Guide: Buying a Lightweight Backpacking Stove



There is a wide range of stoves available on the market so choosing the best lightweight stove for backpacking can be a challenge.

These stoves range from all-in-one systems to general purpose units that can be used in different locations and temperatures.

Backpacking stoves will fall into 3 categories.

Isobutane canister stoves are best for short trips and solo cooking. Alcohol stoves are better for ultralight backpacking and hiking.

Liquid fuel stoves are the best when cooking for groups, traveling internationally and in cold weather.


How To Choose the Best Backpacking Stove

There are certain factors to consider when choosing a backpacking stove. It is important to consider:

• The weight of the stove

• The cost and availability of the fuel it requires

• If it is good for individual or group use

• The temperatures in which it will operate the best


Stove And Cooking Fuel Types

There are 5 primary types of backpacking stoves that you can choose:

• White gas or liquid fuel stoves

• Canister stoves which use an isobutane or propane mix

• Alcohol stoves that use denatured alcohol

• Wood stoves that burn small sticks and twigs

• Solid fuel stoves


White gas stoves will burn an unleaded gas which has been refined.

This makes them ideal for group cooking and use in cold weather because of the amount of heat they generate. The problem is that they are bulky and this is why solo hikers will not use them.

Canister stoves will be the best for couples or individuals. You can simmer with some models, but they are generally designed to boil water.

Alcohol stoves are best for ultralight backpacking and are simple to use. It is possible to resupply the denatured alcohol on a long-distance hike because it can be purchased at drug stores and supermarkets.

Wood stoves are convenient because they use natural fuel which is easy to find. The problem is that dry states have fire bans in place which means you cannot use these stoves.

Solid fuel stoves will burn pre-packaged fuel cubes. These are also lightweight, but you could have a hard time resupplying the fuel on a long trip.


Backpacking Stove Systems

A stove system will include everything that you need to cook food or boil water.

This includes a stove, windscreen, cookpot and stove stand.

That makes them very convenient and an economical way of getting the stove components you need when camping or backpacking.

There are group stove systems on the market, most have been designed with a single user in mind.

They will be limited in their capabilities and focus more on quickly boiling water instead of simmering meals.


Winter Backpacking Stoves

Winter stoves have been designed to burn fuel when the temperature is low and usually use liquid fuel.

White gas stoves will be able to burn at temperatures as low as -40°F.

Canister stoves that use a liquid feed or inverted canister stoves can burn fuel when the temperature is as low as 10°F.

Winter stoves have also been made to melt snow into drinking water and generally lack the ability to simmer meals.


Backpacking Stove Power

The power of the stove is measured in BTUs. The higher the number of BTUs, the more heat the stove will produce.

This will increase the speed of boiling water.


Stove Ignition

A lot of canister stoves will have integrated sarking units known as piezo igniters.

This means you will not have to carry a lighter or matches to start your stove.

This can be convenient, but they have a tendency to wear out when you use the stove often.

The sparking unit can usually be replaced, but many people choose to avoid this feature to save money if they are going to use the stove heavily.


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