If you are heading out for a long hike like the West Highland Way, it’s likely that you’re going to be taking a lot of essential equipment with you, though that depends if you are camping or staying in hotels or hostels.
I know that sometimes having a backpacking stove with you can turn a difficult day into a much more manageable one. With the ability to heat water so you can enjoy a hot drink and get yourself going once more, stoves are essential if you want to feel good, no matter what Mother Nature is throwing at you.
Let’s take a look at some of the best hiking stoves out there:
1: Lowpricenice Professional New Mini Set Stove
With a diameter of 90mm, this backpacking stove has a well-deserved spot on the “Best of” list. With its ability to hold 100ml of alcohol, you will have up to 45 minutes of fire, which may be more than enough to help you boil water.
With a folding handle that makes it easy to extinguish a flame, this stove also comes with increased air ventilation, thanks to the 4 holes contained in the black stand.
The Lowpricenice is easy to store in your backpack as the burner can fit in the stand very nicely. While this is by no means a top of the range product, it is ideal if you want to head out somewhere for the day and know you’ll need a hot drink or two. Weighing 300 grams, and with a burner that’s made out of thin aluminum, it’s good enough for occasional use.
Key features: holds 100ml of fuel, increased air ventilation, weighs 300 grams
2: Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove
The Esbit pocket stove comes complete with 6 fuel tablets, meaning it’s ready to use right away. Weighing 180 grams and with 2 cooking positions, this pocket stove is an impressive tool that will make your life on the trail so much easier.
Each of the smokeless tablets has the ability to boil 500ml of water in approximately 8 minutes. The stove’s closed dimensions are 3.9 x 3 x 0.9 inches, meaning it’s small enough to be stored in a backpack easily. Made from galvanized steel, the pocket stove is corrosion-resistant, meaning it can last you years.
With 2 positions so you can use it with pots or pans and cups, this stove is easy to light and very portable.
Key features: boils water in 8 minutes, weighs 180 grams, 2 cooking positions
3: Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove
With a slim and compact design that means the stove can be folded away easily, the Vargo titanium stove comes with hinged side panels that make it easy to use. Manufactured so that the wood stove stands in a conical shape, the heat from the flames is sent upward so the contents of your pot cook quicker.
While this stove does not come with any fuel, the beauty of its design means you don’t need to carry any. Users can burn wood, charcoal, or organic matter on the stove. Specifically designed for use with wood, this stove weighs just over 4 ounces, making it very light and easy to store in your backpack.
Key features: conical shape, titanium, weighs just over 4 ounces
4: MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Stove
The MSR PocketRocket certainly lives up to its name. Weighing just 2.6 ounces and measuring 2 x 2 x 3 inches, this small stove is nothing short of mighty. Ideal for those days out in the wilderness, the PocketRocket has the ability to boil 1 liter of water in 3.5 minutes. Used with an isobutane-propane canister that you have to buy separately, this stove is easy to set up and use.
With serrated pot supports and a protective case, this stove is one of the best ones on the market right now. Made to last for years, if you’re looking for a stove that’s easy to use and lightweight, this is the stove you need.
Key features: small and lightweight, 1 liter of water boiled in 3.5 minutes
5: Jetboil Flash Cooking System
With its unique finish and its 1 liter cooking cup, the Jetboil Flash cooking system is nothing short of impressive. Complete with a push-button igniter and a drink-through lid, if you’re serious about being out on the trail, this is a backpacking stove you need to take with you.
This stove lights up with a click of a button, allowing the water to start heating up right away. With the ability to heat water up to a boiling temperature in 2 minutes, you and a companion can enjoy a cup of the good stuff quicker than ever before. The insulating cozy that comes with this cooking system as standard changes color when the water is hot, meaning you’ll know exactly when it’s ready.
Weighing 15 ounces, this stove is heavier than many other stoves, but it works like a charm and is set to impress every time you use it.
Key features: 1 liter cooking cup, weighs 15 ounces, lights with the click of a button
6: MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System
Looking similar to the Jetboil, the MSR Windburner Personal Stove System is a compact all-in-one stove that comes with an insulated mug for ease of use. The burner and heat exchanger ensure that you have a faster boil time. The windproof performance feature means it’s unlikely to blow out, even with the strongest of winds around you.
The Windburner’s compact design means that you can pack the stove, cup, and the rest of the components together, leaving more room in your backpack. Weighing approximately 15.5 ounces, this is not the lightest stove around, but it is one of the handiest and is ideal for use in the cold as it will not give in!
Key features: compact and all-in-one, faster boil time
7: Soto Amicus
Weighing just 4.2 ounces, the Soto Amicus is a lightweight hiking stove that is ideal for use on the trail. With four serrated edges, the pot and cup stand ensures anything you place on it stays in place. Fuel will have to be purchased separately, but you should find that this stove is ideal for use on the trail.
With a hidden electric line, the stove performs even better than you may expect. The raised ledge that can be found at the crown of the stove ensures you have better performance even on the windiest of days. If you’re looking for a reliable stove that comes with no bells or whistles, the Soto Amicus may be exactly what you need.
