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10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2019

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 popular 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 2019.

Make / ModelTypeWeightPrice
MSR Pocket RocketCanister Stove System2.6 oz$45
Jetboil FlashCanister Stove System13.1 oz$100
MSR WindburnerCanister Stove System15.5 oz$150
Trail Designs Caldera ConeAlcohol Stove3 oz$35
Soto AmicusCanister Stove2.8 oz$40
Jetboil MinimoCanister Stove System14 oz$145
MSR Whisperlite UniversalCanister & White Gas Stove13.7 oz$140
Snow Peak Gigapower 2.0Canister Stove3.2 oz$50
Trangia Spirit StoveAlcohol Stove3.9 oz$15
Etekcity OrangeCanister Stove3.4 oz$14

Note: When comparing the weights of these products, it’s important to differentiate stoves from stove systems. The latter often include integrated cook pots, windscreens, and stove stands, in addition to the stove burner unit.

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. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

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 liter 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.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Amazon

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. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

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 windscreen/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 Kojin 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 a 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 to alcohol stove systems and only adds a few ounces to the weight of your cook pot and fuel. Read our Review

Check out the latest price at:
Trail Designs

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. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
Campsaver | Amazon | Drop

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. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

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 windscreen, 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.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

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 windscreen is also available to boost its impressive fuel efficiency.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

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.

Check out the latest price at:
Campsaver | Amazon

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. Read our review.

Check out the latest price at:
Amazon

How to Select a Backpacking Stove

When choosing a backpacking stove it’s best to consider:

  • the stove’s weight
  • the availability and cost of the fuel required to run it
  • whether it’s best for individual or group use
  • the operating temperatures in which it must perform

Stove and Cooking Fuel Types

There are five main types of backpacking stoves:

  • White gas (liquid fuel, Coleman fuel) stoves
  • Canister stoves that burn an isobutane/propane mix
  • Alcohol stoves which burn denatured alcohol
  • Wood stoves which burn twigs and small sticks
  • Solid fuel stoves

White gas stoves burn a refined form of unleaded gas. They’re good for group cooking and winter cooking because they generate a large amount of heat.  They can be bulky, however, which is why most solo hikers don’t use them. Canister stoves are best used for individual use or couples. Some can simmer, but most are specialized for boiling water. Alcohol stoves are very simple and preferred by thru-hikers and ultralight backpackers, in part because it is so easy to resupply denatured alcohol on a long distance hike (sold in supermarkets, drug stores, and hardware stores.) Wood stoves can be convenient if natural fuel is easily available, but fire bans in dry states often prohibit their use. Solid fuel stoves burn prepackaged fuel cubes and are also very lightweight, but the fuel can be hard to resupply on a long trip.

Backpacking Stove Systems

A stove system includes everything you need to boil water or cook food including a stove, a cookpot, windscreen, and a stove stand, making it a very convenient and economical way to acquire the stove components you need for backpacking or camping. While group stove systems are available, most of them are designed for single users and solo backpacking. Most stove systems are based around canister stoves and are quite windproof, which increases their fuel efficiency. They are limited in their capabilities, however, and more geared toward boiling water quickly, rather than simmering meals.

Winter Backpacking Stoves

Winter stoves are designed to burn fuel at lower temperatures, usually in a liquid form. White gas stoves can burn down to external temperatures of 40 below zero, Fahrenheit, while canister stoves that can burn a liquid feed (called inverted canister stoves) can burn down to about 10 degrees, Fahrenheit. Winter stoves are designed to melt snow to create drinking water and usually lack the ability to simmer meals since they’re glorified flame throwers.

Backpacking Stove Power

Stove power is measured in BTUs. The higher the number of BTUs, the more heat the stove will put out and the faster it will boil water.

Backpacking Stove Ignition

Many canister stoves are available with integrated sparking units called piezo igniters, so you don’t need to carry matches or a lighter to ignite your stove. While they are incredibly convenient, they have a tendency to wear out if you use your stove frequently. They are usually replaceable, but many people buy stoves without this feature to save money if they plan on using their stove heavily.

