The Best Backpacking Stoves

Comprehensively testing the best backpacking stoves involves two methods. First, how well does the product do what it’s intended to do, i.e., how capable is it in cooking and preparing food? The second method deals with testing it as a piece of outdoor gear. This entails examining characteristics such as durability and performance in challenging environments and how a stove’s features and design influence that performance. This category consists of stoves for backpacking and more remote wilderness pursuits.

Backpacking stoves are divided into two categories: liquid-fuel stoves and canister stoves. Defining camping stove categories is quite challenging, as even major manufacturers like MSR, Optimus, and Primus can’t agree on an industry standard lexicon for their products. We took matters into our own hands, defining these categories like this:

Liquid Fuel Stoves: backcountry products often used in alpine environments across the globe where fuel availability varies. Fuel is purchased and transported in liquid form, then vaporized into a gas at the time of use. It can vary from white gas to unleaded or even diesel. However, as a relatively new feature, many in this category can switch from liquid fuel pump bottles to isobutane and gas-filled canisters, some without exchanging jets. But it’s their liquid fuel capability that puts them in this category.

Canister stoves: most commonly seen among backpackers and long-distance hikers, these include everything from the ubiquitous screw-on uprights to systems sold complete with companion heat exchanger pots, windscreens and other proprietary accessories. Some products in this category also boast fuel lines and rotating valve housings that allow for canisters to be separated from the stove itself and/or inverted when more fuel pressure or efficiency is needed.

There is potential for a great deal of overlap within the two categories as , technology allows for stoves to use both liquid fuel or canister fuel.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
MSR WindBurner
92
Best in Class
2018
Boil Time 10
Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 10
Cooking 7
Weight 7

Highly wind resistant

Very fast boil

Highly efficient

Simmers very well

High profile, risks spill

Expensive

Lid difficult to remove

MSRP
$129.99
BEST DEAL
Primus Eta Lite
90
Weight 7
Efficiency 9
Wind Performance 8
Boil Time 9
Cooking 7
Value 10

Highly efficient

Lightweight

Fast average boil

Low profile burner great against wind

Pot “coozie” and webbing handle very effective

Integrated hanging kit is the best in the category, very simple

Smallest pot volume in class

Piezo igniter is ineffective in cold with low fuel pressure

Included pot adaptors are not stable

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
Jetboil MiniMo
89
Weight 7
Fuel Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 9
Cooking 10
Reliability 8

Fast & efficent

Superb simmering

Glove-friendly

Pot/stove seperation can be difficult

Foam pot cozy is inadequate

MSRP
$130.00
BEST DEAL
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Four Season Stove
88
Boil Time 8
Wind Performance 8
Efficiency 7
Cooking 8
Weight 7

Inverted canister design

Boils fast

Wind resistant

Compact

Windscreen attachment process

Stove/pot support deployment

Long-term durability questionable

MSRP
$79.95
BEST DEAL
Olicamp Kinetic Ultra Titanium
87
Weight 9
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 7
Packing 9
Value 8

Lightweight: 1.7 oz alone, 3.2 oz. with included plastic case

Wide burner head disburses flame well

Size: smaller than the Snow Peak LiteMax and MSR MicroRocket

As efficient as MSR MicroRocket, boiling 8 liters from 4 oz. of fuel

Price: almost $20 less than competitors tested

Pot supports most narrow among stoves tested at 3.75’’

Small flame control valve is too close to flame

Plastic carry case awkward to pack

MSRP
$43.40
BEST DEAL
Primus Eta Spider
87
Weight 6
Fuel Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 8
Cooking 10
Reliability 8

Fast average boil: 2:53 for two cups of water

Highly efficient: boiled 20 two-cup pots on 100g of fuel

Simmering is exceptional

Easy to grab strainer lid

Flexible fuel line

Extra-long insulated pot handles

Heavy; included carry bag adds significant bulk

Magnetized stove mounts on windscreen lost effectiveness

MSRP
$120.00
BEST DEAL
MSR Reactor
86
Weight 7
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 10
Boil Time 10
Cooking 5
Value 7

