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Best Backpacking Canister Stoves

Nothing beats a hot breakfast or steaming cup of coffee, cooked over a stove in the great outdoors. Hikers and backpackers need to conserve space in their packs and reduce the amount of weight they have to carry. Canister stoves accomplish both.

With a very small footprint and minimal weight, canister stoves double as a pot stand with a pressurized fuel canister that attaches directly to the stove. While canister versions are extremely popular with day hikers and for warm-weather hikes, other types of backpacking stoves may better suit hikes in harsher conditions or with large hiking groups.

Related review: Best Backpacking Stoves

What are the different types of backpacking stoves?

There are three main categories of backpacking stoves—each with its own pros and cons, depending on the needs of the hiker.

  • Canister stoves: Canister stoves are simple to use, light to carry, and heat up quickly with canister stove fuel that attaches directly to the stove.
  • Liquid fuel stoves: Liquid fuel stoves use refillable fuel bottles to offer consistent heat in both warm and cold temperatures. They are more eco-friendly than disposable canister stoves but are generally larger and heavier to carry.
  • Alternative-fuel stoves: The most eco-friendly of backpacking stoves, these models run on natural materials like pellets or wood. While they are relatively inexpensive to operate, they heat up more slowly than other models. It may also be difficult to find and carry the materials needed to operate the stove.

What are the pros and cons of canister stoves for backpackers?

Advantages of canister stoves include their lightness and the small amount of space they take up in a pack. They don’t require any priming or pumping and are virtually maintenance-free. They burn clean and heat up very quickly in most conditions.

Some disadvantages of canister stoves include their inability to heat quickly or efficiently in cold weather. They are also unstable in highly windy conditions or on surfaces that aren’t completely level.

How long does a canister stove usually last?

An 8-ounce fuel canister should burn for about three continuous hours. Calculate the number of canisters needed for each trip based on the number of meals cooked per day and how long it will take to cook each one, on average.

The average stove unit should be quite durable for many years if stored and handled properly. Clean the pot rack after each use to keep loose food and dirt away from the flame. Detach the canister from the unit immediately after use and never store fuel canisters on or near the stove unit.

Top 6 of The Best Canister Stoves

Canister stoves are an excellent choice for hikers of all experience levels who want a fast, efficient way to cook meals on the trail. Here are six of the best canister stoves for backpackers to consider.

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MSR PocketRocket 2 Ultralight Backpacking, Camping, and Travel Stove

This super-light model from MSR comes in at just 2.6 ounces and folds to just 2x2x3 inches. It’s perfect for minimalist hikers and quick, overnight trips. It can boil a liter of water in just over three minutes and requires no priming or preheating before use. It doesn’t include the fuel canister but accommodates any self-sealing threaded canister fuel.

While hikers love the small size and quick heating mechanism, they caution that moisture will quickly corrode the heating element and keep the stove from lighting. Other users warn that the pot rack arms can break if they are not protected inside the pack.

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Jetboil Zip Camping Stove Cooking System

The Jetboil Zip lives up to its name, boiling water in two minutes, with only half of the fuel consumption of similar models. This stove is perfect for weekend trips, taking up little space and maximizing functionality with features like a built-in measuring cup and bowl.

Backpackers rave about the JetBoil’s quick heating ability and that it takes up very little space in their packs. They do caution, however, that the canister is small, so it’s necessary to take more than one for longer trips. This stove also requires matches or a lighter to ignite the fuel.

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Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove

This durable, aluminum alloy and stainless steel stove can withstand high temperatures and the weight of heavy pots. It is compatible with any 7/16 thread butane and propane mixed fuel canister and offers adjustable flame control for minimal fuel loss and even heating.

Previous buyers say that this stove is a great value for its low price and heats just as well as pricier models. They do caution, however, that the legs of the stove become very unstable if not placed on a perfectly level surface. In the event that one of the legs breaks, as has happened to several buyers, there is a one-year warranty through Etekcity.

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APG Mini 2-Color Camping Stove

This APG model packs a lot of features in a small package. It offers an all-in-one stove with a locking pot and a drink-through lid and filter. APG improved heating efficiency by up to 30% by boiling water in two minutes or less. It comes with two interchangeable sleeves to change the outer appearance of the stove.

Backpackers who have purchased this model love the craftsmanship and thoughtful features. Some have found that the push-button ignition doesn’t always work as it is supposed to. They advise that buyers keep matches on hand as a backup lighting method.

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Jetboil MightyMo Stove

Just as its name suggests, this stove from Jetboil is small but mighty. Perfect for one or two hikers, It reaches a boil in three minutes, with about 50% of the fuel consumption of other units. It has heat adjustments from simmer to boil and accommodates both the Jetboil skillet and FluxRing cooking pot without additional support.

Users say that the MightyMo is an excellent value and consistently heats fast, time after time. Some users report that the ignition system doesn’t work properly after several uses and advise buyers to contact the manufacturer for a refund if ignition issues arise.

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Reehut Ultralight Portable Camping Stove

This lightweight stove from Reehut comes with a carrying case for easier portability and secure storage inside a pack. It features a push-button ignition system for quick lighting and heat settings from low to high for better fuel management and controlled cooking temperatures.

Buyers love how quickly it heats water and maintains proper temperature settings. They do advise purchasers to check fuel canister sizes before purchasing to make sure they will fit the stove since some models may require an additional attachment.

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