Nothing beats starting your day in the wilderness with a hot cup of favorite coffee or ending it with a hot meal after a day of hiking through the trail. If you are an avid outdoorsman, then you would have definitely looked around for a dependable and lightweight camping stove that can help you prepare your favorite meal quickly and without much fuss.
Canister stoves are one of the most efficient, convenient and reliable personal camping and backpacking stoves in the market. These stoves typically rely on Isobutane or its variants as the primary fuel. Though slightly costlier than the regular white gas or other liquid fuel, Isobutane is a clean fuel with high thermal output.
But which are the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking?
In this article, we look at answering exactly the same question and share some of the best canister stoves available in the market. We will primarily look at stoves with a proven name in the market and that work well at all altitudes in the three seasons of operation(well, almost four!).
We will also list out the major benefits of canister stoves and the factors to consider while picking the best canister stoves for your needs. While our primary focus would be on personal canister stoves which are suitable for one to two persons, though you can consider bigger models from same manufacturers for a larger group. Read on to find out the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking!
For a comparative study on different types of personal camping and backpacking stoves, check our article on the best stoves for camping and backpacking.
Best canister stoves listSome of the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking are listed below:
|Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System||14.6 oz. Integrated (Stove + Pot)||- An excellent integrated stove which has a 1L pot with a Neoprene sleeve and rubber strapped handle. The pot is shorter and wider than other Jetboil models.|
- The pot has a drink-through lid and insulating bottom cover/measuring cup.
- Features push button ignition, superb flame control – from simmer to full flame
and metal coils for efficient heating at average of 6,000 BTU/h
- Comes with Fuel canister stabilizer for better support.
- Backed by one-year limited warranty.
|MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System||15.5 oz.|
|- A popular integrated stove for cooking in windy weather, with 1L pot. Also, has a larger 1.8L version.|
- Features integrated pressure regulator, honeycomb burner and regulated flame control.
- Comes with canister stabilizer.
- Backed by three-year limited warranty.
|Primus Eta Lite High Efficiency Stove||13.8 oz.|
|- A lightweight integrated canister stove with a 650mL anodized aluminum pot with insulation sleeve and a twist webbing handle. The plastic lid acts can act as a cup.|
- Features a built-in heat exchanger and windscreen for low fuel consumption.
- Also comes with a piezo electric igniter and hanging kit and screws to attach other types of pots to the stove.
- Includes a gas canister support for better stability
- A heavier variant with higher thermal output Primus Eta Express Stove is also available
|Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System||14 oz. |
|- The most popular Integrated canister stove with a 1L pot having Neoprene sleeve with color changing window and a handle.|
- Efficient heating at 4,500 BTU/h.
- The pot has a drink-through lid and insulating bottom cover/measuring cup.
- Features a built-in windscreen that protects the flame during inclement weather conditions.
- Backed by one-year limited warranty.
|Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove||3.3 oz.|
|- A great value-for-money lightweight backpacking stove made with aluminum alloy and stainless steel.|
- Features an adjustable control valve full flame control with an output of 6.666 BTU/h.
- Features an automatic piezo electric igniter.
- Comes with a hard shell carrying case for storage and transportation.
- Backed by one-year manufacturer warranty.
|MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove||2.6 oz. Standard||- The next gen version of the most popular standard canister stoves – PocketRocket and Microrocket.|
- Features improved pot support for wider utensils through the same set of serrated pan supports.
- Simple design, easy to operate adjustable burner and superior full-fledged flame control.
- Comes with an ultralight hard-shell carry case to protect the stove and cookware.
- Backed by three-year limited warranty.
|Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove||2.7 oz.|
|- A decent ultralight backpacking canister stove with adjustable flame up to 15,000 BTU/h.|
- Features push-button electronic ignition for matchless lighting and three serrated pan-support arms.
- Comes with a storage pouch for easy carry and storage.
- Backed by limited lifetime warranty.
|SOTO Micro Regulator Stove||2.6 oz.|
|- A lightweight, made in Japan canister stove.|
- Features a stealth durable and shock resistant igniter for easy ignition.
- Efficient simmer flame control even at high elevations with a maximum output of 11,000 BTU/h.
- Has a large concave burner for efficient distribution of flame.
