Best Lightweight Backpacking Stoves Reviewed for 2019

camping stove

So you’re on the search for the absolute best camp stove setup to keep you warm and fueled for your outdoor adventures?

Great -- after many hours of research I’ve narrowed down the absolute best camp stove on the market from gas burners to compact wood burners.

At the bottom of this page, I run through the main differences between the different fuel types, the pros and cons of each and which is the best option for you.

1. Jetboil Flash Cooking System

The Jetboil flash coking system is a gas burner and integrated stove system that is very efficient at boiling water in under 100 seconds (twice as fast as most burners).

The gas burner and canister pot weighs in at 13.1 ounces (371 grams) which makes it a lightweight setup that is perfect for backpackers and campers looking for a minimalist stove with enough power to cook up hot drinks and heat food.

The all-in-one stove is designed primarily for boiling water and melting snow and the heat exchange that protects the flame makes it a reliable choice in windy weather.

Although not ideal for full home-cooked meals, the pouch is perfect for pouch meals and making hot beverages quickly and effectively. The insulated heat exchange means more of your gas will go into heating and wastage will be limited.

While the Jetboil is not the lighters nor the most versatile, it is an efficient stove perfect for heating water and hydrating meal pouches on the go or in the wind. The MSR’s Windbuerner is a bigger option that works well in windier conditions while the MiniMo have simmer control (the Jetboil is only on/off).

If you’re looking for boiling speed, ease of use and efficient setup in all conditions, then the Jetboil is hard to beat for the price.

Jetboil Flash Product Tour

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Boils water in 100 seconds (1 minute 40 sec). Efficient integrated heat exchange protects the flame from the wind and makes your gas go further.
  • Pretty lightweight, the setup included the integrated canister (no need to bring a pot) weighs in at 13.1 ounces (371 grams).
  • Easy push button ignitor.
Downsides
  • Not as versatile as other stoves with simmer modes.
  • Designed primarily for water boiling and pouch meals.

Where to buy?

Check Price on Amazon


2. MSR PocketRocket 2

The MSR Pocket Rocket is a lightweight streamlined screw-on stove that attaches to the top of an isobutane canister. It’s small, seamless and practical.

Despite its size, it offers excellent simmer control and weights just 2.6 ounces (73 grams). It’s a powerful burner that will boil 1 liter of water in just 3.5 minutes and works great as a slower burner for camp cooked meals.

The canister is not included, but it will work with all standard isobutane-propane fuel canisters that available in most countries around the world. The device itself is easy to setup and you don’t need to prime, preheat or pressurize before you ready to go.

The top arms have serrated supports that will hold most camp pots -- if you’re looking for one I’d recommend the Stanley Camp Cook set -- view on Amazon -- which is highly rated and comes with a lifetime warranty.

The Pocket Rocket is not as good as other models for protecting the flame against the wind, but it does come with a WindClip which offers (see MiniMo ) some protection for average to moderate windy conditions -- helping to protect a solid and persistent flame.

The PocketRocket is ideal for minimalist campers and ultralight backpackers who want a quality functional stove that fold neatly into the small pocket of any jacket or backpack.

Cooking with the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 - Mini stove kit review + how to use

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Lightweight and efficient. Highly functional design.
  • Works with almost all standard isobutane canisters.
  • Inexpensive and produces a powerful flame that has simmer control.
Downsides
  • Integrated canisters offer more protection against the wind.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


3. MSR WhisperLite Portable Stove

The MSR WhisperLite International is a truly versatile stove that can run off white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto fuel and just about any stove fuel that you can find around the world. The WhisperLit is a touch stainless steel stove, that is very simple to use.

It’s a small and lightweight stove that is larger enough to support bigger pots and weighs in at just 10.9 ounces (309). While there are lighter and cheaper stoves, none of these are as versatile or as robust as the MSR WhisperLite.

If you want to be able to run your stove off of isobutane canisters, then go for the MRS universal. My only gripe with this stove is the lack of simmer control, which may be an issue if you’re looking for slower cooked meals. Otherwise, expect fast boiling times and you can always turn it off and on to simmer in the residual heat.

This stove is perfect for international travelers going off the beaten path, that want a reliable all-purpose stove that will work with a huge variety of fuel types. The Aluminium mixer tube and stainless steel legs make this a lightweight yet sturdy stove that will take you through many years of service.

MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove Review

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Highly versatile and runs of many fuel types around the world from white gas to kerosene.
  • Fast boil time and reliable stove for all conditions.
  • Aluminum mixer tube and stainless steel legs for a robust and lightweight construction.
  • Jet technology makes cleaning and maintaining easy to do while in the field.
Downsides
  • No simmer control.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


4. Solo Lite Wood Burning Stove

The Solo Stove lite is a compact wood burning stove specifically designed for backpacking and weight saving. It is the smaller of the two Solo stoves and offers a compact offering weighing in at only 9 ounces (255 grams).

The Solo Stove is a biomass stove which means instead of lugging fuel canisters with you, everywhere you hike -- you can use the fuel around you or collect a bundle en route. It can run off small pieces of wood, twigs, pinecones, leaves, and anything that you can make a fire with.

It’s the ideal minimalist setup which eliminates the bulk and expense of buying fuel canisters that you need for regular gas stoves. The Solo stove is made from stainless steel and fits neatly into the small compartment of your backpack.

It’s not the fastest boil time but will manage 1 liter of water in 8-10 minutes -- all the while pleasantly wafting out the smell of smoked wood instead of kerosene. Although be aware that some soot is more likely to develop on your pots from the fire as particles of wood burn up. If the weight saving and natural fire appeals to you, then it’s well worth a few more minutes spent wiping down your cooking pots.

You’ll never run out of available fuel unless you hike up above the tree line. Before this happens, you can collect up a bag of biomass fuel for your future high-altitude camps.

Solo Stove Lite - Compact Wood Burning Stove [Gear Review]

Finally, the stove will also run off denatured alcohol burners (sold separately by Solo stove) which you can carry to light your stove when biomass fuel has run low. The burners can be refilled with liquid denatured alcohol and sit comfortably inside the Solo stove frame.

Solo Alcohol Burner
Solo Alcohol Burner
Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Wood burning stove runs off biomass fuel from twigs to pinecones.
  • Very lightweight, no need to buy fuel canisters.
  • Despite its size, the stove creates a strong efficient flame and the built-in burn plate on the base will protect the ground below.
  • Works with the denatured alcohol burners as a backup.
Downsides
  • Some soot will need cleaning off your pots every now and again.
  • Biomass fuel is not always available (collect some before you go above the tree line).

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


5. MSR Reactor Stove System

This is a high end long integrated stove that is designed for speed boiling, melting snow and cooking food efficiently and with minimal fuel wastage.

Because the flame is protected, this stove works extremely well in windy environments (it works fine when tested in 20mph winds) and lots of the flames heat gets transferred into the integrated vertical pot -- which means your butane/propane goes a lot further.

Many reviewers noted that this is the best stove they have every owned primarily because of its efficiency and epic boil time. It can heat up 0.5 liters of water in 90 seconds.

It comes in three sizes (1 liter, 1.7 liters, and 2.5 liters) which makes this a great stove system for solo backpackers, couples or groups of hikers looking to make food and drinks for the whole team.

The canisters are sold separately, and the ones made by MSR use an 80% isobutane and 20% propane blend which performs well at higher altitudes. You can also hook this up to regular no brand canisters of the same size -- it comes with a universal size connection.

Unlike some others gas stoves on this list, this has full simmer control and you can adjust the flame on the go.

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Highly efficient burner works perfectly in strong wind and preserves fuel.
  • Boil 0.5 liter of water in 90 seconds. 1 liter in 2 minutes.
Downsides
  • No built-in ignitor.
  • When full, can be top-heavy -- so make sure the ground is level.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


6. Jetboil MiniMo Stove Cooking System

The Jetboil MiniMo is an integrated lightweight stove with simmer control, ok boiling time of 4 minutes 30 seconds a liter (not as fast as the Jetboil Flash) but good enough for most campers.

The Flash is better value if you’re only interested in boiling water fast, but the MiniMo is better for cooking a variety of food at camp. The MinMo has a protected flame but the wind protection is not as effective as the Reactor stove system. For fuel, you’ll need to pickup a 100g canister for it to fit inside the pot.

The Jetboil MiniMo is pretty efficient with its fuel use and the integrated system converts more flame into heat. It’s a lightweight, easy to pack setup weighing in at 14.6 ounces (413 grams). While there are some lighter options, this system offers better stability and simmer control and is great for cooking food not just boiling water.

Jetboil MiniMo review: how-to setup and demo

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Built-in ignitor makes setup fast.
  • 1-liter cooking pot with a Neoprene sleeve for safe handling.
  • Bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl.
  • Great for cooking food not just for boiling water.
  • Efficient fuel burning saves twice as much as standard non-integrated systems.
Downsides
  • Not the greatest wind protection.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


Best ultra lightweight stove

7. Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove

The Snow Peake LiteMax Titanium is an ultra lightweight stove weighing just 1.9 ounces (53 grams) -- not including the fuel canister. It is a minimalist fan design that offers some wind protection and decent stability (of course not as efficient as integrated flame and pot systems).

