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There are many reasons why people love backpacking. It could be the chance to get out in the fresh air for hours, the opportunity to get close to nature, or the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Some people like to backpack so they can cook in ways that they wouldn't usually experience. For example, when you go backpacking, there is no fridge to keep things cold, no microwave to heat food in two minutes, nor is there a four ring hotplate and two-door oven available to prepare a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Instead, you need to cook your food and heat water using a backpacking stove.
Since there are many different types of backpacking stoves, we created this review and buying guide to present their features so you can decide which backing stove you will buy.
To help you even more with that decision, we selected three of the best backpacking stoves currently available and reviewed them thoroughly so that you can see their pros and cons.
In this article we will cover the following:
- Best Backpacking Stove Reviews
- Buyer's Guide
Best Backpacking Stove Reviews
1. MSR PocketRocket 2 Backpacking Stove
Our first backpacking stove review looks at the MSR PocketRocket 2 backpacking stove, compact and lightweight, and very easy to use. We also note that it has one of the highest review ratings of not just any stove we have reviewed, but of any product across the board, so it has a lot to live up to.
This stove is also a favorite of those who like to bikepack, camp, or travel. There are two versions of the MSR PocketRocket. The MSR PocketRocket PR2 does not have a piezo igniter. However, the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe does have a piezo igniter.
We will start with the fuel that the MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Backpacking, Camping Stove uses, an isobutane-propane canister. Note that the canister is not supplied with the stove, so this will need to be purchased separately.
Canisters are connected to the stove via a screw thread, and once secured, the canister acts as the base for the stove. Given that isobutane-propane fuel canisters tend to be round, as long as you place the stove on a surface such as a flat rock or level ground, it should sit safely and securely while you cook.
This ultralight backpacking stove is extremely easy to use and to light since it does not require any pre-heating, pressurizing, or priming. All you need do is attach the canister, unfold the legs, turn the regulator so that the gas is flowing, and light the stove using a match or lighter.
The stove has three stainless steel serrated supports that keep pots and pans sitting flat while cooking with them.
As for cooking heat, with the flame setting at full, in perfect conditions, you should be able to boil around one liter of water is as little as three and a half minutes. Of course, you do not always have to have the flame full on. Using the regulator, you can turn it down to simmer liquids or reduce the speed at which food is frying in a pan, for example.
One issue many backpackers have when cooking outdoors is the wind blowing out the flame. The MSR Pocket Rocket has a well-designed wind-resistant 'Windclip' which sits just above the flame and effectively separates the burner surface into three sections.
This means that if the wind should extinguish the flame on one part of the burner, the other two should stay alight, and also relight the area where the flame was blown out. To reduce fuel waste and heat loss, you can use windscreens.
The MSR PocketRocket 2 stove weighs a mere 2.6 ounces; therefore, you will barely feel it when it is in your backpack. It also folds down so that it takes up very little space.
The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe with piezo igniter weighs 3.9 ounces.
Because of its low weight and small size, many backpackers purchase two stoves to double their cooking capacity come mealtimes.
Note that it also comes with a sturdy carry case that keeps it safe and secure while not in use or carried in a backpack. The total weight of the stove and the plastic case is about 4.2 ounces.
2. SOTO WindMaster Stove with Micro Regulator 4Flex
We now look at a stove that we are sure users will find very easy to use. It is the SOTO WindMaster with Micro Regulator 4 Flex. This stove is engineered and manufactured in Japan. It gets high reviews from those who have used it for cooking while on camping, hiking, or backpacking trips.
With a name like 'WindMaster', one can only assume that preventing the wind from blowing out the flame is one of this stove's primary features, so let's see what the SOTO WindMaster Stove w/Micro Regulator w/4Flex entails.
What SOTO has very cleverly done is; that instead of having a dome-shaped burner, they reversed it and made it concave. In other words, it is in the shape of a bowl, and thus the sides of it give the central flame protection from the wind and improved fuel efficiency. This design also lets the pot sit close to the flame, which decreases the boil time.
