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Backpacking stove and cooking kit

I have read many reviews about backpacking stoves. It becomes confusing at times because it seems that for every good review there is a bad one. 

I'm an old guy that is getting back into backpacking following retirement. The vast majority of my trips will be 2 or 3 nighters/probably no more than 5 to 6 miles per day. 

I suspect I will be using mostly freeze-dried food. I'd like a stove with a cooking kit recommendation. 

I will usually be cooking for just one but would like the flexibility of cooking for two.

Thanks much for your advice.

7 Replies

@anakelly Thanks for reaching out!

You are correct that you'll find an almost limitless supply of reviews speaking to the pros and cons of each stove and it can definitely feel overwhelming at times. There are several threads here in the community that speak to this very topic, I encourage you to check out Suggestions for backpacking stoves and Looking for small stove recommendations. They both contain lots of good information from other users here in the community.

Personally, I use the MSR WindBurner Duo Stove System and I really enjoy it. It is big enough that I can boil water/cook for a small group and small enough I can pack it just for me too. The first backpacking stove I ever purchased almost 20 years ago was an MSR PocketRocket and it was great! Simple to use, efficient with fuel, hardly weighed anything, and packed down really small. I encourage you to look at the MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit, it might be just what you're looking for.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

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

@anakelly  Two to consider ...Soto Amicus cook set ...probably the best value that REI sells.  The amicus is a well made burner with good wind resistance.

Make sure to fold the pot handles out when heating or you will melt the plastic coating.  The soto pots work with the Snow Peak Hot lips.

JetBoil Minimo ...maybe the best all round integrated stove.

Both will get you a 1 Liter (1+ Quart) pot that should be big enough to boil water for two or big enough to make a noodle type meal for one if you want to go beyond freeze dried. 

You can use other pots with either stove if you find you need something bigger or a fry pan  but I recommend against the JetBoil 1.5 L pot on the Minimo because the clip on pot stand is not that stable and catches on the fins. 

Both have built in peizo igniters for convenience and in case you forget a lighter but take one or two lighters or a sparker of some sort anyway since piezos can fail. 

@anakelly  Yes, there are many, and they all work great!

Look them over, see what fits your eye(and budget) and give them a try.

If it doesn’t work out, just return it, easy peasy!

Also keep in mind that, if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll probably end up with more than one, lol!

REI Member Since 1979


If you're going farther and harder, you NEED gear that is smaller and lighter.

However, if you're not going so far, and not going so hard (and frankly will be doing more camping than hiking), then your choices can lean more toward "glamping" (using more "luxury items" and gear based more on personal preferences and comfort rather than well-reasoned decisions based on efficiency). I have a "micro stove" (and KNOW how to use it, CORRECTLY), but if I plan on taking it easy (and drag another person along), I don't change my stove, I use my slightly larger cook set. I have a short, "head-to-hips" sleeping pad, but I may use my long, "head-to-heels" pad. I may even bring a PILLOW!

If you're not covering many miles (which means you're probably not going any farther than the frontcountry) and not going out for more than several days/nights, SURE, use whatever types of food you want are fine, including expensive, bulky, freeze-dried camping food. OR, use appropriate fresh and even canned food. Just pack (and store) correctly! You just need things that work as expected, so whatever makes you happy.

As to reviews, beware reviewers who over-reach by trying to come-off as some sort of half-a** scientist, engineer or researcher!! Look for opinions based on EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE!!!

I'm new to backpacking also.  I'm using a small canister stove - the BRS stove.  I'm also using a Toaks 750ml titanium cookpot.  All lightweight and relatively inexpensive.  Also, since you're looking at freeze-dried meals, get a long-handled spoon to reach all the way to the bottom of those bags.  

Thanks to everyone for their time. I settled on the Jetboil MiniMo. No good reason; at the end of the day the 4 or 5 top-ranked stoves all seemed to be quite high quality based on comments and reviews. Thanks again.


Thanks for coming back here to let us know what you chose. Have fun out there on the trail!

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