Wouldn’t that be nice if there was one compact and lightweight stove that could be used for everything? The fact is that there isn’t a lightweight hiking stove that performs perfectly in every climate and activity. There will always be some small compromises need to be made.
With four kinds of stove available – canister, integrated canisters, ethanol and liquid fuel stoves, each with their own pros and cons, it can be tricky to figure out which one will suit your needs.
However, there is a process that will help you narrow down your choice when choosing a single stove that will complement outdoor adventures which we’ll cover below.
Consider these things when deciding what stove to choose:
- What are you cooking? Are you a gourmet camp chef, or do you like the convenience of freeze-dried/dehydrated food?
- What environment will you be using it in? Target your choice to suit the climate in which you will be undertaking most of your adventures.
- Which fuel will you use? Think about where you will be travelling to, and the type of fuel that will be available to you there.
1. Canister stoves
These are the most popular, fuss-free stoves, and are probably what a majority of people picture when they think of a hiking stove. They use resealable gas canisters with Lindal valves that utilise a common thread and are interchangeable between brands.
- They are lightweight and compact
- Simple and easy to use
- Provide good heat control
- Very affordable
- Little to no maintenance
- Poor performance in the cold (unless regulated or inverted)
- You need to carry out the empty canisters with you when hiking
- The upright models are not as stable
- It can be difficult to gauge the remaining fuel level
- Fuel canisters can be hard to find in some areas of the world, so they’re not ideal for international use
These suit most users who are in need of a versatile, straightforward stove for all types of cooking and activities in warmer environments.
2. Integrated canister stove
Utilising the same canisters with a Lindal valve, all-in-one stoves incorporate a cooking pot and burner in the same unit. They provide quick and efficient boiling of water and usually incorporate windbreaks in their design.
- Fuel efficient
- Quick boil times
- Easy to set up and pack up
- Reasonable performance in cold conditions
- Not as versatile as you cannot simmer with them
- You are not able to use other cooksets with it
- Can be on the pricey side in comparison to other styles of stoves
Integrated canister stoves are ideal for people who travelling fast and light to boil water for beverages and dehydrated or freeze-dried meals.
3. Metho (ethanol) stoves
These could be categorised under liquid fuel stoves, but metho stoves deserve a category of their own on account of their uniqueness and simplicity.
- Reliable and safe
- Durable as they have no moving parts
- Usually includes all pots, pans and windbreaks that you might need
- Performs in most conditions
- Burns silently
- Uses cheap fuel that’s readily available
- Slower boil time
- Bulky when purchased as a package with pots and pans
These are a good all-around option for people who are happy to wait a little longer for their coffee, and don’t mind a bulkier stove and pot package.
4. Liquid fuel stove
These stoves burn in any condition and can use a wide variety of fuels. They are a little fussier to use and maintain, but some of us find that therapeutic!
- Perform even in alpine environments
- No empty canisters to carry out
- Inexpensive fuel
- Easy to gauge fuel level
- Some run on a variety of fuels (diesel, kerosene, unleaded)
- More environmentally friendly as fuel bottles are reusable
- Heavier than canister options
- Require priming
- Can be on the expensive side
- Require the purchase of fuel bottle
- Need to be maintained
Those who spend their time in particularly cold environments, or who travel remotely and need to utilise whatever fuel is available, or, if you are like me, just want one because it looks cool. Some come with a simmer control making them ideal for group cooking. They are also more eco-friendly as you can reuse the fuel bottle over and over instead of throwing away empty gas canisters.
Knowing the pros and cons for each stove type will help you to narrow down your selection, but there are still further considerations within each category.
What’s the best lightweight stove you’ve ever used?
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