5 Best Backpacking Stoves in 2021 Reviewed
Looking for the best backpacking stove? You’ve come to exactly the right place! Our experts have bundled our favorite camp cookware in one, comprehensive ‘Best Backpacking Stove’ overview. This overview can help you to save time and money when shopping for a camp stove. Our team has done all the time-consuming research for you, narrowing down the options to 5 of the best-value deals for backpackers, as rated by other outdoor enthusiasts. Lightweight, reliable, easily packable, and excellent value-for-money: these backpacking stoves tick all the boxes.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best backpacking stoves on the market today:
We’ve ensured there’s something for every type of backpacker, camper, and hiker in this overview. From all-in-one stoves that can boil water at lighting speed to simple wood-burning stoves for those that like going back to basics: there’s something for every adventurer…
Rest assured, each option in this Best Backpacking Stove overview is highly-rated in Amazon reviews and comes with a big thumbs up from other campers. Reassuring you that they don’t just sound great in their product descriptions, but also deliver reliable performance when you pitch camp after a long day of hiking.
These are our favorite Best Backpacking Stove products on the market:
- Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System
- MSR PocketRocket 2 Camp Stove
- Snow Peak LiteMax Backpacking Stove
- Etekcity Backpacking Stove with Piezo Ignition
- VINIDA Backpacking Wood-Burning Stove
Tip: If you want to know more about the different types of backpacking stoves and fuel options available, such as canisters, liquid gas, alcohol, and wood-burning, check out our quick Best Backpacking Stove Buying Guide-section at the bottom of this product review for more info!
Discover our top-rated Best Backpacking Stoves below, and upgrade your outdoor gear with this must-have cookware essential!
Best Backpacking Stove – Overview
Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System
- Optimized for efficiency, the Jetboil Flash camping and backpacking stove, in Wilderness Gray, boils water in a lightning-quick 100 seconds, making it the fastest Jetboil ever.
Another great feature is the design’s pushbutton igniter, which eliminates the need for matches. The Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System also comes with a one-year limited warranty, covering against any defects – which makes it a relatively risk-free purchase.
Boil water like a pro
The Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System is super easy to use, fuel-efficient, and durable. So, is this the perfect backpacking stove? Well, that depends on how you plan to use the stove. To boil water, this integrated system is a simple one of the best you can get. However, as it’s an all-in-one stove, you can’t simply interchange the cooking pot with other pans. Making it less equipped for other meal prep besides boiling water and/or heating other liquids. If you want to fry food or enjoy simmer control, consider a non-integrated canister system, such as the MSR Pocket Rocket 2, instead.
That said, the Jetboil Flash is compatible with dedicated Jetboil accessories, such as the coffee press, FluxRing cooking pot, skillet, and pot support. This means that you can use the Jetboil Flash for other purposes than only boiling water, but this requires you to buy pricey accessories by the same brand – making it less cost-effective than a stove that works with your existing cookware gear.
- Quick boil
- All-in-one system
- Works in windy conditions
- Not compatible with regular pots and pans
- Heavier than a non-integrated stove system
MSR Pocket Rocket 2
- Ultralight (2.6 oz) and compact (2x2x3 in) folding canister stove for minimalist adventures, backpacking, hiking, trekking, camping, and global travel
Don’t be fooled by its lightweight appeal and small dimensions: the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 has a surprisingly strong burner. This canister stove can boil a liter of water in just 3.5 minutes, which is approximately the same as the previously listed Jetboil Flash, yet it’s lighter and more affordable than its direct competition.
Super compact and excellent simmer control
The MSR’s Pocket Rocket 2 is a simple screw-on stove that attaches directly to the top of an isobutane canister. This upgraded version of the original MSR Pocket Rocket is now even lighter, and smaller, ensuring it can slot into your backpack with ease. The design’s new folding pot supports pack it down exceptionally small, with this MSR stove even fitting into an MSR Titan Kettle or Insulated Mug! Additional upgrades perks include precision flame control and simmer control, plus a new WindClip windshield. This windshield boosts the stove’s efficiency in breezy conditions, blocking off drafts that may impede performance.
Do note that the high-performance isobutane-propane fuel canister is not included with the stove, and you’ll need to purchase the fuel for the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 separately.
If you like the style of the MSR PocketRocket 2, but plan to camp in cold weather conditions, consider upgrading to the MSR Deluxe PocketRocket stove instead. This deluxe model, released in 2019, comes with a push-start igniter and regulator: features that ensure more reliable performance in cold weather and/or wet conditions.
