How to Choose a Backpacking Stove

How to Choose a Backpacking Stove

23/07/2021 Off By chadmin

When you’re backpacking, do you look forward to a cooked meal at night and hot coffee in the morning? If so, you’ll want to bring a stove. But what kind of stove to bring depends on many factors: How light do you want it to be? How versatile? Do you need a stove that simply boils quickly or do you want one that simmers? How many people are you cooking for? Are you going to be travelling internationally and what type of fuel will be available to you?

When deciding how to choose the best backpacking stove for you, the following decision points will help you choose:

  • Stove type: Backpacking stoves are loosely categorized by the type of fuel they use and how the fuel is stored.
  • Stove specs and features: Burn time, average boil time, weight and convenience features may help you narrow your choices.
  • Stove usage tips: Understanding some of the nuances of how a stove works will ensure that you’re making an informed decision and also getting the best out of your purchase when you’re out in the field.

The types of camp stoves have already been described in detail here.


Backpacking Stove Specs and Features

Below are a few of the other key decision points that will factor into your choice for the best backpacking stove for you.
Stove weight: If you’re counting ounces on a long, solo thru-hike, your choice will differ from someone who mainly enjoys weekend backpacking with friends.

Burn time: When looking at your choices, you can compare how long a stove burns using a given amount of fuel.

Average boil time: This spec can help you choose between models, especially if fuel efficiency is a priority for you. Some general boiling and simmering guidance:

  • Integrated canister systems boil water fastest while also using minimal fuel. Simmering may be possible, but it’s an afterthought in their designs.
  • Canister stoves boil water quickly, and some models are good to excellent at simmering—great for camp gourmets.
  • Liquid-fuel stoves boil water very quickly, even in cold weather. Simmering ability varies widely by model.
  • Alternate-fuel stoves are intended primarily for boiling, though they are slower, sometimes by minutes.

Piezo-igniter: This is a push-button spark producer found on some canister-fuel stoves. It’s a handy feature, especially if your matches are lost or wet.

Stabilizers: Sometimes sold separately, stabilizers can be attached to the bottom of fuel canisters to reduce the chance of upright models tipping over.


Stove Usage Tips

Usage tips for any backpacking stove:

  • Do NOT cook inside tents or enclosed spaces. This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and create a high fire risk.
  • Check all fuel lines, valves and connections for leaks or damage before lighting your stove.
  • Operate your stove on the most level surface possible.
  • Bring a multi-tool with pliers in case you need to do any field repairs on your stove.
  • If you’re not counting ounces, an old car license plate makes a great base for a stove, especially on sand.
  • If your stove comes with a piezo-igniter, it’s still a good idea to always carry stormproof matches in case the piezo-igniter fails.

Usage tips for canister stoves

  • New fuel canisters usually contain a small amount of air near the top; after this bleeds off, the fuel will flow and ignite. If the stove tips, a large yellow flame-up may occur.
  • In cold temps, keep the canister warm by putting it in your sleeping bag at night or hiking with it in your jacket pocket. Warmth helps keep the pressure up.
  • A stove with a pressure regulator will burn more efficiently at higher elevations so you won’t waste fuel.
  • When cooking on snow, use a piece of foam underneath the canister for insulation or you’ll end up with a chunk of ice frozen to the bottom.
  • Most canisters in the U.S. feature a Lindal valve with standardized threading. This allows fuel canisters to be interchangeable between brands. You’ll notice, though, that manufacturers generally like to recommend using their own brand of fuel with their stoves.
  • Recycling: Some places allow you to recycle your spent fuel canisters. (Previously, they were often considered hazardous waste.) Check with your local recycler to make sure they take them.

Usage tips for liquid-fuel stoves:

  • If you can, use alcohol for priming. It helps to keep your stove soot-free.
  • Don’t fill a fuel tank to the brim. Leave room for the air you pump in to pressurize it. Also, fuel expands as it warms, so leaving an air space prevents excessive pressure buildup.
  • Empty the fuel tank before storing your stove for several months or longer.
  • Use a windscreen.
  • Consider using a heat exchanger for cold weather or extended trips—this metal collar channels heat to the pot for faster boiling and saves fuel.
  • Don’t spill fuel on bare skin. In extreme cold, this can cause frostbite due to the rapid evaporation of fuel.
  • White gas is known to degrade over time. If using aged white gas (not advised), use a filter to strain out any tiny sediment that might be lurking within and clog your stove. If older white gas shows a tint of colour, that’s often a sign it’s past its prime.

You can buy a camping stove and other necessary equipment in our online store.