The Ohuhu174 Camping Stove is our pick for the best backpacking stove, which is fueled with wood for burning and is very eco-friendly. It is also easy to setup and pack when not in use. Being very lightweight for travelling, it can be setup in a matter of minutes with some wood branches.
Our step-up pick is the Bayou Classic SQ14 and its large cooking surface makes this patio and camping burner very accommodating at 16 x 16 inches. The regulator, hose and valve assembly of this cooking unit is also UL listed for safety, with the hose measuring 29 inches long.
The budget pick is the Etekcity Ultralight Portable and this collapsible unit can be used with butane as well as hybrid fuel canisters due to its wide range of compatibility. A mix of stainless steel also adds resilience to this camping unit. Its control valve allows heat adjustments.
A Little Background
For camping, backpacking burners are great tools for cooking in the wilderness. When you want to cook something right away and need to get it done before the sun sets, what else could be more rewarding than a convenient and portable cooking unit?
True enough, these cooking units can be a great addition to enhance your camping experience during the summer or even in other seasons of the year. This is because they can help you speed up food prep while outdoors when you have other things to do.
A backpacking burner can be comprised of a single burner unit with a small disposable propane tank added to the setup.
Some can have a butane tank instead while some can be fueled with either of the two, so you have more available options to consider. Do remember that safety is the key to this fuel setup so make sure you know what you are doing with the propane or butane connections with the burner.
Single burner portables are great but there are also double burners for larger families or big batches of cooking. In addition to that, if you would also like to grill fish and meat quickly and don't have an available burner in the camping area, consider getting one that has a grill for your added convenience.
Having a portable burner in the wilderness is not cutting off the camping or off grid experience. It is simply making things easier and faster when you want to cook or prepare food in the great outdoors.
Great camping experiences begin with a safe burner. If you do buy a portable one, safety is a major concern so that it will not cause fires in your camping ground. There have been many forest fires because of some campers not being careful with cleaning up their mess or setup due to burners that have not been tended well enough.
Portability is important when you choose your camping gear so that you don't have problems later on when cleaning up after your setup. Both the fuel and the cooking unit should be in good condition when you cook outdoors, otherwise you might be asking for trouble.
How We Picked
When you go for the best backpacking stove, you should consider these facts before you buy:
Size: it should be not too big so that it will be bulky to carry when you are going from one place to another. It should be portable enough to be a backpacking item yet should be able to cook any food without sacrificing the amount of space. Some burners can be too small so make sure you have the right size for your needs. Consider a burner that is easy to take around with you.
Ease of setup and use: consider a burner for backpacking that is not a hassle to setup. Most can be folded so they can just be unfolded when you are going to use them. In addition to that, the controls should be simple enough and user friendly when you turn on the high heat or lower the heat. There can also be some settings on higher end units, which should also be easy to understand.
Ease of storage: a foldable unit is important to consider when choosing a burner for your backpacking needs. This is because storing the cooker can be a bit of a hassle if it is too big or if the unit is not foldable. Therefore, it should have a simple mechanism that lets you store it when you are not currently using it, mostly for safety purposes.
Heating range: some can go up to 9,000 BTUs and higher end brands can have a higher BTU so you can cook faster while in the wilderness. A higher BTU means that your food will cook in a matter of minutes and a lower BTU means that you cook slower but you can save up on your fuel for a longer period of time. However, there are also brands that are more economical when it comes down to fuel usage.
Number of burners: some units can be a single burner while some can have a double burner in the unit. While most of the items that you will find have a single burner mechanism, you will also find some that have a double burner and some may even have a grill setup, so you could not only cook in pots but you can also grill or have a barbecue party outdoors.
Fuel used: they can be fueled with either propane or butane. Both of them can be widely available but propane seems to be more used than butane, but that depends on your area. Make sure that the fuel connection is safe and if possible, verified by an expert or professional. There should be certifications for the fuel setup so that it will not cause accidents that may be a problem for your camping.
The Ohuhu174 Camping Stove is our pick for the best backpacking stove, which is made out of high quality stainless steel material. Its support system has a 3-arm mechanism and is great for most picnic and camping sprees.