- A larger and slightly heavier Soto WindMaster Stove is also available that supports larger pots.
|GSI Pinnacle Canister Stove||2.4 oz.|
|- An ultralight canister stove with a high performance burner with an output of up to 9500 BTU/h.|
- Features Canister a fully functional micro control valve that provides excellent simmer control.
- Features three serrated pot support arms that provide a stable cooking platform.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
|BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove||0.89 oz.|
|- A popular super-ultralight stove made with 60% Titanium alloy.|
- Extremely lightweight and compact, with serrated pot arms that collapse conveniently.
- Features a regulator with a broad range of simmer control.
- Fully functional, but mostly suitable for boiling water in up to 750ml pots.
|Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove||1.9 oz. |
|- An ultralight stove made with titanium instead of aluminum or steel.|
- Features broad flame with a maximum output of over 10,000 BTU/h and a flame-control valve to adjust the flame.
- Smart design with fanned legs that act as a built-in windscreen.
- Comes with a storage pouch for convenient transportation.
What is a canister stove and what are its major benefits?
A canister stove is a small, lightweight and compact single-burner stove that uses pre-filled Isobutane (or its variants) canisters as fuel to create a steady flame to cook food or boil water. Isobutane, Isopropane and other canister fuels are highly efficient, clean and safe fuels to use. Isobutane canisters are, however, slightly costlier than standard liquid multi-fuel or white gas.
Canister stoves generally support the cooking needs of one to two people. Some canister stoves even offer full flame control, which makes it possible to use them to cook more complex meal items. These stoves come in two designs – integrated canister stoves, which have the canister stove and cooking pot integrated together and the standard canister stoves which do not have a cooking pot attached to them. Without the cookware, standard canister stoves are extremely compact and reasonably lightweight.
Canister stoves are most suitable for short multi-day trips, as the additional weight of fuel canisters for longer trips may outweigh their other benefits.
Over the past few years, canister stoves have become favorites of backpackers and hikers because of their lighter weight, superior performance, ease of use and compact storage.
Some of the major advantages and disadvantages of canister stoves are listed below:
As evident from the discussion above, canister stoves do offer a distinctive set of advantages for short multi-day trips. In the next sections, we will look at some of the major factors to keep in mind before picking the best canister stoves for your trip and share our top picks.
How to pick the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking?
The market is flooded with a lot of canister stoves with different models from the same manufacturers. Moreover, in the case of standard standalone canister stoves, you can find stoves ranging from under 10 dollars to as high as 60 dollars. This variation in the models and price of stoves can make it challenging for you to pick the best canister stove for hiking or backpacking.
Some of the major considerations to keep in mind while picking the best canister stoves for your needs are summarized below:
- Purpose of the stove
- Building material of the stove
- Design of the stove
- Size and Weight of the stove
- Additional Features and Considerations
Purpose of the stove
The first question that you should ask yourself while picking the best canister stove is the purpose for which you are looking for a stove. If you are only looking for a stove which you can use for boiling water for coffee, melting ice, add to trail mixes or packaged food or rehydrating your pre-cooked meal, then you are better off by picking an Integrated canister stove such as Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System or MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, without the need of picking a lot of additional pots and pans. These stoves provide a pot which you can conveniently use for eating the food directly from or share with others. Moreover, the integrated stoves are designed in a way that they provide better heating efficiency and hence require less food to be carried.
However, if you, like us, live-to-eat ( as opposed to eat-to-live) and like to prepare some exotic (well considering the circumstances) meals such as fried fish, then you should consider getting a standalone canister stove such as the MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove. These stoves tend to be more versatile and support multiple types of pans and pots, skillets etc. Moreover, they are compact enough to be carried with your cooking kit.
Another consideration is the number of people you would be cooking for. Integrated stoves with 1L pot are designed to support one to two people, while those with 1.8L pot are meant for up to three people.
Standalone stoves, because of their pan supporting arms and ultralight designs, can support pans that can be used to cook food for up to 3 people, but you need to be careful not to overload them with heavy cooking utensils as they tend to tip over, even if you have stabilizers for the canister.
For larger groups, you are generally better off by having one main and one backup stove.
Keep the purpose of the stove in mind before picking the best canister stove for your needs.
