Backpacking Stove Guide: Whats Right to Light

Backpacking/Camping Stoves provides a wide range of easy to use and lightweight solutions for campsite cooking. Whether its use is to complete basic tasks such as boiling water or for gourmet cooking, you will be able to find the stove that best fits your needs at an affordable price.

Proven Design

Stoves are designed to be portable and are easily stored, assembled and cleaned. The simple mechanics of these stoves mean it requires little or no maintenance as most stoves have only a valve for gauging heat and Piezo igniter.

The design for most stoves manufactured today are similar to the cylindrical shaped with a tripod base as the first pressurized stove: Primus, which was developed in 1892 by Frans Wilhelm Lindqvist.

Since then a number of advancement have been; including stoves that can charge mobile devices, however the shape has essentially remained the same, this may be accredited to the stability and portability that the cylindrical and tripod designs offer. Changes that have been made mainly focus on:

  • Heat distribution.
  • Fuel economy.
  • Safety.
  • Portability and setup.

Fuels: The Deciding Factor

There are numerous types of Backpacking/Camping Stoves available and they are usually categorized by the type of fuel they utilize. The Main types of fuels used and the effect they have on how the stoves are made are as follows:

Pre-pressurized gases

These are sold in canisters and it is recommended that they be disposed after use however it is possible to have them refilled. Canisters are either used as a base for stove (recommended for smaller canisters) or they are connected via a tube in which case the stove would either have an independent mount (usually tripod) or it may be placed on a level surface. Pressurized canisters may combust when exposed to excess heat or exposed to high altitudes; thus they are restricted by airlines.

The different types of pre-pressurized gases available for purchase for use with a stove are as follows:

  • Butane: provides more heat than propane, it however is more expensive
  • Iso-butane: heats faster than regular butane
  • Propane: least expensive and also provide more cooking time than butane.
  • Butane and propane mixture: heats fast with more cooking time.

Liquid Fuel Stoves

These utilize the liquid gas naphtha; which is a distillate of petroleum and is also called white gas. White gas is praised as being the cleanest burning most cost effective option for Backpacking or Camping Stoves. However there are also disadvantages with using white gas, they are as follows:

  • Spillage: during refilling if spilled fuel leaves a noticeable odour, it is extremely flammable and contact with skin in cold conditions may cause frost bite as liquid vaporizes quickly when exposed.
  • Manual pressurization: user has to manually pump valve to achieve pressure.
  • Priming required: priming is the process of preheating fuel tube to start vapor conversion so fire may be lit.
  • Stoves that utilize white gas are usually mounted on the canister in order to have an efficient flow of fuel.


These stoves are geared towards persons primarily focused on a lightweight option. These stoves are usually half the size of a can. These cans contain the fuel which is lit and will then burn until exhausted.

Chemical Solid Fuel Stoves

Burns slower than other methods and stoves are usually half the size of a can.


This remains the primary fuel choice in areas where its use is allowed, these stoves are usually a cylindrical shape to channel the flow of heat effectively.

Other fuel types used with Backpacking or Camping Stoves includes: kerosene, benzene, unleaded automobile fuel and chafing fuel, these are used with multi-fuel stoves.

What’s Your Choice

When assessing which stove is right for you there are a number of factors to keep in mind to ensure the stove you choose to utilize will suffice, such as:

  • Fuel: the availability, cost and speed of cooking should be taken in account.
  • Cooking needs: if stove will be used frequently; cooking speed and available burners are major factors.
  • Environmental factors: some stove type (primarily the fuel) are affected by the altitude as well as temperature.
  • Ease of use.
  • Safety and health concerns.
  • Environmental concerns.

The ideal Backpacking Stove or Camping Stove will be one that can withstand the environment it is intended for use in, and also manage the amount of cooking or other uses required while being cost effective.


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