- Quick boil
- Works with all types of pots and pans
- Made by expert brand
- Compact and packable
- Strong burner
- WindClip windshield and wind resistance
- Great simmering and simmer control
- High-quality standard
- Slightly pricey compared to other models
- Heavier than the Snow Peak LiteMax stove
- Not recommended for extremely cold weather conditions
Snow Peak LiteMax Camping Stove
- Snow Peak’s LiteMax Stove is ultralight and powerful for easy backcountry cooking. The stove’s foldable arms offer a built-in windscreen for maximum flame protection.
The Snow Peak LiteMax camp stove has a slightly longer boil time than the quickest models on the market. This model by Snow Peak takes approximately 4 min and 25 seconds to boil a liter of water, which is definitely not the fastest – but we think still more than reasonable for your backcountry adventuring.
The Snow Peak LiteMax Stove is designed by Japanese experts in minimalistic, high-functional design. The silhouette is crafted from Japanese titanium and anodized aluminum, resulting in an ultralight yet durable stove that is barely detectable when carried in a pack. Similar to the MSR PocketRocket series, the Snow Peak LiteMax is a screw-on stove, which easily attached to a separate fuel canister. According to the manufacturer, the Snow Peak LiteMax doesn’t require a separate windscreen. Instead, the silhouette’s arms form a wind barrier that protects the back portion of the stove, without adding bulk or weight.
LiteMax versus GigaPower
Do note that the Snow Peak LiteMax Stove does not include the fuel-canister pictured, and you’ll need to purchase these separately. Rest assured, they don’t necessarily need to be pricey Snow Peak fuel-canisters, because according to Amazon reviews, any type of compatible isobutane-propane fuel canister should do the trick.
Keep in mind that this ultralight stove by Snow Peak is not the most sturdy, due to its lightweight three-prongs setup. That is why some campers prefer the Snow Peak GigaPower over the Snow Peak LiteMax. The GigaPower is also a canister-fuel backpacking stove, but this model features four prongs for extra sturdiness and comes with an integrated igniter. Though for its convenience and stability, the GigaPower does compromise on weight and size- as it is heavier and bulkier to pack than the LiteMax.
So, if you want the lightest stove on the market, the LiteMax is a prime contender. If you want the same Japanese high-quality design standard as found in the LiteMax, but with slightly more stability and ease-of-usage, consider the GigaPower by Snow Peak instead.
- Ultralight (1.9 oz)
- Easy to setup
- Compatible with all types of pots and pans
- Japanese, streamlined design
- Compact and packable
- Japanese titanium and anodized aluminum
- Arms act as a wind barrier
- Quite expensive compared to similar styles
- Does not have a separate windshield
- Slightly less heat-efficient than MSR PocketRocket 2
- Can feel a bit flimsy and/or unstable due to ultralight frame
- Not recommended for extremely cold weather conditions
Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
The Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove is made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel, lightweight, durable and corrosion-proof. The very foldable design of the stove measures just 1.81″ x 2.36″ x 3.15″: compact enough to effortlessly slide in your backpack’s gear pockets and/or smaller compartments. This budget-friendly stove even includes a free carrying case, helping to keep it safely stored in between uses. The stove weighs 4.4 oz: not the lightest, but still manageable.
Serrated tray holder and easy simmering adjustments
The compact, collapsible Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove can fit pots and pans with a diameter up to 7-inches, making it compatible with most camping cookware. The stove’s serrated tray holder also enables stable fixation of pots and pans. The Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove also offers excellent flame control, using an adjustable control valve at the base for easy adjustments to the heat output. Allowing you to go from a full rolling boil to a simmer with the simple twist of a valve.
To fire up the Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove, use the handy Piezo Ignition system. At the press of a button, the Etekcity comes to life, making fiddling with lighters and matches a thing of the past. According to Amazon reviews, the Etekcity stove can boil a liter of water in approximately 5 minutes. This makes it less heat-efficient than the MSR PocketRocket 2, which boils water in approximately 3.5 minutes. However, since the Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition doesn’t even cost half the price of the MSR, we think adding a minute and a half to the boiling time seems like a fair trade-off.
Cheap and cheerful
Granted the Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition lacks some sturdiness and durability, neither is it the lightest or most fuel-efficient camp stove on the market, but for its fantastic pricing, it’s worth the money. If you’re looking for a basic but functional canister-fueled stove – without the fancy bells and whistles – this could be your budget-friendly match!
