Backpacking is a great method to visit new places and obtain fresh experiences. Yet after moving around for quite some time, you would want to sit down and relax for a bit. This is when you can really use a hot meal or something warm to drink to replenish your mind and body. So what can provide you with such luxuries in the middle of nowhere? Well what you need is a backpacking stove that can accompany you across the length of the trip. If you don’t know how to choose the best backpacking stove then perhaps this article will be of use.
Given that you have to carry the entire loads of necessary items on your own, everything you bring must be light and effective. Same can be said about the stove, you can’t expect to bring a full-size stove on backpacking trips. However, there is a wide range of backpacking stove on the market and that may make you feel lost. Technically, there is no such thing as the best product, only products that work best in certain conditions and environments. In order to purchase the best backpacking stove, you must have a firm grasp on a stove features and specifications.
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Three popular types of backpacking stoves
They are compact and lightweight products that are very popular for one or two people backpacking trips. If weight and size are your primary concerns, a canister stove will ease your worries. You have adequate control over the strength of the flame and the stoves are rather easy to operate. These qualities make canister stove quite versatile and can match a variety of user demands. The choice of cookware to use is totally up to you though it slightly depends on the construction and design of the stove support arms
The fuel efficiency of canister stoves is less than optimum in windy weather though. There is no wind resistance feature so strong winds can easily lead to severe heat loss or outright extinguish the stove. The capacity is not the most efficient for extended trips with lots of people. But with the introduction of integrated canister stoves, several issues have been addressed. This latest version of canister stoves possesses better heat transfer and some of them are even windproof. Its usage mostly revolves around liquid stuff and alike though
Liquid Fuel Stoves
When it comes to large part backpacking, the liquid fuel stove proves to an excellent option. The flame it produces is strong and powerful while simmer controls are generally good. It’s stable and accepts many kinds of pot and pan. Certain products run on a multitude of fuel which means you don’t have to worry about the availability of fuel. They can be disassembled, clean up and put it back together relatively easy. You only need to perform maintenance every once in a while to preserve the stove effectiveness.
Liquid fuel stove did have several notable drawbacks. They are rather bulky and heavy so the stoves can be hard to transport over long distance. You may feel that the stove is a bit tricky to operate at first since priming is required before use.
Wood/Fuel Tablet Stoves
Backpackers are always searching for a way to lighten their inventory further. As for the stove, if you desire an ultra light product, your wish can be fulfilled by the wood/fuel tablet stoves. They barely weight anything and the demand for fuel is quite easy to satisfy. For most of the time, you can conveniently slide them into your backpack thanks to their limited profile. You do have to put up with the chemical smell, long burning time and zero simmer control though. The stove might make a mess out of your cookware after each use as well.
By this point, you probably know several choices of fuel that backpacking stove use. The access to fuel can largely decide how frequent you can use the stove and its the burning time. Canister stoves usually utilize Isobutane can which are available in three types: 4, 8 and 16 oz. It’s expensive and you cannot order it over long distance without a considerable fee. If you consider using a canister stove, make sure that there is a steady Isobutane can supply in the neighborhood
As the name suggests, liquid fuel stoves employ fuels in a liquid state. They consist of white gas, kerosene, diesel and so on. These fuels are affordable and can be found in any hardware stores. If possible, try to use white gas whenever possible because it’s the cleanest one. You don’t have to clean the stove too often while using white gas and its burn well. Other liquid fuel is sufficient nerveless but can quickly clog the stove and demand regular cleaning.
Finally, there are the wood and fuel tablet. Both are easy to come by but they have quite obvious downsides. You will go through them very fast and the stove requires constant resupply to sustain the fire. If the surface is wet or humid, finding dry wood could be a difficult task. While fuel tablet doesn’t have unacceptable odors when burn, in the original state, it smells kind of bad. Residual of tablets may accumulate at the bottom of the stove and you cookware so regular cleaning is needed.
There are many accessories that come with the stove to increase their performance. From stabilizers to windscreens, they can significantly enhance the stove function. That is why it’s good to consider the associated accessories when you deciding on what kind of stove to buy
And that should cover most of the basic points, very easy to understand right? Knowing how to choose the best backpacking stove will ensure that your money is well spent. Don’t buy anything just because it seems to be perfect. Spending money on a product that you can fully use is very unwise. You have to imagine how a stove will hold up in your backpacking trip. Take into account the weather, the climate and the geography of your backpacking trip. That is how you can decide which type of stove to go after.