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How to buy a camping stove


Whether you’re on a weeklong backpacking trip or a car-camping weekend, nothing beats a bowl of warm dinner around the campfire.

There are lots of different ways to cook your grub, from a Dutch oven to a super-packable camp stove for quickly boiling water for your packaged meal.

Here is some expert advice for picking a good stove that fits your needs, along with Gear Guy’s recommendations for seven great camping stoves.

Jetboil Flash Lite

JETBOIL FLASH LITE ($100, This 11-ounce Jetboil canister stove is known for its ability to boil water super quickly. Count on about 2 minutes to boil water for instant soup or a trail meal, all of which can be mixed inside the included .8-liter cup.


There are two main types of backpacking stoves. Liquid-fuel stoves use a liquid fuel such as white gas or propane to cook your food. The stove attaches to a fuel bottle with a small hose and requires you to manually pump it to create fuel pressure. They burn hot and are very reliable, but they also require regular cleaning and maintenance.

Canister or cartridge stoves are small burners that screw on top of butane fuel canisters. The fuel is a pressurized gas, so it’s always ready to burn. A lot of models come with a built-in igniter. Though they are not as reliable in cold conditions, canister stoves are super easy to use and the best bet for Scouts who are new to backpacking stoves.

Optimus Crux

OPTIMUS CRUX ($50, At just under 3 ounces, the Crux is one of the smallest and lightest canister stoves here, but it can still boil 1 liter of water in about 3 minutes.


Expect to spend at least $40 for a good canister stove. Liquid-fuel stoves start around $70.

Snow Peak Bipod Stove

SNOW PEAK BIPOD STOVE ($90, At about 8 ounces, this compact canister stove has a wide support arm for cooking with larger pots and pans.


You’ll also have to pay for the fuel.

Butane gas canisters cost about $3 each. That can add up, because they can’t be refilled and reused. You’ll also have to pack them out of the wilderness when they’re empty. That means on a weeklong trip, they’ll be dead weight clanking around in your backpack.

Liquid-fuel stoves run on refillable fuel bottles. For $8, you can buy a gallon of white gas that will last you for several seasons. It’s a little messy to refill, but they are cheaper in the long run — and better for the environment because there’s less waste.

Esbit Original Pocket Stove

ESBIT ORIGINAL POCKET STOVE ($12-$20, One of the simplest stoves here, just place a fuel tablet in the stove and light it, and it’ll boil a pint of water in about 8 minutes. Includes six to 12 fuel tablets.


Liquid-fuel stoves need to be cleaned regularly. Over time, carbon builds up in the stove’s port and prevents it from burning properly. The cleaning isn’t difficult, but it must be done.

With a canister stove you don’t have the cleaning problem, but if something fails, you are less likely to be able to get it repaired.

MSR Pocketrocket

MSR POCKETROCKET ($40, One of the most popular canister stoves, this one weighs about 3 ounces, is affordable and, most of all, is super-reliable on the trail.


You’ll see some ultra-light backpacking stoves at outdoors stores, but unless you’re experienced with stoves, you should steer clear of those. The problem is they are more expensive, and because the parts are so lightweight they’re not as durable.

For your first stove, it’s best to stick with a standard canister stove because any extra weight will be more than made up for by its reliability and durability.

Coleman Micro Backpack Stove

COLEMAN MICRO BACKPACK STOVE ($60, Weighing in at 6.7 ounces and just over 1 pound total with a full propane canister, the Coleman boils 1 liter of water in about 3.25 minutes with a 60-minute total burn time.


Stoves help make camp cooking quick and easy, but you have to use them properly. For a complete guide to stove safety, check out your Boy Scout Handbook or Fieldbook.

Barocook Flameless Cooking System Transparent Cafe

BAROCOOK FLAMELESS COOKING SYSTEM TRANSPARENT CAFÉ ($29, The Barocook uses a heating pad (included) that’s activated by water to quickly heat your water or food to about 208 degrees within 15 minutes. It comes with a 13-ounce mug.