- Super affordable
- Easy to setup
- Piezo Ignition button
- Serrated tray holder for stability
- Foldable and very packable
- Great flame control
- Compatible with all pots and pans
- Stainless steel and aluminum alloy
- Corrosion-proof and low-maintenance
- Takes 5 minutes to boil a liter of water
- A bit heavier (4.4 oz) than other canister-fuel stoves
- Does not come with a windscreen
- Not the most durable or heavy-duty
- Not recommended for extremely cold weather conditions
VINIDA Backpacking Wood-Burning Stove
- 🔥【FREE FUEL & NATURE FRIENDLY】Wood Burning Camp stove uses twigs, leaves, pinecones and wood as fuel. Free up more space in your backpack and no more spending money on heavy, polluting and...
Whilst most backpacking stoves require propane bottles, canisters, and/or liquid-gas fuels, the VINIDA Woodburning Stove allows you to use the wilderness around you: such as twigs, leaves, pinecones, and other wood as fuel. Simply scurry around your campsite a few times and voila: you’ve got your fuel needs covered. The big advantage is that you won’t have to carry fuel-canisters or propane bottles in your pack, and nearly always have access to an unlimited amount of free fuel. The downside is that if you’re camping in wet or snowy conditions, it may take a bit longer to find sufficient dry material to light it up.
A slow-burner that requires patience
Be warned, the VINIDA Backpacking Woodburning Stove (or any woodburning stove this size and style) is not flame-efficient and will take quite a while to heat water and/or food. According to outdoor enthusiasts, this stove takes about 7 minutes to boil a liter of water. Yes, that’s double the time it takes the previously listed Jetboil Flash and MSR Pocket Rocket, but since this woodburning stove by VINIDA is also only a fraction of the cost and doesn’t require you to you pack bulky fuel-canisters, we think that’s a fair compromise!
The budget-friendly VINIDA Backpacking Woodburning Stove is made of lightweight stainless steel with excellent durability. Another perk is that the collapsible stove can easily be disassembled/collapsed into 4 parts for compact storage. The camp stove also includes a nylon stuff sack, allowing you to keep all parts secured and protected when carrying the stove in your pack. Do note that the wood-burning stove will leave soot or stains on your pots and pans, so regular maintenance and cleaning is a must.
- Super easy to use
- Compatible with most pots and pans
- Uses natural materials to burn
- No need to pack fuel on your trips
- You can find fuel for it in nature itself
- Great as a back-up stove for thru-hiking trips
- Takes long to heat water or food
- No flame control/simmer control
- Forbidden in certain National Parks
- Very basic
- Challenging to use in wet conditions
Warning: be aware that in some National Parks the use of an open-flamed camp stove without a shutoff valve is forbidden, due to possible fire hazard risks. This is why we recommend checking the regulations on camp cooking/camp stoves before you set off on your adventures, as the usage of open-flame wood stoves and/or a stove that uses solid fuel tablets could be in violation of the camping guidelines and/or fire bans.
As you’ll probably have noticed, most backpacking stoves in our overview use a canister-based fuel type (isobutane-propane). We’ve chosen to mostly highlight this type of stove because of its lightweight appeal, excellent flame control, ease-of-use, and versatility. We’ve also chosen to highlight both an integrated canister stove system, the Jetboil Flash, and various non-integrated systems – ensuring there is a ‘best’ match for every preference. For those consumers that want to go back-to-basics, we’ve also included a wood-burning camp stove, which offers a great alternative if you don’t want to bring spare fuel bottles or canisters on your backpacking adventures.
Integrated stove versus non-integrated canister stoves
So, which of these 5 products is the ‘Best Backpacking Stove’. There’s no right or wrong answer to that question, as it fully depends on each hiker’s preferences, and where and when you’ll use the stove. For most backpackers, a lightweight canister stove (such as the best-selling MSR PocketRocket 2) will be a great fit. We personally prefer a non-integrated system like the MSR PocketRocket, Snow Peak LiteMax, and Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove With Piezo Igniter over an integrated solution like the all-in-one setup of the Jetboil Flash or Jetboil Minimo. Why? Because a non-integrated canister stove is compatible with most regular camping cookware such as pots, frying pans, and kettles. An integrated, all-in-one system is mostly only compatible with accessories sold by the same brand: making it less versatile and more costly. That said, an all-in-one system like the Jetboil does offer fantastic fuel-efficiency and is one of the fastest to boil water. However, for the lack of compatibility with our pre-owned pots and pans, we’d favor one of the other non-integrated systems instead.
