Every stove claims it's the fastest. We pitted them head-to-head in a winner-takes-all boil-off.
Of the dozens of poles, stoves, multitools, and other essentials we tested this year, we kept reaching for these six, from the Brunton Get-Back GPS, which stores up to three waypoints and steers you to the trailhead, to MSR SureLock TR-3s, which, at 20 ounces a pair, aren't ultralight, but they are quite sturdy and strong.
Why It’s CoolStability in the heat of battle is a Markill trademark, a reputation augmented by the steady new Spider. Three heavy-gauge stainless-steel legs uncoil from a grenade-size package, creating a footprint seven inches in diameter—an inch bigger than most other stoves. Even hard nudges to the supports couldn’t unsettle…
Why It RulesThe first effort from a scrappy New England startup, the Jetboil represents a total rethink of backcountry cookery. A tall one-liter pot—aluminum, with a hard anodized cooking surface and insulating neoprene cozy—docks (and locks) to the stove’s burner. A ring of heat-conducting baffles attached to the pot’s base…
Why It’s CoolThe canister version of MSR’s liquid-fuel SimmerLite shares its twin’s huge burner head, with similar pot supports that rotate into place and double as the feet. The legs endow the WindPro with the second-largest pot platform of all the cookers we tested, and the steadiness of a cast-iron…
Why It’s CoolThough this stove is sweet enough at rest—when folded up, it’s so small it fits into the hollow beneath its own fuel canister—the Crux unfurled is engineering elegance: The burner head rotates on a ball-and-socket joint and locks into place with a reassuring snap. Small pot-support arms swivel…
Pocket Rocket When you want the hyper-efficency of a Jetboil stove, but need to cook for two to four people, it’s hard to beat the Helios. The company’s proprietary FluxRing (a baffle on the bottom of the included two-liter pot) helps conserve energy, while the upside-down canister stand lets you…
JETBOIL‘s ultra-efficient GROUP COOKING SYSTEM has a 1.5-liter pot for melting snow.
My son is headed to New Zealand for the spring semester. Things sure have changed since I went to college! He will have some time to backpack, and hes not sure if a canister or white-gas stove will be easier to travel with and refuel. We have been eying the Vargo Jet-ti. What do you think? Mike Front Royal, Virginia
I understand the MSR Reactor stove has an internal pressure regulator, but do you think this stove will perform in very cold temperatures (-10F and colder) or at high altitude (above 10,000 feet)? Justin Tacoma, Washington
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
I've always carried white-gas stoves, but a friend of mine says that a compressed-gas stove is the way to go. He says it's lighter, more reliable, and burns hotter even at altitude. Is this true? Gary Salt Lake City, Utah
I 15 years old and do a lot of backpacking for my age. Im using my dads old stove that is older than me. It works fine, but they no longer make the fuel canisters to fit it. Whats a good lightweight stove thats not too expensive? Collin Suwanee, Georgia
I'm going on an extended solo backpacking trip through the desert of Mexico, possibly into Central America, and ending in Cuba or Jamaica. So I need lightweight everything. I’m trying to decide between the MSR XGK EX and the Jetboil stoves. Will I be able to find canisters and other replacement parts in Central America? Kory Phoenix, Arizona
I love to go on light hikes (carrying only a hydration bladder) with my dog. But being a java junkie, I would like to know the best way to have hot coffee at my destination without adding too much weight. I have thought of using a dog pack, but my super-active pointer just wont have it. Christopher Brooklyn, New York