Fuel-efficient – 9 liters boiled from 4 oz. of fuel

Wind resistant – under 3:00 boil time in steady wind

Boil times - Consistently sub-3:00 boil time, faster than Primus EtaExpress and Jetboil SOL TI

Sturdy, foldable packing handle

Regulator maintains canister pressure

Cost - only the Jetboil Sumo TI is more expensive

Can only be used with other Reactor pots

Bulky – 1.7-liter pot is largest among similar systems

MSRP
$190.00
BEST DEAL
Optimus Vega
86
Weight 8
Ease of Use 8
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 6
Versatility 8
Value 9

Lightweight: 6.3 oz by itself, 8.5 oz. with stuff sack and windscreen

Highly efficient, boiling 18 liters of tap water from 7.76 oz of Optimus Gas

Small: can be nested with mugs, bowls, pots, etc.

Simple transition to liquid fuel feed

Foldable, sturdy pot supports ideal for group cookware

Wind resistant because of low stance and windscreen

Weak flame control on low simmer

No built-in igniter

MSRP
$94.95
BEST DEAL
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Canister Stove
86
Boil Time 9
Wind Performance 8
Efficiency 7
Cooking 7
Weight 5

Lightweight

Cooks well

Wind resistant

Windscreen attachment process

Lacks features compared to competition

Third-party pot compatibility

MSRP
$49.95
BEST DEAL
MSR MicroRocket
85
Weight 7
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 8
Boil Time 8
Packing 8
Value 7

Lightweight: 2.6 oz alone, 4.3 with case and igniter

Boil time: faster on average than Snow Peak LiteMax and Oilcamp Kinetic Ultra

High-quality build, very durable

Efficient; boiled 8 liters from 4 oz. of fuel

Large fuel valve makes flame control easy

Igniter failed after only a few uses

Most expensive, along with Snow Peak LiteMax

MSRP
$59.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Jetboil Flash
85
Weight 7
Efficiency 9
Wind Performance 6
Boil Time 7
Cooking 8
Value 8

Most efficient stove in test

Lightweight

Fast average boil

Large fuel control valve easy to use with gloves

Stable when in use

Price

Slower than competitors in cold and wind

Piezo igniter is ineffective in cold with low fuel pressure

Pot must cool before safely detaching from stove

Bottom cup weak, can be tedious to remove

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
MSR Whisperlite Universal
84
Best in Class
2017
Weight 7
Ease of Use 5
Wind Performance 8
Boil Time 7
Versatility 7

Lightweight: 1 lb. 3 oz. with all components and stuff sack

Fast & efficient in all conditions

Consistent performance across all fuel types

Stainless steel pot supports maintain stability of group-sized cookware

Improved disassembly method

Priming control: 30+ liquid fuel ignitions, not one re-start

Risk of losing shaker needle, other parts during fuel swaps

Changing fuel jets challenging with cold-weather gloves

Short, rigid fuel line de-stabilizes stove during priming

MSRP
$139.00
BEST DEAL
Kovea Power Nano
84
Weight 6
Efficiency 6
Wind Performance 8
Boil Time 8
Durability 8
Value 8

Average boil time of 2:28.

Large valve adjustment handle is precise and easy to use with gloves

Wind performance.

Durable

Price

Less efficient than Soto WindMaster and OliCamp Ion Micro

Heavier than competitors

Flame spread quickly heats pot handles

MSRP
$35.00
BEST DEAL
MSR WindPro II
84
Weight 6
Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 8
Boil Time 7
Durability 8
Value 7

Fast average boil, faster than Kovea Spider and Optimus Vega

Efficiency; boiled 16 liters on 8.9 oz. canister

Wind performance; wind screen, low burner/pot clearance maximize capability

Stable under all pot and pan sizes

Ease of use of flame adjustor with gloves

Included windscreen and inverted canister support

Price. At almost $100, it’s expensive for a canister stove

Heavier than most in its class

Bulky, not as easy to pack

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
Kovea Spider
84
Boil Time 6
Weight 8
Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 6
Durability 8
Value 8

Lightweight. Lightest in category at 6 oz.