Building material of the stove
Most canister stoves are made from stainless steel with brass regulators and aluminum supporting arms. The integrated canister stoves have anodized aluminum cooking cup or pot to go by. This design helps in keeping the stoves lightweight at under 4 ounces and thermally resistant and durable.
The exception to these materials are the super-ultralight titanium stoves such as Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove and BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove. The BRS stoves are made from titanium alloy composing of 60% titanium, 10% copper, 20% stainless steel, making them extremely lightweight at 0.89 ounces.
If you are looking for something which you would hardly notice even in your pocket, then you can opt for these Titanium canister stoves. Otherwise, in most normal situations, you would find the steel/aluminum models light enough to carry for your cooking needs.
Design of the stove
There are a bunch of design considerations which you should keep in mind while picking the best canister stoves for hiking or backpacking.
If you are looking for options to use in inclement windy conditions, then you would find the performance of integrated canister stoves, especially the MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System quite superior to other stoves. This is because of the presence of a windproof combustion chamber in such stoves. For standard canister stoves, you would need to get a windscreen for efficient operation and cooking.
Another design consideration to check out is the weight and height of the stove – lesser the stove clearance from the ground, better it is in terms of stability. A distinctive advantage that you would get with the integrated stoves is that because of their heavier weight and included stabilizers, they are much more stable than the lightweight standalone stoves. For standalone stoves, you will find MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove and SOTO Micro Regulator Stove quite stable. On the other hand, the ultralight BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove require careful cooking to avoid tip overs.
Finally, the ignition mechanism is another design consideration that makes some purchases better than others. An example of this consideration is Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System. Despite a better wind performance of the MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System, we picked the MiniMo as our preferred choice because of the superior push button piezoelectric ignition provided by Jetboil. Even though over time, the auto-ignition may not work as expected and you anyway would anyway be carrying a fire-starting mechanism still, this convenience is an important consideration. Even the ultra-cheap Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove provides an automatic piezo electric igniter.
Check out all these design considerations while picking the best canister stove for your next trip.
Size and weight of the stove
The dimensions of stove – the clearance from the ground and the spread of the pan support arms generally govern the size of pot or pan a stove can support. Most Integrated canister stoves are sleek and tall and hence most suitable to use with their own pots. The latest Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System is shortest of all the 1L integrated stoves and has a wider diameter, making it more stable to use.
The combined weight of the stove and fuel canisters is one of the reasons why backpackers opt for such types of stoves for their short outdoor trips. If you are a solo backpacker and only looking for a stove to boil water or rehydrate food, then getting an integrated canister stove such as the Primus Eta Lite High Efficiency Stove or Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is a great option because with a weight of around 14 ounces you get a fully functional stove with a pot with handle and a lid that can act as a cup. You would normally not need additional cooking utensils.
Standalone canister stoves also tend to be lightweight and weigh less than 3 ounces without the canister. However, if you are into ultralight backpacking and want to save on every ounce, check out the BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove. With a weight of less than an ounce, you can get a personal stove with great performance.
In summary, check the supported dimensions and weight of your stove before picking the best option. Always remember that you would need to carry canisters of fuel as well, so every ounce saved would be precious.
Additional features and miscellaneous considerations
In addition to the four major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous factors that can make a particular stove an attractive buy.
One of the most important additional consideration is the warranty offered on the stoves by the manufacturer. The longer the warranty period, the better durability of the stove it would be. Integrated canister stoves such as the Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System are backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. Even the ultra-cheap Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove is backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects. MSR stoves such as MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove offer better warranty period of three years. Then there is the Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove which is backed by a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty if purchased from authorized sellers.
Another factor is the accessories that come with the stove. All integrated stoves come with a canister stabilizer included with the pack. For example, the Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System has a Carbon color option available that includes two sporks with the same price tag.
Almost all stoves come with some type of storage case. Ultralight stoves such as BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove come with a storage stuff sack, while bigger stoves such as MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove and Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove come with lightweight hard-shell cases to protect the stove. You may, however, choose to ditch these cases in favor of lightweight pouch and store the stove in your cup or pot.
You can look at all these features to determine if they make a specific stove a better choice for your needs.
Which are the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking and what our picks are?
