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September 2020 Issue
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2020’s best backcountry stoves

Featured stove: MSR WindBurner Duo Stove System ($399.99). Distributed by
Whether you’re prepping a feast for a few or a meal for one, you’ll need a stove to make the most of your backcountry meal. Here are 2020’s best options.

Stove types
There are four types of stove:

  • Multi-fuel: Liquid and multi-fuel stoves burn almost any flammable fuel – including white gas, kerosene and even regular canister gas. They are environmentally-friendly in that the fuel bottle can be re-used.
  • Canister stoves: Simple, convenient and inexpensive to run and maintain. More expensive models may have a regulator which provides consistent output for the life of the canister and improved efficiency in alpine or cold environments. Gas canisters must be punctured before recycling at a waste-management centre.
  • Personal cooking systems: These stoves use a specially-designed pot that attaches directly to the burner. All components nest inside the pot for easy packing. They have quick boil times, making them a good choice for cooking dehydrated food and making hot drinks.
  • Alternative fuel stoves: These can burn twigs, fire-starters, alcohol and more – basically anything that burns. They are environmentally-friendly but do require patience and practise.

Burner size
A larger burner head 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.

Flame control
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 stove will improve performance and reduce fuel consumption.

Canister-mounted stoves have a high centre of gravity and, personal cooking systems in particular, may require support struts that clip on to the gas canister. 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.

Boil times
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 fuel – the advertised boil times should be viewed as guides only.

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

MSR WindBurner Duo Stove System $399.99
Windproof radiant burner and pressure regulation provide consistent boil times. 1.8-litre pot, sized for two/three users, nests all system components. Strainer lid and built-in heat exchanger. Fits all WindBurner cookware. Boil Time 4min30sec Water boiled 18-litres (227g canister) Burn time 95min
Weight 597g.

MSR WhisperLite Universal $349.99
Canister and liquid fuel stove burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline and IsoPro canisters, can burn inverted canister for cold conditions and/or when the canister’s nearly empty. Boil time 3min30sec-4min24sec depending on fuel type Water boiled 4.4-litres (per 100ml white gas) / 15-litres (227g canister) Burn time 75-110min depending on fuel type Weight 318g-423g 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.

Jetboil Flash 2.0 $249.95
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 33min (100g canister) Weight 371g.

Jetboil Micromo $329.95
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 54min (100g canister) Weight 340g.

Jetboil MightyMo $119.95
Simmer control, 10,000 BTU burner, push-button igniter, regulated valve for cold-weather operation, fuel stabilisers. Boil time 3min Water boiled 12-litres (100g canister) Burn time 36min (100g canister) Weight 95g.

SOTO Stormbreaker $339.99
Works with liquid or gas fuel, dual-purpose jet, invert canisters in cold conditions, slip-resistant pot supports, heat-reflective base sheet, maintenance kit, carry case, 480ml fuel bottle. Boil time Depends on fuel type Water boiled N/A Burn time 48-96min depending on fuel type Weight 443g.

Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox LF Titanium $210
Burns multiple fuel types including wood, alcohol, firelighters and charcoal. No assembly, folds flat, German-manufactured, titanium construction, heavy-duty storage bag. Boil time Fuel dependent Weight 270g.

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