10 Best Backpacking Stoves

10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2021

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 2021.

Make / ModelTypeWeightPrice
MSR Pocket Rocket 2Canister Stove System2.6 oz$45
Jetboil FlashCanister Stove System13.1 oz$100
MSR WindburnerCanister Stove System15.5 oz$150
Trail Designs Caldera ConeAlcohol Stove System3 oz$35
Soto AmicusCanister Stove2.8 oz$40
Jetboil StashCanister Stove System7.1 oz$130
MSR Whisperlite UniversalCanister & White Gas Stove13.7 oz$140
Snow Peak Gigapower 2.0Canister Stove3.2 oz$50
Zelph Fancee Feest StoveAlcohol Stove0.8 oz$16
BRS300TCanister Stove1 oz (25g)$17

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:
Backcountry | REI | 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 cookpot, making it easy to pack.

Check out the latest price at:
Backcountry | 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:
Backcountry | REI | 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 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 wicked fast. It’s also available with or without a piezo igniter, and very reasonably priced. Read our review. We’re also big fans of the Amicus Cook Set which can fit an 8 oz /230 g fuel canister inside.

Check out the latest price at:
Amazon

6. Jetboil Stash

Jetboil Stash Stove System
The Jetboil Stash is a 7.1 oz fully integrated personal cook system that includes a titanium stove, an anodized cook pot w/lid, and a stand. It’s much less powerful than the Jetboil Flash listed above but also much smaller, lighter weight, and packable which is the reason it’s such an attractive option. When not in use, the stove, stand, and a 100g oz gas canister fit inside the cookpot, making the Stash remarkably easy to pack. The Stash can boil a half-liter of water in 2 minutes 30 seconds and boil up to 12L on one small fuel canister.  Matches not included. :-)

Check out the latest price at:
REI | 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 | MSR | 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, this 10,000 BTU stove 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 cookpots with a gas canister. An add-on windscreen is also available to boost its impressive fuel efficiency.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Amazon

9. Zelph Fancee Feest Alcohol Stove

Zelph’s Fancee Feast

The Zelph Fancee Feest Stove and an aluminum alcohol burner with a built-in stainless steel pot support that positions your cookpot at the proper height above your stove for an optimal burn. Weighing 0.8 oz, the Fancee Feest comes with fiberglass wicking that pulls the fuel upwards for a complete burn of fuel. The boil time for 2 cups of water about 8 minutes depending on water and air temperature. This stove works best with squat pots rather than tall skinny ones and requires a windscreen. It should also be used on a flat surface to avoid being tipped over, something that can be an issue with many simple alcohol stoves like it. Zelph makes a number of other great alcohol stoves as well.

Check out the latest price at:
Zelph Stoves

10. BRS3000T Canister Stove

The BRS3000T has a cult following in the ultralight backpacking community because it only weighs 25 grams. It also fits inside most 750 ml pots along with a 110g oz fuel canister, so it packs up very small. Made with titanium, it has a built-in pot stand that works best with small cook pots. It’s compatible with all screw-type isobutane/propane canisters and can boil water or simmer meals just like the name brand canister stoves listed above. Be sure to bring matches or a lighter with this stove, as it does not have a built-in piezo lighter.

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.

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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.

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48 comments

  1. Can’t beat the Whisper lite universal, if you can find one.
    Luckily I have one already.

  2. Good list, although still I like my super loud MSR Dragonfly stove. Yes, I know it is old technology but it works.

    While a bit heavier than the Whisperlite, I really like how it packs down small and the percisely adjustable flame makes cooking a wide range of foods very easy.

    I noticed the comments above and as of 2.18.2021 the Dragonfly is currently available from several retailers.

    If the stove ever dies, I will probably look at another MSR stove as this one has been just about indestructable. I think the only issue I ever had was purchasing crappy fuel on the trail and it took me a while to unclog the stove but no other problems since then.

  3. Good info covering a variety of stove types. I do have one correction: the Jetboil Minimo has a 1 liter pot and can easily boil 750 ml of water.

    To the list I would add two stoves designed to better handle wind, the MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe and the Soto Windmaster (Amicus big brother).

    • Having used both, you’re much better off adding an Ocelot Windscreen to both from Flat Cat Gear. Vast improvement over what comes out of the box. The Deluxe is overbuilt in my opinion and overkill to the extent that packability becomes a concern while the windmaster pot stand is a shit show. The Amicus has built in pot stands that fold away compactly. So much better. Top mounted Canister stove pot performance just generally sucks, regardless if you add a little metal lip around the burner stove. I’m writing up my Ocelot review this week so details to follow.

