When you’re out on the trail hiking and camping, a deliciously hot meal can be a literal lifesaver. To make that hot meal you’re going to need a backpacking stove, but you don’t want to carry around a cumbersome, heavy gas stove.
The solution is packable, ultralight backpacking stove. The best backpacking stoves in 2021 are so light you barely notice them and most pack down smaller than a water bottle.
Choosing an ultralight backpacking stove can be a bit of a challenge because there are so many options. You’ve got different materials to think of, different fuels, and different accessories.
That’s where I come in! I’ve done the hard work and found the 10 best lightweight backpacking stoves available right now. You just need to check out my reviews, check my buyer’s guide, and read through the FAQs!
Let’s dive right in.
What are the Best Ultralight Backpacking Stoves 2021?
There is a reason the SOTO Windmaster is at the top of this review of the Best Lightweight Backpacking Stoves.
At only 2.3 oz this stove is lighter than a deck of cards and puts out some incredible heat. This hiking stove equals quality, power, and a higher overall build standard. It performs well at altitude, in bad weather, or low temperatures.
The power this thing can put out is incredible. It can go up to 11000BTU and boils 2 cups of water in 2.5 minutes in windy conditions. That time is reduced significantly on a calm day.
The pot supports are separate from the burner making it a much easier shape to store. It also reduces the risk of the supports snapping.
There is a nice long handle on the flame control valve which is easier to use than some other stove designs. Using this handle, you can set the flame low for a good simmer, or high to boil. The Piezo ignition system works very well, even in windy conditions.
The only major issue is the price. You can easily buy complete cook sets for half the price of this burner and pot stand. The difference comes down to the quality.
Overall, this is the best ultralight backpacking stove on the market right now.
The Pocket Rocket 2 is an iconic camping stove. This ultralight backpacking stove weighs only 2.6 oz and folds down to about 2 x 3 inches. This is the standard all other lightweight backpacking stoves are judged by.
The flame control handle is long enough to reduce the risk of burning yourself when you turn it down to simmer. Speaking of simmering, this stove simmers very low which is great for cooking meals like pasta.
You get good fuel efficiency with the Pocket Rocket but it is no even close to the Jetboil in that department.
The Piezo ignition system works well and is a great addition when it was upgraded a couple of years ago.
Overall, there is a reason this is the most popular ultralight backpacking stove on the market right now. There is nothing bad to report about this hiking stove. Great quality mixed with outstanding performance at a reasonable price.
There is an awful lot to love about this budget backpacking stove.
Firstly, it is a fraction of the price of name brand stoves making the AOTU Portable Camping Stove the best budget stove for backpacking.
Secondly, it has some premium features despite the low price tag. The Piezo ignition system is great because it means we don’t need to fumble around with matches or lighters, however, I always bring a small lighter with me anyway just incase.
It has a flame control valve with a nice long handle. This means you don’t need to stick your hand near the flames or underneath the pot.
In its plastic storage box, this stove weighs about 4 oz which is great considering the budget price. Sure there are lighter weight backpacking stoves but nothing is close at this price.
The boil time is respectable, between 3 and 6 minutes for a liter of water. For the price, this is rather good.
The main complaint with this stove is the build quality. The pot stand is uneven making the whole thing a bit unstable. This problem can be fixed by bending them slightly to ensure the pot sits perfectly flat and even.
Overall, this is the best budget backpacking stove.
Jetboils have a bit of a cult following. There are plenty of people who refuse to use anything else.
What’s great about these stoves is that they are a complete cooking system. They include the burner, the cooking pot, and a measuring cup which also works as a bowl.
The reason Jetboil provides all this is that their stoves aren’t really compatible with any other kit. This is frustrating if you lose or damage the cooking pot.
At 12oz it is one of the heavier stoves on our list however it does include the cookware, so the weight makes a lot of sense. All you need is the gas canister and away you go.This stove packs a fair bit of power. It can boil half a liter in about 2.5 minutes. That’s more than enough for most freeze-dried meals!
On the downside, there is no ignition system, so you better remember your matches! It also doesn’t have a flame regulation system, so everything gets, well, jet boiled!
Overall, I love Jetboil. I love the fuel efficiency, the quick boil times, the quality and the fact that they are a complete cooking system. Jetboil Zip is the best complete backpacking cook system on the market right now.
This is similar to the Jetboil in design at a fraction of the price. You get a burner that attaches to the top of a fuel canister and a cup that attaches to the burner.
The base of the cup is designed to take the heat of the flame and transfer it effectively to the water.
Putting out about 11000BTU, this little stove is incredibly powerful. It can boil half a liter of water in around 2.5 seconds which is incredible!