It fits a standard isobutane fuel canister and does a good, (but not amazing) job of boiling water in 4 minutes, and is perfect for cooking one-pot meals. It’s a rugged construction that packs away comfortably into your small backpack pocket -- a great little palm-sized stove that is well worth the money.

It pairs nicely with the Snow Peak Trek 700 pot made from Titanium for an ultra lightweight setup.

Snow Peak Trek 700 + LiteMax Titanium Stove

While you’re not getting the fastest boil time or the best overall pot stability, for the mix of price, weight saving, and ultra portability, it’s hard to beat the Snow Peak LiteMax which makes it my ultra-lightweight stove top pick.

Ultralight Backpacking Stove Shootout - Snow Peak LiteMax (Episode 2)

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Pocket-sized stove, perfect for minimalist camping and weight saving.
  • Robust, made from titanium and aluminum -weighs just 1.9 oz.
  • Efficient boil time for a non-integrated system.
  • Takes any non-branded canister with a universal connection across multiple sizes.
Downsides
  • Limited protection against strong wind.
  • Not the best stability, unless paired with a smaller pot.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


8. Jetboil MicroMo Camping Stove

The Jetboil MicroMo is a smaller and lighter version of the MiniMo reviewed above. The cooking cup is good holds just 27 fluid ounces (0.8 liters) of water which makes this a great choice for solo or couple backpackers.

The MiniMo can efficiently boil water in 2 minutes and while using half the fuel of an open flame system. It offers good protection against the wind and is easy to pack away -- weighing in at just 12 ounces (340 gram). The pushbutton ignitor makes this an easy setup and ideal for weekend trail trips or extended multi-day mountain adventures.

The regulator is consistent and offers reliable performance down to 20°F  (-6°C). Despite its size, it offers simmer control and a compact efficient setup. If you’d like a bit more volume, then go for the MiniMo or Flash instead.

Jetboil MicroMo Product Tour

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • 2 minute boiling time and light integrated container setup.
  • Wind protection and efficient burner saves your fuel.
  • Push button ignitor make it easy to start and get cooking.
Downsides
  • Smaller cup size makes this better for lone travelers or couples willing to share a drink.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


9. Primus OmniFuel Stove

The Primus OmniFuel is a powerful and reliable stove that can take all fuel tapes from liquid to gas. While more expensive than the MSR, it offers more durability (aluminum pump instead of plastic) and a sturdy stand designed for larger stands. It’s got excellent simmer control and is suited for longer cooking times over flames -- rather than simple quick boiling of integrated gas systems.

The Primus is lighter -- weighin in at 8.4 oz / 238 grams -- and less bulky than the MSR WhisperLite Universal and DragonFly, but does come with a heftier price tag.

This is a rugged camp stove great for cooking for a small crew of people than just a couple. Its versatile nature makes it a bullet-proof stove ready to work with canister fuel -- white gas or butane.

It’s a bit too bulky for the solo backpacker but great for couples of small parties looking to share the load with one cooker. If you’re ready to spend a bit more and want a beautifully designed stove that will last you many happy seasons of camping then the Primus is a great pick.

Primus Omnifuel Review

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Perfect for couples or small groups.
  • Robust design that can handle a larger flame and wider cooking pot. Simmer mode.
  • Very reliable stove, that is expertly build to last many seasons of repeated demanding use.
Downsides
  •  Loud noise at full flame.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


10. Trangia Spirit Burner

Trangia Spirit Burner uses alcohol fuel to heat and cook. It’s trull the ultimate lightweight and practical cooker. It’s small and weighs just 3.8 oz (107 grams) and delivers a decent flame.

Expect a much longer boil time of 8-10 minutes for 1 liter of water but the payback is the affordability and durability of the stove. You’ll need t use rocks to prop your pot, and to create a screen against the wind.

Despite its simple design of using denatured alcohol inside a circular brass pot to create a consistent flame, it comes with a simmer ring for slow cooked meals.

While the Spirit Burner is not for every camper, it’s suited for those who want a bit more hands-on, back to basics approach and appreciate the lightweight, portable and practical nature that the design offers. The hundreds of 5 star reviews over at Amazon are a testament to how much people love to cook using these types of stoves.

Alcohol Stove Review | TA Outdoors

Once you’re out of fuel you can keep re-filling using denatured alcohol ($6 per 8.5 oz / 250ml) and the Sweedish made brass stove will last decades.