The pot system is also very easy to fold and the whole thing just weighs 14 ounces. If you want to cook some soup for dinner in the wilderness then this is a dependable unit.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
While not a deal breaker, the Ohuhu174 Camping Stove has a small concern, which is the fact that since it is not a large burner, it may not burn for longer periods of time, but is okay for most camping instances anyway.
As our step-up pick, the Bayou Classic SQ14 is our single burner choice and is made out of steel frame that is of heavy duty and won’t topple down so easily. It can be used with nearly any cookware or stock pot when cooking.
You can definitely use this burner for your steamer, griddle, cast iron pan or anything else. It is a great addition to any camp or backyard escapade.
The Etekcity Ultralight Portable is our budget pick, which is made with aluminum alloy so it’s not too heavy to carry around. It uses a Piezo ignition so it’s super convenient to light up. If you want a lightweight backpacking burner then this is a good choice.
Producing a consistent flame, this camping cooking unit has a good valve connection. It is backed by a 1 year warranty.
Best Backpacking Stove that uses Propane Fuel
The Coleman 1 Burner is a great burner to consider if you want to use propane as your fuel. It heats up to 10,000 BTUs and uses any propane cylinder at 16 ounces. It can fit an 8-inch pan and has good adjustability for the heating and temperature.
Best Backpacking Stove with a 2-Burner Setup
The Camp Chef Everest is great for easy cleanup due to the drip tray for less grease. It has a total of 2 burners in one unit, resulting in 20,000 BTUs. If you want a high output burner to take with you to the beach then this is the way to go.
Best Backpacking Stove that uses Fuel Tablets
The Esbit Ultralight Folding is made with galvanized steel for its construction so it’s durable. It can be adjusted in 2 cooking positions for your cookware. It uses solid fuel so it’s less messier than regular cooking mechanisms.
Best Backpacking Stove that uses Hybrid Fuel
The GAS ONE GS-3400P is a great camping companion that uses either propane or butane so you have a choice. It can accept any 16-oz propane cylinder or a butane cartridge of 8 ounces. It also uses a unique Piezo electric ignition mechanism.
Best Backpacking Stove with Automatic Ignition
If you want an automatic ignition burner then the GAS ONE GS-1000 is the one for you. It is deemed safe to use by the CSA and comes with a safety shut off system to prevent the likelihood of fires when you boil or cook food.
Best Backpacking Stove for RV Use
The Camco LittleRed Campfire is a great RV or camper burner because of its high heating capacity of up to 65,000 BTUs, which is enough to cook that turkey or chicken for dinner. It comes with a propane hose that spans 8 feet long.
Best Backpacking Stove that uses Wood for Fuel
The Solo Stove Lite is an eco-friendly solution for those who want to have a wood burner in their camping area. It produces less smoke compared to other burners and is also very lightweight to carry around, much like our top pick.
Other units did not make it to this list because they lacked in security features for the fuel connectors and the burners were not functioning properly. When you choose one for the great outdoors, it should not just be portable but it should work just fine without a threat for your safety.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits of a portable burner?
A: Whether it is for home or outdoor use, a portable burner is a great way to do the following:
You can be able to cook outdoors with great ease. Cooking outdoors is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer and for a picnic to be a successful activity. It doesn’t make the cut if you have to pull up your regular setup outdoors with a heavy propane or LP tank. Having a regular stove for outdoors can be a bulky thing to have and a hassle, so it pays to have a portable one instead.
While others are propane or butane powered, some are electric. The majority of the camping units that you can have could be fueled by alcohol on the smallest amount but some are propane, butane and even electric powered. The electric powered ones take time to heat up but they are very much okay to use indoors and outdoors without causing fire hazards. You have a ton of choices if you do want a backpacking cooking unit.
Cleaning up is a breeze with a portable cooking unit. Because you do not have to carry a bulky range or a fuel, you can consider having a backpacking unit very easy and simple to maintain. Some of these units are very small so you don’t have to clean up an entire burner all the time. Some of them don’t get dirty easily either so they can be reused a lot.
Setting up the unit is very simple and straightforward. The setup of this kind of unit only takes a few folds when you want to use it for your picnic or next camping trip. Most of them are easy to connect to the fuel source such as a butane tank or propane tank.
Q: How does a portable burner compare with cooking in open fire?
