Best Overall Backpacking Stove
Best for: Wild camping and backpacking
Key attributes: eco-friendly updates, packable, smart design
With its 0.5L volume, the new and improved Primus Lite Plus is perfect for one person use, but it’ll also do the job for a pair traveling together. It’s best suited to boiling water, either for a hot drink or for rehydrating a backpacking meal, with a reasonably fast boiling time of 3 minutes, but the burner does have simmer control too, so cooking things like pasta and rice is still possible. It even has little pins attached to the handle that, once twisted into the screw holes on the top of the burner, will make the stove frying pan friendly.
We’ve long been big fans of the Lite+ here at Outdoors Magic and this new updated version for 2021 is a definite improvement, carrying on many of the same awesome specs as the original model but with eco-friendlier materials used for the pot sleeve a new bioplastic material used for the pot lid and canister stand.
Other updates include: a handy, integrated pocket for storing a long spork or spoon; six vibrant new colours; and a new gas valve with a large control knob. The latter makes it much easier to control the stove’s heat, even with cold hands or while wearing gloves.
0.5L volume / 1-2 people compatible / 402g / best suited to boiling water or rehydrating backpacking meals / 3-minute boiling time / burner simmer control / stove frying pan friendly / lid that doubles as mug or liquid strainer / Laminar Flow Burner / 1500W flame / low centre of gravity / piezo ignition / built-in heat exchanger.
Selected for the 2021/22 Outdoor 100 – Read our full Primus Lite+ review.
Best Backpacking Stove for Cooking
MSR Pocket Rocket 2
Best for: Wild camping, backpacking, mountaineering
Key attributes: Compact, lightweight, great value
The first PocketRocket was the definitive ultra-lightweight, canister-top camping stove and this second version is even lighter and more compact. Although small, the pan supports are sturdy, especially for a one-person pot, and the flame control is excellent.
This tiny, low-cost stove is a great option for those who like to travel light and who like to be able to create a stove system comprising their own pot instead of one that specifically needs to integrate with the burner. The boil time, we’ve found, is good – you can get a litre boiling within 5 minutes. There isn’t much in the way of wind protection, however, so in blustery conditions it’s wise to make sure you’ve created some kind of shelter or barrier to maximise your fuel efficiency.
One of the best things about the Pocket Rocket 2, aside from its light weight, is its simmer control. You can adjust this to get a nice low and slow flame that’ll allow you to gently cook stuff without turning it into a charred mess stuck to the base of your pan.
WindClip windshield / folding pot supports / precision flame control / 73g
Read our full MSR Pocket Rocket 2 review
Best Lightweight Stove System
Best for: Ultralight hiking, fastpacking and bikepacking
Key attributes: Super fast boil time, light and compact
Jetboil have labelled their Stash (new for 2021) the ‘lightest stove system ever made’ and we haven’t found a reason to contest that yet. The set weighs just 200g, that’s the same as your average-sized hamster titanium burner. It includes a titanium burner, 0.8 litre aluminium pot with a built in heat exchanger and flip-out siliconised handle, a plastic lid with a pour spout and then a little sack to store the burner in. A 30g folding gas canister stand also comes with the set, though this isn’t accounted for in that 200g given weight. Best of all, this thing is designed as a ‘nesting’ system, meaning that it all packs up into one very compact bundle. Oh and there’s that 2.5 minute boil time as well. Super speedy.
This was tested by us over a three-week fastpacking trip (it was specifically chosen for its lightweight convenience) and it performed excellently. A fast boil time, super light weight, fuel efficiency and well-designed – it’s a top notch backpacking stove for any one who moves fast and light.
2.5 minute boil time / unregulated – best for boiling instead of cooking / 0.8-litre anodised aluminium pot with Flux Ring / requires own spark / 100g canister boils 12 litres.
Read our full Jetboil Stash review.
Best Budget Stove System
Coleman FyreStorm PCS Stove Set
Best for: Wild camping, backpacking
Key attributes: Built-in wind blocker, good boil time, compact
The Coleman FyreStorm is a low-profile stove that is attached by a hose to the gas canister. This means it is stable in the wind. The full set includes the stove, cooking pot, sleeve and lid, and it all fits together in one neat package.
The Coleman Windblock system is particularly useful, and a clip-on lid adds an extra level of security in case of spillages. The gas canister fits in the pot.
Piezo ignition / braided steel hose / clip-on lid / neoprene sleeve / Coleman Wind Block system ./ HyperFlame down-step burner / 486g
Read our full Coleman Fyrestorm PCS review
Best Alternative-fuel Stove
Savotta Happy and Grumpy Stoves
Best for: Bushcraft, summer wild camps
Key attributes: runs of renewables, very lightweight, good value
Simple, lightweight, and just a lot of fun to use, we love the Savotta’s Happy Stove and Grumpy stove here at Outdoors Magic. To use them, you simply slot all the pieces of metal together, pile sticks and leaves all inside, spark them up, let the air holes create some nice convection and then place your kettle or pot on top of the cross bars and wait. The beauty of it is that you can keep feeding the fire without having to remove your pot from the top, which is a pitfall of the Solo Stove which we’ve reviewed below.
Packed flat into the little storage sack that the stove comes with, the whole thing is small enough to slip into the side pocket of your backpack or even into the pocket of your trousers.
0.5mm laser-cut stainless steel / height 14cm, width 14cm, depth 14cm / protective bag made from 1000D Cordura.
Read our full Savotta Happy and Grumpy Stove review
Best of the Rest
Optimus Crux Lite Solo Cook System
Best for: solo hiking and bikepacking
Key attributes: small pack size, stove supports keep your pot extra stable, handy pouring spout
With the Optimus Crux Lite Solo, you get an elegantly-simple and lightweight system. It includes a small gas burner, as well as a cook pot and frying pan that doubles as a lid. The whole lot slots together and packs down easily. It also weighs in at just 272g.
The 600ml pot and lid are constructed from hard-anodised aluminium. This is cheaper than titanium whilst still remaining lightweight, tough and easy to clean. The fold out handles on the pot and frying pan lid are also both coated with a grippy rubber. The burner itself is made from stainless steel and aluminium, whilst the adjustable flame control has a large wire handle that is easy to operate with gloved hands.
Gas burner, cook pot and frying pan (doubles as lid) / packs into itself / 600ml pot / pot and lid: hard-anodised aluminium / burner: stainless steel and aluminium / grippy rubber on handles / mesh storage bag and smaller storage sack / three fold out supports for burner / adjustable flame control.
Read our full Optimus Crux Lite review.