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Types of Backpacking Stoves

Types of Backpacking Stoves

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Coming to choose your first backpacking stove can be a really confusing experience. You take a look and you realize that there are a handful of different types that you have to choose from. Without knowing about each individual type, it can be impossible to guess which one would be the best to choose. So, today we are going to be discussing different types of backpacking stoves so that you can work out which is best for you.

The different types of backpacking stoves

There are six main types of backpacking stove that you should be aware of, they are:

Small canister stoves

Small canister stoves are perfect for ultralight backpackers, campers and hikers because they are incredibly lightweight, a quality that makes it easy to throw one in a pack and get hiking. The problem with lightweight small canister stoves is that they tend to work terribly in the wind because there is nothing to actually shelter them from it.

They are not very fuel efficient when you compare them to integrated canister stoves. This is because they lack the wind resistance that they need to be efficient so you might find yourself using more fuel than you really should in order to run one.

Integrated canister stoves

An integrated canister stove is a type of stove that could be viewed as the newer and bigger brother of the traditional small canister stove. These are the perfect option for relatively short trips away or adventures up in the mountains.

The great thing about these stoves is that they are much more fuel efficient than small canister stoves, as most of them are capable of working perfectly well in windy environments and when the temperature drops. One of the great features that makes them so fuel efficient is the fact that they often consist of insulated pot systems so that the heat coming from the burner is very direct.

One of the only downsides that come with integrated canister stoves is that they are not versatile. They are only really suitable for boiling water. If you can cope with meals that only require boiled water, then you will be fine.

Liquid fuel stoves

Liquid fuel stoves are some of the most common stoves that can be seen throughout the backpacking community. They are frequently used by everyone from mountain guides to survival educators; this is probably because of how versatile they are. You can use them to cook a number of different things, which is quite unique when you consider that there are a lot of stoves that can just be used for boiling water.

Another fantastic level of versatility comes in the way that liquid fuel stoves can be completely dismantled and put together while you are on the move. Most of them are also multi-fuel compatible, meaning that you can easily take them on international trips. These are usually tricky because you might not know what sort of fuel will be available to purchase.

Wood/solid fuel burning stoves

Stoves that run off of either wood or solid fuel are known to be some of the best stoves for ultralight backpackers to use. The fact that they use a fuel source that can be gathered from the wilderness means that you do not have to worry about the extra weight that comes with carrying fuel around. The stoves that run off of a chemical fuel tend to be compatible with products like Esbit and Trangia.

It is worth noting that these stoves are not as efficient as alternative stoves because of the rate at which they will burn through the wood. They can also produce a lot of smoke, something that can be a real problem if you are in a ‘no fire’ zone.

Alcohol stoves

Alcohol stoves are stoves that don’t really look like they are capable of doing much, but they are rather special. They are used to burn denatured alcohol and they can then be used to boil water. You can use this water to make dehydrated or freeze-dried meals.

Unfortunately, it can take them quite a long time to bring water to the boil. On the other hand, denatured alcohol is relatively inexpensive and it can be found in most places. The fact that denatured alcohol is inexpensive is the reason that these stoves have become really popular with thru-hikers.


Remember that the key to picking a top backpacking stove is to pick one that is right for you. You need to look at everything that the stove is capable of doing and then compare it to a list of everything that you need a stove to be able to do. That way, you can tell whether or not you have found a perfect match.

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