A: There are many different ways that a portable burner is different from regular cooking outdoors via open fire, such as the following:
Cooking in Open Fire
Portable burners are very cheap compared to regular burners, but you will need to buy them as compared to just cooking with firewood.
You just need firewood and some stone arrangements and you are ready to cook. Optionally you can cook with charcoal, which might cost a bit but not too much.
Speed of cooking
You can cook in no time because of the heat being very adjustable and focused in one direction for your food. This is ideal for those who need to cook more quickly while camping.
Open fire cooking is always the slowest method, so it is only recommended if you are not cooking a lot and if you have a lot of time to cook your food.
Taste of food
Most people agree that anything that is cooked on fuel tastes okay but not as authentic as fire cooked food.
Open fire cooked food is always the tastiest and potentially the healthiest because the nutrients are retained due to the slow cooking.
Setup and cleanup
Portable burners are easy to setup but you do need to bring some stuff along with you, such as a propane tank or a butane tank.
Open fire cooking only requires firewood, which can be found anywhere, and a match or lighter. Cleaning up, however, can be troublesome sometimes.
Portable burners can be safe if the fuel source is connected properly.
Cooking in open fire can be dangerous if you don’t thoroughly put out the fire after you cook.
Cooking in a burner can be great if you are preparing soups or anything with liquids, such as sauces. If you have a flat cooker then you can also use it to fry eggs.
Open fire cooking is, of course, great for roasting, grilling, steaming and baking. You can use it for meats and anything that can be cooked in open fire and generally tastes good.
Impact on cookware
Cookware is generally safe with a burner because it does not give you direct heat at all.
Your cookware might get browning even more with regular open fire as compared to burners.
You can adjust the heat setting of whatever you are cooking with the touch of the dial or button on the burner or cooking unit.
Adjusting the heat requires some technique, such as fanning the open fire, adding water or adding more firewood or charcoal.
You can use a burner in any weather, as long as the connections for the fuel are safe. They are ideal for outdoor use but some can be used indoors as well, such as in large tents.
Open fire cooking is absolutely not suitable for rainy weather. It is only ideal for the summer season or for dry weather.
Q: How do I stay safe with a portable stove?
A: Its safety can be achieved if you do the following tips:
Make sure to use, store and connect the fuels properly. Consider having the tank of the fuel checked properly first for any leaks and the like before using. Make sure that the fuel is not too much to prevent the likelihood of leaks and potential fire hazards. Most liquid fuel camping units can be stored with a fuel tank but some can be connected with a separate tank.
Consider checking the surrounding area for fire hazards when you light it up. Remember that fuel is highly flammable so make sure you check if there are anyone smoking or if there are fire hazards such as paper that might burn easily and potentially cause a fire in your area. Keep all of the potential threats away before you ignite the burner and cook your food. Store your fuel away from fire hazards as well to avoid untoward accidents.
A level and flat surface is a good way to keep your food from spilling. Not only will it keep your food stable, but it will also keep your cooking unit from toppling and potentially causing fires as well. If you have to cook in an inclined area such as a mountain or hill, you need to consider adding a surface to make it flat and stable. Always keep an eye out on your burner in case it topples down.
Do not cook inside the tent, unless your tent is big enough, you’re really hungry and there’s snow or storm outside. Cooking indoors is something that should only be done when you are at home in a big house so you should never cook with any burner while camping in your tent. There are, however, some tents that allow for cookers, but they should be large enough and have venting windows. Cooking inside tents is a threat for fire hazards.
When you pack up, make sure your burner and fuel are properly cleaned. If your cooking unit has a storage tank, make sure to clear the tank from liquid fuel and keep the fuel properly sealed or cleaned after using. Ensure all of the parts of the cooking unit and the fuel tank are properly disconnected and packed up when you want to travel from place to place, so you won’t smell bad when you ride the bus or plane.
Q: What are the different types of backpacking stoves?
A: There are many various kinds out there and they all have different purposes, such as the following:
A liquid fuel stove is a convenient way to travel while you have a burner in your luggage. It makes the use of fuel bottles and are the best choice of cooking while on the road. They mostly use high quality fuels that you might also find in your car, such as diesel, kerosene, gasoline or jet fuel. While expensive with the fuel requirements, in the long run, you get to save more due to the fuel quality and efficiency.