The “Stealth” Ignition is used on several Soto stoves, including the WindMaster. The electric wire is run through the inside of the burner column. This design reduces the chance of it failing since it won’t be in a position to be snagged or exposed to heat.
One feature not present on many of the other backpacking stoves is a Micro Regular Valve System which allows for constant pressure when cooking.
This Windmaster stove is supplied with SOTO's '4Flex' detachable pot stand, which has four arms to it as the name suggests. Each arm is serrated, which means the pots are stable when you are cooking. The 4Flex pot stand size also means that you can cook with larger pots and pans. In response to our email query, Soto customer service stated the maximum pot diameter for the 4Flex is 7 inches. One minor drawback is that you have to put the stove and the 4Flex pot support together each time you use it.
For those who prefer cooking with smaller pots, SOTO also has another pot support, a TriFlex option, with three legs, which you can purchase separately. The maximum diameter of the pot used on the TriFlex is 5 inches.
The SOTO WindMaster Stove with MicroRegulator uses isobutane-propane fuel. The fuel canister can be easily screwed on to the bottom of the stove. Under favorable weather conditions (not windy) you can expect an 8-ounce canister to last approximately 90 minutes. This stove can be used at high altitudes and in cold weather.
To light it, you do not need matches or lighter, as it comes with a 'Stealth' igniter installed. All you need do is twist the valve handle and press the igniter button to get it started. After you the stove is lit, controlling the flame and subsequent cooking heat levels is very simple.
Once started, you can cook very quickly with it as the output is around 11,000 BTU. This stove performs well in harsh weather. Soto claims 2 cups of water will boil in less than 2.5 minutes even under less than favorable weather conditions (strong winds). In addition to boiling water, you can also prepare foods that need to simmer.
You will be pleased to know it weighs a mere 3 ounces. That weight includes the 4Flex potholder, which detaches from the stove when it is not in use. A fabric bag to hold the stove is included.
3. Solo Stove Lite and Pot 900 Combo
For those that want to go backpacking while carrying the lowest possible amount of equipment, the Solo Stove Lite is an appealing option. There are many reasons to like it, but the most prevalent will be that it does not require a fuel or gas canister, thus one less item and less weight to carry. A Solo Pot 900 is included with the stove.
Let's discuss why the Solo Stove & Pot 900 Combo is popular among those who like to go backpacking with minimal baggage. As the name suggests, this stove uses wood and other solid fuel; therefore, the need to carry fuel canisters does not exist.
When you consider one 8 oz. fuel canister weighs around 13 oz. (8 oz. fuel + 5 oz. canister), and you take two or more with you, it adds to the load in your backpack.
This stove weighs about 9 oz. When it’s packed away, its dimensions are around 3.8 inches by 4.25 inches, so you can see that it takes up very little space. It also comes with a small nylon bag, making it even easier to pack.
The Solo Stove Pot 900 weighs 7.8 oz., is 4.5” high and has a diameter of 4.7”. This stainless steel pot can hold 30 fl. oz.
The Solo Stove Lite is constructed from 304 stainless steel and is in two parts: the base and the top. The base is where the solid fuel is added, and the stove is lit using a match or lighter.
The base has a grate that keeps the fuel off the ground and allows airflow. It has vent holes that allow air to come up through the sides of the stoves. The air then comes through the holes at the top of the base.
The sorts of fuel you can use include small twigs, leaves, pinecones, and brush. It means that you need to be set up in an area where these materials are readily available. When you place the twigs in the stove, ensure they are entirely in so they don’t fall out and catch something on fire.
Once lit, the base’s double-wall, along with air holes at the bottom of it, channel the air to the firebase to make it burn more efficiently.
It also creates what is known as secondary combustion within the fuel, and thus there is less smoke generated than you would typically get with solid fuel stoves.
Another benefit of the stove's construction is that it allows hotter air to rise within the walls, which helps maintain more heat while cooking, thus reducing cooking times.