The pot is 1.4 liters which is larger than the other stoves and pots in this review. The larger pot means everything, including the gas canister fits inside the pot, making it super easy to pack and carry.
In terms of weight, you’re looking at 15 oz all up. That’s quite heavy when you compare it to all the other stoves in this review.
Compared to the Jetboil Zip it is heavier but with a similar design and boil time. But unlike the Jetboil Zip it includes a simmer control burner and a Piezo ignition system.
Overall, this is a great budget alternative to the Jetboil Zip and which has better features at a lower price..
This kit is a full cook set. It has everything you need to make delicious meals at the end of a long day of hiking, including a washcloth and spork!
At half the price of some burner only stoves, this complete backpacking cookware set is excellent value for money. As well as the burner, you get two pots, a washcloth, spork, and a storage bag. What’s also great is the fuel canister can easily fit inside the pots.
Despite its low price, this stove competes well with its more expensive stoves in this review. It has an average boil time of about 3 minutes for two cups of water which is pretty good.
One wish is that the set would clip together for transport. The smaller pot does rest on top of the larger pot, but it doesn’t stay there unless it’s in the bag. If you lose the bag, you’re a bit stuffed.
Overall, the quality of the pots and burner is excellent for the price. A great alternative to Jetboil and Bluu Mont.
This stove is powerful, versatile, and incredibly usable! It was designed with the needs of someone heading into the mountains for a long period of time.
First up, let’s look at the weight. At 10.9oz it’s not the lightest stove, but it’s not unmanageable either.
I used this stove 20 years ago when I was on a multi month trip through South America in the 1990s and again when Cycling from Alaska and Argentina. The ability to burn almost any type of fuel makes this the go to stove for expedition style trips. It can use Kerosene, white gas or unleaded fuel.
Where this stove really shines is the boil and burn times. Depending on whether you use white gas or kerosene, you can boil a liter of water in 3.5 or 4.5 minutes!
As for burn times, you can get around 110 minutes from 20oz of white gas and 150 minutes out of 20oz of kerosene. That’s enough time to boil about 31.5 liters of water!
The stove comes with windshields to keep your flame protected, but it does not come with cookware. You’ll need to factor in the weight of your cookware and fuel on top of the weight of the stove. This can make it feel a bit heavier than other stoves.
This stove is fully maintainable with a spares kit for any issues that may occur in the backcountry.
The only thing I don’t like about this stove is the smell. When using some types of fuel the smell can penetrate through the stove to the staff sac and into everything inside the backpack. Having said that.
When I head into remote areas and wants to carry weeks worth of fuel, this is the only stove I would consider. Heading into the mountains for 3-4 weeks? This is the stove for you.
Overall, this is the best stove for extended travels in remote areas.
This is the first of two Redcamp stoves we’ve included. This one is a canister stove with a bit of a twist.
Unlike most of the canister stoves we’ve seen so far, this one has a fuel hose which means that the stove doesn’t have to sit directly on top of the canister. This is great if you’ve got an oversized fuel canister because it gives the stove more stability.
At 8.5oz this stove is not quite in the ultralight category but is a great choice when using larger gas canisters.
It includes a Piezo ignition button, a flame control valve, and built-in windshields around the flame. These work together well to give you a boil time of around 2 and a half minutes for two cups of water!
Overall, this is another great budget option which is great for hikers wanting to use the larger gas canisters.
Alcohol backpacking stoves don’t come much lighter than this! At only 5oz you won’t notice this thing in your pack.
It is simple in design, just a stand, an alcohol burner, a fire cap, and a windshield. With no moving parts it is one of the toughest stoves in this review. You do need to buy your own cooking pot but considering this comes in at under $20 you’ll have plenty of spare cash to do that!
It comes with an included windshield and the pot stand can be used to provide additional wind protection. This definitely contributes to the decent boil time.
The burner can be adjusted to get a smaller flame which is great for simmering pasta or other meals that require a low simmer heat.
The big downside of alcohol burners is the poor cooking time. At 6 minutes for 2 cups of water it is at the lower end compared to others in this review but OK for an alcohol stove.
The stove comes with a sealing lid that can be used to carry the alcohol fuel inside the stove. Despite the rubber o ring I like to empty all the fuel into a seperate container when I carry it in my pack. I’d hate to have alcohol fuel leak into everything.
This is a full cook system including the alcohol burner, two pots, a solid fuel burner, and a stand. This means that you can choose whether to use solid fuel or alcohol in your stove making it incredibly flexible.
Many years ago this was the ultralight stove of choice for thru hikers but things have changed over the years.
