10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2020

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 2020.

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 MinimoCanister Stove System14 oz$150
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
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 cookpot, making it easy to pack.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Amazon | Sunny Sports

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 | Sunny Sports

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:
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 | Sunny Sports

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, 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 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 | Sunny Sports

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. 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.

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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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24 comments

  1. Nice list, but just curious: Why the Pocket Rocket 2 over the newer Pocket Rocket Deluxe?

    • The pocket rocket 2 is a bomber stove and we really like the price/performance ratio it provides. We don’t really think the upgrade to the deluxe model is that necessary for most users and we’re thrifty and like to save people money where we can. For instance, we don’t really think that a regulated stove is a must-have for most users because its main value is in cold weather (if you believe the stove companies…we’ve had a hard time distinguishing between fact and hype…after looking into this issue for years). You can read more about regulated stoves here: https://www.msrgear.com/blog/technology-stove-pressure-regulators-work/
      If you have to melt snow for drinking water, we think you’d be much better off using a more powerful fuel and one that is immune to temperature like white gas, which is why we like the MSR Whisperlite Universal so much, because you can burn canister fuel or white gas with the same stove.

      • I am also skeptical of cold weather claims for regulators. MSR’s marketing bumf is not particularly enlightening as to why they actually work better in the cold. They basically just describe what a “good” regulator does, claim that theirs is a “good” regulator where other’s may not be and say “you’ll enjoy high stove performance through a far greater range of conditions”. However there may be something in it…

        It is probably the case that it is not possible to make a needle valve stove that can open up wide enough when the canister pressure is low and still be safe to set on full when the pressure are high. The regulator solves this problem by making the amount the valve opens automatic and inversely proportional to the canister pressure. You control the regulated valve indirectly so when you turn the control to full it only ever causes the valve to open fully at low canister pressure. At high canister pressure the valve will open less keeping the max setting within safe limits.

        Because the regulated valve can safely open wider it can supply more gas at low pressure and therefore you should see a more consistent burn in cold weather when the canister pressure is low than you can safely get with a needle valve.

        I don’t know this to be true but it seems to make sense. It should be fairly easy to test in a controlled environment but I haven’t seen it done.

        Whether it actually translates to practical cold weather use may depend on the range of temperature where the effect is significant. If the range is narrow and too close to the minimum for this fuel then observant people may tend to prefer other stove types that they know to work well in those conditions. Consequently the effect is never practically confirmed.

        Anyway, somewhat entertaining to think about

      • I saw the pocket rocket deluxe and assumed it was made Soto. I thought MSR asked Soto to take a Windmaster body and put Amicus pot support on it

      • MSR works with Kovea.

  2. Perhaps my question should be in the Windburner review. I’ve used a JetBoil for many years but when the temperature gets below freezing I have to keep the canister in my sleeping bag or I don’t get much performance. Does the Windburner suffer from the same issue or does it somehow heat the canister up enough while working to vaporize the isobutane better?

    • Nope. Canister performance will degrade across the board as temperatures drop below freezing and will crap out completely at about 20 degrees. The solution is to put the canister in a bowl of warm water to heat the contents so it can vaporize and/or get a stove that can burn the fuel in its liquid form by turning the canister upside down. Where does that warm water come from you wonder…?

    • Windburner has the regulator to ensures the stove is getting the correct pressure it needs to operate optimally. It’s way better in wind and cold weather and of course, better build quality.

  3. One stove not mentioned is the Kovea Spider. Folds up compactly and works well when canister is inverted in cold weather. Also works with Coleman LPG bottles using Kovea’s adapter when car camping. I’m happy with it’s performance.

    • Yep I agree Harry the Kovea Spider is my canister stove. $45 and a super well designed, well made and versatile canister stove. I also have a Whisperlite so all bases are covered. I will say because of the ease of use I always grab the Spider. Great stove. Philip even reviewed it once and gave it an excellent rating. I’ve experienced many stoves and this is the champ.

      • I like the spider too, but I think having a multi-fuel version of a stove that can take a remote, liquid cannister feed as well as many other fuel types and is a brand people are familiar with and trust trumps it. Incidentally, Kovea makes many of MSR’s stoves (with the exception of the radiant burners), which they repackage and relabel.

  4. Guess I’m a little surprised that the MSR PR2 is #1 and the Soto Amicus is #5 but maybe the numbers are not an ordered ranking given the diverse set of stoves in this list. I bought an Amicus so obviously it should be #1 …

    All the comparative reviews I have found say that the Amicus and the Pocket Rocket 2 are of similar performance with the Amicus being marginal better at everything and much better in the wind. It is also generally cheaper. Plus you can get it with a very well designed piezo igniter for about the same price as the PR2.

    While it can be argued that choosing or setting up a better cook site makes wind performance a marginal advantage, demonstrably better wind performance gives you more choice of sites, should cope with fickle conditions better and if it doesn’t cost more, as is the case here, is clearly better to have than not.

    The $40 non piezo Amicus is advertised at 2.6 oz (not 2.8oz as quoted above). The $45 piezo version is advertised at 2.8oz (my example is 2.7oz). For only ~$5 dollars more and ~0.3 oz weight, it is a no brainer to get the piezo version. 0.3oz is less than the weight of a mini BIC which cost a couple of dollars depending where you buy them. A built in piezo igniter saves fumbling around with a lighter (cold hands), can’t be left behind if you remember to bring the stove, adds very little weight and can be operated with gloves. If it stops working the stove can always be lit some other way. I always carry a backup lighter and a few matches in my first aid kit.

