testing the best backpacking stove

Backpacking Stove Comparison Table*

Stoves Weight Price  Boils Per 100g Canister, Max Heat Output, No Wind 1L Boil Time
Jetboil Stash 7.1 oz $145 12 L 5m
MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe 6.6 oz* $85 7.3L 3m 18s
Soto WindMaster 6.8oz* $65 8.9 L 4m
Jetboil MiniMo 14.0 oz $165 12 L 4m 30s
TD Sidewinder 6.4 oz $80 NA 14m
MSR Reactor 17.0 $290 10.3 L 3m

Stats based on manufacturer provided information
*Counts the addition of our preferred 3.7 oz, 900 ml titanium TOAKs pot

cooking with the msr pocket rocket deluxe

Best Backpacking Stove: System

JetBoil Stash Stove

Ah Jetboil Stash Stove, the most compact, lightweight and fuel efficient cooking system. This is the kit we take most of the time, and is the most effective option for most people on most trips.

  • Price: $145
  • Weight: 7.1 oz
  • Boil Time 1L: 5 min
  • BTUs: 4500
  • Burn Time on Max: 74 min
  • Ignitor: no
  • Pressure Regulator: no
  • Water boiled per 100g fuel, max output, no wind: 12L
  • Wind Tolerance: light
  • Pros: Very compact. Lightweight. Very fuel efficient. Comes with best cook pot on the market.
  • Cons: Poor cold temp performance. Medium wind performance. Slower than average boil time. Expensive.

Construction & Features

The Jetboil Stash Stove is an ultralight backpacker’s dream. The whole system, including stove, 100g fuel canister, and lighter, packs down and nests in its own pot. In-use, Stash is something of a best-of-both-worlds hybrid between traditional Jetboil integrated systems (like the Flash) and standalone canister-top backpacking stove (like MSR Pocket Rocket).

What’s more, it’s boils 12L per 100g of fuel. That’s extremely fuel efficient, 33% more so than other popular options like Soto Windmaster and 60% more than MSR Pocket Rocket II. While it has a slower than average boil time of five minutes per liter, we can’t stress enough how little waiting one or two extra minutes matters compared to the weight/bulk savings.

The lightweight aluminum pot has the signature Jetboil flux ring to block some wind and contain heat. What’s more, notches on the stove arms create a very secure perch. The pot handle is insulated and locks down the system when stowed. In our opinion, every single backpacking pot should have something equivalent to the Jetboil Flux Ring. It’s a strict upgrade to stove performance. Any stove performs well when you pair it with a Flux Ring pot.

Jetboil Stash backpacking stove does not have a pressure regulator, meaning the heat output decreases as the fuel canister empties, and as temperatures drop. We find it perfectly sufficient for most 3-season use in temps above freezing in zero to light wind. Adding a cupped head (to block wind) and pressure regulator would be the best ways to improve this stove (or upgrading the pot to titanium, while were dreaming), and the only time we wouldn’t pack a Stash is when strong wind or freezing temps are expected.

Verdict

Simply put, this is the most economical stove when it comes to weight/bulk savings and fuel efficiency. We take it out on most backpacking trips and recommend you do too. Read more in our full length review.

Best Backpacking Stove: Standalone

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

The MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe improves on the baseline Pocket Rocket II by adding pressure regulation, a built-in ignitor, and a dash of wind resistance. It takes everything we like about the Soto Windmaster and applies signature MSR quality. And it boils water super quickly!

  • Price: $85
  • Stove Weight: 2.9 oz
  • Trail Weight with 3.7 oz .9L Titanium Pot: 6.6 oz
  • Boil Time 1L: 3 min 18 sec
  • BTUs: 11,000
  • Ignitor: Piezoelectric
  • Pressure Regulator: Yes
  • Water boiled per 100g fuel, max output, no wind: 7.3+ L
  • Wind Tolerance: light-to-moderate
  • Pros: Lightweight. Wind resistant. Performs in cold. Pietzo Ignitor. Best-in-class boil speed. User-friendly.
  • Cons: Mid-tier fuel efficiency.