Key features: weighs 4.2 ounces, ideal for use on the trail, raised ledge
8: Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System
The Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System is a very modern-looking backpacking stove and comes with a redesigned regulator and valve to ensure you have total simmer control. With a push-button igniter, getting the cooking system started is very easy and perfect for those times when you just need something hot.
With the ability to perform even when temperatures are as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the MiniMo comes with a cooking cup that’s easy to use. Capable of working even when the wind is strong, the Jetboil is certainly one of the best stoves on the market. Although it weighs 14.9 ounces, this stove is an essential piece of equipment that you’ll be glad you had with you.
Key features: redesigned regulator and valve, good in low temperatures
9: MSR WhisperLite Universal Canister and Liquid Fuel Stove
The MSR WhisperLite is an impressive hybrid-fuel stove that comes with AirControl technology. This technology allows the stove to create a maximum air/fuel mix so it performs well for you, every time. Lightweight at 14.9 ounces, the WhisperLite comes complete with an MSR fuel pump and very stable stainless steel legs to keep it upright at all times. The self-cleaning shaker ensures that it’s easy to maintain when you’re out on the trail, and the heat reflector ensures your water is heated well.
Complete with a windscreen, users will not have to worry too much about it being a breezy day, and with a burn time of 110 minutes per 600ml of white fuel, you’re good to go.
Key features: self-cleaning shaker, windscreen, burn time of 110 minutes
10: Snow Peak Giga Power Stove
The Snow Peak Giga Power Stove comes complete with a collapsible leg design that lets you store it in even the smallest of places. With the ability to perform well when you’re up high or it’s a cold day, this stove also comes with a built-in lighter that gets you cooking right away.
With a flame that spreads well, and complete with great pot supports, this Power Stove means business.
Key features: built-in lighter, flame that spreads, collapsible leg design
11: Trangia Spirit Burner with Screwcap Weighing
Weighing just 0.24 pounds and with the ability to boil 1 liter of water in just 8 minutes, this windproof stove system ensures that you can keep cooking whatever the weather is doing. Ideal for use with methylated spirits or Tenol, the Trangia is capable of producing a flame when you need it the most. Very simple to operate and with no complicated switches, if you need to get something warm inside you quickly, this is the spirit burner to use.
With the ability to burn for approximately 23 minutes when you’re using 100 ml of fuel, you’ll know you’re in good hands when you’re out on the trail.
Key features: weighs 0.24 pounds, easy to operate
What to Bear in Mind When Buying a Stove
Type – Are you looking for an alcohol or solid fuel stove? Some people prefer to cook with alcohol, but many others prefer solid fuel as unopened, it can last for 10 years. However, alcohol-fueled stoves tend to start working a little quicker.
Price – There may be occasions when paying a little more money means you’ll get a better stove, but it’s not always the case. Many middle of the range stoves are just as good as some of the more expensive models, but if you are looking for a backpacking stove that will light up in seconds, you may need to pay more.
Weight – How much weight can you carry in your backpack? You may be prepared to carry up to 15 ounces, but if you think you may struggle, a lighter stove may be exactly what you need.
Group Cooking – Do you need to cater to more than 2 people? If you do, you’ll need to use multiple stoves if you plan to eat or drink at the same time. If you don’t mind waiting for your water to boil while someone enjoys their hot drink, just make sure you have enough fuel to last.
Simmer Control – Simmer control is a great function, allowing you to control the simmer on even the smallest of flames. This potentially means that your rice or pasta will not burn on the bottom of the pan, ensuring every calorie is eaten and enjoyed.
Boiling or Cooking – Would you like your stove to boil water, or would you prefer to use it for cooking? The best stove for heating water may not be ideal for cooking on, so you may need to think about the stove you’re going to buy again.
Use in the Winter – If you plan to venture out on the trail in the winter, you’ll need a stove that’s easy to use when the temperatures are low and the wind is strong. A stove that refuses to light could mean you end up going home early.
Priming – If you use an alcohol-filled stove, you’ll need to heat it before you get a flame. This is because the alcohol has to be hot enough before you can use it. If you don’t have the time or patience to prime a stove, you may want to opt for a solid fuel stove.
Stability – Will your nice new stove stay upright even on slightly uneven ground? Ideally, your stove will come with legs that are strong enough so your pan or cup stays in place when it’s full.
Performance in Windy Conditions – How your stove performs in windy conditions can affect your whole trip. If it looks like it’s going to be windy when you’re on the trail, you need to use a stove that comes with a windscreen, so it remains upright and the flame doesn’t go out.
Fire Ban Areas – Some areas ask that you never have any open flames. This will undoubtedly affect the type of stove you purchase. You may need to re-think your choice if you have to cook in an area where no flames are allowed. You may, therefore, wish to opt for a stove that lights with the click of a button.
While many outdoor stoves are slightly cheaper online, the downside is you do not get to try them out first. However, if you do your research and read a few reviews, you should have a good idea as to how well your chosen backpacking stoves may work.