Does anything taste as good as a meal cooked in a backcountry hut? To experience such pleasure, you need a portable stove. Here are 2019’s best options.
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 stoves use a specially-designed pot that attaches directly to the burner. They have quick boil times making them a good choice for cooking dehydrated food. Accessories, sold separately, broaden the range of foods that can be cooked.
Basic gas stoves are simple, convenient and inexpensive to run and maintain. More expensive models may have a regulator or provide for the gas canister to be inverted, which allows consistent output for the life of the canister and improved efficiency in alpine or cold environments. Liquid and multi-fuel stoves burn almost any flammable fuel.
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.
Gas stoves seldom require maintenance beyond giving the stove a good shake. 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 ignite.
Unless stated, boil times in this feature are for one litre of water. Because there are many variables to take into account when testing boil times – air temperature, wind, altitude, burner size and even the quality and quantity of gas – the advertised boil times should be viewed as a guide only.
Flame adjustment should be glove-friendly and allow fine-tuning from simmer to boil.
Some models have a built-in windshield and are designed to work in windy conditions. Regardless, a separate windshield that wraps around pot and cooker will improve performance and reduce fuel consumption.
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-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 Pocket Rocket Deluxe $169.99
Pressure regulator for consistent boil times in all conditions, broad burner head for heat distribution, push-button piezo ignition. Boil time 3min30sec Water boiled 17-litres (227g canister) Burn time 60min Weight 83g.
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.
MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System $299.99
Windproof radiant burner and pressure regulation for consistent boil times regardless of conditions. 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 MicroMo $279.95
800ml FluxRing cooking cup with insulating cozy, simmer control, regulated for consistent performance down to -6°C, wind-resistant, push-button igniter, measuring cup and bowl, stabiliser included. Boil time 2min15sec (500ml) Water boiled 12-litres (100g canister) Burn time 60min (100g canister) Weight 340g.
Macpac Micro Stove $59.95
Pocket-sized and simple-to-use with fold out pot-supports, broad flame for even heating, glove-friendly flame adjustment, storage pouch. Boil time 3min30sec Water boiled 16-litres (230g canister). Burn time 70min Weight 73g.
Jetboil Flash 2.0 $239.95
One-litre FluxRing cooking cup with insulating cozy, colour-change heat indicator, push-button igniter, drink-through lid with pour spout and strainer, measuring cup and bowl, stabiliser included. Boil time 1min40sec (500ml) Water boiled 10-litres (100g canister) Burn time 60min (100g canister) Weight 371g.
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, strainer lid and built-in heat exchanger. Burner, canister and more nestles inside pot. Boil time 4min30sec Water boiled 18-litres (227g canister) Burn time 95min Weight 591g (including heat exchange system/cookware).