The best backpacking stove can serve as an excellent piece of gear for adventure motorcycles, overland vehicles, and bikepacking. They are very compact and lightweight taking up very little room in a pannier, overland gear box, or even a frame bag. One could argue that the versatility of a backpacking stove actually makes it the best all around camping stove.
Choosing just one would be unfair; there are many things to take into consideration when choosing the best backpacking stove to meet your needs. Here are a few of our favorites….
Snowpeak Giga Power
Insanely compact, lightweight, and durable.
Snow Peak’s ultralight backpacking stove is a sure thing. The Snow Peak Giga Power is perfect when space is at a premium. Fuel is readily available, and its flame is easy to tune. There’s an upgraded version that gives you piezo ignition for a slight up charge. Overall, if we had to choose one heat source for outdoor adventures, it would be the Snow Peak. It’s prefect for boiling water for a cup of coffee or to prepare a freeze dried meal. And, even if you already have a camp stove in that off-road trailer or adventure van the snow peak provides a ridiculously good backup.
Sounds like a fighter jet, but packs a serious punch.
The Dragonfly from MSR, though very loud in use… and just a little cumbersome, is an amazing backpacking stove. Perhaps better suited for an adventure motorcycle where carrying a few extra ounces is not the end of the world. In fact… the Dragonfly would be our top pick if the world as we know it comes to a screeching halt. We’re not preppers, but a backpacking stove that runs on kerosene, white gas, unleaded, diesel, and Jet A? How cool is that.
And when the world is not facing man made or natural disaster; the Dragonfly is stout enough to handle pretty much any pot or pan you’d likely carry on your next adventure.
Innovative, adjustable… a complete cooking system
Like the Snow Peak, the Jetboil MiniMo is a canister backpacking stove. It stands out as a top pick because we love camping gadgets, and as far as stoves go this is probably the coolest cooking gadget on the market. The MiniMo, like other Jetboil products is a cooking system, rather than just a stove. Stove, fuel and cookware in one cleverly engineered to fit in a single package. It’s flame is very, very tunable. There are awesome accessories that allow it to hang from trees and french press coffee. If you have a outdoorsy camping gadget-obsessed friend or relative; we would definitely recommend giving this model as a gift.
What about a Wood Burning Backpacking Stove?
We bought a Solo Stove Campfire a few years ago and have to admit we’re pretty impressed. There are some huge upsides as well as drawbacks to the Solo Stove line. But, if you’re on the fence we highly recommend picking one up. But, before we tell you how awesome the larger units like the Bonfire, Campfire, or enormous Yukon is… let’s look at the pros and cons that apply across the product line.
Whether you’re looking at a wood burning backpacking stove from Solo or the portable campfires; there’s one major drawback that we’ve noticed – they’re wood burning. You might think that’s obvious, and while it is, the problem comes when you want to use it. More than any other backpacking stove the Solo’s will be the first to be banned in dry forests. As they should be. However, when the fire danger dips below moderate, these little stoves really shine.
So the obvious benefit is that they don’t require fossil fuels to operate. And, that’s cool because (despite what you may have heard on the news) burning wood is actually not that bad. First, when allowed, foraging the forest floor for wood will help reduce the dead trees and plants that fuel forest fires. Beyond that, there are quite a few studies that show burning fossil fuel is worse than burning wood or other plant life. Why? Because the carbon cycle is much much shorter with wood than dead dinos. Plus there’s no empty container to toss in the trash. Overall… the Solo and its wood-burning competitors are much better for the environment.
Now how does the wood burning backpacking stove compare to its fossil fuel counterparts. We’ll as you may have guessed… not nearly as well. An isobutane, whitegas, or propane stove wins in almost any category. They’re faster, cleaner, lighter and can be had for less cash. They also tend to be allowed when fire danger rises. So our recommendation is go out and buy one of the larger Solo Stove models (like the campfire) and decide from there. The smaller backpacking size stoves are basically scaled down versions of the large stoves and fire pits, so if it’s not for you the camp or bonfire will still be useful when allowed.
With all that said… we do think the Solo Stove is the best wood burning backpacking stove you can currently buy.
When people decide to get into vehicle-based backcountry camping they always jump straight to a two (or two plus) burner stove, like a Parter Steel. They’re great for cooking and making coffee but they take up a lot of room and lack versatility. A backpacking stove gives you the ability to prepare a hot meal or cup of coffee while keeping weight down. They also pack down to pretty much nothing. Even the fairly large MSR Dragonfly, is small enough to fit inside the space a coleman would eat up… with room for utensils and a pot or two.
Bottom line, if you’re a solo traveler or someone who backpacks, fishes, hunts, kayaks, canoes, bikepacks, or explores on an adventure motorcycle… you may want to grab a backpacking stove first.