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Backpacking Stove Options

Hi! I am looking for a good backpacking stove. I am looking for it to be reliable in a wide range of conditions (mainly 3-season backpacking). I would love it to be relatively lightweight and compact. I would really like to only have one stove for backpacking, and I am looking for a stove that could last me a really long time, and could be used for a wide range of activities like thru-hiking and car camping. I am not into alcohol stoves or wood burning stoves. I am hesitant about canister stoves because of the ability to recycle them, however they are much lighter than white gas stoves. I have used white gas stoves on a majority of my backpacking trips, but never owned one. I would like it to be able to simmer, and work well at altitude. Thank you!

6 Replies

One strong recommendation for canister stoves here.  I bought a Pocket Rocket twenty years ago and use it to this day with great satisfaction while backpacking, bike touring, and car camping.  I have even used it in working camp situations where we had a two burner propane stove and it was a valuable supplement.

On one climbing trip, I did blow out an O ring gasket.  Should have packed a spare; they are rather light.

You can buy a special gadget to puncture your dead canisters and then recycle them - or use them for target practice and then recycle,  Just be sure they are absolutely empty.

I would advise a small alcohol or tab stove, as a backup for whatever stove you choose.  You just never know

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one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@RyanS Thanks for reaching out!

We also appreciate the clarity of exactly what you're looking for in a stove. I've used canister, liquid fuel, wood burning, and alcohol stoves in my outdoor adventures and they have all worked well. I have only ever owned canister stoves, however, and they haven't let me down yet! It is really hard to beat the weight and ease of use of a canister stove. I've taken the MSR Reactor Stove System to altitude and I can vouch for it's performance at 10,000'. If you do choose a canister stove that you plan on using consistently at altitude or in cold weather, make sure it has a regulator built in (like the Jetboil Sumo Cooking system) or allows you to use the canister upside down (cold weather and altitude lower the pressure in the canister and the gas sinks to the bottom of the canister). Currently, I have a MSR Windburner DUO Stove System that I really enjoy for its size and packability.

Because you have better control of the pressure with a liquid fuel stove (you can not only adjust the valve on the fuel bottle, but also how much pressure you put in the bottle as well), the main advantages are flame control (for simmering and cooking), cold temperature performance, and working at altitude. Because the fuel becomes a vapor by passing over the flame of the stove itself, rather than requiring a pressurized canister to keep the fuel vaporized, liquid fuel stoves are much more versatile in varying conditions. That being said, they are heavier and require pumping and priming the stove.

One great option to help make this decision easier is the MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove. It can use both liquid fuel and canister fuel, plus the canister sits inverted in case you need some help in cold temps or at altitude. You will pay a few ounces of a weight penalty with this stove, but if it checks off all of your needs it could be a great option.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@RyanS and @REI-JohnJ-

Agreed with everything John said here, really good information.  I like to consider myself a "lightweight" backpacker (trying to convince myself to spend additional $$ to shift into the ultralight game)...but there are just some items that you need reliability for instead of counting ounces over.  The cook system, for me, is one of those pieces of equipment.  I own and have used a jetboil since I started backpacking and it has never failed me, not once.  One other option to save a little bit more weight without sacrificing reliability is pairing up the MSR Pocket Rocket ( with the TOAKS Titanium pot (  With the pocket rocket and the TOAKS pot, you don't have to carry any additional "accessories" that come along with the Jetboil but you also don't have to worry about reliability.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.


I would NEVER, EVER, recommend an alcohol stove because they’re - just - not - safe! Yes, white gas stoves are bulkier and heavier, and you don’t need a “stove” to burn wood!! So far, we’re on the same page. That leaves canister stoves.

Canister stoves are recyclable as “mixed metal”, but YOU need to do some research, or make some calls, to see how/where you can recycle in your area. Otherwise, all you need to do is punch a hole or two in the bottom (required) of an empty can’ with a can opener before you toss it out. ALSO, consider getting a gas transfer valve so you can transfer the last gas into other can’s.

So, you’re left with “lightweight”, “compact”, durable and useful. You are describing a MICRO STOVE! (which I just happen to use and heartily recommend). There is NO stove that is lighter and more compact! I’ve owned and used mine CONSTANTLY for the past seven years (and I go out for weeks or months at a time) and it has NEVER, EVER failed. Not even once. And of course, if you can use it in the toughest conditions (and I have), “car camping” is nothing.

HOWEVER, micro stoves are NOT for everyone, mainly because they are made for people who actually KNOW what they’re doing! Still, whatever stove you use, follow BEST PRACTICES, which I’ve written about before:

@RyanS  I started out with a cheap China made canister stove for my motorcycle adventures, but it didn’t take me long to figure out I needed something better when it got cold. I ended up with a jetboil mighty mo stove. No cup just the stove, and have never regretted it. It works no matter how high, cold, hot, wet, and has never failed me. It has been thousands of miles on my Harley, and is still intact and working perfectly. The other stoves I had got the guts shook apart by my scooter but the jetboil has endured! 

I'm new into backpacking, and I'm using a lightweight canister stove:  The BRS stove.  I've had good luck with it, works every time for me.  And it only weighs 1 ounce!  Doesn't cost a lot either.