The camping stove is a camping essential, even if you're going ultra-lightweight, as we shall now explain...
Last summer, I went through an ultralight reinvention, minimising my multi-day backpack weight, and even decided to go 'stoveless' for my adventures along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and Wainwright's Coast to Coast. This somewhat unhinged approach involved 'cold-soaking' – slowly rehydrating in cold water – instant noodles and camping meals. Cold chilli con carne or tepid tikka masala, anyone?
Personally, I didn't mind the approach, and I was always grateful for the weight-saving. But the taste of my meals was sub-optimal, to put it mildly. Everything could have been so different if I'd packed a simple, lightweight camping stove. I'd have been eating like a king, dining out on hot, hearty food every evening and supping on steaming hot coffee every morning.
SOTO Windmaster - Best in Test
BRS-3000T - Best budget stove
Jetboil Flash 2.0 - Best for boiling water fast
Primus PrimeTech - Best for two people or group
Alpkit Kraku - Best Value
Optimus Polaris Optifuel - Best for alternative fuels
MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe - Excellent all-rounder
Sounds good, right? Well, in that case, do not follow my stoveless strategy and instead make sure you pack a reliable, high-quality camping stove. The hot sustenance it provides will replace calories, restore your energy and boost your spirits. And I'd argue that's definitely worth a few extra grams in your backpack.
The best camping stoves
Best in Test
In our comparative test of camping gas stoves, the SOTO Windmaster achieved a fast boil time of 3
- Fast boiling
- Clever design and features
- Reasonable value
- Others can boil even faster
- You can go even lighter
Best budget stove
We first heard about the BRS-3000T in a Facebook group and were immediately intrigued to put this
- Very affordable
- Very lightweight
- Slower to boil than the others here
Best for boiling water fast
The Flash 2.0 is a fast and extremely popular stove that's ideal if you only need to boil water.
- Very fast boiling
- Easy to use
- Great for drinks and add-water meals
- Not ideal for ultra-light trips
Best for two people or groups
If you want the efficiency of a PCS (personal cooking system) but with the ability to do more with
- Great group kitchen
- Too bulky for a solo hiker
5. Alpkit Kraku
So incredibly small and lightweight that you're in danger of losing it, the 45g Kraku is the
- Very light and compact
- Ideal for minimalist trips
- You can go even cheaper if you wish
Best for alternative fuels
There are occasions where being able to make use of alternative fuels is an advantage. Global
- Can use multiple fuel types
- Powerful output
- No need to change nozzle with each fuel
- Relatively heavy and bulky
Lightweight and compact with a rapid boil time, there's little to dislike about the MSR Pocket
- Lightweight and compact
- Great features
- Stable and reliable in the wind
- Twice the price of Alpkit Kraku
What to look for in a camping stove
Size and weight: Match the stove to how you're packing. Going lightweight? Get an appropriately light camping stove. Otherwise, something like the Jetboil Flash 2.0 offers super performance for a bit more bulk.
Stability: If you're an avid trekker, you'll want a stove that is stable and still works well in windy conditions. Four, rather than three prongs aid stability. The best option, though, is when the burner is mounted off the canister.
Efficiency: Personal cooking systems (PCS) have the best efficiency due to their integrated design. But they tend to be more bulky than the 'classic' stove design.
Price: There is an enormous range of prices for camping stoves. If the stove is only going to be used occasionally, stick with something simple and reliable. For keen hikers, you might find investing in something with better performance worth your while.
Fuel: In most cases, standard butane/isobutane/propane gas canisters are suitable. But sometimes, sourcing petroleum or meth is easier in remote parts of the world. In these circumstances, alternative/multi-fuel stoves are a good option. Meths camping stoves tend to be pretty bombproof too.