Construction & Features

MSR’s Pocket Rocket series might be the most popular backpacking stove system of all time. It’s small, lightweight, effective, and it just works! Now in its second edition and juiced up with deluxe features, MSR can once again reclaim the throne of best standalone stove.

It performs well in cold thanks to the pressure regulation, one of the “deluxe features” excluded from the baseline Pocket Rocket II. This prevents the heat output from decreasing as the fuel canister empties, or becomes sluggish in cold temps. It is pure upside and a huge boon to the efficacy of this stove.

Pocket Rocket Deluxe offers two fold wind resistance, pulling design inspiration from the Soto WindMaster, our top value pick. Firstly, it has a cupped stove head to prevent the flame from blowing out or immediately blowing sideways. It also lowers the gap between stove head and top of pot arms so the flame has less vertical space to travel before warming the bottom of the pot. Combined, these two features add a solid dose of wind resistance. We wouldn’t call it storm-worthy, but it’s certainly better than average.

With a boil time of just 3 minutes and 18 seconds, the Pocket Rocket Deluxe heat output is practically thermo-nuclear. This makes it a great option for group cooking. What’s more, its fuel economy is based on max output, but this stove is capable of achieving more than 7.3 liters of water boiled per 100g canister if used on less than max power. We estimate it to be comparable to Soto WindMaster in that regard.

Compared to baseline Pocket Rocket II, the Deluxe is nearly a strict upgrade. The benefits of its performance features well outweigh the additional 0.3 oz of weight. It is similar in performance to Soto WindMaster, but with faster boil time, easier setup/less finicky arms, and $20 more expensive.

Verdict

The Pocket Rocket Deluxe is our current top pick for best standalone stove thanks its pressure regulation, fast boil time, and user-friendly experience. It’s great all around and the only potential improvement would be to fuel economy.

Best Backpacking Stove: Value

Soto WindMaster Stove

If you haven’t heard of the Soto WindMaster, think of it like a better version of the MSR Pocket Rocket II, only more wind resistant and with better fuel economy. It is comparable to the Pocket Rocket II Deluxe, but $20 less expensive.

  • Price: $65
  • Stove Weight: 3.1 oz
  • Trail Weight with 3.7 oz .9L Titanium Pot: 6.8 oz
  • Boil Time 1L: 4 min 2 sec
  • BTUs: 11,000
  • Ignitor: Piezoelectric
  • Pressure Regulator: yes
  • Water boiled per 100g fuel, max output, no wind: 9 L
  • Wind Tolerance: light-to-moderate
  • Pros: Lightweight. Wind resistant. Stable. Performs in cold. Integrated lighter. Good value.
  • Cons: Mid-tier fuel efficiency. Finicky stove arms.

Construction & Features

For a standalone backpacking stove, the Soto Windmaster is both lightweight and fully-featured.

Its namesake wind mastery is derived from two design elements. First is the cupped burner, which protects the base of the flame and prevents it from blowing out. This is a smart design choice and one we’d like to see used in literally every backpacking stove. Honestly why not?

The second level of wind defense is the way that the arms hold the pot very, very close to the flame, ensuring that little heat is blown away before warming the pot. The only downside to this is that with narrow pots, you will notice the flame wrap around the edges and lick the sides. We recommend avoiding narrow pots with the WindMaster Backpacking Stove.

If you’ve read anything about the Soto WindMaster, then you probably saw it has the best-in-class pietzoelectric integrated ignitor. This is a user friendly, nice to have feature that creates redundancy in case your bic lighter runs out of fuel or goes missing. That said, built in ignitor’s are not strictly necessary as you’ll already have a lighter..

Next, we love the micro pressure regulator, that helps maintain performance as the fuel canister begins to run low or temperatures drop. This is extra important for camping in spring and fall when you are more likely camping in cold conditions.

We have two knocks against the WindMaster. First and foremost is its mid-tier fuel economy, about 33% less effective than Jetboil Stash, which sets the bar. Boiling 2L per day for two people, the WindMaster can reliably manage a 4 day trip on one 100g canister, whereas Jetboil Stash is reliable for a 5-6 day trip.