A canister stove is a lower maintenance and cheaper type of burner that can be great for those who want to buy cheaper fuel in the long run. They are the easiest to carry around and can be used on any camping or hiking trip as well as when traveling to and from nearby places. They are great when it comes down to consistent heat but may not be good for cold weather.
An alternative fuel stove is a type of backpacking burner that is ideal for those who don’t want to carry around fuel for safety reasons. You can power up your burner with the following materials:
· Wood: in case of emergency, you may need a burner or cooking unit that makes the use of wood without having to setup a camp fire in your backyard or area. Wood burning is the most convenient way to cook anywhere without having to look for fuel. They can be fueled with twigs, which makes them convenient. However, do check with your local government or park if they permit the use of wood burners.
· Denatured alcohol: this type of fuel is also very easy to use and they are super lightweight and easy to setup. Aside from being used in the science lab, denatured alcohol burners are the most convenient to use for the budget traveler or backpacker because you only need denatured alcohol. The only downside is that some countries do not have this kind of alcohol, and it takes some time to get your food or liquid hot.
· Solid fuel: some special types of burners can make the use of a pocket sized solid fuel kit so that you don’t have to waste time and effort to bring messy fuel around or look for twigs or alcohol. While they tend to be slow and smelly when you use them, they are absolutely compact and can be taken with you wherever you go and won’t be questioned by the airport authorities when you pack it cleverly.
Q: How much BTUs do I need for camping burners?
A: A camping burner can also have BTUs as a form of measuring the heat produced, much like with your regular burners at home. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and all burners and types of cooking apparatuses can have a different BTU rating depending on how much heat you need for your cooking or home brewing needs. Here is a comparative chart for you to know the optimal BTUs for different purposes and food prep methods:
· Outdoor cooking
· Indoor kitchen cooking
· Basic cooking needs
· Large family cooking
· Canning items at home
· 2-3 burner systems
· High quality cookware
· Home brewing
· Winter time or rainy season cooking
· Boiling in high heat
As you can see from the chart above, a backpacking burner can be at least 10,000 BTUs in its overall maximum rating when it comes down to heating. Some units that are smaller could light up slower with weaker heating, so make sure you choose the ideal burner for your needs that won’t take a lot of time in heating your food up.
Q: How much BTUs do I need for certain foods?
A: Here is a list of some common food items and how much BTUs per pound in degrees Fahrenheit you need for cooking them (i.e. their specific heating value):
BTUs/lb in degrees F
Meat and fish
Q: What's the difference between a portable and a regular gas stove?
A: A backpacking burner can have many great benefits for your cooking in the great outdoors, as opposed to cooking in a regular gas range that you have to pull outdoors for the picnic. Here are some of its advantages and disadvantages as compared to a regular gas range:
Regular Gas Range
Portable burners are cheaper because they contain little fuel for you to consume. However, there are some brands that cost more than a regular gas range.
The price can vary depending on the gas range model and the size, but larger ones are more expensive. Induction ranges are the priciest.
Speed of cooking
You can cook with a portable burner but not as quickly as you would with a regular gas range.
A regular gas range may be able to cook food quicker and easier than with a portable cooker.
Taste of food
The taste of food is pretty much the same as with regular gas range, depending on your fuel source. If you have a wood burner then your food might taste better.
The regular gas range can make food taste okay, and this loosely depends upon your fuel source and cooking style or recipe.
Setup and cleanup
Setting up and packing a backpacking burner is usually easier than with having to move a bulky kitchen burner from one place to another.
The regular gas range is not ideal for outdoor use but can be easy to maintain and cleanup and also to setup while indoors.
A backpacking burner can be safe if you connect the fuel source carefully.
Most gas ranges are safe and are checked by regulatory organizations so they are safe for home as well as for outdoor use.
They are only ideal for outdoor use because they cook slower than with a regular gas range. They are also best for camping and for when you don’t want to carry a lot of items with you.
The regular kitchen gas range is only meant for indoor spaces as well as for outdoor kitchens (dirty kitchens) and other large areas.
Impact on cookware
Backpacking burners do not leave a lot of bad stuff to your cookware.
Your cookware is very much safe with a regular kitchen range, unless you use the wrong cookware for an induction cook top.