    All that persuaded me that, taking price into consideration, the Soto Amicus piezo is the “best” upright canister stove available in the US right now.

    That and the fact the REI is selling the Amicus Piezo with an essentially free two pot cook set right now! Even if you have pots, the anodized aluminum 1L and 0.5L pots are well made, light enough, work well and would make a nice gift or a feel good donation. From their US website it looks like Soto are closing these out in favor of a single 1L pot/lid combo so this deal may not last.

    I considered the Soto Windmaster and the MSR PR Deluxe which many rate at the top performing upright canister stoves available in the US. But they are relatively expensive, the Windmaster has too many pieces and the PR Deluxe has a 3 prong pot stand (less stable than 4) and reportedly has an unreliable piezo design.

    The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is no doubt a fine stove and while either will do, but I don’t see why you would buy it over the Soto Amicus piezo if you have the choice with or without the free pots.

    My previous stove is an original 2004 Jet Boil which is similar to the Flash. I like it but it is heavy and lacks flexibility. I tried a Minimo last year for its supposed simmering abilities. It’s nice enough but really only convenient for boiling water in the pot it comes with. The integrated cosey is hard to keep clean in the wild when cooking food which matters in bear country. The separate large pot stand doesn’t lock on very securely making it very finicky to use, particularly with JetBoil’s 2L finned pot since the prongs stick in the fins and it is easy to tip the stove and dislodge the pot stand…basically a bit of a mess and potentially dangerous. The piezo works fine at sea level but would not light the stove at 10000ft. We had no trouble using the Minimo at 10000 feet otherwise but we largely gave up on simmering stuff as being too much of a pain to clean up…bear country again.

  5. Phillip – what are the considerations for the alcohol stoves in winter. I’m wondering whether they are a light weight alternative for emergency water heating on day hikes.

    • They don’t provide enough power to melt snow for drinking water and a cold stove makes it very difficult to burn alcohol. Above 20 degrees, you’re better off with a jetboil/canister stove. Below that, white gas.

  6. I bought a BSR-11 on Ebay that comes from China, payed $11.00 with free shipping. I was very worried about actually receiving it, but all went well. The stove is a canister fueled unit, well build and has a vortex type of flame to it. A pre heat fuel tube is also present and has a piezo igniter. I’ve used this stove last summer in the Rampart Range Colorado at 8,800ft elevation with 75-80 degree temps. It worked great with those conditions as any canister stove should. I really want to see how it will perform this summer ( 2020 ) at 12,000 ft and cooler temps in the high mountains of Colorado. I love camping, fishing the high alpine lakes. My old stove ( 14 yrs old ) is a Coleman Apex canister stove would sometimes fail me at the high elevation and colder temps, but never failed at lower elevations. Being on a budget I couldn’t afford the MSR Wind Pro II at $ 100.00 ( I prefer USA made ). Any thoughts on the BSR line ? Eventually I’ll get the Wind Pro II. Thanks for all your Great Reviews !!!

    • If can’t find anything about that model of stove, but if its the BRS 3000, which I suspect it is, it puts out 2700 BTU which is just pathetic compared to the 10,000 BTU stoves I’ve listed above.

      • Definitely not the BRS 3000T

        The BRS-11 stove is remote canister stove. You can find it on Ebay under various listings for various prices. There are a number of different BRS stoves listed…10, 11, 15, 107 which are all remote canister stoves and 3000T which is an upright

        The listing claim the BRS-11 outputs of 1940W or 2270W depending on the listing which I think translates to around 6600 to 7750 BTU.

        These listing claim the BRS3000T puts out 1940W or 2700W so who knows!

        The BRS-11 also has a piezo igniter and apparently weighs ~242g (8.5oz) . It folds but is fairly bulky. It appear to be set up for inverted canister use because it has pre-heater tube.

  7. Where are you getting the idea that the windburner is more efficient than the Jetboil? On MSRs website, they say it will boil 18 liters per 227-gram fuel canister, or about .08 L/g. Jetboils website says that the flash does 10 liters per 100 gram canister, or .1 L/g. Assuming they are both telling the truth, the Jetboil is actually slightly more efficient. Right?

    • Austin, you are right I think, but just try to use the Jetboil in any real conditions, moderate wind. The time to boil will easily increase or even double (doubling the fuel consumption as well). In any heavier wind, the Jetboil might not even reach boiling, while the MSR does not mind the wind at all… While I don’t personally own the Windburner, I get nearly the same time and efficiency with the (similar, more powerful) MSR Reactor, no matter if it’s still or very, very windy.

  8. You missed the stove that most serious backpackers consider the best one made, the Soto WindMaster, so what else have you missed in other 10 best lists, would be my question!

    • The Amicus is nearly identical to the Windmaster. Suggest you read up on it. It’s more recent than the windmaster and has better tech.

  9. I have Gsi Pinnacle Stove, Msr Windpro 2, Msr Windburner, Trangia/primus, Etekcity and Redcamp remote canister stove.
    In a normal situation they are almost the same. when the temperature goes down and gets windy the game and battle started.
    for larger pot and pan I choose my Gsi. it packed small. light. efficient and powerful and has wide legs. If I’m going for just a day hike and just wanna have some coffee in any SITUATION I take my Windburner.
    I do like Windburner over Jetboil Flash. It’s better in anyways.
    for a large group and again in any situation I take my Windpro 2.
    and if I wanna abuse my stove like using really heavy cast iron or my camping oven I take my Redcamp. you can’t have just one stove to cover you in any situation. I’m not a fan of the liquid stoves that they required maintenance. In any situation that I can’t find isopropanol canister Ill use my alcohol burner or simply using my woodstove.

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