal cook system that includes a stove, insulated pot w/lid, stove stand, and a plastic measuring cup/bowl. It’s designed to do one thing incredibly well, which is to rapidly boil water for drinks and to rehydrate backpacking/camping meals. Weighing 13.1 ounces, the Flash can boil a liter of water in 4 minutes and 30 seconds  (although it can only boil a half lite at a time). A push button ignition system eliminates the need to light the stove while a color change indicator on the outside of the pot insulation cover lets you know when your water is hot. When not in use, the stove, stand and a 100 g gas canister fit inside the cook pot, making it easy to pack. View at REI for $99.95.

3. MSR WindBurner

MSR Windburner Stove System
The MSR Windburner is another complete canister stove system that includes an insulated cook pot, stove, stabilizer, and plastic mug/bowl. The thing that sets it apart from the Jetboil Flash is its flame-less stove, wind resistance, and fuel efficiency. Called a radiant burner, it uses a completely enclosed heating element with an internal pressure regulator that makes the stove virtually impervious to outside conditions. Weighing 15.5 ounces, the Windburner can boil a liter of water in 4 minutes and 30 second minutes and is nearly twice as efficient as a Jetboil, so you get twice as many boils per gas canister. When it’s time to go, the Windburner stove system packs up into its cook pot, with space for a 110 g gas canister. View at REI for $149.95. 

Read SectionHiker’s Windburner Stove Review.

4. Trail Designs Caldera Cone

Caldera Cone
Caldera Cone
The Trail Designs Caldera Cone is an ultralight, all-in-one alcohol stove system with a combination wind screen/pot stand that’s fitted to one of several dozen cook pots that you specify when you order a Cone. It uses the Trail Design’s 12-10 stove which is designed to perform in the lower oxygen/higher heat environment found inside the Caldera cone systems. The Caldera Cone also includes an alcohol fuel bottle, measuring cup, and plastic caddy to roll up and carry all of the Cone’s components when not in use. The Caldera Cone is considered the gold standard for ultralight backpacking when it comes alcohol stove systems and only adds a few ounces to the weight of your cook pot and fuel. View at Trail Designs for $35.

5. Soto Amicus Canister Stove

Soto Amicus Stove
Soto is a well-respected Japanese stove company known for making finely engineered stoves. The Soto Amicus (“friend” in Latin) includes many of the features found on their more expensive models including four pot supports and a recessed burner head that provides superior performance in windy conditions. The pot supports are permanently attached to the burner head, yet fold down compactly making it easy to store the stove and a gas canister in a wide variety of cooking pots. Weighing 2.8 ounces, the Amicus is a very powerful 10,000+ BTU stove, that can simmer or boil . It’s also available with or without a piezo igniter, and very reasonably priced. View at Campsaver for $39.95.

Read SectionHiker’s Soto Amicus Stove Review 

6. Jetboil MiniMo

jetboil minimo
The Jetboil MiniMo is a fully integrated personal cook system that includes a stove, insulated pot w/lid, stand, and a plastic measuring cup/bowl. It’s different from the Jetboil Flash because it’s designed to simmer meals in addition to boiling water, so you can cook gourmet meals on the trail or in camp. It also has a shorter and wider pot that’s easier to eat out of than the Flash. Weighing 14 ounces, the MiniMo can boil a liter of water in 4 minutes 30 seconds (although it can only boil a half liter at a time) and has a burn time of one hour on a 100 g gas canister. A push button ignition system eliminates the need to light the stove. When not in use, the stove, stand, measuring cup, and a 100 g gas canister fit inside the insulated cook pot, making the MiniMo easy to pack. View at REI for $135.

Read SectionHiker’s Jetboil MiniMo Review.

7. MSR Whisperlite Universal

MSR Whisperlite Universal
The MSR Whisperlite Universal burns a variety of fuels including white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline and isobutane-propane canisters giving you lots of flexibility no matter where you find yourself. Just switch the fuel line and select one of 3 self-cleaning Shaker jets, depending on the fuel type required. When burning white gas, the Universal can boil a liter of water in 3 minutes 30 seconds while it takes 3 minutes 45 seconds with an isobutane canister. Simmering is possible with all fuel types as well as a roiling boil, while the remote burner makes it possible to use a wind screen, no matter what type of fuel is used.  In addition to the stove, the 13.7 oz Whisperlite Universal includes a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, and small-parts kit. View at REI for $139.95.

8. Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0

Snowpeak Gigapower 2.0 Stove
The Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 is a standalone isobutane canister stove that can simmer or boil water. It has four pot supports that are compatible with a wide variety of cook pots, as well as a built-in piezo ignition system for matchless ignition. A solid and reliable performer, it weighs 3.2 ounces and takes an average of 4 minutes 45 seconds to boil a liter of water. While it comes with a protective plastic case, it can also be stored in a variety of cook pots with a gas canister. An add-on wind screen is also available to boost its impressive fuel efficiency. View at REI for $49.95.

9. Trangia Alcohol Stove

Trangia Alcohol Stove
Also known as the Trangia Spirit Stove, this is the most popular alcohol stove ever sold with a track record of reliable service that spans decades. It also has a couple of uniquely useful features that differentiate it from most other alcohol stoves. A simmer ring allows the burner to be adjusted from full power to a lower heat simmer and extinguishes the flame when closed completely. A twist on cap with an o-ring seals the burner so you don’t have to empty unused fuel between uses. Weighing 110 g, the Trangia boils 1 liter (4 cups) of water in 8 minutes. View at Amazon for $14.99.

10. Etekcity Orange

Etekcity Orange Stove
The Etekcity “Orange” stove is a popular budget canister stove that’s good enough for beginners and scouts. It’s a bit of a cult classic, known for its inexpensive price as well as the orange pocket-sized plastic case that’s included to protect the stove in transport. Weighing 3 and 3/8 ounces, it’s not the lightest weight canister available or the most powerful (6666 BTU), but it’s compatible with all screw-type isobutane canisters and can boil water or simmer meals just like the name brand canister stoves listed above. It has a built-in, fold-away pot stand with serrated feet as well as a piezo igniter for push button ignition. It even comes with a 1 year warranty. View at Amazon for $12.99 or buy 2 stoves for $17.99.

 

Disclosure: The author has received sample products mentioned in this article over the span of many years from MSR, Soto, and Trail Designs. The rest he’s purchased with his own funds.
Written 2018.

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40 comments

  1. Pocket Rocket is the standard, but after seeing one, I picked up a Kovea Supalite Titanium which not only packs smaller and is slightly lighter, but seems to support my pot on a more stable surface. The longer arms of the Pocket Rocket flex a bit. Yes, you do need to hold the pot when stirring on either, but there is just that little extra stability I feel in the Kovea. I think it also sits a bit lower. With a 900ml Ti pot, I can fit a 110g canister, the stove, a folding spork, silicone collapsible cup, a small clean-up sponge, mini-bic, and a square of heavy duty foil to act as a wind block all inside which makes packing and storage a snap. (the sponge seems like a luxury until you realize that it is fantastic at keeping the clanking of parts to a minimum.)

    I also have a Windburner but find that it’s rather heavy given the alternatives. In terms of speed, it is fantastic, but I really never find myself in that much of a rush.

    My old Wisperlite (with the upgraded pump) is still the cold weather workhorse. If I’m out wanting to heat hot cocoa for the Cub Scouts while ice fishing, it’s the one I carry in. White gas can’t be beat in the cold for both ease of use and BTUs.

    • The original pocket rocket which is no longer made was quite big and difficult to pack. The new PR2 is just as durable, just smaller, and much better for packing inside a pot. The funny thing about white gas stoves is that they are SO much faster than all the other alternatives and really still the only decent option for group cooking.

      • What’s funny about white gas stoves being faster than other types? White gas has a much higher energy density (Btus/lbm) than any other stove fuel.

  2. Two stoves not listed but popular among the ultralight community and thru hikers are the BRS-3000T canister stove and the Zelph Fancee Feest alcohol stove. I have both and they are my go to stoves (of which I have many). The BRS 3000-T weighs in at 25 grams, is tiny enough to fit in a pot and comes with a mini stuff sack. The Zelph Fancee Feest is by far my most used stove. It’s been with me on hundreds of miles of trail and many overnights. I love the simplicity of it and it is silent, so I don’t wake my slumbering companions as I make my coffee in the morning. It only weighs in at 24 grams and the stove itself serves as the pot stand. It’s a “cat can” stove, which you can make yourself, but the ones that Zelph makes are worth the inexpensive price. Just figured these stoves were worth mentioning.

