10 Best Backpacking Stoves of 2019

Backpacking Stove Score Weight Fuel Type
Top Pick & Best Ultralight Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2
95
2.6 oz Isobutane Canister
Best Stove & Cookware System: Jetboil MiniMo
94
14.6 oz Isobutane Canister
Jetboil Flash
92
13.1 oz Isobutane Canister
Primus PrimeTech Stove Set 1.3L
92
1 lb 15.8 oz Isobutane Canister
GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist Complete
91
1 lb 6.7 oz Isobutane Canister
MSR Whisperlite International
88
11.2 oz White Gas, Kerosene, Unleaded Gasoline
Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0
85
2.64 oz Isobutane Canister
MSR WindBurner
84
15.3 oz Isobutane Canister
Best Value: Etekcity Ultralight
82
3.3 oz Isobutane Canister
Solo Stove Lite
80
9 oz Biomass

We put 10 of the best backpacking stoves to the test to see which ones were worthy of your backcountry feasts. From simply boiling water to frying up freshly-caught fish, we tested the full range of functionality of these stoves, including putting them through a series of rigorous experiments.

Our top pick and our ultralight favorite was the MSR PocketRocket 2. This stove packs a serious punch into a tiny package, while still having a fairly fine-tuned temperature control.

For those looking for a more complete stove system, the Jetboil MiniMo was our favorite. It had an incredible simmer control and lightning fast boil times, in a fairly compact and convenient system.

For those on a budget, check out the Etekcity Ultralight. Although it wasn’t the best performing stove in our tests, it got the job done and it’s incredibly inexpensive.

Read on for our full reviews, and for tips on choosing the right backpacking stove for your needs.

Note: If you’re looking for a larger stove that you can use while car camping, check out our guide to the best camping stoves.

The 10 backpacking stoves we tested.

The 10 backpacking stoves we tested.

Top Pick & Best Ultralight Backpacking Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2

MSR PocketRocket 2The MSR PocketRocket 2 is possibly the most aptly-named piece of gear we’ve ever used. Collapsing down to about the size of two lighters, this tiny canister stove fires up with all the force of a rocket.

Its boil time of 1 minutes 47 seconds was on par with some of the much heavier and bulkier stoves we tested. Its ratio of cooking power to weight was unmatched.

It handled wind surprisingly well, too. Using it without a windscreen added just around 40 seconds to its boil time. This was the best wind performance of any of the ultralight canister stoves.

While the PocketRocket’s ability to drop down to a very low heat was impressive, it shared a general weakness of most canister stoves: they concentrate the heat into a very small area, leading to major hot spots. They are great at boiling water or heating up liquids, but not ideal for more elaborate cooking.

The PocketRocket’s three pot stands ranked slightly below the Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 for stability. However, we never felt that our backpacking pots were unstable on them.

Overall, this lightweight, reasonably-priced, and powerful backpacking stove was the best balance between value, packability, and performance.

The MSR PocketRocket 2 folded up.

The PocketRocket folds to a tiny package.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 2.6 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: No

Best Stove & Cookware System: Jetboil MiniMo

Jetboil MiniMoThe Jetboil MiniMo was our top pick for a complete backpacking stove system.

Its large, wide pot made cooking and eating meals easy. Plus, it was by far the most versatile of the stove systems in our test.

While other stove systems beat it out slightly for boil time and wind performance, the MiniMo had the advantage of having one of the best fine-tuned temperature controls. It was also relatively compact and light for a stove system, with much more versatility than the boil-only systems like the Jetboil Flash and MSR WindBurner.

Overall, the MiniMo struck the perfect balance between ease-of-use, performance, and weight, making it our favorite stove system. If you are looking for something with a little better fuel efficiency and more cooking prowess than the PocketRocket, and don’t mind the extra weight and bulk, then give the MiniMo a look.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 14.6 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: Yes

Best Value: Etekcity Ultralight

Etekcity Ultralight Portable Backpacking Camping StoveFor how incredibly cheap this stove is, we weren’t expecting much. So we were pleasantly surprised with how well it fired up and cooked our meals in the backcountry.