Methodology

How do we know what the 10 best backpacking stoves are? We survey our large readership to ask. If you’d like to participate in our surveys, be on the look up for the gear raffles we run every few weeks on SectionHiker, where we give survey participants a chance to win. Or sign up to the weekly, award-winning SectionHiker newsletter, so you never miss out on an opportunity to participate. We hate spam, so we’ll never share your email with anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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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.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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27 comments

  1. I find the Caldera cone awkward. Much rather use a wood stove.

  2. It’s be great if you used the same disclaimer when you wrote about tents. A tent that uses, sorry requires, a trekking pole for its erection m should be noted, just like a stove that requires one to use it’s proprietary pot (et jet boil). In today’s backpacking universe folks should know when companies are trying to hoodwink them into buying more than theyve bargained for

  3. There’s been some hype regarding regulated versus unregulated canister stoves. I have both, a Pocket Rocket 2 and a Soto Micro Regulator. Personally, I haven’t noticed a difference between the two. Both lose performance in cold weather, IMHO, about the same. What say you?

    • Lots of hype. It’s a topic I’m actively researching. Stove performance is dictated primarily by fuel warmth. That’s the ultimate workaround, a bowl of hot water.

      • Over the years, I’ve been on many very cold winter camping trips at high altitude above 10,000 with temps below 0. Although canister stoves suffer from poorer performance from elevation, a person learns quickly to sleep with his/her lighters and canisters if they want to survive and thrive!

  4. Something that Trail Designs didn’t mention in the specs is the additional weight of the Caldera Caddy, 2.5 to 3.1oz depending on the pot option. I consider the Caddy to be a necessity to protect the soft aluminum cone. Fortunately it’s a multi-purpose item. My system weighs 5.8oz with the Caddy.

    • My Caldera Cone “Sidewinder Solo” came with a Tyvek sleeve to roll it into, which then fits inside my cooking pot with the stove. Works great.

  5. Thanks for the great product evaluation and write up. As always Phil you break it down to the facts and then give us your insights. For me, I always carry a stove either Esbit or alcohol – just to boil water for morning hot coffee/tea/chocolate or after one of those those cold rainy days. Freeze dried prepared meals and cozy-bag re-hydrated mush doesn’t appeal to my taste or digestion. Over the decades it’s been an evolution to no-cook, but if I want a cooking stove along for the trip (occasional) then my Optimus 123r comes out – mine just turned 50 years old. So far, it’s never broken, failed to light, run out of fuel due to temperature, or turned into torch visible from space. Yes it roars like a jet taking off with afterburners & is a little sensitive about its weight, but it’s a reliable old school veteran of many hikes. I have considered the Optimus Primus or MSR Whisperlite Universal as a replacement when the 123r stops working, but somehow I think it will outlast me. The Jet Boil with the french press option turned my head, but we stayed loyal.

  6. Trail Designs now sells the Kojin alcohol stove, optimized for the Caldera Cone, which I think is better than the venerable 12-10 stove featured in Phillip’s post. The Kojin is a tiny metal tin filled with “batting” to wick the fuel. That means no priming. Even better, you can snuff the flame easily with the pot lid, then screw the lid on the stove, storing any left-over fuel. That probably makes the stove slightly safer to operate by reducing the chances of spilling fuel — not that the old burner was dangerous. Although you can buy Caldera Cones for almost any pot you already own, I got the “Sidewinder Solo” bundle with the Grease Pot, whose shallow, wide shape works especially well with the burner. The stove, rolled-up cone, and pot gripper fit inside the pot, plus a lighter or fire steel, cleaning rag, etc. The cone itself greatly improves efficiency. Great lightweight system for most of my needs, though I use other stoves for special circumstances.

  7. I too use the Caldera / Kojin combo. I’m super clumsy and having the stability of a cook system that can take an accidental bump. I also appreciate the silence of the system in the backcountry and find that leaving the water to boil is enough time to complete camp chores and requires very little attention. It does take up additional space and a good bit of the weight gained by the system is lost in the caddy. All in all it has been a great system for my water boiling needs.

  8. One other consideration for stove choice is whether the state or national park rangers ban alcohol stoves because of their increased fire-starting risks in the hands of clumsy folks. In drought conditions in my state, only canister or Esbit systems are allowed. Wood fires are banned in drought and non-drought conditions (except at group campsites in open area – generally run by Scout leaders). Esbit is stinky but it is a great thing to carry (triple-bagged) in an emergency kit because a simple Esbit stove (a thin sheet metal platform for the fuel to sit upon) and a few cubes is as light a stove system as you can get, and shelf life is long, and cubes are stable.

