Backpacking Stove Comparison: Reviews of the Top Five Best

It is important to do a thorough backpacking stove comparison before you go out and buy one. There are many stoves to choose from and it is essential to get the one which best suites your backpacking needs. For help selecting a stove, check out our article entitled A Beginner's Primer on Backpacking Stoves which covers the basics from how to choose a stove to the different stove types available. The following backpacking stove reviews are a brief but valuable comparison of the five best stoves on the market.

Best Ultralight Backpacking Stove: Esbit Pocket Stove

The Esbit ultralight stove burns fuel pellets in a small, fold-open metal case. This stove fits easily into a day pack and weighs less than four ounces. Pellets burn for about 15 minutes and are very economical at around $.50 each. The Esbit Pocket Stove is not a very windproof design, and water boiling time is slow, so you may need to burn a few pellets to get your meal cooked, but for the weight, size and price, this is definitely a great stove for weekend trips and as a backup stove on the trail.

Best Lightweight Backpacking Stove: MSR WhisperLite

The MSR WhisperLite has been a favorite of trekking backpackers for years. This stove is lightweight at only 13 ounces, boils water in less than four minutes and is extremely reliable in most weather conditions. Another benefit is that every part on this stove is designed to be field maintainable, so with an MSR maintenance kit, you can fix just about any problem you may encounter on your trip. While not the cheapest stove in its class, it is still a very good value at under $70.

Best Expedition Backpacking Stove: Optimus Nova Multi-fuel

The Optimus Nova is a lightweight, very stable multi-fuel stove that has proven itself as a leader in high altitude, cold climate conditions. This stove weighs in at just under a pound and can boil water in about four minutes. Even though white gas is typically the best cold weather fuel, and just about any stove can run white gas, this stove is lighter and smaller than most of its peers, offers multi-fuel capability and is reasonably priced.

Best Multi-fuel Backpacking Stove: MSR XGK EX

The MSR XGK EX is a small, relatively lightweight, virtually indestructible stove that will burn just about any flammable liquid on the planet. This stove is just over 14 ounces and boils water in about three and a half minutes. It is noisy, burns like a jet engine, has virtually no simmer control and a bit messy with fuel, but nothing else on the market can match its myriad fuel options.

Best All Purpose Backpacking Stove: MSR DragonFly

The MSR DragonFly is about the most versatile stove available today. This stove is a multi-fuel, lightweight workhorse, weighs about one pound and boils water in roughly four minutes. It has a wide stance making it very stable and can accommodate small to very large pots. The fuel control valve allows adjustment from simmer to blow torch and its durable construction means it can perform in extreme conditions. It is priced between the mid and high-end stoves and, like other MSR models, is completely field maintainable.

Our recommendations are based on personal experience, industry leading technology, value and product features. You should still do your due diligence before purchasing a stove to be sure it will suit your specific needs. You can usually test stoves inside retail stores; however, using it on a real backpacking trip is the real test. That's why reading backpacking stove reviews online is often the best thing you can do -- the hikers reviewing the stoves have actually used the backpacking stove in the field. In addition to our reviews and comparisons, online retailers such as and allow customers to rate and comment on the gear they have for sale.

All pages on this topic:
Stoves | Backpacking Stove Reviews and Comparison - The Top 5 Best | Backpacking Stove Safety and Maintenance | Homemade Backpacking Stoves: The What, Why and How | Stoves vs. Campfires: And The Winner Is...
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