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Picking a backpacking stove

stove-200x148Q. I am looking for a nice backpacking stove that doesn’t use too much gas or weigh too much. What can you recommend?
— Stoveless Steven, Phoenix, Ariz.

A. If you’re just getting into backpacking, choose a canister-type stove. These are just small burners that screw on top of butane fuel canisters. They are simple, reliable and some are also very lightweight. These are two of my favorite canister stoves that’ll have you cooking in no time:

Mountain Safety Research PocketRocket ($40, One of the most durable ultralight canister stoves on the market, the palm-size PocketRocket weighs just three ounces. It has a small but hot flame and is best for smaller pots.

Brunton Raptor ($61, This five-ounce stainless-steel butane canister stove features an automatic lighting system, and though it’s super compact, its three fold-out arms can support a surprisingly large pot.

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8 Comments on Picking a backpacking stove

  1. Remember that only MSR is made in the good ole U.S.A. Salute!

  2. Ol' Timer // July 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm // Reply

    The venerable SVEA 123 is very reliable, requires almost no maintenance, and uses cheaper liquid fuel.

  3. msr guy pete // April 19, 2009 at 9:14 am // Reply

    i have an msr pocket rocket stone it has never failed. sometimes when my patrol makes a big meal they use my stove to keep food warm in cold weather

  4. You should get the eta express from Primus, as ir’s the most fuel efficient stove on the market, as REI says. It also has the fastest boil time, boiling 1 liter of water in 2 minutes 30 seconds, as REI also says. I have one, and this is the truth, it’s also good in some winter weather too, and it beats the jetboil and the MSR reactor by a long shot. It is also cheaper, and is very good at simmering also, it is also very light, you just can’t beat the performance of this stove, even if you try.

  5. You might want to consider the Featherlite. It weights about 2 ounces and uses alcohol. That means you can also use your fuel as a sanitizer and toss the hand gel.

  6. I think that the MSR reactor is the best stove on the market. it boils 1 liter of water in 3 minutes!

  7. I started off using the canister-types. I’m not that old but I can attest that the latest models are more lightweight and compact than the ones I used. I loved my old stove but after years of cooking delicious meals on it, I graduated to a non-canister-type stove. I now use a “Whisperlite” stove and it’s one of the best pieces of gear I’ve ever relied on. I recommend starting with the canister-types, get used to it, and then explore more options.

  8. Thank you Gear Guy for suggesting these lightweight stoves. Now I don’t have to worry about breaking my back when I put my backpack on for the backcountry!

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