Very efficient, tied with MSR WindPro II for with 1

16 liters boiled on 8.9 oz. canister

Long, flexible fuel line aids in packing and backcountry kitchen set up

Wide stance accommodates multiple pot sizes

Glove-friendly fuel control

Slow average boil

Not as efficient in windy conditions

Windscreen not included

MSRP
$65.00
BEST DEAL
Primus EtaExpress
83
Weight 8
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 4
Boil Time 7
Durability 7
Value 10

As fuel-efficient as MSR Reactor – 9 liters boiled from 4 oz. of fuel

Boil time: averaged 3:19 over ten boils

Compact & Versatile: can be used with alternative brand pots

Price: great performance for well under cost of competitive systems

Field-repairable: jet can be cleaned if needed

Windscreen makes for clunky piezo ignition

Not as fuel-efficient as JetBoil SOL TI

Slower average boil than MSR Reactor

Wind performance less efficient as MSR Reactor, Jetboil SOL TI

Lid too small to function as practical plate or pan; requires stuff sack to stay in place when packed

MSRP
$97.00
BEST DEAL
Optimus Elektra FE Cook System
83
Boil Time 8
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 7
Cooking 6
Weight 5

Compact

Wind performance

Durable

Fuel control dial

Price

Igniter

Cooking flexibility

Fry pan/lid

MSRP
$49.95
BEST DEAL
Primus OmniFuel
83
Boil Time 5
Fuel Efficiency 8
Ease of Use 7
Durability 7
Weight 6

Fuel pump

Versatility

Flame control

White gas efficiency

Jet swaps

Price

Noise

Flame spreader

Priming

MSRP
$157.00
BEST DEAL
Jetboil SOL Titanium Premium Cooking System
82
Weight 8
Efficiency 9
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 7
Durability 6
Value 5

Fuel efficient – boiled 12 liters of water on 4 oz. of fuel

Lightweight – titanium’s best benefit

Quick boil time – averaged 3:12 boiling .75 liters of water

Compact – smaller than MSR Reactor and EtaExpress

Pressure regulator - maintains consistent boil times

Pricey – higher end of the market, expensive for heating less than a liter of water

Neoprene wrap virtually pointless – pot is to hot to handle for pouring

Destroys itself quickly when tipped over.

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Olicamp Ion Micro Titanium
82
Weight 9
Efficiency 9
Wind Performance 5
Boil Time 7
Durability 7
Value 5

Size & weight; smallest canister stove on the market at 1.5 ounces

Highly efficient; boiled 17 pots of water on 4 ounces of gas

Average boil time of 3:13

Size of stove and flame adjustor makes control difficult

Miniscule pot supports provides stability for only smallest of pots

Poor wind performance

Cost; priced similarly to much more versatile competitors

MSRP
$50.00
BEST DEAL
MSR SuperFly
81
Weight 7
Efficiency 6
Wind Performance 7
Boil Time 6
Durability 9
Value 6

Pot supports offer variety and stability with cookware

Wind performance

Flame control; best in category for camp cooking

Durability; strong, very well-built

Least efficient among four screw-on canister stoves tested

Boil time; slowest in test

MSRP
$65.00
BEST DEAL
MSR XGK EX
81
Boil Time 6
Efficiency 6
Wind Performance 7
Cooking 7
Weight 6
Reliability 9

Bombproof

Fuel versatility

Low, stable stance

Easy field maintenance

Heaviest in category

Expensive

Inflexible fuel line

Loud

MSRP
$159.99
BEST DEAL
Optimus Nova+
81
Boil Time 5
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 7
Cooking 7
Weight 7
Reliability 8

