Last summer I went through an ultralight reinvention, minimising my multi-day backpack weight with military precision. Toothbrush chopped in half? Check. No spare pants? Check. Labels cut out of clothing? Check. I became a gram-counting obsessive 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. 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.
How we tested the gas stoves
We conducted a boil test, timing how long it took each stove to boil 500ml of cold water to 100°C, as measured by a digital thermometer. The January air temperature was a cold 2°C, with variable wind up to 10mph. Where no pot was provided with the stove, a 650ml titanium pot with lid was used. A full 230g canister of MSR Isopro gas was used for four of the stoves, while own-brand canisters were used for the Primus and Jetboil stoves.
The camping and backpacking stoves:
Verdict: A reliable, affordable canister-top stove with good stability and excellent wind protection, plus the fastest boil time in our tests.
In the competitive, crowded market of canister-top stoves, the Windmaster from Japanese brand SOTO stands out.
Firstly, the burner head has a concave shape with a protective lip, providing better wind protection (a common flaw of canister-top designs). Secondly, you get four pot support arms – unlike most other three-pronged stoves – thus ensuring improved pot stability with a wider, safer cooking base. And thirdly, the powerful 4.5cm burner head is broader than most, giving better heat distribution (so less burnt-on food stuck to the pot) and the fastest boil time in our tests.
Furthermore, the low profile of the support prongs (which are serrated and slightly inwardly-sloping) keep the pot close to the flame to enhance wind protection and improve boil times. Other nifty features include a piezo igniter housed inside the burner stem (protected from snags and damage), a simple control valve, good simmer control and a micro regulator for consistent output.
If we’re being fussy
The folding prongs and control valve feel a little delicate (although this is the case with almost all stoves) and the stack height makes the set-up a tad wobbly. Despite first-rate wind protection, you may still need a foil windshield in stronger gusts.
Burner diameter 4.5cm | Pan support diameter 14cm | Assembled height 16cm (inc 100g gas canister) | Packed size (LxWxH) 7x7x11cm | Weight 97g (inc carry case) | Manufacturer stated boil time 3 mins 54 secs for 1L | Trail test boil time 3 mins 50 secs for 500ml | Output 3260W / 11,123 BTU/hr
Verdict: An incredibly light canister-top stove at a bargain basement price – but it’s very basic.
With a cult online fanbase of bargain-hunting wild campers, we first heard about the Hornet BRS-3000T in a Facebook group – and were immediately intrigued to put this miniscule and stupidly cheap Chinese-manufactured stove to the test. Surely a 26g canister-top stove for under £20 would be too good to be true?
Well, not really. Available on Amazon with next-day Prime delivery (and over 2000 ratings at 4.6 out of 5 stars), we ordered it on Monday, it arrived on Tuesday, and we were firing it up on Wednesday – and it worked absolutely fine. Performance wasn’t spectacular (second slowest in our tests), but who cares at this price and weight?
The toy-sized stove screwed easily atop the canister, the serrated support arms held our pot in place, and a twist of the control valve (and strike of a match) set our water off boiling with more than adequate power and speed. The conclusion? This is a stone cold bargain and weight-saving revelation.
If we’re being fussy
Long-term durability is unverified. Performance is poor in wind, and without adequate shelter the flame will blow out. The tiny 1.7cm-wide burner creates a localised hot spot that will cremate food if you’re not careful, while pot stability isn’t the best. The manufacturer stated boil time is wildly inaccurate too.
Burner diameter 1.7cm | Pan support diameter 8.5cm | Assembled height 12cm (inc 100g gas canister) | Packed size (LxWxH) 7x4.5x3.5cm | Weight 28g (inc carry case) | Manufacturer stated boil time 2 mins 58 secs for 1L | Trail test boil time 7 mins 55 secs for 500ml | Output 1940W / 6615 BTU/hr
Verdict: An affordably-priced, stable, hose-connected stove with a piezo igniter – but it’s heavy, bulky and slow.
There’s something a little different here to the standard canister-top stoves and integrated cooking systems. Instead the well-priced Highlander Triplex employs a hose-connected design, with the freestanding stove (with piezo igniter) attached to an external gas canister via a metal hose.
This approach has a few clear advantages: the stove is flush to the ground with a low stack height, the three-legged base with moulded feet is topple-proof, the three serrated pot support arms are very broad, and the burner head is the widest on test. This provides the most stable set-up on test, accommodating larger pans and pots without difficulty.
This means the Triplex – which also boasts good simmer and temperature control via a swivel dial – is well-suited to anyone cooking fresher ingredients, rather than just boiling water. But there are big cons too. While good for campsite trips or short wild camping excursions (at a push), most wild campers would consider the Triplex too heavy and bulky.
If we’re being fussy
It’s heavy and bulky, and for many wild campers and multi-day hikers it’ll be impossible to justify carrying the Triplex. It struggles in the wind and performed sluggishly in our boil tests, registering the slowest boil time overall.