Although it wasn’t a top performer, it didn’t lag too far behind some of the more expensive stoves. For example, it took just over 3 minutes to boil water, only 30 seconds longer than the Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0.

In our wind test, it actually outperformed the GigaPower, although it was still one of the worst at handling wind.

Its components don’t feel as durable as those of the name-brand stoves we tested. Its lighter and burner could be a little bit finicky, too. The first few times we fired it up, the flame had a tendency to go out when we dialed the knob past about half way.

The little legs on the pot stand also had a tendency to flip themselves back over, requiring pretty frequent readjusting. It had the narrowest pot stand of all the stoves in our test, too, and felt the least stable with anything other than a very small pot.

Still, for all its weaknesses, the Etekcity performed better than expected. We’re not sure we’d want to rely on it for lengthy camping and backpacking trips. But if you’re on a tight budget and need an inexpensive, lightweight backpacking stove, this will do the trick.

The Etekcity stove folded up.

The Etekcity Ultralight is also small and compact.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 3.3 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: Yes

Reviews of the 7 Other Backpacking Stoves We Tested

We decided on our top picks based on a combination of performance, versatility, and value. Although the rest of the stoves in our test didn’t win any of our awards, they are all still excellent products and well-suited to specific uses.

Jetboil Flash

Jetboil FlashAs far as boil-only stove systems go (i.e., made for the sole task of boiling water), the Jetboil Flash is at the head of the pack.

It had the fastest boil time in our test, a lightning-fast 1 minute 18 seconds. It was pretty much unphased by wind, taking just 5 seconds longer to boil in our wind test.

Its auto-ignition push button was easy to use and worked without fault every time. The thermochromatic color-change heat indicator was a useful and cool, although not really necessary, feature.

The simmer function and temperature control was basically non-existent. The Flash pretty much has two settings: jet engine and off.

It’s made to boil water quickly and efficiently, and it does that incredibly well. Try to get it to do anything else, though, and it will struggle.

If you don’t mind the extra weight and bulk of a stove system, and want something that can boil water for backpacking drinks and meals as quickly and conveniently as possible, the Jetboil Flash is still the best option out there.

Field testing the Jetboil Flash

99Boulders gear tester Alex Gulsby reacts to the Flash’s color-change heat indicator.

Note: Jetboil makes a similar, more compact stove: the Jetboil Zip. We didn’t include it in this review because we don’t think it’s a top backpacking stove, but we’ve tested it head-to-head against the Flash. If you’re interested, you can check out our comparison of the two.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 13.1 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: Yes

Primus PrimeTech Stove Set 1.3L

Primus PrimeTech Stove Set 1.3LThe Primus PrimeTech is one of the bulkiest, heaviest, and most expensive stove systems in our test. Despite that, we absolutely loved it.

We found ourselves grabbing it for shorter weekend trips where weight wasn’t as much of a concern. It was great for when we wanted to cook up some more elaborate meals than typical backpacking fare.

This set comes with two cook pots, one a simple anodized aluminum pot and the other with a heat regulator and a ceramic nonstick coating.

The stove was basically tied with the Jetboil Flash for fastest boil time, and did almost as well with wind resistance. It also had one of the best temperature controls and simmer functions in our test.

Of all the stove and cookware systems, the PrimeTech’s cook pots were easily the most versatile and easy-to-use. The nonstick coating was a breeze to clean up.

If you like to cook up backcountry feasts that put Mountain House meals to shame — and don’t have a problem with the extra bulk and weight — the PrimeTech is an excellent backpacking stove system.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 1 lb 14.6 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane Canister
  • Auto-Ignition: Yes (piezo lighter included)

GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist Complete Set

GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist Complete SetThe GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist Complete Set was unique in our test in that it was not only a complete stove system, but also included a basic mess kit with a large pot, bowls, cups, and spoons for two people.

