I’m getting more involved in backpacking and trying to find the right camp stove and cookware to use. For now, my trips will be no more than four days. I just need a good beginner stove, preferably one that has a simmer option, and cookware that will last. Any ideas? Bill Everett, Washington
In your case, Id certainly recommend canister-fuel stoves. I do so for several reasons. For one thing, theyre by far the easiest stoves to use. For another, they generally are the best for simmering, while also offering plenty of heat when you just want to boil water. And really, its not hard to calculate your fuel needs. For two to four day trips, theres also no weight penalty for carrying canisters.
Coleman Xpert Stove
I wouldnt say all canister stoves are the same, but theyre not all that dissimilar, either. Pretty simple technology. The Primus Yellowstone ($30; primusstoves.com), Snow Peak Giga Power Manual ($40; snowpeak.com), and MSR SuperFly ($50; msrcorp.com) are all fairly similar in designwith the burner atop the canisterand power output. All take the same cartridges, which use the common lindahl valve.
One problem with these stoves is that theyre not terribly stable. Whats better is to keep the burner close to the ground and put the canister off to one side, connected by a short hose. Snow Peaks Giga Power Blended Fuel Stove ($80) has this design, as does the Coleman Xpert ($65; coleman.com). I like the Xpert a lot, but the knock on it has been its proprietary fuel canisters. Now, however, you can buy the Coleman Powermax Fuel Adapter ($23) and use Coleman canisters or common lindahl-valve models.
To calculate fuel needs, simply check the stoves boil time and max burn time at full power. If a stove boils a quart of water in four minutes, and burns for 30 minutes at full on, then that canister will suffice for three or four meals if all youre doing is heating water. Itll last even longer if youre cooking things over medium or low heat. A four-day trip shouldnt require more than two canisters.
For cookware, MSRs BlackLite Gourmet Cookset ($60) is a reliable choice, with two pots and a skillet, all with non-stick. I also like GSIs Halulite Double Boiler ($30; gsioutdoors.com), which is a two-pot set, paired with a small skillet such as the Open Country 10" Saute Pan ($22).