Most outdoor and portable burners are capable of regulating heat, but not as precise as with regular kitchen burners out there.
A regular kitchen burner may be able to help you adjust your temperature or heat accordingly and much more accurately than with portables.
Backpacking burners can be used even when it’s windy or raining outside, unlike with campfire.
Just the same, kitchen burners are also applicable for when campfires don’t work in your current weather situation in case you want to cook some soups.
Q: What are the price ranges of a regular backpacking burner?
A: A burner for outdoor use or for backpacking can have the following price ranges depending on the model that you buy:
Type of backpacking burner
Typical cost range
$20 to $40
(with $4 to $10
for the alcohol)
$25 to $50
(with $5 to $10
Liquid or white burners
$75 to $125
Q: Should I use propane or butane for portable stove fuel?
A: A portable burner that is meant for camping can be fueled with either propane and butane. They are both petroleum products that can be used for cooking while you are in the wilderness. However, there are some differences between the two when it comes down to various criteria, such as the following:
Both of these two fuels have the same heat output in BTUs so they will boil a pot of water in the same amount of time as each other.
Propane is the best for the winter and cold weather because it can boil water as early as -43 degrees F.
You need to have at least 31 degrees F for butane to boil with a burner, so it’s not ideal for winter and cold weather conditions.
Ease of connection
Propane can be a bit of a hassle to connect to your burner because it uses screw on connectors.
Butane can be easier to connect to your burner because of its clip style connectors.
Length of cooking
You can cook for long periods of time with propane but not as long as butane fuel.
Butane fuel tends to last longer because it is 12% better in volume so it’s more ideal for cooking for longer hours, such as for slow cooking.
Most burners today can run on either propane or butane so you have a wider range of choices.
Q: Can I grill in a portable burner?
A: There are some portable backpacking burners that are capable of grilling but this is a case to case basis. However, if you do want to use a grill in your portable burner, consider these factors:
Stainless steel is a must or else your food will get iron oxide. Make sure that the stainless steel quality of your grill is of high grade and of food grade. If you could afford it, you can also try the titanium grills, which are a little more expensive but better in durability.
Consider long handles if you want to be able to control the grill properly. Nothing hurts more than open fire or even with a backpacking burner, so make sure it’s easier for you to handle the grill with its design.
How much do you want to cook? Are you cooking for a small group or a large family? Do you have enough space for fish and chicken? Consider these factors so you can choose the right sized grill accordingly. In fact, bigger grills can also mean quicker cooking time, but make sure they’re compatible with your backpacking burner.
Q: Should I go for a single or double portable burner?
A: The number of burners in your cooking unit depends upon your needs. Here are the pros and cons of each:
Single burner: this one is cheaper and much more common. You won’t be able to cook a lot, however.
Double burner: this one is harder to find and much more expensive, but it can save you a lot of time.
Q: What are the health benefits of cooking outdoors?
A: There’s probably nothing else compared to cooking outdoors, and here are the reasons why you should do the same with you and your family and friends:
Cooking outdoors cuts off the grease. Indoor cooking setups permit more grease because you tend to cook with gas more often. However, with outdoor units, you can either choose gas fuels or natural fuels such as wood.
Because cooking outdoors tends to be slower, it retains nutrients more. They are essential for a healthier diet so you can get the most out the food that you eat every single day.
Less fat is another benefit from outdoor cooking because you cut off the grease, as mentioned above. This results to a healthier cooking that can help fend off obesity in kids, adults and in seniors.
It’s fun to cook outside! Whether it’s a picnic with the family or hanging out with friends, nothing beats the great outdoors when you have a party or when you go camping and then have a grill or cookout in the wilderness.
Q: How small are the fuel bottles of portable burners?
A: You can get your own portable burner to work with the right size of fuel bottle, which can come in any of the following:
· 11 ounces – for solo or tandem camping
· 20 ounces – for 4 to 6 members
· 30 ounces – for large groups or families
Q: What actions or conditions cause potential fires or explosions with a portable burner?
A: Using a burner is no joke and should be done under responsible adult supervision. Here are conditions that might be compromising your safety with the burner:
· If your burner has a fuel tank, do not overfill it.
· Only fill your burner with the appropriate fuel indicated.
· Keep away all of the flammables from the burner area.