The top section is the pot stand on which can be placed metal coffee pots, cooking pans, and pots. If you so choose, you can purchase one of Solo Stove's range of cooking pots for use with the stove.
|MSR PocketRocket Ultralight Backpacking, Camping, and Travel Stove, PR 2: Ultra Compact||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|SOTO WindMaster Stove w/Micro Regulator w/4Flex (One Size)||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|Solo Stove & Pot 900 Combo: Ultralight Wood Burning Backpacking Cook System. Lightweight Kitchen Kit for Backpacking, Camping, Survival. Burns Twigs, No Batteries or Liquid Fuel Gas Canister Required||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
It would be easy for us to say as a buying guide, “Choose the backpacking stove which fits your needs,” but that would be of little help for a couple of reasons.
First, you need to know how to assess your needs regarding a backpacking stove. Second, you need to know what the specific features mean before you can determine if a particular backpacking stove is suitable for you.
Let us start by looking at what your needs might be, and this can be done by asking a series of questions.
What Weight are You Comfortable Carrying With When Backpacking?
Backpacking stoves come in various weights and sizes. If you do not mind how much weight is on your back, you can choose any stove you wish, and take however many fuel canisters you need.
However, if you are not as keen or able to carry heavy loads in your backpack, consider those stoves that take up the minimum of space, do not require fuel canisters, and weigh no more than 1 lb.
How Many People Will You Be Cooking For?
If you reckon you will only be cooking for yourself or one other person, then all the stoves we have reviewed will be suitable. However, if your party is likely to include three or more people, you will want a stove to accommodate larger pots and pans to cook larger meals.
What Types of Meals Will You Be Cooking?
If all you need your stove for is to boil water for hot drinks or heat soups, your choice is relatively open as all backpacking stoves will allow you to do these regardless of their size and fuel type.
If, however, you enjoy a wider choice of meals, which may include the need to fry, broil, and even steam ingredients, then you will want a stove suitable for larger pots and one that provides a greater degree of heat control such as those with regulators.
How Convenient Do You Need Your Stove to Be?
Some backpacking stoves are more user-friendly than others. For example, push-button ignition, heat control, and cleaning ease can all be found on some stoves, and not on others. You will also have stoves that have additional accessories available for purchase that aid your cooking.
Do You Have a Preference for Fuel?
The cooking heat in backpacking is produced either by a canister containing fuel or dried natural fuel. Both provide a very different cooking experience, and stoves fueled by each of them have their pros and cons, as we outline below.
Dry, Natural Fuels
Once you have answered all those questions, you will likely have eliminated some stoves from your shortlist, and there will be some that remain.
From here, it is likely to be a case of looking at specific features and deciding which stove has the ones you want. Here are some of the most common features that are compared and considered by buyers.
This is a choice between those backpacking stoves that are lit using a match or lighter and those which have automatic ignition using a push-button ignition system.
Most stoves that have fuel canisters have the means to regulate the flame/heat, and thus, you have greater control. Those who use natural fuels have no means of controlling the flame, other than how many twigs you add, which isn't a solution.
While all backpacking stoves are relatively small, there are significant differences in their weights. Stoves are also constructed differently, making some of them more comfortable to carry in terms of how much space they take up, such as those which come in flat pieces for assembly.
The choice of fuel can be made for several reasons. For some, not carrying fuel canisters steers them towards natural fuels, whereas others use natural fuels because they prefer the sights and smells.
Stoves with fuel canisters also offer greater control. However, that comes at a cost, since fuel canisters have to be purchased while natural fuels do not.
Perhaps the final consideration will your budget and how much you are prepared to spend on a backpacking stove. For such a basic product, there is a considerable difference in price between the cheapest stoves and the more expensive ones, and that difference can be a factor of four times the cost.
Costs also need to be assessed in terms of the type of fuel being used and if you plan to purchase accessories to use with your backpacking stove.
We hope our backpacking stove reviews and buyer’s guide provided the information you need to make a more informed choice as well as ideas regarding which backpacking stove you might purchase. Whichever backpacking stove you finally choose, we hope it helps you create many delicious meals when cooking in the great outdoors.