    • One thing you need to understand with every Jetboil is that you can’t fill the pot to the top. Having a 1 liter capacity isn’t useful when a roiling boil exceeds the height of the pot.

  4. Does anyone have experience backpacking with a wood burning stove? Any recommendations?

  5. Although the boiling point of isobutane is about 10 degrees F, I’ve used my inverted canister stove (msr whisperlite) much below that without issue, probably because the boiling point of the propane in the mix continues to provide pressure and doesn’t burn off first like with a cold upright canister stove. Further, my preferred winter stove, the last few years, which I have used without issue bellow zero, is an upright canister stove with a copper heat transfer strip on the side; light, small, and simple.

  6. I purchased an Amicus Soto last year based on reviews here. I didn’t get to use it due to all the Covid restrictions. Does it benefit from use of a wind screen and if so, what should I get? I also carry an Esbit stove. It saved me when my old stove failed after 50 years of service! It also gives me a second burner if I want to have several pots going. I sure hope my bike tripping plans will be a go this year.

  7. I much prefer the Soto Amicus with a built-in pot stand that you can’t lose and the same # of BTUs.

    • I have both the Soto Amicus and Windmaster. I prefer the Windmaster because the Amicus sounds like an F-35 taking off at full afterburner. The Windmaster is much quieter. Just don’t lose the pot stand Phil.

  8. Here in New Zealand there is a proposed piece of legislation regarding climate change proposals to reduce harmful emissions which would ban the use of gas and stop the sale of cylinders and canisters and possibly white gas after 5 years. This may force the sole use of alcohol stoves. What are the thoughts on this?
    Hummmmmm!

    • White gas is just unleaded gasoline. Are they going to ban that in 5 years?

    • They should ban flatulence, especially bovine, first. Doubt any politicians are actually backpackers, so I’d doubt they “get it”…

    • My concerns about burning fuel and dealing with empty canisters were one of my motivation to switch to cold-soaking. I carry an alcohol stove as a back up just in case I absolutely must have something hot. I know they’re not allowed in certain conditions and locations, but it beats carrying canisters.

      • I have been refilling the canisters for some time. I know the capacity of each size, and gauge what size for a particular trip based on days out (with an emergency cushion), and know that I typically use 25gm per day.
        Refilling also means I start each trip with a full tank. I know some will say it’s unsafe. In all the years I’ve been doing it, I’ve NEVER had an issue (leakage, etc.)

    • Stupid ideological politicians everywhere…
      I have started refilling my gas cartridges. Officially, you’re not supposed to – but if you know what you’re doing, I don’t see any danger in it. As long as you don’t overfill or use pure propane ;-)

  9. Yup, my thoughts exactly. The best canister stove (in the minds of many, including me) didn’t make the top ten. Interesting. I have a Giga Power and Soto Amicus… both great stoves (the latter better than the former due to wind performance), but neither compare to the Windmaster. The only gripe I have if the Windmaster is the detachable pot supports. I’ve gotten used to that, so no longer an issue. Fantastic fuel efficiency and crazy-good in wind. Light too. End of story. Best of the breed.

  10. Have the MSR Whisperlite Universal and use it in canister and white gas modes.

    My Trail Designs ti Sidewinder W/ Inferno woodburning insert has been used in ESBIT, alcohol and wood burning modes. Like ESBIT best with my improved Brian Green ESBIT burner.

    BUT, I also like the Fire Maple Blade 2 “investable” canister stove for its lightness and reliability. I gave it to my grandsons B/C it’s a remote canister stove and very stable.

  11. For the last decade I’ve taken a Vargo Hexagon wood stove on my multi-week backcountry treks in Alaska. Very light, folds flat, all the pieces are connected, and fuel is free for the gathering. But it doesn’t burn very well as is, so I drilled some vent holes on the sides and it works much better. For those times when its raining or on tundra with no trees or brush I carry a Toaks siphon stove and a supply of alcohol. It blooms about 5 seconds after lighting and it fits neatly inside the Hexagon which serves as the pot stand/windscreen.

  12. Pocket Rocket Deluxe and Jetboil Stash seem worthy of the list. I used the Pocket Rocket 2 for several years but now happily use the Pocket Rocket Deluxe. It’s only .3 ounce heavier but is more wind resistant and can better simmer meals than the Pocket Rocket 2. I used to use Jetboil’s Flash but it was a bit bulky. I would consider using the new Stash as it seems to maintain most of Jetboil’s strengths while being lighter.

    • So you want to put a stove, the Stash, on the list even though no one has it and it’s not shipping yet? How do you know it’s not going to be another Bomb like the last titanium stove Jetboik shipped. Sorry, but we don’t put stoves on the 10 best list that haven’t seen field use.

