best backpacking stove 2020 - 4 sq

Which Stove to Bring or Buy

by Chef Corso

I know some of you out there go on trips where you don’t bring a stove, opting for cold soaking, bars, trail-mix, and jerky to get you through. 

For me, that’s crazy. A warm cup of coffee in the morning overlooking a vista is pretty special and cooking up a quick soup or noodles satisfies way better after a long day than a bag of cold mush.  But, we all make our own choices when we plan and pack for equipment and meals and if you want to stick with your ways, go nuts. 

If you do decide to bring a stove, here are some things to consider as all styles have their pros and cons for specific types of trips and number of people in your group.

Some things I will point out are:

Pot capacity

Gas type

Pan/Pot surface radius

Pan/Pot integration

Types of Burners

Every manufacturer has their way they like to make products and not all are made the same. 

MSR, Jetboil, GSI, Primus, Camp Chef, Coleman and Stanley are just a few of the many brands available.

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There are two main companies in this category:

Jetboil and MSR. (yes there are others)

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The key difference between these two is the burner. As you can hopefully see the Jetboil has a medium radius burner surrounded by pan integration. The burner itself is just like many.
The MSR option has their windburner system, which from my experience, lights, cooks and simmers in all conditions better than Jetboil.

MSR has even gone further with their Reactor stove system which is a pretty beefy little stove and great in all the conditions.

Also great for snow melting and high elevation cooking.

Check out more about the difference between Windburner vs Reactor.


Alright! Now that you have your burner you love, let’s talk pots and pans because well…you’ve gotta cook in something.

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testing - best backpacking cook stove

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At the end of the day, find something that works for your style of outdoor activity.  But I highly recommend having both a smaller capacity stove for 1-2 people, with integrated pot/pan system to help with tipping over of your dinner as well as larger capacity 2+L compact stove system to easily cook for a larger group of 4-6 folks. If you are going with a larger group, consider packing two stoves and really have fun with meal planning. You can cook up two complimentary dishes like mango fried rice and wonton dumpling bowl for an Asian night or Fajita night with beans/rice, toasted tortillas and stone smashed guac or a dinner and dessert combo like Stroganoff and Apple pear crisp. Sounds pretty great to me!

Get out there.


Categorized in: Gear Review, How-To Cooking, Packing / Equipment