Burner diameter 5cm | Pan support diameter 18cm | Assembled height 10cm | Packed size (LxWxH) 14x12x5cm | Weight 244g (inc carry case) | Manufacturer stated boil time 2 mins 58 secs for 1L | Trail test boil time 8 mins 30 secs for 500ml | Output 3200W / 10,912 BTU/hr
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe
Verdict: A high-performing, lightweight and fast-boiling canister-top stove – only missing out on Best In Test due to its higher price.
Lightweight and compact with the second fastest boil time in our tests, there’s little to dislike about the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe canister-top stove.
It is feature-rich, with an in-built piezo igniter, three fold-away support prongs, valve controller, wide burner head, excellent simmer control, and concave design with protective lip.
In many ways, this makes the Pocket Rocket Deluxe almost identical to the SOTO Windmaster, and it’s nip and tuck as to which is better. Both feature a regulator – a tiny internal component which controls how much fuel pressure is fed to the stove (although how much performance improvement this delivers is tricky to quantify) – and their weight, burner diameter, power output, boil times in our tests, and other vital stats are very similar. The Windmaster has four support prongs compared to MSR’s three, but the MSR ones feel stronger and sturdier, so there’s minimal difference in all-round stability.
If we’re being fussy
If you’re only boiling water for expedition meals, do you really need this stove’s extra features such as simmer control and pressure regulator? The price is undercut by the similar SOTO Windmaster, the weight is a tad high, and the assembled height might feel a little unsteady in high winds.
Burner diameter 4.7cm | Pan support diameter 12cm | Assembled height 15.5cm (inc 100g gas canister) | Packed size (LxWxH) 6x6x11cm | Weight 98g (inc carry case) | Manufacturer stated boil time 3 mins 20 secs for 1L | Trail test boil time 3 mins 55 secs for 500ml | Output 3200W / 11,000 BTU/hr
Verdict: A stylish, well-made and top-performing all-in-one system – but it’s pricey and heavy.
This tower-style, all-in-one cooking system – with 500ml aluminium pot, 1500W-powered stove (with piezo ignition), fuel stabiliser, and plastic lid – has loads of clever design features.
The pot has a useful pouring spout, the lid doubles as both strainer and mug, the cork-lined insulating sleeve has an integrated spoon pocket, the webbing handle also serves as a hanging kit (niche maybe but useful for some), and the stove-to-pot twist-lock attachment is seamless and strong.
You also get all of the usual integrated stove features – excellent ‘packaway’ (everything nests inside the pot, even the 100g gas canister), a heat exchanger for enhanced heat transfer and fuel efficiency, and an oversized, foldable control valve for flame adjustment.
In 2021, Primus also made several eco upgrades to the original, including switching 95% of the plastics in the lid and canister stand to a new bio-plastic material, and replacing the original pot sleeve with a more sustainable cork material.
If we’re being fussy
It's not light. The burner head isn’t as wide as we’d expect and the boil time is a little slow considering the price. You only get a 500ml pot, and simmering is decent but not great.
Burner diameter 3cm | Pan support diameter 8cm | Assembled height 26cm | Packed size (LxWxH) 10x10x15cm | Weight 425g (inc stove, pot, lid, fuel stabiliser and hanging kit) | Manufacturer stated boil time 2 mins 45 secs for 500ml | Trail test boil time 5 mins 50 secs for 500ml | Output 1500W / 4500 BTU/hr
Verdict: An excellent integrated cooking system with clever features – but it’s expensive and heavy.
Jetboil’s integrated cooking systems have been popular for decades, due to super-fast boil times, fuel efficiency and clever design. But weight has always been a drawback. The Stash attempts to solve this by slashing the weight by 40% compared to Jetboil’s next lightest models (the Zip and MicroMo).
The result is positive, with decent boil times, first-rate features and top packability. The overall system consists of a canister-top burner with control valve and foldout arms (including notches for holding the pot in place), an 800ml aluminium pot and a fuel stabiliser, which all ‘nest’ neatly alongside a 100g canister in the pot.
Of all these, the pot steals the show. It features a foldout insulated handle, plastic lid with pouring hole, and integrated heat exchanger (for efficient burner-to-pot heat transfer), while the wider, squatter shape improves stability and works excellently as a bowl or mug.
If we’re being fussy
It’s still relatively heavy – double the weight of the lightest on test. It’s arguably overpriced, and slower than we expected. Wind resistance and boil times are worse than other Jetboil models. You don’t get a piezo igniter, pot insulating sleeve or regulator.
Burner diameter 4cm | Pan support diameter 13cm | Assembled height 25cm (inc 100g gas canister and fuel stabiliser) | Packed size (LxWxH) 13x13x11.5cm (including pot) | Weight 239g (inc pot, carry case and fuel stabiliser) | Manufacturer stated boil time 2 mins 30 secs for 500ml | Trail test boil time 5 mins 30 secs for 500ml | Output 1320W / 4500 BTU/hr