A handy back-up option
It’s not entirely fair to compare a woodburning stove to a canister-fuel stove, as there is a big difference in performance, cost, and functionality. We wouldn’t pack a woodburning stove as the only option for a long-distance backpacking trip, but it could be a useful back-up option if your regular camp stove fails. The advantage of a wood stove is that you can simply fuel it with anything from pinecones to twigs, which should be in abundance when out in the backcountry. The downside is that it can take quite long to boil water, meaning patience is a virtue. Also, wood burning backpacking stoves are not allowed due to fire bans/fire hazards in some National Parks, so do check the regulations of the area before you bring one of your journeys!
So, to summarize: if you’re looking for an easy-to-use camp stove with minimal packing weight and maximum convenience, we’d recommend a non-integrated canister-fuel option such as the MSR PocketRocket, Snow Peak LiteMax, or Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove.
Picking a winner from our top 3 (MSR PocketRocket 2, Snow Peak LiteMax, and Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove) is a challenge, as each has its specific appeal. The MSR PocketRocket 2 is a best-selling, reliable choice with a premium quality standard. The Snow Peak LiteMax is the lightest of the 3, weighing just 2 oz: ideal for ultralight backpacking. The Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove is by far the cheapest, but may lack a bit in durability – but this seems like a fair trade-off for its budget-friendly pricing.
You see, picking a winner from the best backpacking stoves contenders is not as easy as you might think. We can say that we were surprised at the incredible affordability of the Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove, which is why we’d rate it as our ‘best value’ winner. This lightweight camp stove is foldable, easy to use, and super affordable. The style and design are very similar to the MSR PocketRocket and Snow Peak LiteMax, yet the Etekcity stove is only a fraction of the price. Giving you maximum bang for your buck. Other backpackers and campers also rate the stove highly on value-for-money and confirm that though it’s cheap, it’s also cheerful.
The collapsible Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove can fit pots and pans with a diameter up to 7-inches, making it compatible with most camping cookware. The stove’s serrated tray holder also enables stable fixation of pots and pans. The Etekcity Ultralight Backpacking Stove also offers excellent flame control, using an adjustable control valve at the base for easy adjustments to the heat output. According to Amazon reviews, this budget-friendly backpacking stove boils a liter of water in about 5 minutes. This isn’t as quick as the 3.5 minutes of the PocketRocket by MSR, but we reckon the extra 90-second wait is worth the compromise for the Etekcity stove’s affordability!
Best Backpacking Stove – Buying Guide
Type of backpacking stove
Backpacking stoves come in a variety of styles and fuel-options, each with its specific pros and cons. There are the most common stove types on the market:
Canister stoves run on isobutane and/or propane and require (as the name already suggests) fuel canisters to run. This type of camping stove is one of the most popular amongst backpackers, as its compact, packable, easy-to-use, and lightweight. The setup of this stove is super straight-forward: assemble the stove, attach the fuel canister to the stove, light it, and voila: you’re ready to cook.
Do note that canister stoves have some cons. Firstly, they can struggle to perform in cold weather conditions and are therefore not ideal for winter camping. Secondly, for longer trips, you’ll have to pack additional fuel canisters to fuel the stove. These fuel canisters can be bulky and cumbersome, taking up extra packing space and weight in your backpack – not ideal for cross-country or backcountry backpacking. Thirdly, you can’t bring fuel canisters on a flight – meaning that if you plan to fly to your backpacking destination, you’ll have to buy the correct type of fuel canisters locally, which can be a struggle in more remote or foreign locations. That said, for shorter backpacking trips and basic campsite cooking, a canister stove is one of the easiest, lightest and most convenient options to prep your meals.
Canister stoves can also be divided into two types: integrated and non-integrated.
Integrated canister stove systems
An integrated canister stove system (like the Jetboil Flash or MSR WindBurner) features an all-in-one setup. This means that the stove’s burner, heat exchanger, and cooking pot are placed on top of the fuel canister, forming one secure unit when connected. According to backpackers, this type of all-in-one integrated setup is very fuel-efficient, and often quicker in boiling water. That said, these types of all-in-one integrated canister systems are less compatible with your existing cookware, so if you’re only looking for the stove, not a complete cooking setup, this may not be a match. However, for those backpackers that want a complete package, a comprehensive integrated canister stove system gives you all the essentials in one, easy-to-use set.
Non-integrated canister stove systems
A non-integrated canister stove system is the more traditional, versatile option. This type of stove features a fuel source (fuel canister) and stove part but doesn’t come with the cooking pot of heat exchanger. This means that the stove can be used with all kinds of cookware, pots, and pans: not just the one included as with an integrated stove system. Though often less energy-efficient than all-in-one systems, a non-integrated canister stove does offer more cooking options. Additionally, a non-integrated canister system is often cheaper and more lightweight than an all-in-one, integrated unit. Making it not just more versatile but also more budget-friendly on the initial purchase.