We had a hard time deciding between the Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System and the MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System as the Editor’s pick. After all, both of them offer some distinctive advantage. The MSR WindBurner Personal Stove System offers superior performance in windy conditions has a skillet pan recently released and is backed by a three-year warranty. However, a wider, shorter pot, push button ignition and a really smart flame control regulator tilted the balance in favor of the Jetboil Minimo.
The Jetboil Minimo is the relatively newly designed integrated canister stove from Jetboil, the leader in Integrated Stoves which has been manufacturing popular integrated canister stoves such as the Jetboil Flash for years. It is excellent integrated canister stove which has a 1L pot with a Neoprene sleeve and handles. The pot is shorter and wider than other Jetboil models. The pot has a drink-through lid and an insulating bottom cover that doubles up as a measuring cup. The wide mouth design of its pot makes it more versatile (you can even try out frying in the pot) and easier to eat from.
At 14.6 oz., it is slightly heavier than some other Integrated Stoves but is still about 1 ounce lighter than the WindBurner. And with metal coils in the burner, the Jetboil Minimo offers great, efficient heating at an average thermal output of about 6000 BTU/h.
The real feature that you would love about the Minimo (even over other Jetboil products such as Flash) is its superior flame control regulator. The simmer control regulator in this stove allows you the right flame spread and temperature to cook your food. Moreover, with a sturdy rubber-coated handle, you would find it easier to handle the pot while cooking. Adding to the excellent simmer control regulator is a reasonably reliable push-button piezo-electric ignition, which makes it easier to light up the stove even in inclement weather conditions.
The only complaint you may have with Jetboil Minimo is that even after improvements in design, you would find the performance of MSR WindBurner superior when it comes to windy conditions and cold weathers, but thankfully not by much.
The Jetboil Minimo comes with foldable fuel canister stabilizer for better support and stability. It also has a measuring cup that can fit snuggly in the pot for storage and transportation. The wider pot means that you can fit everything – the stove, cup, stabilizers and even a canister in the pot for easy transportation.
The Jetboil Minimo, like all other Jetboil stoves, is backed by a one-year limited warranty.
MSR PocketRocket has probably been the most popular canister stove in the market, and along with the MSR MicroRocket dominated the standard/standalone stove market. MSR combined the best features of both of these stoves and came up with the MSR PocketRocket 2 to include the best of both of these models – the performance of PocketRocket and lightweight operation of the MicroRocket.
The MSR PocketRocket 2 stove features the same simple, easy to use stove design of the previous version. However, at 2.6 ounces it is about 0.5 ounces lighter than the original and is also about 0.9 inches shorter. What’s more, the three serrated support arms have been redesigned to fit a wider range of pots and pans.
The PocketRocket2 features an excellent performing adjustable burner with a superior full-fledged simmer control regulator. The stove set comes with an ultralight hardshell carry case to protect the stove and cookware while on the move.
Like all other MSR stoves, the MSR PocketRocket2 is backed by a three-year limited warranty. In our view, this is an excellent value proposition to go with such a well-priced stove.
The Etekcity Ultralight Portable Stove is an excellent value-for-money canister stove if you are looking for a compact, lightweight fully featured canister stove.
At less than 15 bucks, the stove is made from stainless steel with aluminum support arms and can withstand high temperatures and weight of a standard sized pot. With a set of four serrated anti-slip arms, it can easily support 7″ diameter pots. At 3.3 ounces, it is not as lightweight as some other ultralight canister stoves, but for the price, you can most probably live with that.
Though not as efficient as the MSR PocketRocket 2, the stove offers reasonable performance with an adjustable control valve with flame control and an advertised output of up to 6.666 BTU/h. Moreover, the Etekcity supports auto-ignition and comes with an automatic piezo electric igniter.
Like the MSR PocketRocket2, the Etekcity stove comes with a hard shell carrying case for safe storage and easy transportation. And it is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
Ultralight camping is all about saving on weight. And when you have a stove like the BRS Ubens 3000T Titanium Alloy Stove, which is fully-functional and weighs less than one ounce, you are in for a treat.
The BRS 3000T is made from a Titanium based alloy which comprises of 60% titanium,10% copper and 20% stainless steel, making it extremely lightweight while being fully heat and fire resistant.
The stove has three serrated pot arms that expand enough to support a 750 ml pot and up to 6 lbs. of weight. You may, however, want to keep the load on the stove to a minimum.
