How to Choose the Perfect Stove for Backpacking and Camping

how-to-pick-the-best-backpacking-stove


Compressed Gas vs. Liquid Fuel Stoves

One burns more fuel than the next. This one weighs less, but this boils water faster. You’ll be in windy, sub-zero temperatures at the top, but basecamp is in the desert and you want one stove to do it all. Or, one for each. In this video, Mountain Safety Research (MSR) and Tahoe Mountain Sports talk with Tahoe Rim Trail Guides about the various camping and backpacking stove options, edited down to everything you could ever want to know in 12-minutes:

 

Key Benefits

Compressed Gas
Lightweight and compact. No spills means no cleaning. Best flame control. No fuel odors or priming/pumping required.

Liquid Fuel
Greater heat output. Unaffected by altitude or cold temperatures. Most affordable. Reusable and easily disposable. Widespread fuel choices.

 

Key Drawbacks

Compressed Gas
Empty canisters must be packed out and disposed of (check with your local recycling center). Difficult to gauge fuel level (pack an extra canister). Performance decreases as canister empties. Usually less stable.

Liquid Fuel
Heavier/bulkier. Require pumping/priming. Fuel lines can clog. More field maintenance required. Leaking fuel requires wiping. Soot builds up on cookware.

Best For

Compressed Gas
Ultralight backpacking.

Liquid Fuel
Group camping. Winter camping & melting snow. High altitudes. International travel.

Key Notes
– Use a windscreen with liquid fuel stoves to enhance performance, but be careful doing so with canister stoves because they can overheat and explode!
Always pack an extra lighter and/or waterproof matches.

Comparison Chart

ProductFuel TypeWeight (oz)Boil TimeBurn Time
(200 ml/gm)
Heat Output
(BTU)
Retail
Snow Peak GigaPower Stove
Snow Peak Gigapower
Canister3.753 min 48 sec (1 Liter)50 min10,000$49.95
Snow Peak LiteMax Stove
Snow Peak LiteMax
Canister1.94 min 25 sec (1 Liter)50 min11,200$59.95
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Jetboil Flash
Canister142 min 30 sec (.5 Liter)120 min4,500$99.95
Jetboil Sol Titanium Cooking System
Jetboil Sol Titanium
Canister10.52 min 15 sec (.5 Liter)120 min4,950$159.95
MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
MSR Pocket Rocket
Canister33 min 30 sec (1 Liter)60 min10,000$39.95
MSR Reactor Stove
MSR Reactor (1.7 L)
Canister17.53 min (1 Liter)104 min9,400$199.95
MSR Dragonfly Stove
MSR Dragonfly
White Gas143 min 30 sec (1 Liter)42 min10,500$139.95
Kerosene143 min 54 sec (1 Liter)51 min
Diesel143 min 30 sec (1 Liter)46 min
MSR XGK-EX Stove
MSR XGK-EX
White Gas13.23 min 30 sec (1 Liter)37 min10,500$159.95
Kerosene13.22 min 48 sec (1 Liter)33 min
Diesel4 min 30 sec (1 Liter)57 min
MSR Whisperlite
MSR Whisperlite
White Gas113 min 54 sec (1 Liter)46 min9,500$89.95
MSR Whisperlite Universal Stove
MSR Whisperlite
Universal
White Gas11.53 min 30 sec (1 Liter)110 min9,500$139.95
Kerosene11.54 min 24 sec (1 Liter)155 min
Canister9.53 min 48 sec (1 Liter)75 min
MSR Whisperlite International Stove
MSR Whisperlite
International
White Gas10.93 min 30 sec (1 Liter)110 min9,500$99.95
Kerosene10.93 min 24 sec (1 Liter)155 min

*Did we miss any important features you think shouldn’t have been overlooked? Please let us know in the comments section (below).

 



Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.


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