I’d highly recommend buying the Spirit stove stand or cook set along with the burner to give you a stable pit platform.

Trangia -- 27-3 Ultralight Camping Cookset
Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Brass design is strong, durable and lightweight.
  • Very clean fuel, limited soot.
Downsides
  • Requires a more practical hands-on approach to cooking.
  • Longer boiling times.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon

⚠️ In even moderately bright light, alcohol flames may be hard to see but still very HOT!


11. Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove

This is a hexagon frame designed to house a natural wood fire. This is for minimalist backpackers looking to make their own fire stoves using natural biomass (twigs, pinecones, branches, wood).

The hinged panels snap together and open up allowing you to increase the space while also protecting against the wind. Vents in the base allow ash to fall while allowing a convection current to form and feed oxygen to the flames. The inward leaning sidewalls project the flames heat into a central space for cooking food and boiling water (you’ll need a separate pot).

camper wood stove

The Vargo weighs in at just 4 ounces (113 grams) is made from stainless steel for a portable and easy to pack construction (walls collapse into a flat plane).  While this is not as sturdy as the Solo stove, it offers more room for a larger fire and large branches can protrude out of the open sidewall.

This is for those looking for a more practical and natural approach to their camp stoves without the need to buy or lug extra fuel around. Relying on biomass you are restricted to use within the tree line (unless you pack wood) which may be too restrictive for some people.

The flame and airflow is decent and you can expect boil times of just under 10 minutes for 0.5 which makes this a slower more hands-on option.

P.S there is an aluminum version that is cheaper but weighs twice as much -- 7.5 ounces (212 grams)

Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove Review

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Lightweight natural stove setup.
  • Open and collapsible walls allow for larger branches to sit in.
  • Two versions, a cheaper aluminum and lighter titanium version.
  • Ridges for holdin a sturdy pot.
Downsides
  • Requires a ready supply of natural biofuel.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


12. Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Stove

This is a lightweight budget stover made from aluminum allow and stainless steel. It is compact and offers a decent platform for holding a small camping pot.

It’s an inexpensive choice for budget backpackers and the flame control makes this pretty decent for boiling water fast and slow cooking simmering one-pot camp food.

While it’s not got the quality and robustness of some more quality brands I’ve reviewed on this list, for the price is packs a decent punch. The ignitor is not the easiest to use and it doesn’t burn the most efficient flame -- which over the long run can cost you in fuel costs and weight (need to carry or fuel).

IF you’re looking for a stove for a few weekends trips then this will do the trick, but it if you want a more efficient burner for multi-day hikes and all season use then invest in a better burner.

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Inexpensive & does the job.
  • Lightweight and portable gas burner.
  • works with isobutane/propane canisters
Downsides
  • Not very efficient at burning fuel.
  • The ignitor is not very easy to use.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


13. Esbit Pocket Stove

The Esbit is an ultralight folding titanium stove designed to be used with solid fuel tablets. The foldable design makes this a highly portable burner with limited moving parts.

It works well with most camping pots and create a stable platform for cooking or boiling water. The 0.5 ounces (14g) fuel tablets are easy to transport and offer 12 minutes of burn time -- they’re not highly efficient and you have limited control over their intensity -- but they get the job done.

Esbit Pocket Stove & Titanium Pot

Awesome features worth mentioning:

  • Reliable flame with a simple no fuss setup.
  • Cheap and ultralight setup.
  • Cheap fuel that is easy to carry and pack.
Downsides
  • Tablets need replacing every 14 minutes.
  • Limited control over the flame intensity.
  • Not legal in at least one U.S National park due to fire risks.

Where to buy? 

Check Price on Amazon


Best stove pot? The ‘GSI outdoors’

stove pot

Not that you’ve chosen your stove, if you’ve gone for a burner that doesn’t have an integrated pot, then you’ll need one to put your tea or ramen in.

Like all good gear, a quality pot is going to last you many seasons. The GSI outdoors boiler is a lightweight packable pot that has foldable handles, a tough titanium construction and a conduction alloy for ultra-efficient heating.

You’ll save on fuel and get delicious fire cooked meals for years to come (1.8l) -- great for solo packers, couples or groups of 3.

Awesome features worth mentioning:
  • Lightweight and foldable handles that don’t get hot.
  • Conduction base for efficient heating.
  • Titanium long-lasting construction can handle the wear and tear of years of use on and off the trail.
  • Perfect size for 1-3 people sharing the same stove.
Downsides
  • May burn on the middle if the heat is too strong.
  • No holes in the lid for straining pasta (though this means more heat retention).

Where to buy?