    • Good to see alcohol stoves getting some love. They’re probably overlooked more than they should be. They’re not for everything but the combination of light weight, simplicity/reliability, and the availability of fuel at any hardware store add up to something I use quite a bit, especially if I’m traveling by air.

    • The pot supports on BRS 3000t melt when they get hot which is why it’s not on the list. Hikin’ Jim has published posts about this on Adventures in Stoving.

      I think Zelph has stopped making the Fancee Feest because of some kind of defect. Can’t remember the details. If you want a simple alcohol stove, just make one with a hole punch and a cat food can. The Trangia is a much different animal since it’s brass and has many other benefits.

      • From what I can tell, Zelph still sells them on the woodgaz-stove website and also buzz-markets them on whiteblaze.

  3. 20 years after getting it as a gift, still loving my Snow Peak, despite my son’s attempts to convert me to soda can alcohol stoves. Back then it was cutting edge for lightweight canister use. Glad to see it still makes the cut.

  4. Still using my solid fuel when packing light on solo trips. A bit messy and stinks…. but no worries about fuel spillage..
    Opinion?

  5. SVEA 123R for my winter trips and ESBIT cubes the rest of the year.

    • SVEA 123R! That brings back some memories. Good to hear it’s still working.

    • My 44-year-old Svea has never failed. A little slower than modern stoves—okay, a lot slower—to melt quantities of snow. You wouldn’t want to rely on it for a larger group, but not bad for one or two people. Any kind of breeze will dramatically diminish the output, though. The integral brass windscreen/pot support isn’t enough on its own. Needs to be supplemented with additional protection.

      • I need to rebuild my SVEA- 48 years old. Used it on a winter trip to Nauman Tent site maybe 5 years ago and had problems. (Phil was there and used some photos of the kitchen we built in a column.). I also have the Sigg Tourister pot, winsdcreen set, which solves the wind problem, but is heavy and bulky enough to only make sense for groups.

      • Huh. Your name sounded very familiar. I’ll have to look through my photos. Are you leading a Cube trip in the near future? I thought I saw your name there too.

    • That is a blast from my past. We had Svea 123 and Optimus 8R stoves at the college I went to in Colorado. They both were a little big and heavy but worked every time even on overnight cross country ski trips. They had a little trouble above 11,000 feet and that is why I got a MSR XGK and still use it today with NO problems and only one rebuild. It has been used in temps below -40F without any issue. I would love to know how much room in your packs all of the partial canisters take up compared to one re-usable fuel flask that I use.

  6. Used the MSR Whisperlite Universal on a week long hiking trip in Iceland. I can confirm it’s quality and usefulness. Having the ability to which to canisters during the hike was paramount and it made all the difference! And where we hiked, the area is prone to very windy conditions and again, with the wind shield, it performed beautifully.

  7. I got an Amicus when Hikin’ Jim reviewed it a couple years (?) back. I could not be more pleased, I think I used only about half as much fuel this last year as I had been before I got this stove (had been using a Pocket Rocket).

  8. I like my Soto Amicus fine. I don’t know what I’d have to do to it to break it, and that’s the only reason I ever might switch to a different canister stove–there’s just not that much differentiation from product to product/brand to brand.

    The only real differentiation is between categories. If I want to try a different type of stove then I’d just do that, but the main thing I like about my Amicus is that canister stoves are allowed pretty much everywhere and I don’t have to worry about regulations and alcohol or esbit counting as “open flames” and therefore being against the rules.

    • The Amicus is actually a superior stove than others that look like it. Soto makes a very durable piezo ignition system and the Amicus is very wind resistant. I believe it also has a pressure regulator (no that’s the Soto Windmaster). It really is a best buy.

      • I remember reading in several places, including on Hikin’ Jim’s blog I think, that one of the differences between the Amicus and the Windmaster is the lack of pressure regulator on the Amicus, which seems to be the reason for its lower price. Obviously the leg support attachment is also radically different.