The stove itself is a basic canister stove, similar in design to the MSR PocketRocket with three fold-out legs. With the integrated wind screen and heat reflector, the stove worked remarkably well, boiling water slightly faster than any other canister stove. It also held up well to the wind.

The MicroDualist stove with windscreen in place.

The MicroDualist’s integrated windscreen is very effective.

At 1 lb 6.7 oz, this stove might not appeal to the minimalist, ultralight backpacker. But for weekend warriors who are less worried about pack weight and more worried about relaxing and enjoying some conveniences in the backcountry, this set is awesome.

Overall, it was easily the most versatile and featured stove set in our test, and we recommend it for anyone who wants the convenience of having everything you need in one kit.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 1 lb 6.7 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: No

MSR Whisperlite International

MSR Whisperlite InternationalThe MSR Whisperlite International is a serious stove for serious adventures. It’s not as simple or quick to use as the canister stoves. However, once you get familiar with connecting the fuel and priming the stove, you can have the Whisperlite ready to cook on in less than 5 minutes.

Its large pot holders were extremely stable, and if you’re going to be cooking with larger camp cookware, this is a much better choice than any of the small canister stoves.

It took nearly 3 minutes to boil water, making it one of the slower ones in our test. White gas tends to be slightly less efficient than isobutane canisters, though, so that’s normal for this category of stove.

If you want quick and convenient, the Whisperlite wouldn’t be our first choice. While we had a hard time keeping it low enough to keep a small amount of water under 200 degrees, its simmer function was still fairly fine-tuned. For larger cookware and quantities of liquid, the simmer does quite well.

Overall, at 11.2 oz, the MSR Whisperlite is probably overkill for most backpackers. Once you get into cold weather, high elevations, large groups, or international travel where you aren’t sure what type of fuel will be available, though, this stove shines.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 11.2 oz
  • Fuel Type: White gas, kerosene, gasoline
  • Auto-Ignition: No

Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0

Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0The Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 has similar specs to the MSR PocketRocket. Both are just barely over 2 oz, pack down incredibly tiny, and can be found for a similar price.

Performance-wise, though, the GigaPower lagged behind. At nearly 2 and a half minutes, it was relatively slow to boil water, and one of the slowest of the isobutane stoves. It was one of the worst at handling wind, too, with its boil time jumping up to well over 6 minutes.

We actually preferred the pot holders of the GigaPower over all of the other canister stoves. They were the most stable, and provided the largest base. Once set up, they were also the only ones that never got moved out of place.

Overall, this was a great backpacking stove, and our favorite design for a canister stove. It would have been our top pick if its performance had been more on par with the MSR PocketRocket. Its biggest weakness was in wind, but if you don’t mind fashioning a windscreen for it, this is still a solid stove to have.

The Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 folded up.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 2.64 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane Canister
  • Auto-Ignition: Auto-ignition version is available; we tested the manual version

MSR WindBurner

MSR WindburnerThe WindBurner is MSR’s direct competitor to the Jetboil Flash. On the surface, their designs look similar – a tall, insulated backpacking mug/pot that latches onto the burner with a built-in windscreen and heat capture system.

The WindBurner couldn’t match the Flash’s performance, though.

It was the slowest of all the canister stove systems to boil water, though it did stand up well to wind. The lack of autoignition or a compatible pot stand were also weaknesses.

When it came to simmering, this stove didn’t do well on a low setting. It was a pain to relight multiple times during our test.

We did like the extremely wide burner. It was a unique design that gave a much more dispersed heat than other stoves in our test. It was also the one of the quietest stoves, even when on high.

Overall, the WindBurner is a solid stove. However, given that it’s more expensive than the Flash as of this writing, and didn’t beat it out in any of our test categories, we’d recommend the Flash over it.