Our other complaint, much smaller than fuel economy, is the detached stove arms. They are somewhat bulky, and a bit finicky to set up. Not a big deal, but worth noting.

Verdict

If you want the best value standalone, fully-featured backpacking stove for use in fair to moderately cold/windy conditions, grab the Soto WindMaster.  It’s truly excellent.

Best Backpacking Stove: Cold/Wind

Jetboil MiniMo Stove

For use in cold, windy conditions we prefer the Jetboil MiniMo Stove. This is our go-to stove when backpacking in treacherous Patagonian weather.

  • Price: $165
  • Weight: 14 oz
  • Boil Time 1L: 4 min 30 sec
  • BTUs: 6000
  • Ignitor: Piezoelectric
  • Pressure Regulator: yes
  • Water boiled per 100g fuel, max output, no wind: 12L
  • Wind Tolerance: Moderate
  • Pros: Performs in wind and cold. Fuel efficient. Comes with pot. Koozie.
  • Cons: Heavy. Expensive.

Construction & Features

The Jetboil MiniMo is the best fully integrated stove system for use in challenging weather. This is thanks to its pressure regulator, wind blocking/heat containing FluxRing, and overall excellent fuel economy.

Fully-integrated backpacking stoves are always bulkier and heavier than standalones or hybrids, which is why we only use them when necessary. That said, MiniMo does a good job of minimizing this downside. Everything packs down into the pot and the whole system weighs 13 oz. However, that is about twice as heavy as Stash or WindMaster plus a pot.

The Jetboil pressure regulator is a critical benefit in that it allows the stove to perform in cold temperatures when others would falter and reduce heat output. The same is true when using a nearly empty canister. Pressure regulators are of huge benefit to stoves, and well worth a bit of extra weight and cost. Jetboil claims MiniMo can perform in temps down to 20, though we wouldn’t recommend pushing it.

The Jetboil MiniMo backpacking stove has a 4.5 minute boil time, which is a bit slower than average, but boil time matters very little to us. We can wait an extra 30-60 seconds. What matters more is the excellent fuel economy. MiniMo boils 12 liters on one 100g canister, which ties Stash and smashes Pocket Rocket and WindMaster by a significant margin.

With MiniMo, you’re getting a conveniently short and wide 1L sized cook pot. It can even store a 230g fuel canister! It is wide and excellent for cooking and eating out of. However, if you will always be cooking solo and mostly not eating out of the pot, it might make sense to instead choose it’s slightly smaller sibling, the Jetboil MicroMo backpacking stove. MicroMo weighs two ounces less and has a narrower, 0.8L sized pot.

Verdict

The Jetboil MiniMo Stove is the best blend of effectiveness in cold/wind, weight/bulk minimization, and fuel economy. It is too heavy to be considered a daily driver, but a great specialist to add to your quiver for foul weather.

Best Backpacking Stove: Alcohol

Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cooking System

Thanks to its titanium heat trapping/wind blocking cone, the Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri is the most effective alcohol fuel stove. It is a bit finicky to set up, but lighter weight than canister stoves for short trips.

  • Price: $80
  • Trail Weight (full system with pot): 6.4 oz
  • Includes: Stove, 900 ml Titanium Pot, Cone, Sleeve, Stakes, Empty Fuel Bottle
  • Boil Time 1L: 14 minutes
  • Wind Tolerance: Moderate
  • Pros: Ultralight. No metal fuel canister. Wind resistant. Stable. Pot Included.
  • Cons: Very finicky setup. Slow boil time. Heavy liquid fuel.

Pros & cons of alcohol stoves

There are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to alcohol stoves, which we will summarize before diving into specifics of the Trail designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri.

The primary advantage is that alcohol stoves do not require the 3.5 oz weight and bulk of a metal fuel canister, which immediately saves 2.7 oz compared to a 0.8 oz plastic alcohol fuel bottle. This alcohol stove system with fuel for 2-3 days weighs 9-10 oz, which is a few ounces lighter than a canister stove system with fuel for 2-3 days.