So, which is better: integrated versus non-integrated? To be honest, there’s isn’t a type that reigns supreme, and ‘the best’ depends on your personal preference. Integrated canister stoves boil water quickly and are very fuel-efficient, but lack some cooking versatility and can be pricy on the initial purchase. Non-integrated stoves often take a bit longer to heat your pots and pans and are less fuel-efficient, yet they are also a lot more versatile for a plethora of cooking purposes, plus come with a lower and more attractive price-tag. Rest assured: both get the job done, and you can’t go wrong with either type.
Liquid Fuel & Multi-Fuel Stoves
Backpacking stoves can also run on liquid fuel and/or multi-fuel sources. These stoves feature a fuel line, connected to a separate refillable bottle or canister. Though most liquid-fueled camp stoves run on white gas, some may also require a mix of fuel types, such as unleaded gas and kerosene (as found in the popular MSR WhisperLite Universal Camp Stove). What are the advantages of a liquid gas-powered stove? Well, mostly they tend to burn hotter than isobutane-powered and/or propane-fueled canister stoves. Which is a big pro when camping in cold weather conditions and/or at high altitudes. Additionally, liquid fuel such as white gas is easier to bring in bulk – and – unlike propane canister – liquid gas bottles can easily be refilled, making it a more environmentally-friendly choice to fuel your cooking adventures.
On the downside, liquid fuel stoves are often more complicated to set up and slower in burn capacity. This type of camp stove also tends to be heavier and bulkier, making them less packable than canister-fueled stoves. That is why, for lightweight backpacking, we’d recommend a canister stove over a liquid fuel stove, unless you’re planning on camping in wintery, cold weather conditions – as in that case, the extra packing weight and space is a worthy trade-off for the cold-weather performance of liquid fuel stoves.
Another popular choice amongst backpackers is alcohol-fueled camp stoves. These stoves run on denatured alcohol and are cheap, easy to use, lightweight, and simple: all the things a backpacker wants. However, do note that these stoves are not the most durable, making them less suitable for repeated usage and less cost-effective in the long term. An alcohol stove can come in various shapes and sizes. The most basic alcohol stoves feature a can-like design, similar to a can of tuna, which simply needs to be lit to heat. Fancier models are more equipped, and come with additional features like windscreens and more.
We prefer a canister stove over an alcohol stove, as the latter lacks quite a bit in performance when you compare the two. Though an alcohol stove is cheap, it sometimes isn’t as cheerful – as the flame control and heat output can be quite lackluster in some models. This means it takes longer to boil water or heat food, making this stove model one for backpackers with plenty of patience. Sadly, patience isn’t our strong-point, which is why a more efficient and quick-heating option like a canister stove is a better match for our preference. That said, we know some backpackers that swear by the ease of use of an alcohol stove; so don’t let our opinion completely deter you from considering this type of stove for your outdoor gear.
Though this is the most basic of camp stoves, a wood-burning stove can be surprisingly functional out in the wilderness. This type of stove doesn’t require you to pack any bulky fuel canisters or bring bottled fuel: it runs on nature. We mean that in the most literal sense, as you can use anything from sticks and twigs to pinecones and shrubs to fuel this stove. Granted, wood-burning stoves, such as the Solo Stove Lite or VINIDA stove (as featured in this review) aren’t’ as advanced as a fuel-powered or canister-powered stove, but it does offer the benefit that it works nearly everywhere, anytime – as long as you have access to dry wood material. For backpackers that want an efficient stove with quick-heating and great flame control: this is not your match. However, for backpacking trips where you want to go back to basics, and don’t want to pack lots of heavy fuel, a woodburning stove could be a perfect match. Do keep in mind that in wet conditions, it will be tricky to find suitable burn materials. Also, woodburning stoves like the Solo Stove will stain/soot your cookware, making them less gentle on your pots and pans…
Solid Fuel Tablet Stoves
There are backpacking stoves that operate on solid fuel tablets, for example, the Esbit pocket stove. However, this type of camp stove is not one we would recommend. Out of personal experience, we know these types of solid fuel tablets stoves can be very fiddly and temperamental. It’s difficult to generate a steady source of heat and you can’t switch them off with a valve. Plus, these solid fuel tablets may also leave unwanted residue on your pots and pans, damaging your gear.
Though ultralight and easily packable, we think a solid fuel tablet stove lacks functionality, safety, and performance. Plus, this type of stove even got banned from some National Parks due to fire risks (as you can’t shut it off). That is why we haven’t included one in Best Backpacking Stove overview, and wouldn’t recommend it for your backcountry adventures.