The full weight of this set comes in at 14oz which is a decent weight for everything that is included.
They achieve this low weight by using lightweight, anodized aluminum for the pots and stand.
The two pots also save space by packing together as a lid and a pot. Everything else will comfortably sit inside the pots. It’s a neat construction that will save space in your pack.
This is a multi fuel stove which can also burn the solid Espit fuel tablets. I always carry some of these fuel tablets with me when heading into very remote areas an an emergency fuel source to make fire for warmth or cooking.
The fuel can be stored inside the brass alcohol burner but this is not a good idea, a seperate fuel bottle is the best way to carry the fuel.
The boil time isn’t great when compared to some other stoves. It comes in at about 10 minutes for two cups of water. That being said, once it’s at a rolling boil, the burner keeps its heat very well.
Overall, this is a great cheap alcohol stove that can burn both Esbit solid fuel tablets and alcohol. But burn times are not good enough for most people.
There are three things you really want to focus on when looking for a lightweight backpacking stove.
You want to look at the fuel type, the weight, and the system.
Backpacking Stove Fuel
There are 5 different kinds of commonly used fuels for backpacking stoves. They are:
White Gas -This is also called liquid fuel, Coleman fuel or Bencina Blanca. They tend to be a bit bulkier than other stoves, but they work well for group cooking or extended periods in remote areas.
Denatured Alcohol – The great thing about this kind of stoves is the fact that you can pick up this fuel pretty much everywhere in the world. It’s found in drugstores, hardware stores, as well as outdoor stores. They’re easy to use and light as anything.
Canister Stoves – These are by far the most popular kind of stoves with backpackers. The stove is lightweight and usually folds down to a small size. The gas canisters are also compact. These things can put out a decent amount of heat but most don’t offer you huge amounts of control. They’re more about boiling things than simmering.
Wood Stoves – These burn twigs and sticks which is super handy if you’re in a forest or similar environment. The downside is that they are banned in a lot of places due to the risk of causing forest fires.
Solid Fuel – These stoves burn blocks of fuel. They are super lightweight, but the fuel can be difficult to find outside of camping or outdoor stores.
When it comes to the weight, there’s a lot of variation because it depends on the fuel and what else you carry as part of your stove system.
The aim is to keep the stove as light as possible so that you have more room for fuel and food. Most stoves are simply small guards that sit over the fuel tank.
When it comes to fuel, you need to strike a balance between size and use. You could get a tiny canister of gas, but that won’t last you long. Equally, a large bottle of denatured alcohol will often be more than you need.
Gas fuels are lighter, but you have to factor in the weight of the canister as well as the shape. Liquid fuels weigh more oz for oz, but they don’t tend to have large canisters.
The system refers to the whole stove set up. In some cases, what you pay for is simply the stove top. In other cases, you get cookware and fuel included.
Some system parts to look out for include a windshield and a stand. These will save you oodles of time and fuel when you cook.
This depends on how long you’re going for and how many people are using the stove.
In general, for a solo weekend, your average 100g gas canister is more than enough. In fact, you can probably get 2 or 3 solo trips out of a 100g gas canister.
If you want to be a bit more precise you can do the math. This calculation assumes that the most you’re going to be doing is boiling water to heat up meals.
The first thing you’ll need to work out is how much water you’ll need to boil. The general rule is 1 liter per person per meal.
Next, you’ll need the boil time of your stove. This should be stated in the information but if not, you can test it by timing how long it takes to boil a liter of water.
With those two figures you can work out the boil time for your trip by multiplying the amount of water by the boil time of your stove.
Using that total boil time, you now need to work out how much of your stove’s total burn time you’re using. To do this, find the burn time in the information leaflet. This is how long your stove can burn for using a specified amount of fuel.
Divide the trip burn time by your stove’s burn time to get the percentage burn time.
Finally, to work out how much fuel you need to bring, multiply the percentage burn time by the amount of fuel specified in the stove burn time. For example, if your stove can burn for 60 minutes on 100g of fuel, you would multiply your percentage burn time by 100.
This gives you a final number that tells you how much fuel you are going to use.
Which is better: MSR or Jetboil?
It depends on which models you are comparing and what features are most important.
The Jetboil Zip has a quicker boil time and is more fuel efficient. The Jetboil can bring two cups of water to a boil in about 100 seconds while the MSR takes closer to 3 minutes.
If you’re looking at weight and versatility, then the MSR wins. The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is only 2.4oz because it doesn’t come with a cooking pot. However, the lack of cooking pot is actually a good thing. You can pack yourself a pot that is half the weight of the Jetboil pot.