  9. I have the Whisperlite Universal and really like it. “The best of 3 fuels” so to speak with a great cool weather inverted canister setup.

    Also I have a Caldera Cone Sidewinder Titanium stove for a 3 cup Open Country pot. It too is a “3 fuel stove”, but these 3 fuels are ALCOHOL, ESBIT and WOOD.

    With the Inferno insert it becomes a wood “gassier” stove like the Canadian Bush Buddy, very HOTT and efficient.

  10. I have been using the Etekcity Orange for about a year now , works great and I think I paid like 15 bucks for it , it and a good wind screen (my ass pad) it boils water at 10 thousand feet in less then 3 minutes …

    • Friar Rodney Burnap

      I have owned this stove, it’s great for boiling water, but concentrates the flame to one spot on your pot and would burn anything on that spot that I try to cook with it outside of boiling water…

  11. Friar Rodney Burnap

    Best Stove kit is the Choke Hazard Cooking kit by minibulldesign.com you get a pot, pot stand wind screen and a remote alcohol stove…and everything is together weighs 3.73 ounces…it is great for one person to boil 2 cups of water for freezer bag cooking…

  12. Firebox nano titanium wood burning at 3oz. Folds flat at about 4 x 3. A “shelf” is available for alcohol, or connection to a canister, should you wish. Perfect for anyplace that has wood. No fuel carry!

  13. I’m old fashioned….. I dislike throw away cannisters, and among the stoves shown, only the Whisperlite makes the grade, however having owned one of these, as well as several cannister stoves over the years, nothing even touches the Svea 123 for pure rugged reliability, and lots of power……… unfortunately also lots of noise. The Whisperlite is a nice stove, but you cannot walk away from it, as it has to be frequently pumped or adjusted as the pressure varies. The Svea self pressurizes…. getting it going is a tad fiddly due to the preheat cycle, and you need to clean the orifice regularly…… a matter of seconds, but the Svea has taken me thousands of miles in the mountains over the years, on treks as long as 250 miles….. extremely fuel efficient, it will last me 5 days on just the small tank on the stove…… I’ve never owned the similar Optimus 8R. I find nothing to love about cannister stoves …… pure American Velveeta

    • I have to agree with Howard W. What is with all of these canister stoves anymore? Forget about boil times, weight, convenience, etc. The use of ANY canister stove contributes to an already burdensome problem of the disposal of single-use items that are ever-increasingly entering the waste stream. With China refusing to take our trash to “recycle it” (rightly so because the valuable materials are so contaminated with actual junk) where are all of these canisters made of valuable steel going to end up? In landfills of course. Wake up! Do the responsible thing and curtail your need for single-use items every way you can. Especially when it comes to “luxury goods” like backpacking stoves—truly a first-world convenience if there ever was one. White gas stoves or wood burners are the only responsible way to cook in most situations.

  14. All stoves and systems aside, it occurs to me that you might want to rethink the photo — there is your guy, sitting on a bare summit in the middle of fragile alpine vegetation, and his stove on top of it, no less. We drill Leave No Trace into our Boy Scouts, and that’s the first thing I noticed :-( Other than that, thanks for all the good information! I enjoy your site.

    • He’s using a canister stove, so I fail to see why it’s a problem. The heat source is not touching the ground. If it was a firepit or an alcohol stove that would be a problem, but it isn’t.

      • It’s not about the stove — it’s about walking or sitting on the fragile alpine vegetation at all. We hike a lot in the Whites of NH and there are signs and exhortations everywhere to stay on durable surfaces (rocks) and off the tiny plants that are trying to survive in the alpine zone above treeline.

      • This isn’t the White Mountains, but I see your point. Changed.

  15. “Best” for what? Although you do outline the virtues of various generic designs, the table and overall thrust of the piece doesn’t differentiate. Thirty percent of the selections are “canister systems,” which are overly specialized for the typical backpacking trip. I imagine the more basic canister designs are so closely similar as to be indistinguishable. Also, as a devotee of Trangia, I can say that the “simmer ring” is only marginally useful, and that “boil times ” are highly dependent on wind and to a lesser extent, temperatures. Moreover, the stove as pictured and described requires a pot stand/ windscreen. There are several options.

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