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Propane canister or liquid fuel stoves?


Do you recommend a propane-canister or liquid-fuel backpacking stove? I’ve heard good things about both, and I’m unsure about which one I should bring to Philmont Scout Ranch.
— Backpacker Bryan, Longview, Texas

A. Good question. Problem is, there’s no easy answer. You’re right, there are benefits to each. Liquid-fuel stoves burn hot, are reliable, work well at elevation and in colder weather, and the fuel is more affordable and goes a long way. But the stoves are also more expensive and require regular cleaning and maintenance. Canister stoves are easy to use and generally more affordable, but are also less efficient, the fuel is more expensive, and they are not as reliable in very cold weather.

LEARN MORE: How to Buy a Backpacking Stove

Since you’ll likely be cooking as a crew at Philmont, I’d say sharing a reliable liquid-fuel stove with your fellow Scouts and packing a couple of fuel bottles is probably the best solution.

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8 Comments on Propane canister or liquid fuel stoves?

  1. I have been to Philmont twice now. Each time we used liquid fuel and I think it is the best for the conditions and easy to fill up in the back country if you run low!

  2. Mr. Inovation // August 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm // Reply

    I prefer electric stoves. We bring a genarator and a microwave so we can cook anything quick and perfect every time.

  3. I don’t use liquid or gas fuel. I bring a solid fuel stove which is compact and burns efficiently.

  4. I prefer propane canister. They are the most popular type of stove. Find out you know
    what is easier for you to work with.

  5. Another thing to look into is to find out what other members of your group are using. That way you could share fuel supplies. Propane / butain stoves are quick and easy – liquid fuel is longer lasting per volume container size; it’s a personal choice. I use a MSR Dragonfly (Liquid fuel). To clean is you simply shake it; easy enough.

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