Check Price on Amazon

Outdoor Stove Types

Canister Stoves

This is the most popular type of stove and they typically run on a mix of isobutane and propane. They’re a popular choice because they’re easy to use and relatively compact for the amount of burn time they provide. The mixture burns clean and you can reach a boil within a few minutes (even less for integrated systems). The flame is powerful, adjustable and transfers heat efficiently into the pot -- more or less depending on the valve design and the wind protection.

The stoves range from the ultralight (MSR Pocket Rocket) and portable to the larger more robust integrated systems (JetBoil Flash) where the pot and stove are joined up.

burner stove

For most campers a backpacking gas stove is the way to go. The only downsides are that they are not as efficient in cold weather (white gas is better) and the canisters can weight quite a bit -- especially if you need lots of fuel for a longer multi-day backcountry trip.

Liquid and Multi-Fuel Stoves

Liquid fuel uses separate refillable bottles that run on white gas -- from kerosene to unleaded gas. These are versatile stoves as they work best for international travel where different fuel sources are more popular.

Liquid or white gas burns much hotter than propane/isobutane which makes this the best choice for high altitude or cold weather trekking -- so you can offset the ambient temperature which a hotter flame.

White gas is also a better choice for longer trips because you get more cooking time for the same bulk and you can bring backups liquid gas in lighter refillable bottles. The best stoves for this type of setup is the MSR WhisperLite Universal.

To recap, for shorter lower altitude trips in above zero (32°F) whether the isobutane/propane is the best choice. If you’re going to far-flung places, higher altitude, colder climates or longer trips then white gas camp stoves are the way to go. You get more fuel for less bulk and a higher burn point, for fasting cooking.

If you’re using white gas, you will need to prime the stove beforehand to get the liquid fuel canister connected up and feeding fuel into the stove.  The video below by REI gives a run through of how this process works.

How to Prime and Light a Liquid Fuel Stove || REI

Alcohol Stoves

These stoves run using denatured alcohol and are a popular choice for minimalist backpackers and ultralight aficionados. The major benefit to using alcohol fuel is that it is inexpensive, light and offers a no-fuss simple setup.

There are a few drawbacks to using alcohol as a fuel source such as the lack of simmer control, overall efficiency an heat output.

Some alcohol stoves like the Trangia Spirit Burner have a ring that allows you to reduce the flame, but it doesn’t offer the control you’d get from a typical gas burner.

On the plus side, acquiring fuel is straightforward and most gas stations or hardware store around the country sell the liquid denatured alcohol you’ll need.

Wood-Burning Stoves

The ultimate minimalist setup, wood burning stoves use natural biomass like wood and pinecones to create a controlled fire. This means you don’t need to carry any extra fuel (unless you plan on hiking beyond the fuel line).

The wood burning stoves are small, lightweight, ultra-portable and provide the most natural of camp stoves. They require a bit of extra work to get going -- but if you like the practical hands-on approach to making food and hot drinks then wood burners are the way to go.

Despite their small size, they will output a strong flame and if you the sheltered design will protect against oncoming wind. You’ll need to keep it topped up and allow for a 10-minute boil.

Check for local fire regulations, before venturing out to your national park and be aware to collect up dry fuel as you go, in case of a sudden downpour. You can always pack an alcholo burner as a backup.

3 Backpacking Wood Stoves Put to the Test

Best camp stove recipes

There’s more than ramen that you can cook in your camp stove. If you’re looking for some inspiration check out these 25 one-pot recipes.

camp stove food

Fresh drinking water

If you’re looking for clean drinking water that has had the bacteria and sediment removed and is safe to drink then it’s best to get a backpackers water filter system rather than rely on boiling water which is great for emergencies but not an efficient way of staying hydrated.

How much fuel do you need to bring?

On average bring enough fuel to boil one liter of water per meal per person. For pouch meals and drinks you’ll need less water and fuel but for cooking meals from scratch you’ll need more.

I wrote a detailed look at exactly how much fuel you’ll need for a backpacking trip.

Final thoughts

camp burner stoveCamp stoves are magical devices. Turning cold raw ingredients into delicious delights. There’s nothing like getting to your camp after a long day trekking in the mountains, firing up the stove and tucking into some hot food before collapsing into your warm sleeping bag.

Camp stoves allow you to melt snow, make hot drinks and cook delicious one-pot meals. They keep you warm and provide hearty nutrition to re-fuel your reserves. Investing in a quality stove will pay dividends for many years to come.

Enjoy your stove, eat delicious food and enjoy your time in the mountains. I hope my camp stove reviews helped you pick the right one -- if you have any questions or need some advice comment below.

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