If you want a good, hot meal on a backpacking trip (and good meals are usually synonymous with a good trip), then your stove is no small matter. There is a gamut of great stoves out there, each for a different type of backpacker. Stoves that use cartridges such as propane are the easiest to use, but liquid stoves that take white gas surpass cartridge stoves in cold weather. The following are reliable camping stoves that have been grouped into light and fast, general backpacking and expedition categories.
Light and Fast Stoves
For those who like to travel as light as possible so that they can cover the maximum number of miles or trek over the hardest terrain and still have a great meal, there are stoves that combine compact size with a quality cooking system. MSR's PocketRocket canister stove, WhisperLite liquid fuel stove and the extremely fuel-efficient Reactor canister stove are some of the lightest stoves out there. The Reactor boils a liter of water in only 3 minutes, which can seem like a godsend after a rough day in rough weather. The Jetboil personal cooking system is the ultimate for quick hot drinks, which can be had right out of the 1 liter unit with soft grip and mug handle. Jetboil group cooking systems are also made for the fast and light but are more efficient for cooking an entire meal than the personal cooking system.
Stoves for General Backpacking
General backpacking stoves are convenient in that they can be taken on any length trip. They may not be as light as the light and fast stoves, but they aren't extremely heavy either, and if your mantra isn't "go fast or go home" then these stoves can take you anywhere. MSR's Dragonfly is surprisingly good at controlling the flame because of its dual-valve design, and the fuel bottle can be refilled anytime for reuse. The Windpro is a light canister stove also great in all conditions. The Jetboil Helios has a design that allows the butane fuel canister to screw in upside down, allowing every last drop of fuel to be used. This is ideal for tasks like melting snow.
Though many of the above-mentioned stoves could be used on a number of expeditions, there are some stoves such as MSR's WhisperLite Internationale and XGK EX that will give your cooking that extra kick it needs over the long course of a major outing. The WhisperLite Internationale, like its name warrants, can be used in nearly any country because of its ability to burn white gas, kerosene or unleaded auto fuel. The XGK EX is an extremely stable, multi-fuel burning stove that also packs down well with its flexible fuel line.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.