Cooking On the Hunt: The Best Backpacking Stoves

OUTDOORS

   10.07.21

Cooking On the Hunt: The Best Backpacking Stoves

Backcountry hunting is a great alternative to a vacation in the Bahamas. Not only do you get away from the daily grind of your work life, but you’ll also come back with a decent amount of fresh meat if you play your cards right. Even though you’ll be miles off the beaten path and sleeping in a tent, there’s no reason that you still can’t eat like a king. Backpacking stoves have come a long way in the last 20 years and you can now bring some of the most powerful, portable, and efficient camp stoves with you without weighing down your kit unnecessarily. Let’s go over some of the best backpacking stoves currently on the market that you might want to pick up before you head out on your next backcountry hunt. Who knows, you may be able to lighten the load on your way back by preparing some of it in the field!

Cooking On the Hunt: The Best Backpacking Stoves

Camp stoves need to be light, efficient and most of all, actually get hot enough to bring your food to a safe eating temperature. There is no question that if you’re out in the field that a hot meal can really make or break your day so I think it’s really important to have quality meals when camping or backcountry hunting. All of the camp stoves on this list are under 1lb in weight but offer varying degrees of efficiency when it comes to space and weight savings. It’s always best to make sure that your kit for your backcountry hunt fits not only the duration and length of your planned trip but also your season as some of these camp stoves may work better in icy or snowy/windy conditions while others are much better suited to more mild weather. That being said, all of these options are under $200 and have a great reputation within the camping/hiking/backpacking community.

1. Snow Peak – LiteMax Titanium Stove, GST-120R

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Snow Peak - LiteMax Titanium Stove, GST-120R

Most compact Backpacking Stove Out there!

If you’re a backpacking minimalist then this is the best option out there bar none. The Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium stove can be powered by any quality Isobutane-propane fuel which is very efficient and also ensures you’re getting the best price on your fuel before you head out. The stove only weighs 1.9 ounces without the fuel canister attached and packs down into a 3x5x5-inch package meaning it takes up very little space in your backpack.

Pros/Compact, Lightweight, efficient fuel source

Cons/Fetches a high price for its titanium construction and doesn’t feature any extra accessories

Bottom Line/Great for the backpacking minimalist who is heavily focused on saving space and weight

2. Jetboil MiniMo

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Jetboil MiniMo

A turnkey solution for making quick meals or a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning before you start your hunt, the Jetboil MiniMo is a convenient solution that uses either an Isobutane or propane canister and features a nice tripod stand for stabilization on slightly uneven surfaces. What’s cool about almost all of the Jetboil lineup is that they all come with a perfectly sized pot that can fit soup, or a hot drink (some are larger than others). The JetBoil MiniMo is 14-ounces with both the pot and burner and also features a very finely tuned burner control ignited with a pushbutton igniter.

Pros/All-in-one solution pot and burner with lots of nice features

Cons/Expensive and bulky

Bottom Line/Great “buy once cry once” solution if you’re not looking for specific cookware.

3. Optimus Crux Lite

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Optimus Crux Lite

Another all-in-one solution I really like is the Optimus Crux Lite cooking system. This simple compact system packs up nicely into a one-piece container that protects the more sensitive parts of the stove with the more durable two-piece cooking pots. The stove can burn butane, propane, and isobutane and you can get about 90-minutes worth of cooking time out of the system before a refill (using a standard size 230 g gas canister). The cookware is just as convenient and features a nice pouring lip and internal measuring marks for making gourmet meals out in the field. The whole package wraps up in a nice nylon storage bag for keeping everything together.

Pros/Packs up nice and neat and protects the stove while inside your backpack

Cons/Much heavier than other systems (9.5-ounces)

Bottom Line/Another great turnkey system with multiple cook pieces

4. MSR WindBurner

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MSR WindBurner

This award-winning backpacking stove is great for those windswept snowy or arid plains where getting a solid flame going is difficult (even for a Jetboil). Similar to the Jetboil system, the MSR WindBurner features an all-in-one system that comes with a burner and a pot but where the Jetboil delivers peak heat performance, the MSR WindBurner has phenomenal wind resistance while still giving you a great boil time on that morning coffee. The MSR WindBurner is priced on the higher end of these backpacking stoves and also runs off of Isobutane/propane and weighs in at 15.5 ounces.