  13. Bought a Swedish Primus petrol stove in in 1961, still working fine. Depending on where you go you might not be able to get replacement canisters but there is always petrol. It was’nt cheap at the time costing around £5.10 shillings, if I was still living in the UK that would buy me (1) pint of ‘craft’ (you pay for b/s) beer.

  14. Good place to ask this question I’ve had for awhile. I bought the knockoff of the MSR Pocket Rocket on Amazon. How much better is the MSR and why?

  15. I also miss the Soto Windmaster on the list.
    In my opinion, it’s the best screw-on gas cooker I’ve ever had. Compared to other gas cookers of this type, I find it less susceptible to wind.

  16. I’m looking for an efficient stove to use when it’s pouring rain and I’m stuck in the tent at mealtime. I know it’s not recommended to use a stove in a tent but what do other campers/hikers do in this situation? Obviously outdoor cooking is not always an option. What would be the most efficient and “relatively safe” Camp stove to use in a tent?

    Any advice appreciated!

    LZ

    • I use a canister stove. The safest is one without an open flame like an MSR Windburner or an MSR Reactor.
      Good question. Check this out.
      https://sectionhiker.com/how-to-safely-cook-in-a-tent/

      • I seem to recall some in-depth look at the carbon monoxide problems with these two stoves on backpackinglight. I’m not an expert on this, but it’s probably worth looking into for this use case.

      • You are supposed to keep the vestibule door open…
        Seriously, I love BPL. But I don’t take the pseudoscience published there very seriously.

      • The CO “issues” with Reactor that some people at BPL made a big fuss over used outright wrong test methodology from the start. Even then, the BPL “test” figures were pretty average for the Reactor, not worse than many other stoves and better than others.

        As I remember, they measured CO production at simmer, which is not supported, the Reactor should always be run on full. It’s like intentionally testing a car with wrong fuel mixture. Because its whole combustion process is designed for that. 3D mesh burners like Reactor have actually the fullest combustion efficiency and lowest CO production if designed and used properly. That’s why the technology is used in space heaters and elsewhere in the industry.

        Of course, NO stove is designed or supposed to be used inside a sealed tent. You should always be careful and do it only in extremis with plenty of ventilation. But a fully enclosed stove like the MSR is safer in terms of your tent going up in flames and you subsequently freezing in the snowstorm.

  17. Probably wise to err on the side of caution when it comes to using a stove “in a tent” as Larry Z said. The cost of being wrong based on “pseudoscience” is quite different when talking about CO and stove boil times.

    • Most stoves will work in the rain. While I have set a stove out in the rain and tended it by reaching from inside the tent, however, I rarely do so, since I’m pretty cautious. Most backpacking meals which rehydrate with hot water can also be rehydrated with cold water, though it takes longer and may not be as appetizing. I almost never heat up lunches, so sometimes I’ll eat a cold meal intended for lunch at breakfast or dinner if cooking is impractical. Sometimes, when I’m expecting rain, I’ll bring a tarp specifically to create a sheltered cooking and sitting area.

  18. hi. i have 5+ yrs of summer backpacking out west, but i am now planning a 20 mile loop in the ADK March 12-14. my problem is lack of experience for winter backpacking. i have purchased multiple items from zero degree
    sleeping bag to snowshoes. i just recently saw video where they used inverted canister fuel bc of cold temps. yikes. i have jetboil minimo. is this totally unacceptable for the winter?? i have a MSR pocket rocket, is that a better choice? any help/direction would be greatly appreciated
    keithH

    • I wouldn’t camp in winter in the dacks without a white gas stove. An upright canister stove will stove working at about 20 degrees. An inverted canister stove at between 10 and 0. White gas will work down to -40 and is much more powerful for snow melting.

  19. We agree on something at last.. I bought the Sno-peak Titanium Piezo lighting with Windscreen version stove, If I remember, in about January of 2002 for my PCT Hike at March. I just used it this week on a two day fishing trip to a back country lake where it did more than Boil Water. Fried up some Fish and Simmered a stew for an hour or so.. It hasn’t failed me yet.. I just wish they would come up with a flatter or wider pot support with Grippers. I added an after Market canister device to provide for more sturdiness when sitting on the ground.. Just for fun, I still have an occasional use my SEVA 123R White Gas Stove that I bought in 1974 for $16.99 and 50 cents shipping on Winter Trips..

  20. Good stuff as always, but why no mention of MSR Reactor?

    • The MSR Reactor is really kind of overkill for backpacking. It really is probably best used in winter for snow melting. The MSR Windburner is nearly identical (it has a radiant burner) but lighter weight and comes with a pot cozy.

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