How to Choose and buy the correct hiking stove with

Author: John Taylor   Date Posted:13 February 2015 

How to Choose and buy the correct hiking stove with has an extensive range of stoves suitable for bushwalking, backpacking and expeditions. With such a large range to choose from it can be difficult to know which stove is going to be right for you. has an extensive range of stoves suitable for bushwalking, backpacking and expeditions.

With such a large range to choose from it can be difficult to know which stove is going to be right for you.

In order to select the right stove there are a few questions you will need to ask yourself.

How many people will you be cooking for?
The amount of people you will be cooking for will dictate the size of pots and therefore the size of stove that you will require. If using larger pots consider a stove with wider pot supports and a good wide stable base.

How long will you be going away for?
For trips of a couple of nights a gas stove will pack up small and weigh little. Heading away for over a week though and you'd have to carry multiple gas canisters increasing both pack size and weight. Liquid fuel stoves on the other hand can be weighty to carry for an overnighter but will come into there own for longer trips.

Where abouts will you be using the stove?
If you plan on using the stove while travelling to remote countries multi-fuel stoves are the stove of choice as you may have limited access to fuel types and need a stove that will burn whatever fuel you are able to find.

What climate/altitude will you be using the stove in?
Temperature and altitude has a big effect on the performance of some stoves. Gas stoves are fine for temperate environments but don't perform well in the cold or at altitude.

Fuel types:

Below is an overview of the types of fuel commonly used by hiking stoves and some of their pros and cons.

Fuel Gas (Isobutane, Propane, Butane) White Gas/Coleman Fuel Unleaded Petrol Kerosene/Paraffin Alcohol/Metho Solid Fuel
Example of stove required Gas Stove White Gas Stove Unleaded Petrol Stove Kerosene compatible stove Alcohol Stove Solid Fuel Stove
Advantage Easy to use Has a hot flame Has a hot flame Has a hot flame Burns silently Easy to light in most conditions
  Burns clean Cleanest of the liquid fuels Cheaper than White Gas Very common Evaporates quickly if spilled  
  Has a hot flame Performs well in cold environments Performs well in cold environments Works at altitude Burns clean  
  Doesn't require priming Performs well at altitude Performs well at altitude Not as volatile as petrol or white gas    
  Fuel can't spill Evaporates quickly if spilled Evaporates quickly if spilled      
Disadvantage Doesn't perform well in cold Most expensive of the liquid fuels Stove needs to be primed Messy Low heat output Low heat output
  Not good at altitude Stove needs to be primed Additives cause stove blockages Easily clogs fuel lines Not good at altitude Toxic fumes
  Relatively expensive It is very volatile It is very volatile Evaporates slowly if spilled and leaves residues Limited Flame control No Flame Control
  Gas canisters not available everywhere Relatively easy to get hold of   Stove needs to be primed   Leaves residues on pots


Types of Stoves

Gas stoves:

Snow Peak Gigapower Auto Stove The Snow Peak Gigapower Auto is an example of the more common style of gas stove. It includes a burner head, 4 folding pot supports and a folding flame controller. It packs up small and is easily attached to the gas canister. The Gigapower auto also includes a piezo electric automatic ignition for convenience.


Light and packable.
The majority of todays gas hiking stoves have folding pot supports and flame controllers allowing them to pack down very small. In many cases a folded stove and gas canister will be able to fit inside a pot set offering an extremely compact cooking solution.

Relatively safe and easy to use.
Most modern gas stoves attach to the gas canister via a threaded resealable valve. Simply screw the stove onto the canister, turn on the gas and light. Some stoves now also come with a piezo electric lighter attached for added convenience.
These stoves do not require priming.
The gas is in a resealable canister and therefore cannot be spilled.

Easy and accurate flame control
Gas stoves have a flame control knob allowing you to adjust the flame from a full boil to a quiet simmer.