The disadvantages are significantly slower boil times and the fact that alcohol fuel itself is heavier than isobutane. This means that the relative savings from the canister are lost the more fuel you require. When factoring in fuel weight, alcohol stoves are only lighter on short trips. There is a transition point somewhere around the five-day mark when canister stoves start to become the lighter weight system.

Construction & Features

The most noteworthy feature of this backpacking stove is the titanium sidewinder cone. Each cone is manufactured to match the exact dimensions of your pot which seals off gaps. This creates a nearly windproof air chamber that traps heat below the pot for increased heat efficiency. The pot itself sits atop two stakes running perpendicular to the cone. It’s a bit of a chore to set up, but easy once you get the hang of it.

The Kojin alcohol stove is reminiscent of cat food cans of yore, only filled with a spongy material to prevent flaming alcohol from spilling if it were knocked over. Put the lid on and you can save excess fuel.

Verdict

The Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri is far and away the best alcohol stove, but alcohol stoves in general are being edged out by increasingly efficient and more user-friendly canister-based backpacking stoves. We recommend this to ultralight alcohol stove buffs and/or those looking to carry the least possible weight on short trips.

Best For Winter Conditions & Melting Snow For Water

MSR Reactor Stove System

October 14, 2023 – The MSR Reactor Stove System is our pick for winter camping and melting snow as a primary water source. Of all isobutane stoves, none have better wind-resistance or heat output, making it the perfect tool for camping in the coldest and stormiest of conditions with no access to liquid water. But keep in mind, this is a specialist to add to your stove quiver; not a daily driver. It’s unnecessarily heavy, bulky, and expensive for 3-season use. See photos in our MSR Reactor Stove System Review.

  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Pot Volume: 1.7L
  • Boil Time 1L: 3 min
  • BTUs: 9000
  • Ignitor: No
  • Pressure Regulator: Yes
  • Water boiled per 100g fuel, max output, no wind: 10.3L
  • Wind Tolerance: Extreme
  • Pros: Windproof. Pressure regulated. Fastest boil time. Good for boiling snow. Nests 8oz fuel canister.
  • Cons: Heavy. Bulky. Expensive. No ignitor.

Construction & Features

The MSR Reactor is a specialized stove system with a specialized build and feature set. We reiterate – this stove is overkill for most backpacking. It is a winter specialist, and should be treated as such.

To begin with, we note that this stove is a two-piece system. The pot is designed to situate on the stove body, and they combine to create a windproof barrier for the flame. The pot also sits very close to the flame, maximizing heat transfer with via radiance and convection. All of this combined leads to its lightning fast boil time (1L in 3 min), and good fuel economy (10L on a 100g canister).

For increased efficacy in cold weather, Reactor has a pressure regulator that encourages fuel output even as the can empties and temperatures drop (both of which decrease heat output in unregulated stoves). Most high end stoves come with a built-in piezoelectric ignitor, but Reactor is missing that feature, so you need to pack a lighter

For boiling snow as a primary water source, we recommend the 1.7L sized pot. If you are using in cold windy conditions but won’t need to boil snow, then the 1.0L is a better choice. But for both sizes, the pot can comfortably nest a fuel canister, and it has a clever lid-handle-lock down mechanism to prevent contents from spilling out.

Verdict

It may not be the most efficient 3-season option in terms of weight and bulk, but if you need a stove that can melt snow and/or handle cold windy weather, the MSR Reactor is a no-brainer choice. It easily outperforms the competition in that regard, and boils water like a champ in milder conditions. Add the MSR Reactor Stove System to your quiver for winter camping.

Best Backpacking Cook Pot

TOAKS Titanium 900ml Pot

3.7 oz | $45 MSRP

The TOAKS 900ml titanium pot is easy-to-clean, ultralight, and reasonably affordable. Choose between the wider 130 mm pot which weighs 3.7 oz, or the taller 115 mm pot which weighs 4 oz. The wider pot is easier to use, clean, and balances better on stoves. Downside is that it feels a little bit flimsy. The narrow pot is slightly heavier and feels more sturdy, but is harder to clean/eat out of and more top heavy.