The stove surface of the MSR WindBurner

The WindBurner’s wide burner output a much more dispersed heat than many of the other stoves we tested.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 15.3 oz
  • Fuel Type: Isobutane canister
  • Auto-Ignition: No

Solo Stove Lite

Solo Stove LiteWe were skeptical that a wood burning stove would be able to hold its own with the other stoves in our test, and even more skeptical of the Solo Stove’s high price.

Once we got the hang of it, though, the Solo Stove Lite more than proved itself. That being said, it was at the bottom of the pack in terms of overall performance.

In our test, the Solo boiled water in just over 6 minutes. We have definitely gotten faster boil times out of it in the field with different types of wood — it’s very dependent on the quality of the fuel you are putting into it.

It didn’t handle wind well at all, though. After 10 minutes in wind it had only heated water to 128.3 degrees.

A wood burning stove takes some patience and practice to use. If you are doing long mileage and want the quickest way to cook up a meal, this definitely isn’t it.

In an area with plentiful dry sticks lying around, you can get this thing ready to cook in less than 10 minutes. If you have to search for dry wood and spend time splitting it down, or struggle with damp wood, it can turn into a lengthy and frustrating ordeal. It also eats up wood quickly and needs fairly regular tending to keep it from going out and turning into a smoke bomb.

You also have zero temperature control, although we found that the more dispersed heat created by this stove could actually be better for cooking than canister stoves.

Collecting wood for the Solo Stove Lite.

This amount of wood was just about perfect to boil water for dinner for 2 people, and coffee the next morning.

If you’re looking for a “quiver of one” backpacking stove, this probably isn’t it. It has limited use in wet weather, and if you’re backpacking in areas with fire bans or wood gathering restrictions, odds are it won’t be permitted.

Despite those limitations, this actually became one of our favorite stoves to use, especially for more relaxed weekend trips, where we had all evening to play with it and enjoy the ambiance of a backcountry “campfire.”

Wood burning stoves aren’t the best choice for most backpackers, but if you’re drawn to the idea, then the Solo Stove Lite works exceptionally well and is a great addition to your gear.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Fuel Type: Biomass
  • Auto-Ignition: No

Summary

Here are the best backpacking stoves:

  • MSR PocketRocket 2
  • Jetboil MiniMo
  • Jetboil Flash
  • Primus PrimeTech Stove Set 1.3L
  • GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist Complete Set
  • MSR Whisperlite International
  • Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0
  • MSR WindBurner
  • Etekcity Ultralight Portable Backpacking Camping Stove
  • Solo Stove Lite

How to Choose the Best Backpacking Stove for Your Needs

No backpacking stove is perfect for all people in all situations. Most serious backpackers end up accumulating a quiver of stoves to choose from based on weather conditions, length of trip, and group size.

Types of Backpacking Stoves

Canister Stoves – These stoves are about as simple and compact as you can get. They screw onto the top of standard isobutane fuel canisters, and contain little more than a burner, pot holders, and sometimes a piezo igniter. They’re great for solo trips, ultralight backpackers, and simple tasks such as making camp coffee.

Canister Stove Systems – Stove systems work similar to canister stoves, in that they have a burner that screws onto an isobutane fuel canister. They also have an integrated mug or cookpot designed specifically to work with their burner. They may or may not be compatible with other pots. While these systems are bulkier and heavier than simple canister stoves, they tend to be much more fuel efficient and more convenient.

Liquid Fuel Stoves – Liquid fuel stoves typically use white gas, although some can work with kerosene and unleaded automobile gasoline. These stoves tend to be heavier and require more maintenance than canister stoves. They are ideal for larger groups or more extreme conditions.

Solid Fuel Stoves – From commercial biomass pellets to twigs, these stoves burn solid fuel. Although the stove itself may be heavier than canister stoves, not having to carry any fuel for them can make them lighter overall. Commercial biomass is much less widely available than other fuel types, however, and local restrictions may prevent the gathering and burning of sticks.

Fuel Type

The type of backpacking stove you choose is closely tied to the type of fuel you will be using, so knowing a little bit more about the strengths and weaknesses of backpacking fuels is important in deciding on the right stove for your needs.