As mentioned earlier gas is clean burning, leaving less residues on you pots, and burns with a hot flame.


Canister loses pressure over time.
As the fuel inside a gas canister is used up the pressure inside the canister is reduced resulting in a lower maximum flame output. 

Performance reduces with temperature.
Cold weather will reduce the  pressure inside the gas canister and this will lead to a reduced maximum flame output.

Not good in cold weather
Cold weather also causes the pressure inside the gas canister to be reduced which in turn reduces the stoves performance.

Difficult to estimate how much fuel is left in a canister.
Due to a gas canister being a sealed unit it is impossible to accurately estimate how much gas is left in it

Canisters are not easy to dispose of.
Empty gas canisters have to be carried back out from any hike. Once they are home it is very difficult to dispose of them due to remnants of gas left in the canister.


 Jetboil Crunchit Jetboil's Crunchit has helped to solve the problem of how to dispose of used gas canisters. The Crunchit punctures the gas canister allowing any remaining gas to escape and making it ready to recycle.

Stoves can be unstable
Most gas stoves screw on to the top of a relatively small diameter gas canister and the pot is then placed on top of the stove. The small base size and high centre of gravity of the set up can cause it to be unstable.

MSR Whisperlite Universal stove On the MSR Whisperlite Universal the gas canister attaches to the stove remotely, the stove has a wider base and it sits directly on the ground. The combination of wider base and low height creates a more stable stove compared to a more classic gas stoves making it more suitable for larger pots.
MSR Universal Canister Stand The MSR Universal Canister Stand attempts to reduce gas stove instabilty problems by increasing the size of the base on which the whole set up stands.


Cannot be used with a wind shield
Unless a gas stove has a similar design to the MSR Whisperlite Universal, pictured above, which uses a remotely positioned gas canister, placing a wind shield around the stove should never be done. It is very dangerous as heat can be directed down from the stove around the canister potentially causing the canister to explode.
The down side to this is that it leaves the stove more exposed to the elements which can lead to the stove being less efficient

A New Style of Gas Stove

In recent years a range fo fully integrated gas cooking systems have come onto the market. Their aim is to, through the use of specially designed burner heads, wind shielding, heat exchangers and in some cases dedicated pots, provide a more themally efficient interface between the stove and the pot,  creating a lightweight cooking set up that is more economical on fuel and more effective in harsher environments than traditional gas stoves.


Jetboil Flash PCS Jetboil were one of the first to introduce the new style of gas cooking systems. A dedicated insulated pot with Jetboil's FluxRing heat exchanger combine with a specially designed burner to give a extremely thermally efficient cooking set up.

The  burner head and gas canister pack neatly inside the pot producing a lightweight and compact cooking solution for hiking.
MSR Reactor Cooking System MSR's Reactor uses a revolutionary radiant burner enclosed in a unique heat exchanger to offer high perfomance even in windy conditions. It also uses a pressure regulator to  provide optimal heat output over the life of a fuel canister.


Liquid fuel stoves:

While some of our liquid fuel stoves burn only white gas/Coleman fuel, today, the vast majority are multi-fuel stoves. They are able to use some if not all of these fuels;  white gas, kerosene, unleaded petrol, aviation fuel, jet fuel and diesel. Some are even able to use gas canisters as well.

MSR Whisperlite Stove The Whisperlite from MSR is an example of a liquid fuel burning stove. It has a wide stable base, wide pot supports. A fuel line leads from the stove to the pump which screws into the fuel bottle. 
The pressure generated by pumping causes fuel to move out of the fuel bottle and along the fuel line. From there it passes into the generator tube where it is preheated and vapourises. The vapourised fuel is then forced out of the jet and is ignited.
A stove of this type requires priming. By letting a small amount of fuel out onto the priming cup and lighting it the body of the stove heats up. This heat starts the vapourisation of the fuel in the generator tube. The vapourised fuel is necessary to create the most efficient burn and reduce the risk of flare ups.


