Q:

What’s the most affordable, lightweight stove out there?

I 15 years old and do a lot of backpacking for my age. I’m using my dad’s old stove that is older than me. It works fine, but they no longer make the fuel canisters to fit it. What’s a good lightweight stove that’s not too expensive? Collin Suwanee, Georgia

Mar 9, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Primus Yellowstone Stove

Yellowstone Stove

A:

Hah! I have several stoves that probably are older than you. And I call them my “new stoves."

Still, I’m a little stumped by what sort of stove you have that no canisters will fit. Nearly all canisters today—with the exception of Coleman’s X line of stoves—use a Lindal valve and will fit basically everything. And even Coleman makes an adapter for its stoves so you can use non-Coleman fuel.

Be that as it may, the choice always is between liquid fuel and canister (butane/propane) fuel. The tradeoff: Liquid-fuel stoves cost less to operate and usually work better in very cold temperatures, but they are more difficult to start and maintain. Canister-fuel stoves cost more to run, typically are best for mild weather (down to around freezing), and are super-easy to start and maintain.

In your case, I’d suggest a canister stove. An excellent affordable stove is the no-frills Primus Yellowstone ($29; primusstoves.com). Simply turn it on and light it; you can have dinner cooking in seconds. The Yellowstone is also very stable and will take virtually any canister on the market. You may have to fashion a windscreen out of aluminum foil, but that can be part of your outdoor-cooking merit badge work.

Snow Peak’s Giga Power Stove is a little more expensive ($50; snowpeak.com) and has the extra bell and whistle of an on-board Piezo igniter. It’s also collapsible, which saves space in your pack. Like the Primus, it uses a Lindal valve for wide canister compatibility.

As I mentioned, liquid-fuel stoves have their merits—lower fuel costs perhaps foremost among them. MSR’s WhisperLite ($70; msrcorp.com) remains the gold standard for an affordable, reliable backpacking stove. It runs on white gas, self-cleans with a good shake, and is great in cold weather. It may sound expensive, but it’s really very reasonable for a stove that will last well into YOUR parenting years, when your own kid complains about the “old" gear you’re making him use.

Anyway, have fun with your camping. I’m delighted to hear that you’re taking up these activities.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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