Pros/Great combination of boil time and wind performance (no need to shield your burner or worry about it flaming out)

Cons/Heavy at almost an entire pound and also quite bulky (but includes a measuring cup, lid and a pot!)

Bottom Line/Great for those that like to go backpack hunting in very windy regions

5. Solo Stove Lite

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Solo Stove Lite

A more natural and affordable option

Breaking from the propane/butane/isobutane powered stoves on this list we finally have my favorite – the Solo Stove Lite. This compact little stove uses natural fuel you find in the wild (or bring along with you) and is sized right in between the largest and smallest burners on this list (weighs 9-ounces). The stove is designed in such a way that it brings in cold air from the bottom of the stove and converts that cold air into preheated air which then is recycled to the secondary burn chamber to provide you with a nice intense heat good enough for boiling and cooking. If you’re looking for something simple that doesn’t require you to carry fuel around with you then the Solo Stove Lite is the perfect and more natural option for the backcountry hiker.

Pros/Eliminates the need to carry bulky fuel canisters

Cons/Somewhat bulky and depending on your environment, may be useless if fuel isn’t readily available

Bottom Line/Great for summer months when dry fuel is available and you’re looking for a more budget friendly option ($70)

6. Jetboil Sumo

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Jetboil Sumo

Jetboil performance with increased capacity

Sharing the same great characteristics that make the compact Jetboil MiniMo great is the larger Jetboil Sumo. The Jetboil Sumo features a large FluxRing 1.8L cooking pot which greatly expands your meal cooking options. The entire rig is still less than 2lbs, even with the larger cooking cup and the cup also comes with a nice insulating cozy for better heat retention in the cold. This is a great opinion that is still priced around the same as the MiniMo but gives you the ability to cook for multiple people quickly.

Pros/Large capacity cooking cup with insulated cozy

Cons/Larger cup will take up more space

Bottom Line/Great for when you’re going out backcountry hunting with a group of hunters

How to pick the right backpacking stove

Whether you’re headed deep in country on a hunting trip, or hiking way back into the backcountry to get away from it all, a backpacking stove is a necessity that you’ll want to have with you. How do you pick the right one for you? Here are a few things to look at.

  • Fuel type – backpacking stoves can run on bottled gases, refillable liquid fuel types or alternative fuels like pellets or wood. Each fuel type has pros and cons
  • Size – You need to be aware of the size of the stove and match it to how big you need. If you’re using it for more than just yourself, for example
  • Packability – Beyond the size, you have to make sure it packs down and can fit in the amount of space you have available

This is one of those areas where you need to really sit down and plan out how you’re going to do things and how you are going to pack for your adventure. If you’re anything like us, you can make anything work, but having one less headache while you’re in the backcountry can really be a good thing.

Why not just start a campfire instead of carrying around a stove?

Campfires are a great way to stay warm and cook when out camping or backpacking but unfortuneately you can’t always guarantee a good source of wood for burning. If you happen to be backcountry hunting when it’s a snowy or rainy season then you might find yourself without a source of heat to cook with and that could lead to an absolutely miserable hunting trip. Portable camp stoves guarantee that you’ll have access to hot meals and drinks while you’re out in the wilderness.

What fuel type is best for gas camp stoves?

Every fuel (including wood) has its advantages when on a backcountry hunting trip. While wood can be sourced in situ, propane, butane, and isobutane can all be carried without much fuss. Propane generally provides better efficiency while butane and isobutane are lighter and better suited for backpacking situations.

Can my backpacking stove provide me with tent heat?

Sadly no, Backpacking stoves aren’t really a good fit for heating up your tent in frigid conditions as they don’t put out a lot of heat that is useful for anything other than cooking. On top of that, there is also a chance that your stove could suffocate you as they can put off a lot of carbon monoxide. There are tons of more suitable portable camping tent stoves that you can use safely and are more efficient for that specific task.

About the Author

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Luke is currently a full-time writer for TheFirearmBlog.com, OvertDefense.com, AllOutdoor.com, and of course, OutdoorHub.com. Luke is a competitive shooter, firearms enthusiast, reloader, outdoorsman, and generally takes an interest in anything that has to do with the great outdoors.
Luke is also a private certified pilot and is currently pursuing his commercial pilot’s license in the hopes of becoming a professional pilot. Some of Luke’s other interests include anything to do with aviation, aerospace and military technology, and American Conservancy efforts.
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