Versatility (Multi-fuel stoves).
Due to there ability to burn a large range of fuels Multi-fuel stoves are an excellent choice when travelling to remote parts of the world.

Most liquid fuel stoves have a wide base and wide pot supports. Unlike most gas stoves they sit directly on the ground as the fuel bottle is remote from the stove. The increased stability and wider pot supports make them great for cooking with larger pots and ideal for group cooking.


MSR Dragonfly Stove The MSR Dragonfly has a wide base and pot supports making it an ideal stove for larger pots and group cooking situations.

Can be used with a wind shield.
As the fuel bottle is located away from the stove it is possible to use a wind shield with most liquid stoves. This protects the flame from the elements  and helps to retain heat around the pot making the set up more thermal and fuel efficient.


MSR Solid Heat Reflector with windscreen MSR's Solid heat reflector and windscreen can help boost the performance of most liquid fuel stoves that have their fuel bottle placed remotely from the stove.

Fuel is cheap.
Having a reuseable fuel bottle means that you only have to purchase the fuel. Even when only using white gas, the most expensive of the liquid fuels, the cost of fuel will be far cheaper than gas. Be aware, most fuel bottles are sold separately to the stove and will need to be factored in for the initial purchase of the stove.

Work well in the cold
Being able to pressurise the fuel bottle, preheating of the fuel in the generator to vapourise it and the ability to use a wind shield mean that liquid fuel stoves are able to perform well in cold conditions.


If you appreciate your peace and tranquility while cooking in the outdoors a liquid fuel stove might not be the best option as they can be noisey.

Require more maintenance than gas stoves
Due to additives in certain fuels or their less refined nature liquid fuel stove are more prone to clogging of fuel lines and jets thus requiring more maintenance to keep them functioning efficiently

Require priming.
The majority of liquid fuel stoves require priming, priming heats up the main body of the stove including the generator tube this initiates the vapourisation of the fuel before it leaves the jet allowing a more effcient burn and reducing the risk of flare ups.

Heavier than gas stoves
Liquid fuel stoves are generally more bulky and heavier than todays lightweight gas stoves, spirit stoves or solid fuel stoves

More likely to spill the fuel.
As liquid fuel stoves use a refillable fuel bottle there is a greater likelihood of fuel being spilled.

Require more skill and practise to use.
Compared to most other stoves a liquid fuel stove requires more skill and practise to use safely and to keep maintained.  That being said if you learn how to use them properly they offer far more versatility in both types of fuel burned and conditions they can be used

Alcohol/Metho Stoves:


Trangia spirit burner These stoves tend to be a double walled cup with small holes around the rim of the cup. Fuel is able to move from the centre of the cup into the space between the double wall via holes at the base of the cup. The heat generated buy the stove causes the fuel that is in between the walls to vapourise. The vapourised fuel creates pressure which forces it out of the holes in the rim and it ignites.


Burn silently

Easy to use and require little maintenance.
This style of stove has few if any moving parts requiring less maintenance. They are easy to fill and light.



Low heat output.
Spirit stoves have a fairly low heat output and will hterefore take longer than liquid fuel or gas stoves to boil water for example

Can spill the fuel
Using a liquid fuel and needing to be refilled there is always a chance of spilling the fuel. Make sure when refilling the stove that the flame is completely out and the stove has cooled down.

Solid fuel stoves.


Ultimate Survival WetFire Stove The Ultimate Survival Wetfire stove is an extremely simple and lightweight solid fuel stove. The WetFire tinder it comes with will light in any conditions. It packs up extremely small. It is an ideal stove for an ultralight mission or for emergencies.



Simple to use


Low heat

No flame control

The information above attempts to provide you with a bit of an overview of stoves to help you make a more informed decision when buying your next stove from If you do have any further questions regarding any of our stoves please feel free to an email to or calling us 1800 303 353.


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