Isobutane canisters are by far the most popular fuel for backpacking stoves. These are a mix of propane, butane, and isobutane, and are ubiquitous at any outdoor supply store and many grocery stores. A drawback is that, over the long run, these fuel canisters can be expensive and wasteful, as each canister is only a one-time-use item. They also tend not to work very well in sub-freezing temperatures.

White gas burns better in colder temperatures and at high elevations. Another benefit is that it is used with refillable containers, making it more cost-effective and less wasteful.

Denatured alcohol is a favorite among thru hikers, minimalists, and DIY-minded backpackers. It can be found virtually anywhere, and alcohol stoves are easy to make for just a few pennies out of old aluminum cans. Like isobutane, alcohol tends not to work very well in cold weather or high elevations. For more info, check out our guide to the best alcohol stove fuels and our favorite alcohol fuel containers.

Biomass/solid fuel has limited usage, and may be prohibited in certain areas/seasons. It also tends to be one of the dirtier-burning fuel types, emitting smoke and odor, and coating pots with soot. It can be very efficient, though, especially when used with specialized stoves, and it is nice to have the option to collect biomass fuel rather than carrying your fuel with you.

Miscellaneous fuels such as kerosene and unleaded gasoline can work with certain specialized stoves. These fuels tend to require more careful cleaning and maintenance of the stove, however, and are generally only meant to be used when no other fuel source is available.

Auto-ignition

Some backpacking stoves have an auto-ignition feature, sometimes called piezo ignition. This is usually a push button that, when pressed, creates an electrical spark and ignites the stove.

The quality of the auto-ignition varied from brand to brand. For instance, the Jetboil Flash’s auto-ignition push button worked every time, while the Etekcity’s was a little finicky.

Whether or not you opt for a stove that has auto-ignition, we recommend packing a lightweight backpacking lighter.

How We Tested

We performed our tests in the semi-controlled environment of a well-ventilated shed. For safety reasons, we tested the MSR Whisperlite International and the Solo Stove outside on a calm, relatively windless day.

Boil Test

Conducting a boil test with the MSR WindBurner

Conducting a boil test with the MSR WindBurner

We timed how fast each stove could boil 15 oz of water on its highest setting. If the stove included its own cookware, we used that. Otherwise, we used a Snow Peak titanium cook pot for the tests.

Wind Test

Our testing setup for simulating wind.

We simulated the effect of wind on each stove by trying to boil water with them while next to a fan.

Wind is an unfortunate reality when backpacking, and we wanted to know how each stove held up to it. We placed a portable fan approximately 2′ away from each stove, and timed how long it took to boil water.

Note: The Solo Stove Lite didn’t bring water to a boil during our wind test. As a result, after 10 minutes we stopped the test and recorded the temperature of the water: 128.3°F.

Simmer Test

For those times when you don’t want to just blast the heat on high, we wanted to know how well each stove could hold a low setting. We let water cool from a boil to 195 degrees, and then attempted to keep the water temperature between 195 and 200 degrees for 5 minutes. We measured how many times we went over or under our temperature range, and how many times the stove went out.

Backpacking Stove <195°F >200°F Went Out
MSR PocketRocket 2 0 1 1
Jetboil MiniMo 2 1 0
Primus PrimeTech Stove Set 1.3L 0 2 1
GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist Complete 2 2 0
Etekcity Ultralight 1 2 1
Snow Peak GigaPower 2.0 0 2 3
MSR WindBurner 4 3 5
Jetboil Flash 1 6 3
Solo Stove Lite* N/A N/A N/A
MSR Whisperlite International* N/A N/A N/A

* We omitted the MSR Whisperlite International and Solo Stove Lite from our simmer test because we were unable to get these stoves to a low enough setting to keep water below a boil.

Field Testing

We used these stoves on our backpacking and camping trips for over three months to test how they held up in real-world conditions.

Cooking a camp meal by headlamp.

Field testing the Solo Stove Lite on a summer backpacking trip