The Best Jump Starter In The World
by Vivian Chen
Editor’s note: Inventory can be unpredictable with COVID-19, so some of the items in this list might be temporarily out of stock when you read this guide. We’ll do our best to update it accordingly.
Few things fuel the appetite better than a grueling day on the trail. And in order to sate the savage hiker beast, you need a stellar cooking appliance—one that can reliably whip up a hot meal in a hurry. If you also find one that isn’t overly heavy, bulky or gluttonous with its own fuel reserves, so much the better. Luckily, backpacking stoves these days tend to fit the bill, but which is best for you?
When evaluating stoves, make sure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison—or, in this case, a canister-stove-to-cannister-stove or an alcohol-stove-to-alcohol-stove comparison. At the bottom of this article, we detail why you should decide your preferred fuel source first, then compare and contrast models. Isobutane/propane canister stoves rule the market these days, largely because they are so convenient. But other types of stoves can also be worthy cooking companions (say, if you’re at altitude or going ultralight). That’s why we divided our picks into canister stoves and non-canister stoves, and broke down non-canister stoves into liquid-fuel stoves, alcohol stoves and wood stoves. There are options to fit multiple budgets and gear preferences.
So read on for our staffers’ favorite cookers and find the backpacking stove that’s best for you, or jump ahead.
- Canister stoves
- Non-canister stoves
- Picking your fuel source
- Understanding stove specs
- Selecting the right features
Best Canister Stove System Overall
- Stove type: Canister
- Fuel burned: Isobutane/propane
- Average boil time (1 liter): 4 min. 30 sec.
- Burn time (maximum flame): 120 min. (8 oz. canister)
- Dimensions: 5 x 6 in.
- Weight: 14 oz.
- Price: $149.95
Not all backcountry cuisine is the result of pouring boiling water into a pouch. That’s why our pick for the best stove system for backcountry cooks brings a little more finesse to the table. Whether you need a rapid boil or a slow simmer, the Jetboil MiniMo delivers. The secret is what Jetboil calls its “proprietary regulator technology,” which accomplishes a few patented tricks, including giving you the ability to make incremental heat adjustments. Of course, you don’t need to be a James Beard-winning chef to appreciate a flame that you can truly fine tune. REI staffer Tim Bird of REI Co-op’s Framingham, Utah, store sums it up this way: “When I cook pasta with the MiniMo, I never end up with a burnt hockey puck in the bottom of my pot.”
That same pressure regulator is also to praise for the MiniMo’s better-than-expected performance in subfreezing temps. (Because lowering temperature leads to a corresponding lowering of fuel pressure, canister stoves can falter in cold conditions. Read more below.) The MiniMo’s pressure regulator compensates by increasing the amount of pressure outflow to the burner. This all lets the MiniMo deliver consistent heat at low temps or when the fuel canister’s pressure runs low near the bottom of the tank, points out Ingrid Johnson, who has worked at both the REI Seattle store and now with the co-op’s online sales team.
Additional perk: The heat exchanger built into the included 1-liter pot gives you better fuel efficiency than more compact canister stoves because it efficiently captures and retains burner heat that would otherwise dissipate into the surrounding air. “That means less fuel to carry on longer trips or with bigger groups, and ultimately less waste,” Johnson says. “I used my MiniMo for two meals a day, and sometimes a coffee break, on a two-week trip in New Zealand in January 2020. I was astonished by how little fuel I went through compared to my old canister stove.” True story: The MiniMo boasts the longest burn time in this line-up.
Rounding out the MiniMo’s virtues are a convenient piezo igniter (just push a button to ignite it) and the insulated 1-liter pot/mug that’s big enough to stow the burner inside, saving space and keeping things tidy inside your pack. Buy here.
Best Canister Stove System in Windy Conditions