· Do not attempt to add fuel while the burner is lit.
· Always use the burner outdoors to prevent pressure buildup.
Q: What cookware materials can I use on a portable burner?
A: There are various kinds of cookware materials that you can use for your portable cooker or buerner, and here are some of them:
Aluminum: this stove material is ideal for those who just like to cook casually without a lot of hassle. Aluminum pots are the best for soups because they don’t really get too heavy and they also distribute heat more evenly. They are also ideal for those with humid climates. You can find hard anodized aluminum in almost any cookware store. In fact, some aluminum pots and pans also have a ceramic coating for adding a nonstick coating for easy cleaning.
Stainless steel: this one is your choice if you want longer lasting durability even if it’s a little heavier than aluminum. It is also great for rust prone areas and is very much resistant to dents and scratching. If you need a workhorse to boil, simmer or steam your food in a burner or range then this is a cookware that you should try. After all, its durability might last for generations to come.
Titanium: albeit a little pricier, they are the best for boiling water because of the heat transfer. They are also just as durable as stainless steel, sometimes even more, but tend to be lighter, much like aluminum. They come at a cost but they are worth investing into, if you are really serious about outdoor cooking for a longer period of time. They are also great for those who often want to go for quick cooking.
Q: What are the pros and cons of liquid fuel stoves?
A: A liquid burner can have some good and bad sides, such as the following:
· You won’t have any problem with fuel because they can adapt to kerosene, unleaded, gasoline and anything else that your car probably accepts.
· Liquid fuel is so easy to check whether you’ve used it all up or not.
· Refilling is a breeze when it comes down to liquid fuel versus canister fuels.
· Because you need to refill them, it’s a mess for most people.
· They tend to be heavier because of the fuel and the unit.
· Any liquid fuel burner requires priming, much like with your gasoline powered chainsaw or power tool.
· Lighting up the burner requires a lot of precision as well.
Q: What are the pros and cons of canister stoves?
A: If you opt for canister burners instead of liquid fueled ones, here are some pros and cons that you need to consider:
· You can boil a hot pot of water even faster as compared to liquid fueled ones.
· They are super convenient when you light them up.
· As compact units, you won’t have a problem carrying them around.
· Setting them up and cleaning them up is also a breeze.
· Replacing and buying canisters can be costly in the long run (and a hassle).
· Canister fuel units are bad for the winter season.
· These fuel canisters can’t always be available while in the wilderness.
Q: Should I or should I not use wood burner for backpacking?
A: There are actual benefits of using a wood burner instead of gas fuels for backpacking, when you go out in camping season, such as the following:
Wood is a renewable resource, which means that you are helping out the environment. Wood is a great way to say “thank you” to the environment in place of using petroleum products. If you burn wood then you are being an eco friendly person.
Because wood such as twigs can be found anywhere, these burners are easy to light up. Wood is an easily accessible fuel for your burner in case a propane tank or canister is not available, or if you don’t have anything to light your burner with.
It saves you a lot of money in the long run. Backpackers need to be on the budget, so it pays to have a wood burner instead of a petroleum fuel one because of the fact that it uses renewable energy that you can easily supply from anywhere, such as from twigs in the beach.
You won’t produce a lot of smoke with wood burning. Added to its eco friendly nature, backpacking burners that rely on wood won’t cause air pollution in the long run.
Q: Is it ideal to use a denatured alcohol burner for backpacking?
A: Most backpackers use denatured alcohol for their burner, because of the following reasons:
· It’s great for getting the cooking job done in no time.
· It’s not too bulky, especially for solo packers.
· It’s easier to light up and use.
· It saves you from potential fuel tank explosion threats.
Q: What affects the average boiling time of a backpacking stove?
A: The boiling time of your backpacking burner may depend on:
· The strength of the wind and weather elements.
· The current season of the year.
· The size of your pot or cookware.
· How much water you need to boil.
· The BTUs or heat capacity of the burner.
Q: How much will I be able to save in fuel if I invest in the right backpacking burner?
A: You may be able to save this much if you want to try to find the ideal camping burner:
Length of your trip in days
Fuel savings in grams
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, we think that the Ohuhu174 Camping Stove is our pick for the best backpacking stove because of its stainless steel material, ease of storage and eco-friendly way of lighting up.