Best Backpacking Mug

TOAKS Titanium 450ml Mug

2.7 oz | $20 MSRP

Built with sturdy, ultralight titanium, the TOAKS Titanium Single Wall 450 is our go-to camp mug. It holds 15 oz, is a great value, and may just last forever. Pro tip – ditch the orange mesh bag – you don’t need it.

Best Backpacking Spoon

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long

0.4 oz | $12

Specifically designed for freeze dried bags but perfect for all backountry food ingestion, the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long is 8.5″ in length and weighs only .4 oz. The perfect ultralight eating utensil.

Buyer Considerations and Pro Tips

Frankenstove – the money-is-no-obstacle perfect backcountry cook system

If money is no issue, we recommend combining the Jetboil Stash Pot (the best pot on the market) with the Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove (the best stove on the market). The reason this is so expensive is because Pocket Rocket Deluxe is the most expensive standalone stove, and the Jetboil Stash Pot cannot be purchased without its accompanying stove unit. Combining these two costs well over $200.

Jetboil Stash comes with the best cook pot in existence. The Stash Pot is so effective because of its wind blocking, heat-transferring flux ring under-pot-technology, and the way it stores a fuel canister in the lid to save space and prevent rattling. It’s the headliner in a really great system. However, the Jetboil Stash Stove unit, by itself, is decent and has good fuel economy, but is no means exceptional.

The best stove is the Pocket Rocket Deluxe because of its output, wind resistance, fuel economy, pressure regulator, and pietzo ignitor. It is the superior to the Jetboil Stash stove unit in almost every way, except fuel economy.

Power ranking the most important backpacking stove traits for ultralight backpackers

  1. Boils water
  2. Lightweight
  3. Good fuel economy
  4. Low bulk/nests
  5. Boils reasonably quickly
  6. Performs acceptably in wind and cold
  7. Simmer control
  8. Integrated ignitor

How and when we use our stove

We don’t ask much of our backpacking stove, which is why we prefer simple, lightweight, and compact models. Most of our backpacking meals require only boiled water, rather than boiling the food itself, which minimizes fuel consumption. On average, we use 5 cups (1.25L) per person day, which breaks down as follows: 16oz of boiled water to rehydrate a dinner; 12 oz of hot coffee in the morning;  12 oz cocoa, tea, or miso soup at night. Our backpacking stove selection and preferences are based on that kind of usage.

Backpacking stoves and pressure regulators

Examples of pressure regulated stoves are the Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System and Soto WindMaster.

Most backpacking stoves don’t have a pressure regulator — this is fine for the warmer temperatures of most 3-season backpacking — and regulators add cost and weight to a stove. But when outside air temps drop the temperature of the your fuel canister also drops. As a consequence the fuel pressure in the canister drops and your heat output of your stove proportionally declines. In short, when it gets cold, unregulated stoves do not put out as much heat — the colder it is, the less heat they put out. When combined with already cold water in your pot and colder outside temperatures you can expect longer boil times.

In contrast, a backpacking stove with a regulator has a similar fuel output, and same heat output even as temperatures and canister pressure drops. In short, a regulated stove puts out the same amount of heat, even when temps get around freezing. You are still contending with colder pot water and colder outside temperatures but your stove is putting out the same amount of heat is it would on a warm day. This means significantly faster boil times for a backpacking stove with a regulator vs. and unregulated stove in cold temps.

More about food for backpacking

We’re here to help with the best knowledge & thinking available on healthy, nutritious backpacking food. This article will touch on the amount of food you should bring, where you should get it, and basic trail nutrition ideas. We’ll discuss different diets; Low Carb, Omnivore, Gluten Free, Veggie, Vegan and Keto. Where to get natural fat, protein, and micronutrients. And finally we can save you a ton of food weight in the process. Dig in!