The BRS 3000T may not be as efficient as the MSR PocketRocket2, but it is not far behind. And with a regulator that can provide basic simmer control and the price of the stove, I think you can probably live with that.
Accessories for canister stoves
One of the primary accessories you have to look for a canister stove is the Isobutane canister which will fit your stove perfectly. Thankfully, most models listed above have standard Lindal valves and also have their own brand Isobutane canisters available in the market. These standard Isobutane canisters would fit all popular brands, so you need not get canisters from a specific brand:
- Jetboil Jetpower 4-Season Fuel Blend
- GSI Iso-Butane Gas Canister Four Season Mix
- MSR Isopro Canister Fuel
- Snow Peak Giga Power Pro Iso Fuel
Another commonly sought out accessory is the cooking pot and pan set. You generally do not need a cook set for integrated canister stoves as they come with a pot included in the cooking system. However, for other canister stoves, you would definitely need a cooking kit.
As discussed in safety considerations below, it is advisable to use only recommended cookware for cooking on a canister stove. Most manufacturers have their own cookware pots and pans available. If you are looking for generic cookware, you can consider the following options:
- HealthPro Titanium Lightweight Cookware Set
- Snow Peak Titanium Trek 900 Cook Set
- Stanley Camp 24oz. Cook Set
- Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
Safety Considerations while using canister stoves
You should follow the following basic safety precautions while using a canister stove:
- Always ensure that you place the stove on concrete or rock or a cleaned up, stable ground surface. This will ensure that the stove is properly balanced while cooking.
- Before lighting up, ensure that the canister is properly fitted, the valve is in proper position and there are no visible signs of leaks and damages to the stove or the fuel canister.
- Always use recommended pots and pans of the correct size with the stoves. Overloading can lead to collapsing of the stove.
- Always use recommended canisters and fuel types with your stove. Do not look at improvising and using non-standard mechanisms as that may be hazardous.
- If your stove has simmering options, do not keep the simmer level at highest unless it is necessary.
- Though a canister stove produces clean burning, avoid using the canister stove in a closed area such as tent as it may be hazardous.
- Do not touch the stove while it is in operation. Use heat resistant gloves if required. You can consider the following options if required:
- Always, dispose-off any used canisters responsibly. Half-filled or discarded canisters can pollute the surrounding and does not fit well with the “Leave No Trace” principles put forth by the authorities.
Disposing fuel canisters
One of the major challenges associated with using canister stoves is how to dispose-off used canisters. Frankly speaking, recycling a used fuel canister is not an easy task, but it is not impossible either. You can follow the steps mentioned below. For more information and options, you can reach out to the fuel canister manufacturer.
- Determine how much fuel is left in the canister: The first step is to determine if the canister is empty. The post on Eastern Mountain Sports blog covers this process quite well. If your canister still has some fuel, you can connect it the stove and open the valve to empty it. You can even transfer the remaining gas from one canister to another by using a female-female Lindal valve connector like the Gas Saver Plus. Just remember that it is better to burn the hydrocarbons than to release them in the atmosphere.
- Puncture the fuel canister: Once the canister is empty, you can use a screw driver or a fuel canister recycling tool like JetBoil CrunchIt to puncture the fuel canister, making it suitable for recycling by a mixed metal recycling unit. You do not need to remove the valve or anything else from the canister.
- Find the local recycler and drop the canisters: Find a local mixed metal recycling unit or a hazardous metal recycler and drop the canisters for further processing. You can also contact your nearby REI Store on the different options you may have.
Final thoughts on the best canister stoves for camping and backpacking
In this article, we look at the best one to two person canister stoves that you can use for cooking your meal or boiling water. We looked at some top well-designed, lightweight yet durable models available in the market in two broad categories – Integrated and standard/standalone canister stoves.
Though there are cheaper models available in the market, the options listed here offer great quality, reliability, performance, and durability and hence are great items to add to your backpacking list. We also looked at some of the factors to consider while picking the best stove for your needs. Finally, we looked at some standard accessories – canisters, pots etc. to consider for your cooking needs along with the stove.
We hope you found this article useful. Do let us know how you found this article and if you would want us to consider anything else by commenting below. Until next time, have a great time during your wilderness cookout!