26 Comments on How to buy a camping stove

  1. Michief Angel // June 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm // Reply

    Hey this is a great article but can you tell me specificaly great stoves to buy if it is my first one? I make soda can stoes all the time and I use them but now I think that I need a real backpacking stove…help?

  2. WhichBurner // June 3, 2009 at 1:14 pm // Reply

    I’ve read some really great articles about multifuel stoves and their applications, and this is up there,great stuff!

  3. There’s a reason why liquid fuel was used over 50 years ago and still is today.

  4. i have a msr pocketrocket and its pretty cool

  5. they have a good price for a stove like that.

  6. If temp about 30 or less I use a Whisperlite. Used down to -10. To me white gas is the only way.

  7. The best stove is the snow peak gigi power. It is about $50. it works really good.

  8. jet boil is the way to go

  9. I usecoleman multi fuel,itsgreat! and only 50$

  10. Pinhoti Pablo // September 26, 2008 at 4:56 pm // Reply

    I have been using the whisperlite international by MSR for some time now with no problems. A yearly maintenance, (rebuild, o-rings, etc.) and an occassional cleaning and i am good to go. The shaker jet system is great system to have if the stove’s jet should clog in the field. A simple shake and your back up and running.

    Doesn’t simmer well but if you are only boiling water it is excellent and very fast. You can use a deflector shield, (thin pan to deflect direct heat) and simmer very well with the whisperlite.

    I have heard complaints about soot and smoke at initial ignition. I carry a small bottle of denatured alcohol for my backup/penny stove. I use a little bit of the alcohol on the wick/fuel pan to prime and preheat the stove instead of regular fuel. Once preheated just turn on the regular fuel and no smoke or soot. This seams to work well with everything but diesel.

    Constructed well out of sturdy materials which makes it worth the little bit of extra weight. well worth the money

  11. The MSR Reactor (photo at top) is great. cheap, light, and effective.

  12. Bob the T-Rex // August 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm // Reply

    I got a stove that runs on little chemical tablets for $15

  13. I’ve been using the “cat stove” for 7 years now and haven’t found anything better. It is a cat food can with denatured alcohol. Nothing under pressure. I’ve burnt up Whisperlite, Coleman, and butane and several accidents with them because of the pressured fuel. I don’t care for them. The “cat stove” is a great project for the scouts and it only take about 30 minutes to make the stove, stand and windscreen for less than a $1.00.

  14. I hve a Wisperlite stove which works grea,t except on BSA property.

    Tried to use one at camp and got my head handed to me.

    So check with your Council before brining one to a BSA Camp.


  15. cool

  16. halo 3 lover // April 18, 2008 at 9:39 pm // Reply

    but jetboils are better

  17. halo 3 lover // April 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm // Reply

    smart iam also a big back packer

  18. butane bottles can be used as rockets, while white gas or kerosene can’t. butane is better for having fun but your stuff might burn up.

  19. scout65261 // March 23, 2008 at 6:39 pm // Reply

    Thank-this stuff is very good.

    People should buy stuff from this place

  20. the sell very good stoves

  21. i like my jetboil!

  22. Scout1139….I would leave it at home. Not familiar with the oven you are talking about, but in backpacking weight is a big deal. You will do much better with something like the Outback Oven as this sits on your backpacking stove. This allows you to bake when you want to and still use the stove as a stove. Plus the pans of the oven double as a fry pan for cooking those fresh caught fish. One less thing to maintain on the trail.

  23. Scout 1139 // March 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm // Reply

    I bought a brand-new bac-pac oven today for 20 dollars it runs on butane and i haven’t used it yet how and what should i clean? and how often please I NEED an answer I’ve never used one before.

  24. Backpacking stoves are great for backpacking but when operating out of basecamp a two or three burner stove is much easier to cook on and it is very reliable.

  25. Thanks–this is stuff I need to know!

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