Lightweight

Fuel versatility

Low, stable stance

Magnetic jet cleaning needle

Powerline™ control valve

Stiff fuel line

Expensive

Doesn’t pack well

MSRP
$149.99
BEST DEAL
Snow Peak GeoShield
81
Boil Time 6
Efficiency 8
Wind Performance 7
Cooking 8
Weight 6
Reliability 6

Large pot stability

Standard or inverted canister use

Good for simmering, long-term cooking

Efficient

Good wind performance

Cumbersome setup

Wire locking system for windscreen

Base plate attachment clips bend

No included stand for inverted canister stability

MSRP
$99.95
BEST DEAL
Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium
79
Weight 8
Efficiency 7
Wind Performance 6
Boil Time 7
Packing 6
Value 5

Lightweight: 1.9 oz alone, 2.2 oz. with included stuff sack

Large, rubber-coated fuel control valve

Folding pot supports adjust to pot size

Pot support width of over 4’’

Slowest boil among competitors OliCamp Kinetic Ultra Titanium and MSR MicroRocket

Poor performance in wind

MSRP
$59.95
BEST DEAL
Jetboil Sumo Group Cooking System w/ Companion Bowl Set
77
Weight 4
Cooking Capacity 10
Packability 5
Versatility 7
Durability 6
Value 5

Durable pot.

Strainer lid.

Nests all bowls, stove and 230g fuel canister.

Sol stove.

Bulky.

Complex to nest properly.

Flimsy measuring cup.

Many separate parts and accessories.

Pricey.

MSRP
$149.90
BEST DEAL
MSR Whisperlite Universal

The MSR Whisperlite Universal is a fast and highly practical stove that is effective in wind, cold and at altitude using canister-based or liquid fuels. It should be at the top of any mountaineer or backpacker’s gear list.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Eastern Mountain Sports

MSR WindBurner

MSR may have very well outsmarted itself with the WindBurner. While using much of the same tech as the Reactor, the WindBurner has enough built-in features to muscle its wider, fatter siblings out of shelf space. It’s the fastest and most weather-resistant backcountry boiler tested. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Bentgate.com

Soto WindMaster

Given its weight, efficiency, performance in wind and average boil time, the Soto WindMaster is the superior stove in this category. It is pricey, but you do get what you are paying for.  The micro-regulator is an impressive inclusion on a stove of this size and it performs as advertised, maintaining boil time consistency and performance in temperatures most canister stoves can't handle.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Primus Eta Spider

The Primus Eta Spider simmers as well as the Jetboil MiniMo and is equally fuel efficient, but it’s a pound heavier when packed as purchased. You can’t go wrong buying it if weight isn’t a top concern.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at GearTrade.com

Kovea Spider

The Kovea Spider is an excellent backpacking stove. The packability, simplicity and efficiency should outweigh its less than stellar wind performance. The Spider isn’t super fast, but when you’re using a stove to cook actual meals, typically a rapid boil isn’t a priority. The Kovea Spider has a wide base, is stable under group-size cook pots and offers precise flame control.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

MSR XGK EX

The XGK EX’s longevity in the market is a direct result of its durability and maintenance simplicity. Having to adjust for alternative fuel types is not as easy as it is with the Kovea Booster +1, which requires no mechanical replacement of the jet. The XKG’s stability and no-hassle set-up make it ideal for larger pots on varied terrain. Its short, rigid fuel line can make fuel bottle placement a challenge. It is heavier than others in its category but it’s meant to serve in a kitchen for an extended basecamp, not packed up every morning. This stove doesn’t have wow with bells & whistles nor does it boil water in under two minutes. What it does do is work every time you need it to. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

Optimus Nova+

The Optimus Nova+ stands out amongst similar expedition stoves. It’s easy field maintenance, fuel versatility and low stance make it easy to use. It falls short however in trying to be too innovative with the Powerline control and the included storage bag doesn’t securely hold the stove.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

See All Backpacking Stoves Reviews