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May 2022

How to Choose a Camp Stove

Written by: Sam Krieg of BC Outdoor Project & VPO Vernon

About 8 years ago, I tried to make eggs in my JetBoil Flash. Some of you will be shaking your head at my obvious mistake and others will be wondering how it went. I’ll tell you, my poor JetBoil, affectionately named BadBetty, wears the burned egg scars of my lapse in judgment.

There are lots of options when it comes to camp stoves but not all camp stoves are going to work for all kinds of outdoor experiences. You obviously don’t want to be dragging the Selkirk 460 Camp Stove up Rodger’s Pass but you might also not be very impressed with your MSR Pocket Rocket in sub zero temperatures.

Let’s break down how to find the right stove for your trip.

Stove specs

Weight: This one is pretty obvious. Some stoves (and their kits) will be heavier than others. But it isn’t just the weight of the stove that you need to think about. It’s also the weight of fuel and how much you will need to pack in and out.

Piezo-igniter: Your push-to-start stove lighter. These little quick lighters take the need for using matches or lighters out of starting your stove. HOWEVER, mine has definitely stopped working on a trip and I needed to use my waterproof matches. So, you will need matches in your kit anyway.

Average boil time: Most stoves will be pretty quick to bring your water to a boil. The wood stoves will be slower.

Burn time: This tells you how long your stove will burn with a given amount of fuel in a relatively controlled environment (not whipping winds or freezing temperatures).Adjustable Flame: This is important for turning your stove down to a simmer. This feature won’t be as important if you just plan to boil water quickly.

Types of Camp Stoves

The big three are canister stoves, liquid fuel stoves and alternative-fuel stoves. There are pros and cons to each.

Canister stoves


  • Typically run on isobutane and propane.
  • Small and lightweight for easy packing.
  • Easy to use as most of them use a Piezo Igniter.
  • Adjustable flames to decrease boil time or let simmer.
  • Most of these stoves have self-sealing canisters so they don’t leak when you remove your stove.


  • Depressurizing in cold weather or high altitudes, causing less fuel output and a weaker flame.
  • Determining how much fuel you have left in the canister can be difficult and leads most people to bring extra fuel.
  • Recycling the canisters can be a pain in the rump. I recommend taking them to your local outdoor store so they can punch a hole in the canister and recycle them for you. Easy. Done.

Here is a quick recap on how to check your fuel level at home or in the backcountry:

Liquid Fuel Stoves


  • Easy to refill because you can literally unscrew the cap and look into the container.
  • Some stoves offer the use of multiple fuel types including white gas, kerosene or diesel. Most of them will recommend white gas because it burns cleaner and is less likely to muck up your fuel line.
  • Perform better in colder and higher climates. Because the fuel canister won’t be affected by depressurizing in these environments, you will not have a change in flame strength.


  • Require priming which may take a little longer to set up when you get to camp.
  • Maintenance. You will need to periodically clean the fuel line and replace the O-ring. There are kits to make this relatively painless.

Alternative Fuel Stoves


  • Simple and light weight, these typically fold up nice and small. (Unless it’s the Biolite stove because those are one of the heaviest backpacking stoves.)
  • Good for longer trips because you won’t have to carry fuel.


  • Wet days. It will be tough to find dry fuel to burn.
  • Fire bans. These stoves are prohibited during fire bans and above some elevations.

StoveType Auto IgniteBurn TimeWeightAdjustable Flame

Boil TimeFor 1L


JetBoil MIGHTYMO(just stove)

CanisterX75 min230g33 ozX2.66 min81.99
JetBoil Flash 1LCanisterX33 min100g13.3 ozX3.33 min 157.99
JetBoil Minimo 1LCanisterX60 min100g14.6 ozX4.5 min191.99
JetBoil Sumo 1.8LCanisterX120min230g16 ozX4.5 min201.99
JetBoil Micromo 0.8LCanisterX60 min100g12 ozX4.5 min181.99

GSI Glacier Camp Stove (just the stove)

Canister5.9 ozX4 min 34.95

MSR Whisperlite (just the stove)

Liquid Fuel75 min230g9.5 oz3.9 min189.95

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 (just the stove)

CanisterX60 min227g2.6 ozX3.5 min79.95

Snow Peak Gigapower

CanisterX50 min110 g3.17 ozX4.5 min69.95
JetBoil Stash 0.8LCanisterX7.1 ozX5 min189.99
BioliteWoodXForever if you have dry fuel33 ozX4.5 min299.95

Bottom Line:

When you are choosing your stove, think about where you will take it and what you expect from it. If you plan to dive into backcountry culinary arts, you will need something that is more versatile that just boiling water quickly like the JetBoil Flash. If you are concerned about weight, the MSR Pocket Rocket might be perfect. If you plan to spend time up high or somewhere cold, you’ll probably be more interested in a liquid fuel stove.

And as always, have a backup plan. Bring emergency matches.