      • That might be it.

        I’ve also reviewed both stoves. The Amicus has a better pot stand because you can’t remove and lose it.

  9. I need to boil water for two people. I have not tried the Caldera Cone, although I probably will some day. It looks very promising. Seems to be the Reactor of alcohol stoves.

    But I have tried about 6 or 7 different alcohol stoves. Intrigued by their advantages, I first build a cat can stove following Andrew Skurka’s instructions. It didn’t go well. So I built another two additional models with some modifications of the design. Still not pleased.

    After this first experience, I decided to continue reading reviews online and purchase from a manufacturer. And so I bought and for the most part sold another 5 or 6 stoves from various manufacturers. I tried different sources for the alcohol with a given stove, and still not pleased for the most part. The only stove that seemed to work reasonably well for the two of us was the Trangia. Way heavier than the other aluminium or titanium models I tried, but a fantastic performer. Out of all the stoves I tried it’s the only one I would consider taking without a backup.

  10. Have you tried the white box alchohol stove ? What did you think of ?

  11. Since ESBIT has been mentioned more than once, I’ve been wondering if a gassifier has been made for it that burns off the soot in the second stage?

  12. Do you have any particular needs from a stove that are not yet met by the current product range? Obviously compromise has to come into the design and manufacture of anything, but is there anything you want from a stove/ system that is not yet in existence?

  13. Maybe it should be noted that the Trangia is not a stand alone burner. some Sort of pot support is needed.

  14. I’ve got latest version of the Pocket Rocket and using my solo setup with Evernew Ti pots is a balancing act. The pot is only supported on the inner edge of the arms and I watch it like a hawk. I haven’t spilled anything yet but it’s only a matter of time before my dinner ends up on the floor. I like my pots but I’m looking for a new stove.

  15. I’ve had several of the Orange stoves for a good number of years. They have survived untold number of cub and boy scout trips, hikes, family camping and a laundry list of other outings. They work today just as good as they did the day they arrived in my mailbox.

    How long have I had them? I bought them back when they were $5, before they became popular and supply/demand pushed the price higher.

  16. Friar Rodney Burnap

    minibulldesign.com make a cooking kit that weighs 3.73 oz… called a the Choke Hazard Cooking Kit…you get a pot, pot stand, wind screen and remote feed alcohol stove…I own 5 of these and just love this cooking kit… remote feed let’s you refuel the stove as you cook…I use mine for boiling water with freezer bag Cooking…

  17. Friar Rodney Burnap

    P.S. the Caldera cone is not a great choice with an alcohol stove. Most alcohol stoves need to have the windscreen away from the stove. If it is not you will end up most likely would boiling alcohol and this is not what you want with an alcohol stove. With an alcohol stove to function properly you have to do what you can do to keep the alcohol from boiling. minibulldesign.com

    • Wrong. Really. Not trying to be mean, but this is factually incorrect. The cone system is design specially to prevent this and works wonderfully. You’d be amazed by the engineering design that goes into these stove. Russ is an engineer and machinist. I’ve seen the guy design and work.

      I love mini bull stove too for the ingenuity, but they are in a different league, Are you a shill for mini bull, because it sure sounds like it.

  18. I don’t like stoves that use cannisters, so 8 of these 10 so called best stoves I call rubbish: they don’t lit in cold weather, produce waste and gas cannisters are difficult to find when travelling. Loose pressure while half empty. Unstable. Maybe good for weekend trips if you can bring the cannisters from home. I use a Vargo woodstove in combination with the Trangia: multifuel. You can simmer the Trangia, it can’t fail, uses less fuel then so called light imitations (but heavier because you need more alcohol). Lits always, also in the cold, although some like to think not. Use a twig dipped in alcohol to lit it! I use Esbit when I really go ultralight.

  19. cooking is overrated

  20. Just reading this post.. For years I’ve used a well worn Borde “bomb” stove that my dad bought in 63. I still use if it’s going to be in 20’s or lower. It carries a long weekends worth of fuel and can double as a blow torch. For warmer weather, I like the Windburner I got 18 months ago.. Clean, packs up well and.. just works.

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