How to Choose a Backpacking Stove

How to choose a backpacking stove

It’s time to get ready to go camping, hiking or traveling. Are you going on a trek or hike for several days? Then choosing a good backpacking stove is essential.

Today lightweight stoves are everywhere with different types and constructions. Here’s a complete guide on how to choose a backpacking stove for you.

How to Choose a Backpacking Stove – Guide

To choose a backpacking stove there are different criteria that allow you to know its performance. Let’s see how to choose a backpacking stove step by step guide.

The different types of stoves

There are several types of stoves on the market:

  • Gas stoves
  • Multi-fuel stoves
  • Wood stoves

Gas stove: the hiker’s stove

Gas stove

Concord Banjo 16″ Portable Gas Stove

These are the stoves most used in hiking. They use a fuel mixture of propane and butane for combustion. The gas is stored in disposable cartridges. With a quite massive capacity (we remember the non-removable Concord Banjo stove), it is now light and compact.

However, gas stoves use screw-on cartridges. During transport, you can separate the cartridge from the burner without any safety problems. This is extremely practical when transporting in a bag.

There are 4 types of gas stoves:

To help you choose a gas stove from wide range of options, we have classified them into 4 categories:

  1. Traditional stoves: these are the simplest models. These burners are lightweight, compact and efficient.
  2. The Duo stoves: these are composed of a valve that allows the connection of cartridges with threaded and non-threaded valves. This means that they are compatible with all valve cartridges on the market.
  3. Remote cartridge stoves or reverse cartridge: the burner is connected to the cartridge by a supply pipe. This system allows much more stability and safety when preparing meals. Besides this, this system allows the use of large capacity pans. Models with inverted cartridges allow the stove to be used at low temperatures. Turning the gas canister upside down promotes better gas mixing.
  4. Optimized stoves: these are integrated models (2 in 1) which consist of a burner and an optimized cooking pot. The cooking pot is equipped with a heat distributor optimizing the speed of heating and consumption. In this section, we have also integrated the stoves delivered with a saucepan.

Advantages:

  • Ease of use: just clip the cartridge to the burner, flick a lighter on the gas inlet, and off you go!
  • High-performance burners on the market.
  • Very fine adjustment of the intensity of the flame.
  • Reliable and safe.
    Power adjustable.

Disadvantages:

  • Take up a significant amount of space in the backpack.
  • Not easy to find cartridges on the spot.
  • Very uncertain yield at very low temperatures (below -5°C).
  • Not very eco-friendly.

Recommended use: Hikes and treks up to a fortnight


Multi-fuel stove: gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, kerosene

Multi-fuel stove

MSR WhisperLite Multi-fuel Backpacking Stove

The advantage of a liquid fuel stove: gasoline, oil or diesel can be found easily and everywhere in the world. The principle of this type of stove is simple: by operating a pump, the liquid fuel is pressurized, then passes over the burner, under the effect of heat, which transforms the liquid into a gaseous state.

There are two types of liquid fuel stoves:

  • Multi-fuel stoves called “gasoline” work with white gasoline (C gasoline) or unleaded gasoline (95.98), kerosene, kerosene and diesel/diesel.
  • Multi-fuel stoves also work with liquid fuel (petrol C, unleaded, etc.) and can also be used with gas cartridges with a threaded valve.

The gas or multi-fuel stove can be used at any temperature. It performs very well even in cold weather. It is the stove for expeditions in the polar regions and in the high mountains. It is ideal for long-distance travel.

The use of a gasoline stove is more complex than that of other systems. It requires attention: before it can be used at full power, it must be preheated. It requires regular cleaning and minor maintenance.

The supply of liquid fuel is easy and inexpensive. It is much more economical than gas (but the stove is more expensive to buy). The fuel must be stored separately from the stove (in a bottle dedicated to the transport of flammable liquids). Unlike gas, liquid fuel is not under pressure when stored.

C gasoline is the cleanest liquid fuel on the market: it contains no residue. It is the ideal fuel for extreme cold weather and high altitude expeditions. If possible, choose this fuel!

Advantages:

  • Does not fear the cold or the altitude.
  • Fuel is easily found and economical (everywhere in the world).
  • Power adjustable.
  • Fuel is found absolutely everywhere.
  • It has a very good performance even at low temperatures.
  • You can only carry the exact amount of fuel.

Disadvantages:

  • Gasoline smell.
  • Bottle and gasoline weight.
  • The complexity of use.
  • Frequent maintenance to be carried out.

Recommended Use: Mountaineering or expeditions in sub-zero temperatures or at high altitudes


Wood stoves: eco-friendly, economical and light

Wood stove

kampMATE WoodFlame Ultra Lightweight Wood Stove

Wood is a free and abundant natural resource! It is not necessary to transport it since the supply is done directly in the place of the fire. The user is completely autonomous and does not load unnecessarily.

The wood stove requires collecting kindling and maintaining the fire. Lighting takes practice, especially when the wood is wet. It is unusable in regions devoid of wood: glacial areas, deserts and high mountains. With a wood stove, it is best to use an easily cleanable pot, because cooking with wood is messy: soot settles on the pan.

Some models of stoves are equipped with a double wall to optimize heat transfer and therefore increase performance. Several models of wood stoves are compatible with other fuels. If the wood runs out, you can replace it with solid or liquid alcohol.

The use of a wood stove requires attention. It should not be used in areas sensitive to the risk of fire.

Advantages:

  • You don’t have to carry fuel, just bend down to find wood.
  • High efficiency with little wood.
  • Ecological, no empty canister.
  • Complete autonomy.
  • A small outbreak is much friendlier than gas.
  • No maintenance.

Disadvantages:

  • It is limited to wooded areas.
  • It blackens the meal.
  • Smoke and smell of wood fire.
  • Soot on the cooking pot.

Recommended use: Large trek in autonomy in wooded area

Additional Features to Consider

To choose a backpacking stove there are different criteria that allow you to know its performance.

  • The weight of the stove: Weight is one of the first criteria for choosing a backpacking stove. Be careful in your weight assessment to take into account that some stoves have accessories that add weight to the stove but remove it from the bag. For example, stove with an integrated piezo means that you don’t need to take a lighter since the stove ignites on its own.
  • Wind sensitivity: The wind sensitivity is the same for all single stoves but may vary for optimized stoves. To improve the wind resistance of your stove you can use a finned pan or a windscreen.
  • Stability: The stability of the stove is the result of two factors: The foot of the gas bottle and the width of the stove head supports. It is often at the foot of the bottle that the cooking pot can tip over, especially if the bottle is on unstable ground. The stability is therefore roughly equivalent for all stoves that screw onto the bottle. To improve this, you can buy a stabilizer that is fixed under the bottle.
  • Clutter: This is also one of the important criteria and there are great differences in size between the stoves. It is the architecture of the stove that makes the difference and there are dozens of them. Remember that remote cartridge stoves are much less compact than the others.

Conclusion

We obviously need something extremely small, light and reliable for the type of activities we do. A stove that can fit in your backpack and doesn’t weigh so much. But if you don’t have space problems and you have decided to use the stove only when camping and not while traveling or on long treks, then the other models are just as good.

Have fun on your next trip. If you have any questions leave them in the comments.

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