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January 2018 Issue
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2018’s best backcountry stoves

Featured stove: MSR WindBurner Group Stove System ($429.99). Distributed by
Meals don’t taste much better than when they’re cooked over a portable stove after a long day in the hills.

Fuel types

Gas stoves are simple, convenient and inexpensive to run and maintain. Many gas-powered models now have regulators or use inverted canisters to provide consistent output and improve efficiency in alpine or cold environments. Liquid and multi-fuel stoves burn almost any flammable fuel.


Gas stoves seldom require maintenance, whereas liquid fuel models should be cleaned and serviced regularly to ensure optimum performance – it’s possible to do this yourself.


Push-button ignition is convenient, but not infallible, so always carry matches or a lighter. Liquid fuel stoves often need to be primed and can take practise to light.

Boil times

There are many variables to take into account when testing boil times: air temperature, wind, altitude and burner size. Even the quality and quantity of gas has an effect. Therefore, use advertised boil times as a guide only. Unless stated, boil times in this feature are for one litre of water.

Flame control

Flame adjustment should be glove-friendly and allow fine-tuning from simmer to boil.


A windshield that wraps around pot and cooker will improve performance and reduce fuel consumption. Some models have a built-in windshield and are designed to work in windy conditions.


Canister-mounted stoves have a high centre of gravity and may require canister support struts. Liquid fuel and some gas stoves have legs beneath the burner, providing a lower centre of gravity. Large pot struts will support bigger pots and pans – ideal for larger groups.

Burner size 

A larger burner will spread heat more evenly over the base of the pan. Smaller burners, although possibly more powerful, concentrate heat in one location, requiring more attention while cooking.

Personal cooking systems

These tower-like stoves include a pot that attaches directly to the burner. They have quick boil times, making them a good choice for those whose culinary needs are limited to dehydrated food.

Now you know what to look for, it’s time to choose a stove…


MSR WindBurner Group Stove System $429.99
Windproof radiant burner and pressure regulation provide consistent boil times, 2.5-litre ceramic pot with Talon handle, sauce pots with strainer lid. Burner, canister and pots nest inside main pot. Boil Time 4min30sec Water boiled 18-litres (227g canister) Burn time 95min Weight 591g.

MSR WhisperLite Universal $349.99
Canister and liquid fuel stove, burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline and IsoPro canisters. Can burn inverted canister. Boil time 3min30sec or 4min24sec depending on fuel type Water boiled 4.4-15-litres depending on fuel type Burn time 75-110min depending on fuel type Weight 268g-388g depending on fuel type.

MSR WindBurner Stove System $299.99
Radiant burner, enclosed windproof design, all-in-one system nests inside the 1-litre pot for easy packing and assembly. Boil time 4min30sec Water boiled 18-litres (227g canister) Burn time 95min Weight 432g.

Jetboil Flash $239
One-litre FluxRing cooking cup, insulating cozy, colour-change heat indicator, push-button ignition, stainless steel adjustable burner, drink-through lid with pour spout and strainer, bottom cover doubles as measuring cup and bowl. Boil time 2min30sec (500ml) Water boiled 12-litres (100g canister) Burn time 42min Weight 400g.

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 $99.99
Canister-mounted stove, compact design, glove-friendly flame adjustment, folding pot supports accommodate wide range of pot sizes, hardshell carry case. Boil time 3min30sec Water boiled 16-litres (227g canister) Burn time 60min Weight 73g.

Jetboil MightyMo $119.95
Proprietary regulator technology for consistent performance for life of canister, push-button igniter, folding pot support arms, canister support legs, fine-tune flame control, microfibre storage bag. Boil time 3min (500ml) Water boiled 12-litres (100g canister) Weight 95g.

Macpac Micro Stove $59.95
Compact, fold-out pot supports, broad flame for even heat distribution, glove friendly flame control, storage pouch. Boil time 3min30sec Water boiled 16-litres (230g canister) Burn time 70min Weight 73g.

Gasmate Sika Butane Stove $39.99
Lightweight, stainless steel and aluminium alloy construction, folding arms accommodate a range of pot sizes, plastic storage case included, glove-friendly flame control, two-year warranty. Boil time 3min30sec Water boiled 17-litres (230g canister) Burn time 60min Weight 103g.